Kid in a candy store
That’s pretty much how I feel as I type this. I’m sitting at City of Palms Park. The main game is long over. Most of the people have gone home. But in many ways, for me, the fun was just beginning.
That’s because the Red Sox scheduled a second game, this one of the intrasquad variety. It was a necessity to get pitchers the work they needed, thanks to rain-related time lost. And while big-league fans probably are happy to hear that Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard each tossed scoreless innings, I’m more fired up by the prospects involved in this game.
The big one, of course, is Casey Kelly, who’s gotten to pitch in big-league camp. This is the first time I’ve seen him pitch where I could pay close attention. He threw in last year’s Futures Game, but I must admit to not having been able to focus like I can now. Aside from a pitch he left up to Luis Exposito (which Expo tattooed over the LF fence), Kelly looked extremely sharp. I wasn’t sitting near a gun, so I don’t know how hard he was throwing. What I do know is that he works fast, throws strikes and keeps the ball down. He went three innings and I can’t imagine anyone having anything negative about that outing.
What made it even more fun were some of the hitters participating in the game. At one point, Kelly was pitching to Will Middlebrooks (he got him to ground into a double play). Oscar Tejeda is in the game. I see Derrik Gibson in one dugout and assume he’ll see some time later. Tim Federowicz doubled off of Kelly. Former first-rounder Jason Place, the list goes on and on. Not just big prospects, but interesting minor league guys like Jeff Natale, who’s drawn over 100 walks more than times he’s struck out in his professional career.
I know, I know, the fact that seeing Bubba Bell hit makes me this giddy shows just how prospect geeky I am. But that’s why you come to read B3, isn’t it?
Oh, and I owe a Prospect O’ the Day, don’t I? There wasn’t one from yesterday with everything being washed out. On Thursday, I was at the Orioles-Twins game. I was hoping Josh Bell would do something worthy of me writing about it, but he had a non-descript game.
No, the guy I want to talk about wouldn’t even be termed a true prospect by most. I mentioned Juan Portes a few days ago following his two-homer game. He’s in big-league camp mostly as a reward because he’s a very hard working organizational type. He was a draft pick way back in 2004 and had a decent, though not extraordinary year in Double-A in 2009. He’ll play all season at age 24. You probably won’t find him on any prospect list for the Twins organization.
And all he’s done is rake. Portes doubled and homered on Thursday in two at-bats. He now gone 7-for-10 this spring with three homers, a double and eight RBIs. His slugging percentage is 1.700. I know, meaningless, but the dude deserves some credit for having a great camp.