In a week, the Sea Dogs will be in Portland, preparing for their April 6 opener at Hadlock Field.
But who, exactly, will be here?
If you have been paying attention, you can name at least one player on his way to Portland – third baseman Rafael Devers, the Red Sox No. 1 prospect. (Yes, officially, Andrew Benintendi is still a “prospect,” but let me give you some insider information: he’s going to make the Boston roster.)
Devers should attract fans to Hadlock. Others are worth keeping an eye on.
Here are four players who should be putting on the layers before heading into the Portland chill next week – first baseman Nick Longhi, outfielders Danny Mars and Cole Sturgeon, and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin. None is what you would call a can’t-miss major leaguer, but there is some talent there.
Longhi, 21, is the youngest of the bunch. Drafted out of Venice (Florida) High in the 30th round of the 2013 draft (but given a $440,000 signing bonus), Longhi seems ahead of schedule. If he had taken the scholarship offer by Louisiana State, he would be either be in his senior season or starting his pro career. Instead, he will be in Double-A.
Longhi is a productive hitter – career .282 average/744 OPS. He’s 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, but without home run power (two in Salem last year). Still, he hit 40 doubles, second-best in the Carolina League.
Mars, 23, may have competed against Longhi in high school, having played at nearby Sarasota High. Mars played one season of junior college ball before going to the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2014 draft.
Like Longhi, Mars (6-foot, 195) does not hit home runs (also two in Salem last year), but has speed for triples (10) and stolen bases (31 of 44). He’s a switch-hitter.
Sturgeon, 25, is more of a long shot and will be making his third stop in Portland – 40 games in 2015 and all of 2016 (.268/.686 OPS). He had six home runs and 20 doubles last season. A 10th-round draft pick in 2014, out of the University of…