The last time the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game was held at the Portland Sea Dogs' Hadlock Field, the Sea Dogs were represented by All-Star studs like then top prospects Hanley Ramirez, Brandon Moss, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jon Lester. All four are currently enjoying long MLB careers.
On Wednesday, there were lesser-known names representing the Portland Sea Dogs. Shortstop Marco Hernandez, utility player Carlos Asuaje, corner infielder Jantzen Witte, starting pitcher William Cuevas, reliever Madison Younginer, and reliever Robby Scott represented Portland at Hadlock Field. Three undrafted players, a seventh-round pick, an 11th round pick, and a 24th round pick who was better known as a tennis player as a teenager.
Yet these players represented the Sea Dogs just as well, if not better, as those big names of 2005. Hernandez, an undrafted player, signed as an international free agent by the Chicago Cubs and then was traded to the Red Sox for Felix Doubront in 2014. He's not a household name but he became more well-known Wednesday night when he went 2-for-2, smashing a two-run home run that staked the Eastern All-Stars to a 4-0 advantage at the time, scored twice, and made a nifty play at shortstop. Though his performance was later overshadowed by the first-ever thrillling Home Run Derby Shootout, Hernandez still won the MVP, the second Sea Dog to do so. The other was Todd Dunwoody in 1996.
Asuaje was an 11th-round draft pick and only had one-at bat as a substitute on Wednesday. He grounded out but was strong in playing second base for the Eastern All-Stars. He made a great scoop on a throw from left field to double off Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Josh Bell.
Witte was a 24th-round pick in 2013 out of TCU and as an early teenager he was more known as a stellar tennis player, ranked top in his age group in Texas. Witte has blossomed into a great baseball player and knocked in one run Wednesday, albeit on a double-play ground ball.
William Cuevas was an undrafted player whom the Red Sox signed as an international free agent in 2008. He's a late bloomer but has been great this season, leading the Sea Dogs in multiple pitching categories, including wins. He hurled a 1-2-3 inning on 14 pitches.
Younginer was the highest draft pick of the bunch, taken in the seventh round all the way back in 2009. He was also successful, allowing one hit, striking out one, and hurling a shutout frame on Wednesday night.
Robby Scott was undrafted out of Florida State and was playing Independent baseball when the Red Sox signed him. He broke out last year and had a great night on Wednesday. He entered in a seventh-inning jam with the score tied 4-4 and the bases loaded. He induced a ground out and then fired a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Hernandez, Asuaje, and Witte may not be as recognizable or well-known as Ramirez or Moss. Scott, Younginer, and Cuevas may not be Papelbon or Lester. Nevertheless, they got the job done on Wednesday night and looked promising in the process.