From where they stand at Hadlock Field, the distance to the major leagues can seem so close. Throughout the Sea Dogs’ clubhouse hang photos of former Portland players who made it – players just like them who are now feasting on the big-league life.

Who among this cast of 2017 Sea Dogs will get there? Their arduous audition will continue Thursday when Portland is scheduled to open its season with a 6 p.m. game at Hadlock Field against the Reading Fightin Phils.

Season openers in Portland can be precarious: Rain is in the forecast. But no matter, baseball is back. Hadlock will be an anticipated destination for the next five months.

Past players have praised their Portland experiences, appreciating the fans and the front office. But face it, their goal is to get out of here, on to Triple-A Pawtucket or a straight shot to Fenway Park.

“Based on what we’ve seen – we had two guys go to the big leagues last year, and (Ben) Taylor made the big league team this year after pitching half a year here,” said Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles, sitting in his clubhouse office where a Mookie Betts poster hangs.

“For the Red Sox nowadays, it doesn’t make any difference if you are in Triple-A or Double-A.”

The call can come at any time.

Last year, big-name prospects Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada jumped from Portland to Boston. Benintendi is still there, with lots of buzz about being favored for American League Rookie of the Year. Moncada is in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Triple-A stop for the Chicago White Sox, who acquired him during the offseason in the Chris Sale trade.

Taylor, a lesser-known prospect, was not promoted to Portland until last June. A seventh-round draft pick out of the University of South Alabama, Taylor was surprised to get an invitation to major league spring training camp.

It wasn’t just a token appearance: Taylor made the Red Sox roster.

The Red Sox are looking for reliable relievers. They gave four young arms – Taylor, former Sea Dog Chandler Shepherd, and current Sea Dogs Austin Maddox and Jamie Callahan – a long look in spring training.

“I was just up there doing my job, having fun and letting it play out,” Callahan said. “I had a good spring. I enjoyed myself.”

Callahan, who put up a 0.75 ERA in the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League, then posted a 0.82 ERA in 10 appearances in major league spring training games.

The experience has Callahan wanting more of the big-league life.

“Once you get a taste, it’s right there – something to work for,” he said. “Have to keep going in the right direction.”

Callahan and Maddox likely will get plenty of chances to come out of the Hadlock bullpen. Boston has hopes for others, including left-handers Luis Ysla (on the Red Sox 40-man roster), Williams Jerez (still harnessing his potential after converting from the outfield), and Ty Buttrey, who switched from starter to reliever last year – something Callahan and Taylor also did.

Reliever Jake Cosart, Boston’s 16th-best prospect, according to Baseball America, made the Sea Dogs’ roster even though he spent much of last season in low Class A Greenville.

Portland’s rotation is set with Teddy Stankiewicz named the Opening Day starter. He will be followed by Jalen Beeks, Trey Ball, Jacob Dahlstrand and Kevin McAvoy. Everyone but Ball spent time in Portland last year.

Ball, 22, the 15th-ranked prospect and a first-round draft pick in 2013, spent the past two seasons in Salem, where he had 163 strikeouts and 128 walks in 246 innings.

“He’s a young puppy,” said Febles, who managed Ball in 2015. “He does have great stuff. Consistency is going to be his key. When he throws strikes, he’s unhittable.”

The everyday regulars will be led by No. 2 prospect Rafael Devers at third base. Devers, who has improved in the field, always has had a gifted bat (.326/.906 OPS in the second half of last year in Salem).

Tzu-Wei Lin returns to play shortstop and Ryan Court will spend a lot of time at second base. Prospect Nick Longhi (14th-ranked) is at first. Mike Olt, the one player with major league experience, will be the DH when he’s not filling in at first or third. Heiker Meneses, who returns to the Sea Dogs after two years in the Twins’ system, will be a utility player.

Joseph Monge, ranked 31st by Baseball America, will be in center. Danny Mars and Aneury Tavarez will play the corner outfield spots most of the time. Tavarez nearly made the Orioles as a Rule 5 draft pick, but because he wasn’t put on Baltimore’s major league roster, had to be returned to the Red Sox.

Cole Sturgeon returns to Portland and will play all the outfield positions. The catching tandem will be Jordan Procyshen and Jake DePew.

NOTE: Kevin Youkilis’ scheduled appearance Thursday night at Hadlock Field was postponed because of the forecast for rain. Youkilis, the former Red Sox and Sea Dogs star, was to throw out the first pitch on Opening Night and sign free autographs. His appearance will be rescheduled.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @ClearTheBases