MANCHESTER - MANY of the top prospects that began the season with the Portland Sea Dogs have moved on - some all the way up to the Boston Red Sox - but there are still plenty of future stars on display in the Queen City today.
The Sea Dogs visit the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium for the final time this season when the teams play at 1:35 today.
While big names such as Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Deven Marrero, Henry Owens and Travis Shaw have all moved up, top Sox of the future to keep an eye on today include second baseman Sean Coyle, catcher Carson Blair, DH/3B Michael Almanzar and outfielder Keury De La Cruz.Coyle was hitting .301 heading into Saturday night's game with the Fisher Cats, though his averaged has slipped eight points since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 20. Still Coyle said he feels good.
"Coming off an ankle sprain, I'd never had one before so it was a new thing for me," Coyle said. "It's a little different than muscle strains but I've progressed pretty quickly and I'm feeling almost back to a hundred percent."
Coyle has battled injuries all season and has been limited to 88 games. Earlier in the season he bunted a ball off his finger and missed three weeks.
"It's not ideal, obviously, but it's not anything I worry about because I can't control it," he said. "I feel like the season has gone well.
I've had some ups and downs. Sometimes I've been hot, sometimes I've been cold.
It's all part of the learning experience and developing as a player and becoming more consistent, which is something I think I've made big strides with this season."
The 22-year-old Coyle is a Pennsylvania native and was a third round draft pick by Boston in the 2010 draft. He is the 14th ranked prospect in the Boston organization. He's been with Portland for the entire season after playing rookie and Single-A ball in 2013.
Coyle's size (5-foot-8) and position have drawn comparisons to Dustin Pedroia, who acts as a roadblock (along with top prospect Betts) for Coyle to move up. He has played some third base, but the buzz on that is that his arm is not made for the longer throw.
Blair is 24, a Texas native and was a 35th round pick of the Red Sox in 2008. He was assigned to Portland in early August and has hit .278 through 10 games with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Almanzar has had a busy season of movement in the Sox organization, playing in the Advanced A, Double-A and even Triple-AAA this year.
Through 45 games with Portland, the 23-year-old Almanzar is hitting .263 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 45 games.
De La Cruz is 22 and was a 2009 free agent acquisition. He's hitting .306 through 61 games with Portland this season, his first season in Double-A after five years at the A levels.
Portland has seen a lot of movement of its upper level prospects in an ever-changing roster that you would expect at the Double-A level.
Betts has bounced from Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket and up to Boston, where he is right now. The towering pitcher Owens is with Pawtucket now after carving up the Double-A ranks with a 14-4 record and 126 strikeouts.
Swihart, Marrero and Shaw are all also in Pawtucket, with Swihart frequently rumored to be on the short list for September call-ups.
Seeing all of these fellow Sea Dogs move up can be encouraging, but most guys prefer to focus on their own development according to Coyle.
"I don't really put too much weight into it. They're taking care of their business and doing what they need to do to move up," Coyle said. "Hopefully, I take care of my business. I'm working every day and let the chips fall where they may."
Staff writer Ian Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.