March 3, 2013

On Baseball: Some major moves may involve minor leaguers

When major league teams make trades, the big names naturally get the attention.

But those minor leaguers thrown in can make all the difference.

The Boston Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers, and it was declared a salary dump.

But Boston also got some players, including pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.

Both could help Boston this season, although both will begin the year in Triple-A Pawtucket.

In De La Rosa's first game of spring training, he threw two perfect innings. In Webster's first game, he pitched two innings, striking out four, including Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

REMEMBER WHEN Jon Lester was almost one of those minor leaguers included in a big trade? Before the 2004 season, Boston was planning to trade Manny Ramirez to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox were also going to send a Class A pitcher (Lester) in the deal.

The trade fell through. Not only did the Red Sox keep Lester, they won two World Series (helped a great deal by Ramirez) and avoided the headache known as A-Rod.

THE OAKLAND A'S are hoping to keep capitalizing on Red Sox prospects. Oakland already has Josh Reddick (and his 32 home runs last year) from the deal for reliever Andrew Bailey.

That Bailey deal also netted Oakland two lower level minor leaguers who may blossom.

Corner infielder Miles Head, 21, is rated Oakland's No. 7 prospect by Baseball America. He will be in Double-A this year. And pitcher Raul Alcantara, 20, is the No. 26 prospect. He will be in Class A this season.

CASEY KELLY may end up being one of the biggest prizes traded away by Boston. Sent to San Diego in the Gonzalez trade, Kelly is considered the Padres' No. 1 prospect, according to Baseball America.

Kelly, 23, who pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2010, made his major league debut last season. He's likely headed to Triple-A to begin 2013.

ONE PITCHER the Red Sox let escape was former Sea Dogs reliever Josh Fields.

It was a surprise when Boston didn't put Fields on its 40-man roster and as expected, he was taken in the Rule V draft, by Houston.

In his first game in spring training last week, Fields needed nine pitches to record four outs (and one walk). He seems certain to stick with the rebuilding Astros.

JACKIE BRADLEY JR. is not going to be traded by the Red Sox. In fact, there was some media speculation last week that Bradley might make the major league roster. Boston Manager John Farrell fueled the thought by not denying the possibility.

Bradley, who was 8 for 14 through Thursday's spring training game, is very likely headed back to the minors to continue (complete?) his development.

While Sea Dogs fans hoped to see Bradley again, he appears destined for Triple-A.

SO WHO PLAYS CENTER field at Hadlock if Bradley isn't there? The Sea Dogs have options.

Peter Hissey is expected back after his injury-interrupted season last year. He can play all three outfield spots. Shannon Wilkerson played 24 games (15 in center) for the Sea Dogs last year and should be in Double-A full-time this year.

Felix Sanchez did not have a sensational year in advanced Class A Salem last year (.262 average), but if he gets promoted, he's a greyhound in the outfield.

Brandon Jacobs, who is expected to be promoted from Salem to Portland, can play center but is more of a left fielder.

CHARLES JOHNSON is coming back to Portland. The first star on the first Sea Dogs team in 1994, Johnson will appear at the Sea Dogs game April 18 as Portland celebrates its 20th season.

Johnson, a catcher and the Florida Marlins' top prospect, hit 28 home runs in that '94 season. He went on to a 12-year major league career.

The Sea Dogs announced that Johnson will be one of "several of former Sea Dogs" at the April 18 game, taking part in a pregame ceremony. They will announce the others later.

RICK RENTERIA, the former Sea Dogs manager (2000-01) will manage Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. When the WBC is over, he will return to his job as bench coach for the Padres.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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