Welcome to the MLB Pipeline Game of the Month.
Once a month, a member of the MLB Pipeline crew will bring fans even closer to the MiLB.TV action for some of Minor League Baseball’s premier matchups. First up: Double-A Portland visits Somerset on Thursday for an Eastern League game between Red Sox and Yankees affiliates, respectively.
We will be at TD Bank Ballpark and will join Patriots broadcaster Steven Cusumano in the booth for the 6:35 p.m. ET start. Before first pitch, we’ll also take to the @MiLB and @MLBPipeline Instagram feeds for a pregame ballpark tour with Somerset president/general manager Patrick McVerry and a live Q&A with top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe.
Volpe is easily the biggest name expected to appear in Thursday’s MiLB.TV showcase. MLB Pipeline’s No. 8 overall prospect became a household name in Minor League circles last season when he hit .294/.423/.604 with 27 homers and 33 steals across 109 games at Single-A and High-A in the New York system. His hit, power and run tools all grade out as at least above-average, and he’s considered a steady defender at shortstop.
The 2019 first-rounder is off to a slow start in Somerset, hitting just .163/.311/.327 with two homers through 13 games entering Monday, but it’s worth noting he was the fifth-youngest player on an Eastern League Opening Day roster earlier this month. In fact, this first MLB Pipeline Game of the Month falls on his 21st birthday, and he’ll celebrate with a home game in his native New Jersey.
Though starting pitchers have yet to be officially announced, those Somerset sluggers could have their work cut out for them if the Portland rotation continues as scheduled. As things stand Monday, No. 9 Red Sox prospect Brandon Walter looks slated to take the hill for the Sea Dogs. The 25-year-old left-hander has yet to allow a walk while striking out 22 batters through his first three Double-A starts (17 innings). His last outing came on April 22 when he fanned 10 and allowed two earned runs on six hits over six innings against a loaded Binghamton squad.
Portland also boasts No. 27 Red Sox prospect Christian Koss, a gifted defensive shortstop who went 4-for-5 Sunday to push his early-season average to .321 through 12 games. Fellow infielder David Hamilton, who was acquired from the Brewers in the Hunter Renfroe offseason trade, is off to his own fast start with a .321/.357/.472 line over a dozen contests.
Both the Red Sox (at Toronto, 3:45 p.m. ET) and Yankees (vs. Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. ET) have afternoon games in the Majors on Thursday, making that night’s Double-A game a prime opportunity for fans to check out prospects from both farm systems.