The buzz at Hadlock Field has concerned the recent influx of prospects from advanced Class A Salem. The likes of Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi and Mauricio Dubon are common names among Red Sox fans.

So what to make of catcher Jake Romanski and reliever Williams Jerez?

They are possibly hidden gems on this Portland Sea Dogs roster. They could someday reach Fenway Park. Or maybe be part of a trade package by the end of the month. Or … who knows?

For now we can say that Romanski and Jerez are All-Stars.

Both were named Thursday to the East team for the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 13 in Akron, Ohio.

Of course, making a minor league All-Star Game is hardly a ticket to the big leagues – and some other deserving Sea Dogs have been promoted to Triple-A, while others have not been in Double-A long enough.


But don’t dismiss Portland’s two selections so quickly.

Romanski, 25, has been Portland’s most dependable hitter, batting .306 after Thursday night’s 8-5 loss to Hartford. Romanski has had only two hitless streaks – one lasting three games, the other two games.

“He has not slowed down. He’s been consistent from day one,” Manager Carlos Febles said. “He’s been able to bounce back from (hitless games).

“He’s been very impressive with the way he’s swinging the bat and with his catching, for the most part.”

Behind the plate, Romanski is receiving better, and he’s always been a strong catch-and-throw player. He leads the Eastern League in throwing out 48.3 percent of potential base-stealers (29 of 60).

“It definitely feels good,” Romanski said of his consistency. “Showing up to the yard and just trying to do the best I can every day. But, honestly, we’re trying to get as many wins as possible. From that aspect, it has not gone as well as we want it to. I’m hoping we can turn that ship around. That’s what I’m focused on.”


The Sea Dogs are in last place in the East with a 27-51 record, and only one other team (New Hampshire) had as few as two players selected to the All-Star Game.

Every Eastern League team had at least one pitcher selected. Among Sea Dogs pitchers who have been here since April, Jerez had the fourth-best ERA (3.72), but the other three – Aaron Wilkerson, Justin Haley and Chandler Shepherd – have been promoted to Pawtucket.

Jerez has been effective at times, but his real value is his potential – at least that’s what the Red Sox are banking on. Jerez, 24, was the touted outfielder (second-round draft pick, 2011) who struggled with the bat and turned to pitching in 2014.

A left-hander, Jerez caught on quickly to make it to Portland at the end of 2015. He was named the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year after a combined 2.54 ERA at three levels.

But to start this year, Jerez had a 4.87 ERA for the first month.

“It’s been a little tough but I’m trying to compete,” Jerez said. “Day to day, I’ve been working on little things that will help me.”


Before Thursday night, Jerez appeared to be turning it around – five earned runs in his last 18 1/3 innings (2.45 ERA).

“Overall, he’s getting better,” pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “He’s really starting to come into his own. … I’ve seen an uptick in velocity. His slider is getting better. It’s just about him going out and getting more experience.”

But Jerez took a step backward Thursday with one of his roughest outings – four hits, two walks and four earned runs over two-thirds of an inning.

“The more innings he pitches, the more experience he gets, the better and more consistent his stuff will get,” Walker said.

Hidden gem? We’ll see.

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