The Week Ahead In The Minor Leagues (May 12-18)

What to Watch on MiLB.tv

Pawtucket at Indianapolis (May 13-16). Yes, Trenton vs. Portland is hard to beat, but we’ll leave that one as the best series to watch at the park. Seeing the Pirates’ Triple-A club take on the Red Sox’s Triple-A club is excellent in its own right. On one hand you have Indianapolis outfielder Gregory Polanco, biding his time in Triple-A until his big league arrival will no longer make him a super two arbitration candidate. On Pawtucket’s side you have a pitching staff that includes Allen Webster, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman, as well as a lineup that includes Garin Cecchini, Christian Vasquez and Bryce Brentz.

What to Watch at the Park

Gary Sanchez (Photo by David Schofield).

Gary Sanchez (Photo by David Schofield).

This is easy. The series of the week is Trenton at Portland. It wins because of the sheer volume of top-15 prospects who will be participating. On Trenton’s side, there’s Gary Sanchez (No. 1 in Yankees’ system), Mason Williams (3), Manny Banuelos (11) and possibly Slade Heathcott (2), who is recovering from offseason knee surgery and is slated to join the Thunder in short order.

Moreover, the Thunder’s roster also houses Tyler Austin (17), RHP Bryan Mitchell (21), Peter O’Brien (23), who is tied with Joey Gallo for the minor league lead in homers with 13, and Rob Refsnyder (29).

And that’s just one team. The Sea Dogs’ haul is even more plentiful.

Portland’s roster boasts LHP Henry Owens (Boston’s No. 2), who has thrown one no-hitter this season and threw 7 2/3 no-hit frames his last time out, catcher Blake Swihart (5), the hottest player in the minors in 2B Mookie Betts (7), LHP Brian Johnson (14), who bullied his way out of the Carolina League after just a month, and shortstop Deven Marrero (15). They also have first baseman Travis Shaw (27) and infielder Sean Coyle (30).

If you’re counting, that’s seven and possibly eight top-15 prospects on the two rosters, and 14 players who ranked in our top 30s. The series starts on Friday and runs through Sunday and will played at Portland’s Hadlock Field.

Prime Promotions

On Sunday, the Lakewood BlueClaws will host Golf Day, which will celebrate the sport and will feature raffles, giveaways and, according to their website, a closest-to-the pin contest. Be sure to replace your divots, lest you incur the wrath of a particularly prickly groundskeeper.

Also on Sunday, the Durham Bulls are celebrating mascot Wool E. Bull’s birthday. Normally, these celebrations are pretty tame, and usually feature a cavalcade of other mascots from around the area joining the star in on-field hijinks. These are the Durham Bulls, however, so nothing is off-limits. You have to feel sorry for whoever gets chosen to race the normally hapless Wool E., however, because he’ll probably have a little extra spring in his step to prove he’s still young at heart.

The last one obviously isn’t next week, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. On July 25, after the Northwest League kicks off its season, the Eugene Emeralds will give out a bobblehead of Kenny Wheaton. Who is Kenny Wheaton, you ask? Why, he’s only the prime actor in the greatest play in Oregon football history.

It’s always awesome when minor league teams are aware enough to work their area’s surrounding history into their presentation, and this is no exception. Another great example came this past week, when the Wilmington Blue Rocks paid tribute to Kayla Miller, their most enthusiastic souvenir vendor and a local star athletically, with her own bobblehead.

The Reading Fightin Phils (neé Phillies) do the same by honoring a local leader in Berks County athletics as the King or Queen of Baseballtown every year.

Wheaton Bobble

 

After moving from downtown Civic Stadium, the Emeralds now play their home games at P.K. Park, which sits in the parking lot of the home of Ducks football, Autzen Stadium. Having the Wheaton bobblehead, which you can see above, is a pretty neat way to pay tribute that connects with the team’s fan base on a much larger level.