Tuesday, March 11, 2014
BY KEVIN THOMAS
MAINE BOUND: Slick field shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias has been so impressive in spring training with the Boston Red Sox that he could open the season with the Portland Sea Dogs. Iglesias was originally expected to open with Single-A Salem.
Another day, another report on the impressive display of shortstop Jose Iglesias.
All Portland Sea Dogs manager Arnie Beyeler had to do was hit ground balls to Iglesias, the 20-year-old defector from Cuba signed by the Red Sox to an $8.25 million contract.
"He's special," Beyeler said. "Fun to watch. He's a little bit quicker than everyone else."
Besides hitting fungoes to Iglesias, Beyeler has been watching the shortstop from afar as Iglesias continues workouts at major league camp. But soon Iglesias will head down the road in Fort Myers, Fla., to the Red Sox training complex, which is now home to the minor leaguers.
It was initially thought that Iglesias would begin the season next month at advanced Class A Salem (Va.). Besides giving him a warmer start than Portland would offer, Class A would help ease Iglesias into his first professional season.
But Iglesias has impressed the coaching staff in spring training with his fielding and maturity. He has two big hits in the spring: a three-run double against Boston College and a three-run homer against St. Louis.
"The better he plays, the better chance that we get him," Beyeler said.
But while Iglesias shows a clutch bat, he may need to show more consistency to make it to Double-A.
In a small sampling of 11 at-bats, counting the game against BC, Iglesias has three hits (.273).
He will get more at-bats when he moves down and the minor league spring training games begin.
If Iglesias does get assigned to Salem, Beyeler can wait. He already has a shortstop in Yamaico Navarro.
But when Iglesias comes to Portland, Navarro likely will have to move elsewhere, much like shortstops Kenny Perez and Dustin Pedroia both moved to second base when paired with Hanley Ramirez in Portland in 2004 and '05.
• Games begin Wednesday for the minor leaguers, and they cannot begin soon enough for some.
"Just drill work and batting practice so far," is how Beyeler described camp.
When the minor league exhibition season begins, Beyeler again will begin by managing the Triple-A team, while new Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo is still with the big league club, as are many of the players destined for Pawtucket.
As usual there is competitions for several jobs, especially in the outfield.
"We've got a pretty good logjam going on," Beyeler said.
The Pawtucket outfield figures to include former Sea Dogs Josh Reddick, Bubba Bell and Zach Daeges, along with minor league free agents Darnell McDonald, who has major league experience, and Christian Colonel, an infielder/outfielder.
Daeges currently has a strained back muscle.
Portland has a lot of returning outfielders: Ryan Kalish, Jason Place, Daniel Nava, Matt Sheely and Reid Engel. The latter two will be challenged to make the team because prospect Che-Hsuan Lin is expected to join the Sea Dogs.
Lin is not the only outfielder from Taiwan. Chih-Hsien Chiang, 22, has spent the last two seasons in advanced Class A.
He was moved from second base to the outfield only last year and is a contender for a spot in Portland.
• In the major league camp, five former Sea Dogs are experiencing various results in their brief stints through Friday.
Under the feeling-good banner are Reddick, who is batting .471 (8 for 17 with four doubles and a triple) and left-hander Felix Doubront and right-hander Junichi Tazawa, each with four scoreless innings.
On the other end of the spectrum is first baseman Lars Anderson, who was hoping to get off to a good start after last year. But through his first 18 at-bats, he is hitless.
Likewise, right-hander Adam Mills is not enjoying his first major league camp.
In two appearances, Mills has allowed 12 hits and nine earned runs through three innings.
• Speaking of pitching in spring training, a familiar face finally got into a major league exhibition game.
Mark Rogers, 24, of Orr's Island and Mt. Ararat High, has pitched two games for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rogers, the Brewers' first-round draft pick and fifth overall in 2004, was sidelined in both 2007 and '08 because of shoulder surgeries. The Brewers brought him back slowly last year -- 22 starts, but for only 64 innings, in advanced Class A, compiling a 1.67 ERA.
This spring, Rogers pitched two scoreless innings against Oakland on March 5 and followed that by giving up two hits and one run in two innings against the Reds on Thursday.
He is likely headed to Double-A this year to Huntsville, Ala. in the Southern League.