When Sean Coyle showed up Friday at Hadlock Field, the rain already had begun. The Portland Sea Dogs’ game would be postponed.
Coyle still planned to get his work in. There were swings to take, tempo to maintain.
Some players may work extra to get out of a slump.
Coyle is staying away from one.
In another day or two, when Coyle has enough plate appearances to qualify, he likely will be the leading active hitter in the Eastern League, as well as tops in slugging percentage and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average).
Coyle, 22, missed three weeks in May with a strained hamstring and bruised finger. In 56 games he’s batting .347 with 17 doubles, 10 home runs and those impressive slugging (.601) and OPS (1.029) numbers.
The statistics are – dare we say? – Mookie-esque.
Coyle may not make the majors this year, like Mookie Betts, whose 2014 ascent to the big leagues began in Portland, where he batted .355 with a .994 OPS.
But if Coyle can keep his consistency and good health, he will become yet another Red Sox prospect having a breakout year.
“The big question mark is: Can he stay healthy?” Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon said. “When he stays healthy, he’s a real exciting guy out there.”
“He’s demonstrated that he can hit for average. He can hit for power.”
McMillon managed Salem, an advanced Class A team, when Coyle was named MVP of the Carolina League finals last season – a three-game sweep. Coyle went 5 for 12 in the three games with three doubles, a triple and seven RBI.
“I’ve seen him show up on the big stage,” McMillon said.
But Coyle also missed the first round of the playoffs with an elbow injury. The season was up and down. Coyle batted .399 through April 29, then the average dropped 100 points over the next month before Coyle missed two months with a knee injury.
This year Coyle has had the one DL stint but his hitting hasn’t declined.
“It’s been a mix of staying healthy and really finding what works for me,” Coyle said. “I did some stuff this offseason to create some rhythm and direction in my swing.
“I just work on it every day, pretty much trying to find my timing … I just want to be on time and get a good pitch to hit.”
Coyle began the year at third base – with Betts at second before Betts’ celebrated move to the outfield.
Now Coyle plays at both second and third.
“He’s more than adequate at second base,” McMillon said. “We’ve given him some exposure at third base and he’s proved that that’s not beyond his skill set.”
But there’s also the intangible: “The thing away from the offense and defense is that he’s a good team player,” McMillon said.
While there are automatic comparisons to Betts, Coyle has been compared to another major league player since being drafted out of high school in the third round in 2010 – Dustin Pedroia.
Both Pedroia and Coyle are second basemen and both generously listed at 5-foot-8 in the Red Sox media guide. And both shined in Double-A with their effort and numbers.
In 2005, the 21-year-old Pedroia batted .324 in 66 games in Portland with eight home runs and a .917 OPS.
Coyle’s production and his service time will force the Red Sox to put him on the 40-man roster, lest he be taken by another team in the Rule V draft this offseason.
That will mean an invitation to the Red Sox major league spring training, where he will join a group of similar-sized players (Pedroia, as well the the 5-9 Betts and 5-10 Brock Holt).
“Doesn’t matter the size,” Coyle said. “Got a bunch of guys that are hungry and like to put good (at-bats) together. Like to fight and grind through things.”
The Red Sox never have worried about Coyle’s talent or drive. The health and consistent bat have been questioned. This year Coyle appears to be providing answers.
NOTES: Friday’s rainout means a doubleheader (two seven-inning games) Saturday starting at 4 p.m. Fireworks are scheduled after the games. … Red Sox utility player Mike Carp, on the disabled list while recovering from a broken foot, is expected to make a rehab appearance with Portland. … Sea Dogs infielder/outfielder Jonathan Roof suffered a dislocated middle finger on his left hand trying to make a catch Thursday in Trenton. He’s scheduled to undergo further tests.