Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs were not the only teams taking the day off on Monday.
• Tampa Bay Rays (Archer 1-2 and Odorizzi 0-0) at Red Sox (Aceves 3-1 and Doubront 4-3), 1:05 and 7:10 p.m. (NESN)
• Sea Dogs (Matt Barnes 3-3 and Charlie Haeger 2-3) at Reading Fightin Phils (Seth Rosen 3-4 and Bobby Joe Bramhall 0-0), 6 p.m.
The Salem Red Sox began their Carolina League All-Star break on Monday.
It can be a significant period, if any Red Sox prospects are standing out. They not only are All-Stars, but are destined soon for Portland.
Last year, Jackie Bradley Jr. arrived in Double-A on June 20. He had batted .359 in Salem and had a combined on-base percentage/slugging average (OPS) of 1.006.
Based on that, Garin Cecchini will be playing third base for the Sea Dogs by the end of the month.
In Salem, Cecchini is batting .350, with a 1.016 OPS.
Cecchini, 22, was a fourth-round draft pick out of Barbie (La.) High School in 2010, receiving a signing bonus of $1.3 million.
He batted .305 in a full season at Greenville last year.
The only issue with Cecchini moving up is that Portland's best position player at the moment is third baseman Michael Almanzar.
But that is a small problem. The Sea Dogs began the year with two third basemen, until Kolbrin Vitek was moved to left field.
Almanzar can also get his playing time at first base and as the designated hitter.
The Red Sox won't hold Cecchini back in Class A for long.
TWO OTHER SALEM All-Stars will eventually be in Portland -- pitcher Henry Owens and catcher Blake Swihart, two bonus babies from the 2011 draft.
Owens, who turns 21 next month, is in only his second pro season. He is 5-2 with a 3.03 ERA, with a whopping 80 strikeouts in 651/3 innings (and 28 walks). Owen is a left-hander who signed for $1.5-million. He is averaging about five innings in Salem and would likely be on a tight pitch count with the Sea Dogs.
But Boston has been known to push even young pitchers to Double-A. Casey Kelly, who had pitched in only 17 games of Class A ball, began the 2010 season in Portland, at the age of 20.
Swihart, 21, received a $2.5-million signing bonus and has ben moving up the Sox system. He played in the rookie Gulf Coast league in 2011 and in Greenville last year.
In Salem, he is batting .281 with an .800 OPS.
Swihart has thrown out 41 percent of potential base-stealers, third-best in the Red Sox organization, behind Portland's Christian Vazquez (.459) and Pawtucket's Ryan Lavarnway (.448).
With Lavarnway stuck in Triple-A and Vazquez's offense still developing in Portland, Swihart may stay in Salem for a while longer to make sure he gets his reps.
THE SEA DOGS have lost four players to Triple-A promotions -- pitchers Brandon Workman, Chris Martin and Brock Huntzinger, and shortstop Xavier Bogaerts.
That is a lot of top talent to lose for a team contending in the Eastern League.
Portland (35-32) is in second place in the East Division, 61/2 games behind Binghamton, and 21/2 games ahead of third-place Trenton.
The top two teams in each division reach the playoffs. The Sea Dogs last reached the post-season in 2008.
But the promotions are not likely to stop. Left-hander Drake Britton (6-5, 3.08) should be gone any time now.
Anthony Ranaudo (7-1, 2.15) is demonstrating such dominance that he may not last long in Double-A, either.
Almanzar and Vazquez could get a call later this summer.
BOSTON AND PORTLAND are both playing doubleheaders Tuesday. The Red Sox host Tampa Bay in a day/night affair at Fenway Park.
Boston is starting two of its most erratic pitchers - Alfredo Aceves (3-1, 5.58) and Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.91).
The Rays are using two rookies, Chris Archer (1-2, 4.80) and Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 8.00). Combined, Archer and Odorizzi have appeared in 14 major league games.
The Sea Dogs are in Reading, Pa. Matt Barnes (3-3, 5.87) and Charlie Haeger (2-3, 4.44) get the starts for Portland.
THE SEA DOGS staff gets a break this week with no home games.
Last week was a handful and then some, with a doubleheader and weather that provided a rainout, rain delays and several episodes of rolling up or rolling out the tarp.
Plus, they staffed a 5K road race Sunday morning involving over 1,300 runners.
So, props to a hard-working crew.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: