A host of Boston Red Sox prospects have been swinging through Fenway Park of late, as the major league club has opted to go young amid its rollercoaster 2014 season. Sunday will provide an opportunity for some other lower-level prospects to visit the place they ultimately hope to call home.
The Lowell Spinners will host the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at 3:30 p.m. in the 2014 “Futures at Fenway” event. The Spinners, a Single-A affiliate of the Red Sox, and the Scrappers, a Single-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, play in the New York-Penn League, which is a Short-Season A League that begins in June and ends in early September.
The Red Sox feature one of the most talented minor league systems in Major League Baseball, and “Futures at Fenway” offers a unique opportunity to see the organization’s farmhands firsthand before some of them become household names with the big league club. Sunday marks the ninth edition of the annual event, which this year will feature a postgame screening of the classic baseball movie “Field of Dreams” and canine-themed activities for fans looking to bring their dogs.
It certainly should be an awesome day over at Fenway Park, but who should fans keep an eye on during the Single-A clash?
There are plenty of talented up-and-comers suiting up for both squads, but here are three Spinners really worth monitoring.
Nick Longhi, 18, OF/1B/DH
Longhi, a 30th-round pick in 2013, has been mashing this season, putting him into the discussion of the Red Sox’s top 30 or so prospects despite turning only 19 this August. Longhi, who has played the outfield and first base, is known for his raw power, which is intriguing given that it’s one of the rarest commodities in baseball these days.
Longhi enters Saturday with a 13-game hitting streak. He’s batting .353 — the league’s fourth-best mark — through Lowell’s first 23 games, building on his reputation as one of the purest hitters of the 2013 draft class.
Longhi, a Venice, Fla., native, happens to be a lifelong Red Sox fan, as he was raised by a family of Massachusetts natives who loved Boston sports. The 18-year-old remembers crying himself to sleep in 2003 following Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in Game 7 of the ALCS.
“I am really overjoyed to be here with this team,”Longhi told the Eagle Tribune last month. “It is a dream to make the big leagues, but it is something very special to make it to the bigs with the team you have rooted for all your life. That is what I want to do.”
Sam Travis, 20, 1B
Travis was drafted in the second round (No. 67) overall by the Red Sox in last month’s draft. He was selected out of the University of Indiana, where he was named a 2014 First-Team All-Big Ten selection and a Second-Team Louisville Slugger All-American while guiding the Hoosiers to a Big Ten championship. Travis was unanimously named Big Ten Player of the Year this season.
Travis, who turns 21 in August, enters Saturday hitting .277 with two homers and 11 RBIs through his first 21 games in the Red Sox organization. He’s known for his excellent offensive approach and plus-power despite being listed at only 6-feet, 195 pounds.
Kevin McAvoy, 21, RHP
McAvoy is expected to be Sunday’s starter. The right-hander made his professional debut Tuesday, tossing two scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits and struck out one.
McAvoy, a fourth-round selection (No. 134 overall) in the 2014 draft, brings some additional local flavor. The 21-year-old just completed his junior season at Bryant College, and he also pitched for Yarmouth in the Cape League last summer.
McAvoy posted a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts during his junior season at Bryant. A native of New York, McAvoy grew up a Yankees fan, though he acknowledged after being drafted that the Red Sox grew on him throughout his previous visits to Fenway. There’s no doubt who his favorite team is nowadays.
— This marks the Spinners’ sixth time participating in the “Futures at Fenway” game. For the Scrappers, keep an eye on outfielder Bradley Zimmer (Cleveland’s first pick in this year’s draft) and catcher Francisco Mejia (an 18-year-old already considered one of the Indians’ top prospects).
Photo via Twitter/@LowellSpinners