Baseball is back, and not just in the major leagues. With the return of minor league baseball on Thursday, we present this year's first edition of minor lines:
Portland W 3-1
Wendell Rijo: 0-4, 2 K
Aaron Wilkerson: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
Williams Jerez: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Luis Ysla: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Ah, Portland. These past few years, one team or another always seems to get the shaft. This time it's Portland. That also opens up some opportunities, though, since--desperate for something to talk about here, the bar goes down for who does and doesn't get attention.
Case in point: Aaron Wilkerson. Look, he's had the stats before. His ERA didn't bump over 3.00 in either of his stops in 2015. But he's also 26 going on 27, having been signed out of the independent leagues at 25 back in 2014. If that's starting to sound a bit like a Daniel Nava story, that certainly doesn't hurt. Neither, of course, does that eye-popping line from Opening Day. He's probably not a star, but when you fight just to get into the minors, just having a major league career would make his a story worth following.
Salem W 13-4
Yoan Moncada: 2-4, 2 BB
Mauricio Dubon: 2-6, 3B, K
Andrew Benintendi: 4-5, 2B, 3B
Nick Longhi: 2-4, BB
Rafael Devers: 0-4, BB, K
Daniel McGrath: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR
And then there's this team. Dear God, Salem is going to make some pitchers very, very sad. At least they will while these guys are still here and not gone to give Portland a boost.
They certainly didn't wait around on announcing their dominance either, scoring four times in the first and just crushing the life from opposing starter Enderson Franco. And none contributed quite as loudly as Andrew Benintendi. We said going into this season that the question was less "can he handle Salem" and more "where does he actually belong?" So far Benintendi has laughed at the challenges placed before him, and in his first exposure to High-A ball, he's provided at least an indication that this will be no different. It's hard to really start calling for Portland after one game, but...honestly, it almost seems like that's the default, and he'd have to prove otherwise to be held back for very long.
It says something when Yoan Moncada reaches base four times and can barely get a word in edge-wise. In part it says something about hits being flashy, granted, but damn, Andrew Benintendi has just been otherworldly since he stepped foot in Boston's farm system.
Greenville W 4-3
Michael Chavis: 0-4, K
Josh Ockimey: 1-4, 2B, 2 K
Austin Rei: 0-4, K
Luis Alexander Basabe: 0-3, BB, K
Kyri Washington: 2-3, 3B, K
Greenville is a lot more interesting than Portland, to be sure. But without much in the way of sure things. It's a collection of good breakout and bounceback candidates, and unfortunately the first game doesn't leave anyone looking particularly good. Now, the Sox don't need everyone down here to be good. But they would very much like someone to step up and fill in those middle-ranks, which are pretty thin in this top-heavy farm system.