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Minor Lines 4/6/23: Garrett Whitlock Is Coming

As Whitlock continues his world tour of Opening Days for rehab starts, we start daydreaming of him back in Boston healthy.

Boston Red Sox Spring Training Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Worcester: PPD

It’s worth mentioning that, although there will be no game to be reported on from Worcester as Buffalo is facing consecutive days of inclement weather, there are sure to be some skewed stats in the days ahead from the Triple-A lines. Yesterday’s double-header in Buffalo got moved back one more day to today, meaning the team will play their entire five-game series in roughly 48 hours starting at 5 PM. This comes after Buffalo faced quite the wintry storm that left their field in unplayable conditions. I’m half typing this so I can clown on the city that hosts the Patriots’ division’s biggest contender, and half so I can make the following joke: as prepared as we think the Red Sox aren’t for this season, it can’t be worse than the Bison’s home opener. Now that that’s out of my system...

Portland: W, 7-5

Onto some brighter news out of Maine. The Sea Dogs won 7-5 and at one point led 6-0... with the help of a familiar starter! Garrett Whitlock’s rehab on his hip arthroscopy is bringing the optimist in me out. Forget the fact that he faced Double-A hitters who likely haven’t faced too many major league arms, Garrett Whitlock went 81 pitches (in a rehab start!) went six innings (which is consistently efficient!) and struck out 8 batters (with a 69% strike percentage!) While he gave up a fifth-inning home run to Luke Ritter, it was the only hit he allowed in those six innings, and he walked just one. Offensively, Alex Binelas got the Sea Dogs out to an early lead with an RBI double, Ceddanne Rafaela batted in two runs in the 4th to extend the Portland lead to 6, and Tyler McDonough and Phillip Sikes, both recent call-ups from Greenville, each hit a home run. 2019 12th round pick Brendan Cellucci was really the only worrying stat line, giving up 3 runs in less than an inning pitched in his third Double-A appearance and turning the game into a save situation for Luis Guerrero. (What, is Brendan doing a Ryan Brasier impersonation? I kid, I kid!)

Opening Day in Double-A is generally low-consequence baseball, but knowing Whitlock commanded the mound like that while still probably not 100% in his hip brings a smile to my face. Now, the only question is if he’s healthy enough to try crowds bigger than Hadlock Field’s roughly 7,000 fans. If he can, this major league rotation may not be in catastrophic shape, after all.

Greenville: L, 1-3

Not quite as good news out of High-A, as speaking of impersonations, the bats seem to be doing their best to imitate the Boston Red Sox against Pittsburgh. After Marcelo Mayer’s first-inning RBI triple to score last year’s 4th-round pick Chase Meidroth, the bats went almost completely quiet, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. 21-year-old Wikelman Gonzalez pitched pretty decent baseball, allowing one hit in 3 23 and striking out five batters, but he did walk four. Ignacio Alvarez, the Brave’s shortstop prospect, out Mayer’d Mayer this evening, accounting for batting in all three of the Rome Braves’ runs. Also notable is that Blaze Jordan went 0-4... which, I mean, it’s still the first game of the season... let’s not put too much stake in it!

Salem: L, 11-7

Rounding out the Opening Days yesterday was Salem’s loss to the Orioles’ Single-A affiliate. The Salem Red Sox gave up 4 runs in the first inning and never quite recovered, seeing as their starter, Luis Perales, got pulled in the first inning. Miguel Bleis went 2 for 4, Allan Castro went 3-4, and that was 5 of Salem’s 7 hits. Not the most inspiring thing in the world for an organization that claims great organizational depth... but hey, it’s one game, and one game in Salem, Virginia, no less!

Happy Friday!