Earlier this month, speedy Salem Red Sox outfielder Matty Johnson was asked to give his impressions of teammate Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley had just delivered another one of his typical performances – a couple of walks, a pair of hits, a spectacular catch in the outfield that he’d made look routine.
Johnson shook his head in amazement.
“I’ve never seen a player that can excite me like he can,” Johnson said.
So what the heck are we supposed to do now? The thrill is gone!
Salem’s loss is the gain of Portland, Maine. Bradley was promoted to the Double-A outpost during the Carolina League All-Star break after hitting .359 with a .480 on-base percentage in the first half.
That means the Sox will play the home portion of their second half schedule – starting at 7:05 Thursday against Potomac — without their affable sparkplug atop the lineup.
Take heart, though. Plenty of reasons remain to come to the park. Among them:
“SIX A YOU BOYS ‘GAINST ME”
For those wondering, that’s a quote from Sgt. Barnes in “Platoon.” Tom Berenger’s character used to be the baddest Barnes around – but that’s changed.
A few weeks ago, Sox right-hander Matt Barnes threw a pitch at Salem Memorial Ballpark that prompted the scoreboard to flash “101.” Did that Barnes fastball actually hit triple digits, or was the stadium gun running a little hot that night?
Probably the latter, but it doesn’t really matter. UConn’s all-time strikeouts king throws gas – not to mention a ridiculous curve.
They’re both worth a look while the 2011 first round draft pick is still around. Your initial chance comes Thursday night; Barnes (5-1, 2.17 ERA) is scheduled to start against Potomac’s Matt Grace.
SCRAPPIN’ AND CLAWIN’
Minor league baseball is all about moving up, but sometimes the changes in the other direction create the most compelling scenarios.
Third baseman Heiker Meneses and outfielder Shannon Wilkerson both are back at this level after spending part of this season at Double-A. Can they battle their way back to “lobstah” country? Stay tuned.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts opened the season as the No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox system, according to Baseball America.
The publication’s top guy, 2010 Salem alum Will Middlebrooks, is playing so well in Boston that the Sox traded Kevin Youkilis – a move that got even President Obama’s attention.
So it’s probably safe for us to move Bogaerts to No. 1.
He’s playing like it, too. After hitting .258 in May, the 19-year-old Aruban is batting .349 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in June. Along with Barnes, Bogaerts recently was selected to play the MLB All-Star Futures Game next month in Kansas City.
THOSE OTHER GUYS
Lest we forget, there are plenty of people not wearing home whites who could make their way to the majors. Heading the list would be Frederick pitcher Dylan Bundy, the top-rated Orioles prospect. His team will visit July 7-9 and Aug. 28-31.
And finally, the last reason to come to the ballpark in the second half:
HOT DOGS, BEER, PEANUTS AND BASEBALL
Jackie was terrific. But this really should be enough.