Baseball America has named the Portland Sea Dogs their Minor League Team of the Year, capping off a season which saw Boston's Double-A affiliate host an impressive group of prospects and piling up an all-time best 88-54 record.
When the 2015 season begins, Portland will be one of the least interesting teams in Boston's system, and they ended the year with a relatively unimpressive roster, ultimately failing to reach the Double-A Championship Series. That, however, is the nature of the best minor league teams. Their prospects see success, and rise up to higher levels.
And oh, did they ever rise. The star who stole the show is obviously Mookie Betts who, yes, started the season with his very first Double-A at bat and, after nearly 400 more split between Portland and Pawtucket, finished it off hitting .291/.368/.444 with the Red Sox proper. Along the way he tied a minor league on-base streak record, reaching safely in better than 70 games dating back to 2013.
It takes more than one great player to make a team, however. Coming in close behind Betts are Henry Owens and Blake Swihart, both solidifying their position as top prospects both within Boston's system and on a national scale. Brian Johnson and Deven Marrero saw their stocks rise tremendously with big performances in Double-A, and Travis Shaw finally overcame the Double-A hump with a .305/.406/.548 performance before heading up to Pawtucket. Even Sean Coyle managed to return to form with an .883 OPS in 336 at bats, though he once again struggled to stay healthy for the full season.
The Red Sox have enjoyed some very positive seasons from their farm system of late, and Portland proved the perfect storm this year, with a number of top prospects converging on the level to start the season, and a few others coming into their own for the first time. It might be a long time before Boston's system produces another team this good. Or it might be 2015, when the Pawtucket Red Sox are looking pretty stacked to begin with.