Among the sights for Sea Dogs fans during the team’s final homestand this week will be the Hadlock Field debut of left-handed prospect Darwinzon Hernandez.

Hernandez is the first member of the touted Salem Red Sox rotation to make it to Portland. He won’t be starting this week, but coming on in relief.

It’s a temporary move.

“Darwinzon will be in the Portland ‘pen to finish this season, but we expect him to be back in the rotation next year,” Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said. “This will give him more opportunities for exposure to AA outings over the last 10 days.

“And pitching in different roles can never hurt long-term to prepare for what could be an initial role upon call up.”

Crockett referenced Jalen Beeks as someone who tried out the bullpen last year (in the Arizona Fall League), with the thought of a call-up the next year.


Calling up Hernandez also gives the Red Sox a brief look at him against better competition, before his likely addition to their 40-man roster this offseason.

Hernandez, 21, from Venezuela, has a lively fastball that can reach 97 mph. In Salem, his ERA was 3.56. He struck out 124 in 101 innings, but he also walked 60 and hit 12 batters. He made his Double-A debut Wednesday in New Hampshire and maybe was a little excited. He did not allow a hit in one inning, but he hit two batters, walked another and allowed a run on a passed ball.

THE RULE 5 DRAFT in December will force Boston to make some decisions by November. In the draft, certain minor league players – those with enough seasons played, and who are not on a team’s 40-man roster – can be drafted by other teams. The key provision is that the team must keep the prospect on its 25-man major league roster the whole next season.

Before the 2012 Rule 5 draft, the Red Sox added six players to the 40-man (Christian Vazquez, Steven Wright, Alex Wilson, Dan Butler, Allen Webster and Alex Hassan), but left relievers Ryan Pressly and Josh Fields unprotected. Both are in their sixth year in the majors. Pressly (drafted by the Twins) was recently traded to Houston, where he is dealing (1.86 ERA/0.62 WHIP) and should see the Red Sox in two weeks. Fields, taken by the Astros, is now with the Dodgers.

Boston has a host of players who will be eligible for the 2018 draft. The team needs to decide what players it will put on the 40-man roster – and how to make room for them.

Besides Hernandez, there seem to be two obvious players, maybe three, headed for the 40-man roster.


Travis Lakins, 24, has been a hit since joining the bullpen, with a combined 1.50 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Michael Chavis, 23, is Boston’s No. 1 prospect. Playing both third base and first for the Sea Dogs, he’s batting .305 with a .905 OPS and six home runs in 32 games before being promoted to Pawtucket on Friday.

Josh Ockimey, 22, is intriguing. A power prospect, Ockimey hit 15 homers in 90 Double-A games before going to Pawtucket (three homers in 17 games). He hit .251/.842 in Portland, and has not found his groove in Triple-A (.213/.677). The potential is there. If unprotected by Boston, would another team take a chance?

Others in the Boston system could be drafted, but they’re considered long shots. Still, you never know, especially when it comes to pitching – especially left-handed pitching.

Matt Kent, 25, a lefty, has a variety of pitches, but his fastball does not reach 90. Kent produces with a 10-8 record and 3.15 ERA in Portland. Take away a 10-run clunker in New Hampshire in June, and his ERA is 2.54. Left-handed batters hit .221 against him.

Daniel McGrath, 24, is another left-hander, with a sidearm delivery. A reliever and spot starter, McGrath has a 3.59 ERA, but left-handers hit only .189 against him.


Dedgar Jimenez, 22, was up and down (4.74 ERA ) and susceptible to big innings. Also a left-hander, his fastball topped at the low 90s. He held left-handed batters to a .209 average.

Denyi Reyes, 21, was promoted to Salem only three weeks ago. He dominated in Greenville. Overall, he’s 12-5 with a 2.02 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with 140 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 147 1/3 innings. Reyes, a right-hander, reportedly does not have a lot of stuff, but he obviously can pitch, although the sample is only at the lower levels.

MAJOR LEAGUERS will be on display at Hadlock on Monday with lefty Eduardo Rodriguez making his second straight rehab appearance with the Sea Dogs, and Christian Vazquez catching him. Rodriguez is coming back from a sprained ankle, and Vazquez from a broken finger. This should be Rodriguez’s last rehab start. Vazquez could stay in Portland a few days, or go to Pawtucket. Both are expected back with the Red Sox in September.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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