The regular season is underway in the minor leagues, and Boston's stacked system kicked the year off with a ridiculous Opening Day. At least, ridiculous for some.
Xander Bogaerts: 5-9, 2B, 3 BB
Alright, so he's moved on to wrecking the majors now. But it felt necessary to give him top billing one last time, particularly in the year where he's a consensus top-2 prospect in all of baseball.
Now moving on...
Pawtucket L 0-4
Brock Holt: 1-3, 2B, BB, SB
Alex Hassan: 0-4, 2 K
Ryan Lavarnway: 0-4
Bryce Brentz: 0-3, A
Garin Cecchini: 1-2, BB, K
Christian Vazquez: 0-3, K
Allen Webster: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Craig Breslow: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
Dalier Hinojosa: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Drake Britton: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
To make a long story short: Allen Webster remains, for now, Allen Webster. We'll hope to see him smooth out his game so he can avoid the extreme lows that currently come with his extreme high, but if tonight is any indication, it didn't happen over the offseason.
While it's hardly unexpected, it's also worth noting that Garin Cecchini is one step away from the majors to start the year, despite starting 2013 in Salem. He and Vazquez might well start to climb in that lineup as the year goes on and it becomes clear that they're Boston's best chance to get any significant impact out of their non-pitching depth.
Portland W 5-0 (In 7)
Mookie Betts: 4-4, HR
Deven Marrero: 2-4, 2 2B, K
Travis Shaw: 0-3, BB, K
Henry Ramos: 2-3
Blake Swihart: 2-3
Sean Coyle: 0-2, BB, K
Henry Owens: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
Alright, so Henry Owens' no-hitter lasted only six innings. He doesn't control the rain!
There's certainly not going to be any real complaints or nay-saying here. Owens came into 2013 backed by optimism based on scouting and peripherals. Now, after making good on that optimism with a big year, he's moved into the territory of full-on hype. That's pretty hard to live up to for any prospect, but one game into the season and he's exceeding expectations.
It's an interesting path to contrast with that of Mookie Betts. Neither he nor Owens produced anything much in terms of results back in 2012, but where Owens had support, Betts was largely ignored by the fanbase and scouts. He was the man with the 80 name and nothing else. Then he went insane in 2013, leaving him with the enviable-if-precarious title of "breakout player." After all, we've seen players explode for a big year out of nowhere before fading quickly into obscurity plenty of times in baseball's history. But Betts wants none of that, and he's decided to express himself with an absolute beatdown of Reading's Jesse Biddle--who is a top-100 prospect in his own right, it must be mentioned--in his Portland debut.
Salem W 10-3
Jose Vinicio: 1-4, K
Brian Johnson: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
There's little doubt that Salem is going to be a brutal follow this season. They're very much the Greenville team that Mookie Betts left barren and empty following his promotion. But, if the names aren't all that interesting (Brian Johnson and his fine night the exception), the Salem Sox at the very least chose an interesting way to score those 10 runs. Yes, their seven hits seems low for that total. Awfully low, in fact. But it's got nothing on the three hits they had after four innings, by which point they had all ten runs!
Three hits, 10 runs. You guessed it: 10 of those 13 walks came in the first four frames.
What on Earth happened down there?
Greenville W 3-1
Tzu-Wei Lin: 3-3, BB, 2 SB
Manuel Margot: 0-4, 2 K
Wendell Rijo: 1-4
Cody Kukuk: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
That first section could well be called the battle of the breakout candidates. Greenville doesn't look all that strong, but over the next couple months we'll probably have at least one player drawing attention down there. Tzu-Wei Lin? Well, he just has an early lead in the race.