SOON minor league baseball players will receive their marching orders and will know where to report for work. Exeter’s Cody Morrissette (Marlins) will go in one direction, Bedford’s Grant Lavigne (Rockies) will go in another and the Toronto Blue Jays will stock the New Hampshire Fisher Cats roster with some of the best prospects in the organization.
One player who could start the season in Manchester is shortstop/third baseman Orelvis Martinez, who MLB Pipeline currently ranks as Toronto’s No. 2 prospect, behind catcher Gabriel Moreno. Martinez and Moreno were among the 15 players Toronto either optioned (Moreno) or reassigned (Martinez) to the team’s minor league camp Monday.
Moreno was in big-league camp as a member of Toronto’s 40-man roster, and Martinez was there as a non-roster invitee. Moreno spent most of last season with the Fisher Cats and will likely begin this year in Buffalo, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Martinez, 20, is a fast-rising prospect who had an impressive spring. He played in eight games with Toronto and collected four extra-base hits, including two home runs, in 13 at-bats. He also walked twice. Martinez displayed plenty of power last season, when he collected 56 extra-base hits — 28 home runs, including 13 in July — in 98 games split between High-A Vancouver and Low-A Dunedin.
Those who make their money in baseball scouting seem to think Martinez will someday make a permanent move to third base. One reason for that is his defense. He made six errors in 208 innings at third base last season, and committed 20 errors in 550 innings at shortstop. Still, his all-around game is good enough to be ranked No. 38 on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top 100 MLB prospects entering the 2022.
The Fisher Cats will open the season April 8 at Portland. The team’s home opener is April 12 vs. Hartford. If Martinez isn’t in a Fisher Cats uniform then, it probably won’t be long until he is.
Manchester’s Clay Legault, a 6-foot-5, 325-pound offensive lineman who played at Merrimack College, is among those hoping to end up in an NFL training camp this year, either via the NFL Draft or as an undrafted free agent. Legault, who played at Manchester Memorial, performed in front of NFL scouts at Merrimack’s Pro Day last Thursday.
If you have no dog in the fight, but are a University of New Hampshire hockey fan looking for a rooting interest in next week’s Frozen Four you may want to adopt Minnesota State as your team for this reason: The Mavericks’ roster includes former UNH defenseman Benton Maass, who transferred after spending four seasons in Durham.
Maass scored 10 goals and collected 27 assists in 120 games with the Wildcats, and served as an alternate captain for the 2019-20 season. He has two goals and 11 assists for Minnesota State, which will face Minnesota in the semifinals a week from Thursday at TD Garden. Michigan and Denver will skate against each other in the other semifinal.
Manchester will be the site for one of three NCAA regionals held to determine the teams that will compete in next year’s Frozen Four.
Perhaps the most interesting baseball game on NHIAA opening day will be the Londonderry-Souhegan matchup that is scheduled to be played in Londonderry on April 11. The Lancers are typically one of the top teams in Division I, and the Sabers may be the class of Division II this season.
A final reminder that the Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation will hold its annual high school coaches clinic on Friday at the University of New Hampshire. Those who attend will be allowed to watch a UNH practice before the clinic, which will include an NFHS rules review that is mandatory for all head coaches. To register, contact Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon at firstname.lastname@example.org.