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April 7, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bleis, Castro shine for Salem as three teams open 2023 season


4/7 Cup of Coffee:
Six days after the start of the Triple-A season, the rest of the full season leagues kicked off on Thursday. A rehabbing Garrett Whitlock led Portland to the system's only victory of the day. Salem dropped a slugfest despite the efforts of phenom Miguel Bleis (pictured, right) and emerging outfielder Allan Castro (pictured, left). Chase Meidroth reached base four times, but Greenville fell in a lower-scoring affair to open its season. The rain finally stopped out in Buffalo but the waterlogged field was still in no condition for baseball, postponing Worcester's scheduled doubleheader. 

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Worcester Red Sox @ Buffalo Bisons, postponed
After rainouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, Buffalo optimistically scheduled a doubleheader on Thursday. While the rain had moved through, the field was not yet playable, delaying the Bisons' home opener another day. The teams will try again for a doubleheader on Friday. 

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The weather issues in western New York erased all doubt about where Garrett Whitlock would make his second rehab stint, as the right-hander made his second season-opening start in as many weeks. Whitlock is likely to move up to the majors for his next outing, and he looked ready for the move in six dominant innings. He allowed just one hit, a fifth-inning solo home run, while striking out eight and walking one across those six frames. Whitlock needed just 81 pitches, throwing 56 for for strikes. Brandon Cellucci saw his control abandon him, as he walked four of the five batters he faced when he came on for the seventh. He was lifted for Ryan Miller, who surrendered a grand slam to the first batter he saw. However, that would be the end of the Binghamton rally, as Miller retired the next four batters he saw, while Luis Guerrero fired a hitless ninth for the save.

Phillip Sikes got the scoring started with a third-inning solo home run, and a Tyler McDonough two-run blast highlighted a five-run fourth inning. McDonough and Christian Koss had two hits apiece, while Nick Yorke worked three walks and scored a run in his Double-A debut. 

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The Greenville season got off to an auspicious start, as a first-inning single by Chase Meidroth was followed by an RBI triple by top prospect Marcelo Mayer. That early rally represented the entirety of the evening's scoring for the Drive, as the lineup managed just four more hits. Meidroth was the offensive star, going 3 for 3 with a walk. Wikelman Gonzalez got the start and allowed just one run on one hit in 3 2/3 innings, striking out five. However, his command proved to be a problem, as he walked four and needed 62 pitches to record those 11 outs. Christopher Troye pitched a scoreless sixth, striking out two against one walk and one hit. Alex Hoppe added a scoreless seventh inning, striking out two with a single walk.

Editor's Note: The MiLB.com box score erroneously credits Troye with three innings of work including innings that were actually pitched by Jordan DiValerio and Hoppe.
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The prospect-laden Delmarva lineup proved to be a tough opening test for Luis Perales. The system's eighth-ranked prospect recorded just two outs, both via strikeout, while allowing four runs on four hits and a walk. A quintet of relievers followed, with only Nathan Landry managing his way through a scoreless effort. Landry allowed one hit in 1 1/3, striking out one without issuing a walk. 

Despite the loss, Salem had several standouts at the plate. Miguel Bleis marked his full-season debut with a double, infield single, walk, stolen base, hit batsman, two runs scored, and two RBI. Allan Castro doubled twice and walked as part of a 3-for-4 opening night that included a pair of RBI. Ahbram Liendo singled, walked twice, stole two bases, and scored three runs, while Cutter Coffey worked three walks. 

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Player of the Day: Allan Castro was one of the top performers on both the 2021 DSL squad and in the FCL in 2022, and he is off to a strong start in 2023. A standout spring training pushed the 19-year-old outfielder up to 33rd on the SoxProspects.com rankings board, and he kicked off the regular season with a pair of doubles, reaching base four times. Castro received a $100K bonus as an international free agent in July 2019 out of the Domincan Republic. 

Photo Credit: Allan Castro & Miguel Bleis by Kelly O'Connor