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April 3, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Portland Sea Dogs announce opening day roster

The Red Sox minor league roster picture became even clearer on Tuesday, as the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs announced their opening day roster a day after the Greenville Drive and Salem Red Sox announced theirs. The roster is headlined by a number of intriguing hitting prospects, with a pair of top pitchers expected to break camp with Portland not listed on the roster for the time being.

Topping the list on the hitters side is right fielder Bryce Brentz, for a time arguably the hottest hitter in the minor leagues last season following a pro debut in 2010 in which he hit below .200. After moving quickly from Greenville to Salem last year following a 26-game hitting streak at the former level, the 2010 supplemental first-round pick will attempt to continue his rapid ascent up the ladder to the majors. Brentz is joined by fellow SoxProspects.com top 20 prospects Kolbrin Vitek and Oscar Tejeda. Vitek, the Sox' 2010 first-round pick, and will be looking to show he can stay at third base and produce the power numbers expected of a corner infielder after hitting for decent contact numbers in Salem last year. Tejeda returns to Portland for a second season, but will be doing so from a new vantage point as he moves from second base to the outfield. 

The lineup will be rounded out by a number of below-the-radar but intriguing players. Three shortstops - Ryan Dent, Derrik Gibson, and Heiker Meneses - will split time at the middle infield spots. Catcher Dan Butler and first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez have both performed steadily at the plate since entering the system and will try to continue their climb up the ladder toward the majors. Outfielder Peter Hissey was lauded as arguably the most improved player in camp this spring by SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Chris Mellen, earning a promotion to Portland after a 2011 season in Salem spent experimenting with new hitting mechanics. Expect outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker and Ronald Bermudez to get plenty of at-bats as well.

On the mound, no top-flight prospects are listed on the opening day roster, although a number of intriguing players like starters Chris Balcom-Miller, Chris Hernandez, and Brock Huntzinger, as well as relievers Chris Martin and recently acquired Aaron Kurcz will headline the staff. However, in addition to those players formally announced, right-handers Anthony Ranaudo and Stolmy Pimentel will join the team soon after staying behind in Fort Myers for now for "extra work," per Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald. Ranaudo is presently the highest-ranked pitcher in the Red Sox system, according to SoxProspects.com, and will be looking to regain the luster that once made him one of the top college prospects in the nation after spending 2011 getting adjusted to professional ball. Pimentel will try to get back on track after faltering badly at Portland last season, going 0-9 with a 9.12 ERA before a demotion to Salem after entering the year as SoxProspects.com's fifth-ranked prospect.

Of note this season is that the rosters for both the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League will expand from 24 to 25 players. Expect to see a slight decrease in the number of players put on the inactive list or suffering from "right calf strains" at those levels as a result.

Among those conspicuous by his absence from the roster announcements of the last two days was 2010 second round pick Brandon Workman. When asked by a fan on Twitter, Workman said that he expects to begin the season with High-A Salem. It is likely that Workman, like Ranaudo and Pimentel, is simply staying behind in Fort Myers to begin the year and will be assigned shortly.

Expect the announcement of the final full-season club roster, that of the Pawtucket Red Sox, to come some time Wednesday after the major league club announces its final cuts.

Portland Sea Dogs
RHP Chris Balcom-Miller
LHP Billy Buckner
RHP Caleb Clay
RHP Josh Fields
LHP Chris Hernandez
RHP Brock Huntzinger
RHP Jeremy Kehrt
RHP Aaron Kurcz
LHP Will Latimer
RHP Michael Lee
RHP Chris Martin
RHP Eammon Portice
C Dan Butler
C Jayson Hernandez
C Matt Spring
SS/CF Ryan Dent
SS Derrick Gibson
UT Jon Hee
IF Heiker Meneses
1B Reynaldo Rodriguez
3B Kolbrin Vitek
OF Ronald Bermudez
RF Bryce Brentz
CF Jeremy Hazelbaker
OF Peter Hissey
OF Oscar Tejeda