Sunday, March 9, 2014
PORTLAND — It has been a year of prospects for the Portland Sea Dogs and another reportedly is on the way.
TUESDAY'S SEA DOGS GAME
WHO: Sea Dogs (Keith Couch 6-3) at Altoona Curve (Casey Sadler 10-5)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
Shortstop Deven Marrero, the Red Sox's first-round draft pick last year, is being promoted to the Sea Dogs from advanced Class A Salem (Va.), according to several media reports, including the Salem Red Sox radio network.
Portland didn't play Monday and begins a trip Tuesday night in Altoona, Pa. The Red Sox are expected to announce the move Tuesday.
Boston made room for Marrero in Double-A when it promoted infielder Heiker Meneses to Triple-A (the Red Sox have not announced that move but Meneses was told of the promotion after Sunday's game at Hadlock Field).
Marrero, who turns 23 on Aug. 25, is in his first full pro season after being drafted in the first round (24th overall) last year out of Arizona State. Boston gave him a $2 million signing bonus.
He is batting .256 this season but has also walked 42 times, upping his on-base percentage to .341.
Marrero had been slumping but began turning it around in his last six games, going 7 for 18.
Marrero's forte is defense. He has made only four errors in 85 games at shortstop.
He is often compared to Jose Iglesias as an excellent defender who is still developing offensively. Iglesias was traded to the Detroit Tigers last month.
According to Baseball America's preseason prospect lists, Marrero is Boston's 10th-ranked prospect.
His arrival on the Sea Dogs' roster means Portland has had nine of the top 14 prospects on the Baseball America list -- along with Xander Bogaerts (No. 1), Matt Barnes (3), Henry Owens (5), Garin Cecchini (7), Drake Britton (11), Brandon Workman (12), Brandon Jacobs (13) and Anthony Ranaudo (14).
MENESES IS a middle infielder who took over the Sea Dogs' starting shortstop job when Bogaerts was promoted to Pawtucket.
Meneses began last season in Portland but was demoted after batting .197 in 41 games.
He was batting .255 this season.
Meneses, 22, from Venezuela, will be a minor league free agent after the 2014 season.
ANOTHER TOP PROSPECT may make his way to Portland if the Red Sox can find room for catcher Blake Swihart, 21, in Double-A.
Swihart, No. 6 in the Baseball America rankings, was a first-round draft pick out of high school in 2011 ($2.5 million signing bonus).
He is batting .283 in Salem with glowing reports about his defense.
"He's having a tremendous season," said Chad Epperson, Boston's roving catching instructor.
"It's really the first time he's taken the bulk of (the catching). Last year he platooned.
"We always knew he could catch but he's becoming very consistent in all phases."
It figures that Swihart will come up to get a taste of Double-A, much like Christian Vazquez did last year when he played 20 games for the Sea Dogs.
It also figures Vazquez will be moved to Triple-A. He also is having a tremendous season defensively while also batting .281.
But Boston has a logjam of catchers, especially with five on the 40-man roster: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ross, Dan Butler and Vazquez.
Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway are in Boston. Ross is about to join Butler in Pawtucket on a rehab assignment.
When Ross rejoins the Red Sox, then Lavarnway likely comes down to Pawtucket.
Vazquez, by the way, leads all Red Sox organization catchers in percentage of throwing out base-stealers -- 49 percent (42 of 85).
Lavarnway was at 44 percent in Pawtucket but is at 26 percent in the majors. Swihart has the next-best at 39 percent.
The others: Greenville catcher Jayson Hernandez (30 percent), Butler (28) and Saltalamacchia (20).
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at firstname.lastname@example.org