Posts Tagged ‘Portland Sea Dogs’

Around the EL: Lars Anderson

August 7, 2009

larsAsk and ye shall receive. 

Lars Anderson was the winner of a recent poll on here, asking which Around the EL feature you’d like to see next.

The Sea Dogs slugger entered the season as the Red Sox top prospect, according to Baseball America.  During Portland’s last trip to Waterfront Park this year, I sat down with the laid-back California native for a few minutes and asked him a number of questions…

(Note: Friend and colleague Kira Jones, who works for MiLB.com, was also there for part of the interview and asked one of these questions as well…)

Mike Ashmore: The Boston Red Sox picked you in the 18th round in 2006, certainly a bit lower than I’m sure you thought you might go.  Thinking back to the day you got selected, what comes to mind?

Lars Anderson: “At the time, I was really indecisive about if I wanted to play pro ball or if I wanted to go to school.  I kind of felt some relief, because I was supposed to go a little higher than that and I slipped.  So I was like, ‘OK, I kind of want to go to school.’  Then the Red Sox picked me.  I was on my way to baseball practice and my brother called and said, ‘Hey, how do you like Boston?’  And I thought that was cool, so it just worked out nicely.”

Ashmore: Baseball America has got you rated as the Red Sox number one prospect this season.  Does being held in such high regard like that weigh on your shoulders at all, or do you not really think about it?

Anderson: “I try to not pay attention to that, and I think I would be able to do that, but people remind you of it.  So it’s there, and it’s a matter of managing that.  I don’t think it reflects on me as far as how I am as a ballplayer or as a person, it’s just a subjective opinion of the organization.  I don’t even know if that person who made that list has seen me play.  So it’s pretty arbitrary.  I know a lot of guys in this organization are at the top of their game, so I don’t really know how accurate that whole thing is.”

Ashmore: Can you give me a little scouting report on yourself for someone who hasn’t seen you play?

Anderson: “Offensively, when I’m going really well, I’m quiet, my swing is easy and I’m driving the ball up the middle and in the gaps.  When I struggle, I’ll start to pull off of balls.  And I think that’s true for a lot of hitters.  I like hitting fastballs, but I think I’m getting better at hitting offspeed stuff.  They always say that the best offspeed hitters are the guys that hit the fastballs, so it seems like it’s a nice approach to take.”

“Defensively, I’m pretty pleased with some of the strides I’ve made.  There’s some situational stuff that I’ve made mistakes on that it’s good to have that happen now.  There was a play last night where that happen, and I was like OK, next time I’ll be a little bit more aware of that.  I feel fundamentally a bit more comfortable on the field, which is great.  I’m working hard at it.”

Ashmore: You got to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game here in Trenton recently.  What was your experience like?

Anderson: “It was great.  I wish the All-Star break was about four days long so I could have a couple days to myself, but it was fun.  It was really cool meeting up with all these guys and kind of picking their brains and seeing where they’re at.  I really had some good connections.  A lot of times they’ll just come through first base and you’ll have a brief conversation, but there I was able to connect with them a little bit more.  That was a cool thing for me.”

Ashmore: You came into tonight’s game hitting around .270, and a lot of people consider that struggling for you considering what you’ve hit in the past.  Does that seem ridiculous to you at all?

Anderson: “No, it’s not.  I know I can do better than what I’m doing, and I always feel that way.  I think I’m going to look back on this year, regardless of what happens in the next month and a half, and be like, ‘Wow, that was a huge year for me, I learned a lot.’”

Ashmore: In reading a lot of scouting reports on you, it seems a lot of people feel like you can hit in the big leagues right now.  Is that an asssessment you’d agree with?

Anderson: “I don’t know, I haven’t really had much experience.  I had a few at-bats in spring training, but it’s just a handful.  I feel like if I was locked in, I could probably hold my own.  I don’t know.  I’m sure if they execute their pitches…those guys get big leaguers out, so it would probably be tough.  I don’t know, I’d like to try.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Around the EL

April 8, 2008

** The Ruckle Shuffle made its debut in the Eastern League last night.  Jake Ruckle, who dazzled Brooklyn fans a few years back with his very unorthodox delivery, made his Double-A debut for Binghamton last night and threw 5.2 scoreless innings in a no-decision for the Mets in their 1-0 win over Akron.

Just wait until this kid comes to Waterfront Park.  You haven’t seen anything like him. 

Jake’s a nice guy, too…spoke to him a few years back over at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn.

An Emmanuel Garcia single scored Fernando Martinez in the eighth inning for the game’s only run.

** Dustin Richardson is apparently as good as advertised.  Perhaps one of the lesser known pitching prospects in the Red Sox system, that will all change if he keeps repeating the performance he put on in his Double-A debut last night.

Richardson allowed just two hits and struck out ten batters in just five innings of work, leading undefeated Portland to a 7-1 win over Connecticut, who suffers their first loss of the year.

** Bowie fell to 0-5 after an extra inning loss to Reading.

Chris Tillman, who was acquired by the O’s in the Erik Bedard trade, made his Double-A debut and left after just two innings due to a pitch count.  A Javon Moran bases-clearing triple was the difference in the 10th inning for Reading.

** Harrisburg crushed Erie, 12-3. 

They used an eight-run seventh inning to do the Seawolves in, led by run-scoring doubles from Luis Jimenez, Yurendell De Caster, Ian Desmond and Roger Bernardina.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Best of 2007: Moment #9

February 29, 2008

Moment #9 – Trenton finally beats Portland in the playoffs
September 8, 2007
Portland, ME

In their first 13 seasons, the Trenton Thunder not only had never won a playoff series, they’d never had a 2-1 series lead.

With the first two games between Trenton and the Portland Sea Dogs at Waterfront Park split down the middle and making the series little more than a best-of-three, it was obvious that Game 3 at Portland’s Hadlock Field would be the turning point.

Daniel McCutchen got the nod in the pivotal third game for the Thunder, the first postseason start of his brief professional career.

“You have to take the same approach, even though it’s going to be a little more intense than a regular season game,” McCutchen said.

“I know (Portland) has some pretty good hitters, and we have a pretty good scouting report on them. I just have to pitch to my strengths, and go right at them.”

That’s exactly what the 24-year-old righty did, allowing only one run on three hits over six innings of work, leading the Thunder to a tight 3-2 victory and their elusive two games to one series lead.

The 30th ranked prospect in the Yankees system, according to Baseball America, McCutchen retired 11 straight batters at one point in the game.

With Jeff Marquez on the mound for Game 4 with the Thunder on the brink of advancing to the championship series for the first time in franchise history, there was little doubt that Trenton would break their 13-year curse.

The 15-game winner continued the domination of Thunder starting pitching in this series, combining with Eric Wordekemper and Justin Pope on a five-hit shutout. In fact, Thunder starters allowed just three earned runs over 26.2 innings pitched (1.02 ERA).

And just like that, the Trenton Thunder would be headed to the Eastern League Championship Series.

The first two games of the series, held in Trenton, seemed to be where the Thunder needed to make their mark. Chase Wright, who made two starts for the Yankees earlier this season, started the series opener, and Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Alan Horne was on the bump for the second game.

Wright outdueled top Boston prospect Justin Masterson in the first game, getting a little revenge against the Red Sox — who hit four straight home runs off of him in his last big league start.

“I’ve faced them a couple of times since I’ve been back, and they’ve roughed me up a little bit, so when I saw that I was going to get a rematch, it was nice to be able to go out there and beat them,” Wright said.

Masterson, drafted in the second round out of San Diego State just last year, looked like the inexperienced pitcher he is, having a difficult time locating his pitches in his five innings of work.

It was an assessment he didn’t necessarily agree with.

“I did exactly what I wanted to do,” said Masterson, who picked up the loss after allowing two runs on seven hits.

He also walked a batter, hit another, and threw a wild pitch.

“I actually felt pretty good out there. I gave up seven hits or something like that, but four or five of those never left the infield. Every hit was at least a ground ball, and that’s exactly what I want to do,” said Masterson, who got 10 of his 15 outs on the ground.

Noah Hall, who started the season with the independent Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League, found his way back into the starting lineup after a long stretch on the bench late in the season, and provided a key run scoring single in the win.

“It feels good,” Hall said.

“This season has really worked out well. Having done well in my short time playing, maybe I’ll get another opportunity next year.”

In Game 2, Horne and Sea Dogs knuckleballer Charlie Zink matched each other frame for frame, with the Thunder ace carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and Zink giving Portland seven strong innings of his own.

The contest lasted over four hours, with Portland scoring the eventual game-winning run on a wild play to give them the 3-2 win.

With two outs in the 13th Inning and a runner at first Base, Portland right fielder Jay Johnson singled to give the Sea Dogs runners on the corners. Andrew Pinckney then hit a ball off the glove of the diving first baseman, Cody Ehlers. The ball deflected back to the pitcher, Kevin Whelan, who flipped the ball back to Ehlers, who dropped it, allowing the runner on third to score.

The Thunder’s first playoff series victory helped get rid of the bitter taste left in the mouths of Trenton fans after the past two seasons, as they’d lost to the Sea Dogs in the first round of the playoffs in 2005 and 2006.

What made that pill even more difficult to swallow was that Portland was the affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.  Even at the Double-A level, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is an intense and important one.  And this time, it would be the Yankees who’d come out on top.

Recapping the Top 20 so far…

#9 – Trenton finally beats Portland in the playoffs
#10 – Shelley Duncan’s Impact With The Yankees
#11 – The emergence of Austin Jackson
#12 – Tony Franklin named Thunder manager
#13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB debut
#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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