Boston Red Sox prospect Frank German, shown during a workout in February in Fort Myers, Florida, will be in the starting rotation for the Portland Sea Dogs. The right-hander has an electric fastball and developing change-up and slider. Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

On Tuesday night, when the Portland Sea Dogs play at Hadlock Field for the first time since Sept. 2, 2019, fans will anticipate performances from some of the top Red Sox prospects – such as leadoff hitter Jeisson Rosario showing off his speed or slugger Triston Casas demonstrating the power that has moved him quickly through the Boston farm system.

But do not bypass the mound. Through development and trades, the Red Sox are quietly putting together a group of solid pitchers, including at the top of the Sea Dogs rotation.

We have already noted how Chaim Bloom, Boston’s chief baseball officer, has brought in surprisingly successful starter Nick Pivetta through trade and stunningly effective reliever Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 draft.

The minor league teams have been bolstered as well, including Connor Seabold (in the same trade as Pivetta), who was thought to be headed to Double-A but has surpassed expectations, jumping to Triple-A.

Two pitchers acquired by Bloom will be in the Sea Dogs rotation – right-handers Frank German and Josh Winckowski. When Boston traded with the Yankees for reliever Adam Ottavino and took on his $8 million salary, Bloom also got German in the deal. German, 23, a fourth-round draft pick who keeps improving, features an electric fastball and developing change-up and slider.

“Another exciting guy,” said Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly. “Had a chance to see him on the other side (with the Yankees organization). I know he has good stuff.”


Josh Winckowski was obtained by the Red Sox in the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City. John Bazemore/Associated Press

Winckowski, 22, was another trade “throw-in” in the three-way deal that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero and three players to be named (while the Mets got an outfield prospect from the Royals (Khalil Lee).

Another hard thrower, Winckowski had a 2.69 ERA in Class A in 2019.

Heading the Sea Dogs staff is a homegrown right-hander, Thad Ward, whose roots with the Red Sox began when he was a bat boy during Boston spring training games (Ward grew up in Fort Myers, Florida).

A fifth-round draft pick, Ward went from a 3.77 ERA in short-season Lowell in 2018 to dominating in Class A the next year, with a 2.46 ERA and 184 strikeouts – best in the Red Sox organization – in 157 innings. Ward, 24, offers a solid fastball with an outstanding slider.

“He looked good in (major league) spring training and when he came down with us,” Wimberly said. “Hard worker. Very confident.”

Among the others who should see time in the rotation is Denyi Reyes, who has been on the Red Sox roller coaster since being placed on the 40-man roster in late 2018. Reyes started in Portland in 2019 and featured a mix of dominating outings and clunkers (8-12, 4.16 ERA).


Boston designated him for assignment in 2020 but he returned to the organization on a minor league contract. Reyes pitched four games (three starts) in the Dominican Winter League, with a 0.61 ERA.

The bullpen includes a familiar face in Durbin Feltman, a third-round draft pick in 2018. Feltman was touted as a fast riser through the system, but he struggled in Portland in 2019 (5.26 ERA) and was not invited to the alternate training site last year. He’s back in Portland, with his fastball/slider mix.

PEDRO CASTELLANOS may be an overlooked name on the Sea Dogs roster. His 2019 numbers in advanced Class A are deceiving.

“He really took off in the second half,” said Wimberly, who was his manager then.

Before the All-Star break, Castellano was batting .266 with one home run. Wimberly said that Castellano put in extra work with hitting coach Lance Zawadzki (who is also in Portland this year). It paid off with a .288 average and eight home runs in the second half. Originally a first baseman, Castellano is seeing more time in the outfield.

ONE REASON WE watch minor league baseball is to see players who someday will be in the majors.


Occasionally, a game in the big leagues will remind us of one in the minors.

On Wednesday, the Red Sox, with five scoreless innings from Pivetta, beat the New York Mets, 1-0. Mets starter Jacob deGrom allowed just one run, three hits and one walk over six innings while striking out nine.

Xander Bogaerts led off the second inning with a double and scored on Christian Vazquez’s double.

That game got Sea Dogs scorekeeper Thom Hinton thinking back to 2013. With thanks to the well-respected Mr. Hinton, here is a bit of déjà vu:

On April 17, 2013, the Binghamton Mets were playing host to the Portland Sea Dogs. Portland starter Brandon Workman was dealing with seven scoreless innings. Binghamton’s starter, deGrom, was nearly as good, allowing one run in eight innings, on three hits and a walk while striking out eight.

The Mets lost, 1-0. Sea Dogs shortstop Bogaerts led off the fourth with a double, advanced on Travis Shaw’s groundout and scored on Tony Thomas’ sacrifice fly. And, to add to the memory, Vazquez also batted in the inning and singled.

So, deGrom pitched a gem and lost 1-0 when Bogaerts doubled and then scored. Eight years later …

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