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June 26. 2013 10:31PM

Ian Clark's On Baseball: Portland prospects in town

MANCHESTER -- New Hampshire Fisher Cats manager Gary Allenson is glad he won't have to see Xander Boegarts when the Portland Sea Dogs visit over the next four days. Now if pitcher Anthony Ranaudo would get promoted, Allenson would be even happier.

The Fisher Cats will welcome in Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate Portland for a four-game set at Delta Dental Stadium starting tonight at 7:05 p.m. Boegarts, a top Sox prospect at shortstop, got called up to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this month.

"They've got a good club. They lost their shortstop Boegarts. I hope they lose that Renaudo guy," Allenson said. "We're playing better baseball now since it's been a little more fun to come to the ballpark. I know it's the Red Sox so that will get us a couple more people in the stands."

While the prospect of facing Ranaudo isn't one Allenson relishes, it is good news for fans who come out to see the Sox pitching prospect in action. Ranaudo (7-2, 2.28 ERA) is scheduled to start against New Hampshire on Saturday against Deck Maguire.

Ranaudo and Boegarts were named to the rosters for the MLB All-Star Futures Game for July 14. The game features top prospects split into a United States team and a World team. Fisher Cats catcher A.J. Jimenez also got the word Wednesday that he would be playing in the game. Ranaudo will play for the U.S. while Boegarts (Aruba) and Jimenez (Puerto Rico) will play for the World.

The Eastern League All Star rosters were also released on Wednesday and Portland and New Hampshire are both well-represented. Fisher Cats on the roster include shortstop Kevin Nolan (a fan voting selection), outfielder Brad Glenn and pitcher Sean Nolin (another fan pick). For Portland, catcher Christian Vazquez, third baseman Michael Almanzar (fan pick), Ranaudo (fan pick) and pitcher Drake Britton will be on the Eastern Division roster for the July 10 game in New Britain, Conn.

In addition to those players to keep an eye on when the Sea Dogs come to town, two other players bear watching. The first is third baseman Garin Cecchini, who has already made some noise in just four games with Portland by going 5-for-16 (.313) with two RBIs.

Cecchini was with High-A Salem before being promoted to Portland. He was ranked the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America and was Boston's fourth round pick in 2010. Cecchini was leading the Carolina League in hitting with a .350 average.

The other Sox prospect to look for is pitcher Matt Barnes, who is scheduled to start Friday night against Marcus Walden. Barnes is 4-4 with a 5.03 ERA in 14 starts this season. Barnes has not allowed an earned run in his last nine innings of work over two starts.

The four-game set with Portland will provide New Hampshire with a chance to gain ground in the East standings. Portland began play Wednesday night at 38-37, two and a half games up on New Hampshire (36-40).

Both teams have some work to do to climb into the playoff picture. Portland was nine games behind first place Binghamton and New Hampshire was 11.5 back.

"I've gone through this before. I had a club in Triple-A (Norfolk) that was in fifth place in the wild card and then at the end of August we were first place in the wild card, won 21 games," Allenson said. "We're treading water at four under (.500). We've just got to be more consistent. That's what baseball is, individually as a hitter or pitcher, you've got to be more consistent with each at bat and each pitch. When you get on a roll and start winning some games, get a key hit or some key outs it builds confidence and helps you relax when you get in those situations again."

The Portland-New Hampshire series will mirror a four-game series over the same span for the parent club Red Sox and Blue Jays.

Staff writer Ian Clark can be reached at iclark@unionleader.com.


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