FORT MYERS, Fla. – Shortstop Jose Iglesias dazzled Hadlock Field crowds last season with his defensive wizardry, reaching ground balls he had no business reaching and making strong throws.
If Portland Sea Dogs fans enjoyed watching him, hopefully they took pictures because Iglesias is not coming back.
The Boston Red Sox released their minor league rosters on Thursday, and Iglesias is on Triple-A Pawtucket’s.
Portland, Boston’s Double-A affiliate, features much turnover on its roster.
Among the new players are three starting pitchers, four infielders, two outfielders and a catcher.
Iglesias, 21, was a Cuban free agent who signed a contract with Boston totaling $8.25 million. He spent his first pro season with Portland, batting .285 in 57 games.
His season was shortened when he was hit in the hand by a pitch. Because of his brief playing time, it was thought he might return to Portland, but Iglesias played well in the Arizona Fall League and in major league spring training camp.
“We want to continue to challenge him,” said Mike Hazen, Red Sox director of player development. “It will be a more advanced level for him and we want to see what he can do against that caliber of play.”
Among the other developments from Thursday’s roster announcements:
- Kyle Weiland, a Sea Dogs starter last year, made the Pawtucket roster.
- Left-hander Tommy Hottovy is returning for a sixth season in Portland.
- The Red Sox released four minor leaguers familiar to Sea Dogs fans: pitcher Adam Mills, infielders Ryan Khoury and Aaron Bates, and outfielder Jason Place.
- Outfielder Bubba Bell was traded to the Cleveland Indians for future considerations.
- Once-touted prospect Ryan Dent will become Portland’s starting shortstop.
Weiland, 24, did not put up great numbers in Portland last year (4-9, 4.42 ERA), but he showed an ability to induce ground balls and he struck out 120 in 128 innings.
Hottovy, 29, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 2004. He re-signed this season as a minor league free agent.
Hottovy, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2008, split his time between Portland and Pawtucket last season. He was tinkering with his motion and arrived this spring with a consistent side-arm delivery.
Although impressive this spring, Hottovy was competing against a full Pawtucket bullpen that featured major leaguers like Hideki Okajima and Rich Hill, both lefties. Hottovy sees a better opportunity to pitch in Portland.
“Anytime you start something new or change your mechanics, the more innings and reps you get, the better off you’ll be,” Hottovy said.
Even with all the veteran relievers signed by Boston, “For them to still keep me around, it tells me that they still want me. So something right is going right and I need to keep working.”
But the Red Sox could not keep everyone, thus the cuts. Mills, 26, was a pitcher noted for his control and ability to eat up innings. He was 10-5 for Portland in 2009 with a 4.24 ERA, but dipped to 4-10, 5.47 with Pawtucket last year.
Bates, 27, made his major league debut in 2009 but remained in Pawtucket all of 2010, batting .240.
Khoury, 27, was in Portland for much of the past three seasons, mostly as a utility infielder. He batted .246 for the Sea Dogs last year.
Place, 22, never really got going despite being a first-round draft pick in 2005. He was batting .127 over 25 games in Portland last year when he asked for a leave of absence.
He returned and played only four games in Class A before injuring his hand.
Place was healthy this spring, but other players had passed him on the depth chart.
Bell, 28, is another player passed by other prospects. But he hit .293 for Pawtucket last year and still had enough value to be traded.
The moves offered opportunities to players like Dent, an infielder who likely would still be in Class A if Iglesias had remained in Portland.
Dent, a supplemental-round pick in 2007, is a solid fielder but has not come around offensively (.225 career average). Still, he’s being pushed up to Double-A.
“We think he can handle it defensively,” Hazen said. “Offensively, it will be an advanced level for him, but we believe he can go up there and do it.”
NOTES: Seven upper-level players are currently on the disabled list: pitchers Felix Doubront, Junichi Tazawa, Kris Johnson and Miguel Gonzalez; infielders Brent Dlugach and Hector Luna; and outfielder Zach Daeges. Reliever Mitch Herold, who pitched most of 2010 in Portland, is back with Class A Salem. … Pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo, a supplemental-round pick last year, will begin the season in Class A Greenville. The Pawtucket and Portland rosters are both larger than allowed. Some players will be put on the inactive list but stay with their teams.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: