PORTLAND, Maine — It was another positive season for the Portland Sea Dogs both on the field and in the grandstands.
The Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, wound up fourth in the Eastern League’s East Division at 68-73 but finished strong with 32 wins in their last 51 games.
More importantly, several players enhanced their chance to play in Boston someday with impressive seasons.
And as the result of the blockbuster deal between the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers that sent veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers in return for five prospects, it appears as though there could be a speedier path to Boston now.
“The trade indicated to me that the Red Sox are going to focus more on developing home-grown talent and bringing players up through the farm system rather than signing high-priced free agents,” said Sea Dogs assistant general manager Chris Cameron.
“That bodes well for the guys going up through the system here and means we’ll be getting some of those prospects here,” added Cameron.
One of the players obtained in the deal was 22-year-old pitcher Allen Webster, who made two starts for the Sea Dogs.
Although he was 0-1 with an 8.00 earned run average, Webster struck out 12 in nine innings.
“I saw him once and he had pretty impressive stuff,” said Cameron. “He struggled with his control but I think that was just a matter of getting adjusted. He was part of one of the biggest trades of all time.”
Attendance figures were up this season, according to Cameron. The Sea Dogs averaged 5,434 a game, which was fourth-best in the league
“We averaged 5,514 last year but one of those games that was counted was the one at Fenway Park against Binghamton that drew around 17,000,” pointed out Cameron. “So we drew more in-house this season.”
The 5,434 is 73.7 percent of the park’s 7,368 capacity.
He also said sponsorship and sales were “around where we were last year.”
The Sea Dogs also were blessed by the weather.
“We had only two rainouts,” said Cameron.
Several Red Sox players had rehab stints in Portland including pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Andrew Bailey and outfielders Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Sweeney.
Cameron said organizational meetings will be held in a few weeks as the team prepares for its 20th year.
“Hopefully, we’ll have some fun festivities planned around that,” he said.
The Sea Dogs originally were affiliated with the Florida Marlins but they became affiliated with the Red Sox in 2003.
Brentz is Portland MVP
Right fielder Bryce Brentz was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, Chris Hernandez was chosen the Pitcher of the Year, pitcher Jeremy Kehrt was the recipient of the 10th Player Award and Citizen of the Year was catcher Matt Spring.
The vote is taken among the fans.
Brentz hit .296 with a team-leading 76 runs batted in and 30 doubles. He was second in homers with 17.
Lefthander Hernandez was 4-8 but had a team-low 3.13 earned-run average when he was called up to Pawtucket. He was an Eastern League All-Star.
Kehrt was a valuable all-purpose pitcher.
He appeared in 25 games, 14 as a starter and 11 as a reliever, and was 8-3 with a 4.15 ERA. His eight wins led the staff.
Spring was involved in a number of community activities including speaking appearances at schools, clinics and hospitals. He also spoke to six organizations totaling more than 500 children about the dangers of inhalants.
Four playing fall ball
Brentz is one of four Sea Dogs who will participate in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
He will play for the Surprise (Ariz.) Saguaros which also will feature top prospects from the Royals, Mets, Cardinals and Rangers organizations.
They will play games against other teams for a couple of months.
Joining Brentz will be Sea Dog relievers Brock Huntzinger (4-5, 3.93 ERA), Chris Martin (3-6, 4.48) and Ryan Pressly (2-2, 2.93).
MacDonald makes Pawsox start
Former University of Maine ace Mike MacDonald of Camden made his first start for Pawtucket after being called up from Portland on Sunday, taking the loss (6-2) against Scranton Wilkes Barre.
He threw four innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out six.
The 30-year-old MacDonald was 3-2 with the Sea Dogs and had a 4.62 ERA. He struck out 34 and walked just 12 in 50⅔ innings. He had nine starts in 10 appearances.
“He pitched well for us,” said Cameron. “He relieved in one game and went seven scoreless innings. He’s exactly what they need for the playoffs, a guy with previous Triple-A experience.”
MacDonald was a 15th-round draft choice of Toronto in 2004. This will be his seventh stint in AAA.
He has yet to pitch in the major leagues.