Sea Dogs pitcher Shane Drohan signs autographs for young fans before the team’s season opener on April 6. On Thursday, he continued his impressive start to the season, allowing one run, five hits and two walks in six innings to improve his record to 3-0. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Portland Sea Dogs left-hander Shane Drohan usually has a text message from his dad waiting for him after each start. Bill Drohan pitched in the Kansas City Royals farm system from 1987-90, and knows exactly what his 24-year old son is experiencing as he climbs through the Boston Red Sox organization.

“Recently it’s just been, ‘Good job, man,'” Drohan said about the texts. “Sometimes he’ll ask me specific situations. ‘Hey why’d you throw this pitch here?’ It’s a blessing to have somebody like that in your corner. He played at a high level. It’s someone who’s really going to be honest with me, even though he’s my dad. I think it’s an advantage.”

So far this season, nobody – not Bill Drohan, not the Sea Dogs coaching staff, not the Red Sox – has had much to criticize when it comes to Drohan’s pitching.

On Thursday afternoon in front of 4,738 fans at Hadlock Field, Drohan delivered his third strong outing in as many starts this season. He went six innings, allowing five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in Portland’s 5-2 victory over Reading.

The win improved Drohan’s record to 3-0, and the earned run he allowed was the first he’s surrendered this season in 17 innings. His ERA now sits at 0.53.

With the score tied 1-1, the Sea Dogs took the lead in the third inning when Phillip Sikes scored on a wild pitch. Alex Binelas increased the lead to 3-1 with his first home run of the season, a solo shot to right field in the fourth.


That proved to be plenty of run support for Drohan. He threw 95 pitches, 64 for strikes.

“I felt pretty good. I felt like the cutter and curveball weren’t really there as much as I’d like, but I felt like Elih (catcher Elih Marrero) and I made really good adjustments throughout the outing,” Drohan said. “We felt like they were doing a good job laying off off-speed (pitches) early in the count, so that’s why we adjusted to throwing a lot more fastballs.”

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Drohan has 19 strikeouts and just three walks through three starts. A fifth-round pick out of Florida State in 2020, he led Boston minor league pitchers last season with 157 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings – just under 11 strikeouts per nine innings. After a late season call-up from High-A Greenville, Drohan went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts with the Sea Dogs. ranks Drohan as Boston’s 12th-best prospect. ranks him 29th in Boston’s farm system.

“Last year, (Drohan) was outstanding for us. This year, he’s probably gained three or four miles per hour on his fastball. He has a better feel for his cutter,” said Portland Manager Chad Epperson. “The change-up compliments the fastball and the cutter. It just gives him another weapon to keep disrupting the timing (of hitters).”

Drohan’s fastball routinely hit 94 mph Thursday. The increase in velocity is the result of gaining 15 pounds in the offseason, he said.


“It just allows me to use my athleticism on the mound when I have more weight. It makes it a lot easier, too. I don’t have to work as hard,” he said.

Drohan calls the change-up his best pitch, and that was certainly the case Thursday, with a number of Reading hitters either swinging way ahead of the deceptive pitch or flailing a half-swing at it. Even when the Fightin Phils made contact, it wasn’t solid. Two of the five hits Drohan allowed never left the infield, and one was a bunt placed perfectly down the third-base line by Wendell Rijo in the first inning. Drohan retired 10 of the last 11 hitters he faced.

Despite his dad’s background, Drohan didn’t start taking baseball seriously until late in high school. Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Drohan loved football and wanted to be a college quarterback. Wary of his son developing arm trouble, Bill Drohan limited how much Shane could pitch when he was young, and he quit baseball in fifth grade. Drohan returned to the sport as a high school junior.

“By senior year, I was like, this is my thing,” Drohan said.

It took time for Drohan to develop and control the change-up. In three seasons at Florida State, he walked 69 hitters in 72 2/3 innings as he learned to pitch.

“It’s a pitch that’s really come on in the past year-and-a half for me,” Drohan said. “It was really just finding a grip and just really sticking to it. Not trying to bounce around and mess with grips. Finding what I’m comfortable with, and letting it eat.”

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