Grant Williams is a 5-foot-9 middle infielder for the Portland Sea Dogs who handles the bat well. Photo by Portland Sea Dogs

He is on the smallish side for a professional baseball player. He plays second base with grit and attitude. And, at the plate, he is hard to strike out.

Is the next Dustin Pedroia playing for the Portland Sea Dogs?

“Being compared to Dustin Pedroia, in any sort of way, is a compliment, for sure,” Grant Williams said.

Williams, 25, leads the Sea Dogs in hitting with a .307 average. He has struck out only nine times in 127 at-bats – the best ratio among all Double-A and Triple-A minor leaguers. At second base, Williams shows range, reaching grounders that appear headed for the outfield, and has made three errors with 148 chances.

Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly often makes a point of bringing up Williams during interviews, calling Williams “a grinder. He battles a lot, and he doesn’t give away ABs. He brings energy to our team.”

Remind you of anyone?


Pedroia, recently retired and honored last Friday night at Fenway Park, provides an unfair benchmark. Pedroia, 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, was always a prospect – a second-round draft pick of the Red Sox – who played briefly for the Sea Dogs in 2005 before beginning a 14-year major league career that included Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, along with four All-Star Game selections.

Pedroia was not just a favorite of New England fans. A young ballplayer from Dunwoody, Georgia – just north of Atlanta – watched Pedroia with awe. Williams, all of 5-9, 145 pounds in high school, saw a player he could emulate.

“I grew up a Braves fan, and a huge Chipper Jones fan,” said Williams, who sports a Jones-like goatee.

“But I always had a little spot in my heart for the Red Sox. I grew up watching Pedroia play second base. That’s how I learned how to play the game, watching him.

“He never took anything off. Whether he’s backing up or making the play in the field, he always was on the move. He always knew where to be. It’s almost like he was one step ahead of the baseball.

“That comes down to his preparation and the way he carried himself on the field. That’s where I picked up how I play.”


During the 2019 season, when Pedroia was still trying to come back from knee surgery, he made rehab appearances in Greenville and Portland. In Greenville, Pedroia played second base and Williams played short.

“I had to pinch myself,” Williams said of the opportunity to witness his role model up close. “Even after 14 years in the big leagues, he still was out there, enjoying every single second, playing, giving everything he had and leaving it all out on the field.”

Minus the big league experience, that sounds like Williams.

Williams is not the first to come along with Pedroia comparisons. The Red Sox drafted infielder Sean Coyle (5-8, 175) in the third round in 2010. Coyle crushed it in Portland in 2014, with a .295 average/.883 OPS and 16 home runs. Injuries derailed Coyle’s career. He never reached the majors and was out of baseball after the 2017 season (and is now a high school and travel team coach in Philadelphia).

Unlike Pedroia and Coyle, Williams does not show power (one career homer in 209 games).

Also, Williams did not arrive in Portland with the prospect label, having been drafted in the 10th round in 2018 out of Kennesaw State University. Williams was a four-year college player, meaning he had little leverage in negotiations and he signed for $2,500 (or $2,550,300 less that first-round pick Tristan Casas).


But, label or not, Williams is producing and that is hard to ignore. He also knows that production must continue for him to get noticed.

“I’m a smaller guy. There are things I have to do to separate myself,” Williams said.

“You can get yourself wrapped up in ‘I’m in Double-A and I’m two steps from the big leagues’ That can mess with your psyche. Take it day by day and let it come to you.”

IF THE RED SOX needed an outfielder called up from Triple-A, they might not summon who you are thinking.

While everyone is raving about Jarren Duran, have you noticed the year Marcus Wilson is having? Duran is batting .276/.945 OPS with 13 home runs, seven doubles, 19 walks and is 8 of 11 on stolen bases.

Wilson, obtained in the Blake Swihart trade, is batting .273/.905, with eight home runs, six doubles, three triples, 31 walks and is 8 of 9 on stolen bases.


One more thing: Wilson is on the 40-man roster, Duran is not.

There is little doubt Duran has a future in the majors, and maybe a long one, but if Boston needed short-term assistance, the nod might go to Wilson.

IN GREENVILLE, third baseman Brandon Howlett seems to have hit his stride. A touted prospect out of high school in 2018, Howlett was pushed to low Class A Greenville the next year and hit .231/.698, with eight home runs. Now, at 21, he is in advanced A (which is now Greenville) and batting.286/.907, and already with 11 home runs.

“Having the experience of playing a full season under his belt has helped with how he prepares on a daily basis,” Greenville Manager Iggy Suarez said. “He’s had his bumps in the road, but he’ been able to get back on track.”

Since Suarez spoke, Howlett hit another bump, landing on the injured list Saturday with a concussion.

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