Is it time to dust off the Daniel Nava stories yet?

Aaron Wilkerson seems to be repeating the theme – going from a little-known player in the independent leagues to someone who keeps producing, and proving himself to doubters.

Wilkerson threw six shutout innings Sunday afternoon for the Portland Sea Dogs, lowering his ERA to 0.66 after three starts.

Wilkerson left with a 1-0 lead but did not factor in the decision after the bullpen and the Sea Dogs defense gave up eight runs (three earned), as the Hartford Yard Goats won 8-1 before 4,993 at Hadlock Field.

Simon Mercedes (0-2) took the loss, allowing a two-run homer by Ashley Graeter in the seventh and three runs (one earned) in the eighth.

Hartford starter Kyle Freeland (2-1) allowed one unearned run and five hits over seven innings, striking out five. A 22-year-old left-hander, Freeland is one of the Colorado Rockies’ top prospects – a first-round draft pick in 2014 who was handed a $2.3 million signing bonus.

When Wilkerson signed with the Red Sox in July 2014, he was offered a handshake and a plane ticket to Lowell, Mass. He’s worked his way through the Boston system, arriving for seven impressive starts in Portland last year (2.66 ERA).

Now he is really dealing in Double-A. Sunday marked his third straight game of allowing only two hits. He struck out five and walked one, and threw 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

“I felt pretty comfortable with my mechanics today” Wilkerson said. “I didn’t have a whole lot on the fastball, but I mixed up pitches well.”

Will Wilkerson follow Nava’s footsteps? Nava was an independent-league outfielder in 2007 but was signed by the Red Sox in 2008. He reached Portland in 2009 and made it to the majors in 2010.

Wilkerson may not look dominant at first glance – his fastball ranged between 88 and 92 mph – but he can pitch. Of his 87 pitches, 58 were fastballs (eight swings and misses). He mixed in change-ups, sliders and curves, many thrown when he was behind in the count.

“He puts it right where he wants it,” said catcher Jake Romanski. “If you have a well-located pitch, it’s hard to hit.

“I put my glove down and I’m not moving it. He is super fun to catch. He can throw anything in any count.”

Portland gave Wilkerson a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Wendell Rijo single, two errors and Rainel Rosario’s sacrifice fly.

Wilkerson, who gave up a leadoff single in the first – a soft line drive to left – did not allow another single until the sixth. But Mercedes entered in the seventh, walked the leadoff man then gave up Grater’s homer to right field, which was initially ruled a double but changed to a home run after the umpires conferred.

Portland made five errors, four on infield throws, and the other a dropped line drive in left field that led to three unearned runs in the ninth.

NOTES: Outfielder Henry Ramos, who missed substantial time the past two seasons because of leg injuries, was placed on the disabled list Sunday because of a sore knee. He will undergo further examination Tuesday. … First baseman/catcher Tim Roberson left the game after fouling a ball off his left ankle in the second inning. He said he might miss a few games.

 


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