Former Augusta State star Shannon Wilkerson continues to climb the minor league ladder in the Boston Red Sox organization, and he has found himself on one of the most star-studded teams in the minors.
Wilkerson is the leadoff hitter and center fielder for Boston’s Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Wilkerson, the 2009 Division II Player of the Year at Augusta State, is hitting .233 with two home runs and three stolen bases.
Wilkerson is surrounded by young talent. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, 20, ranked as Boston’s No. 1 prospect by the majority of publications, is considered a top-5 national prospect. He leads the team with a .303 average and two home runs.
The pitching staff includes four arms ranked in the Red Sox system. Matt Barnes headlines the group, ranked third in the system by Baseball America. He has struggled early, though, allowing 15 runs in 20 innings but has 27 strikeouts.
Drake Britton, ranked 11th in the system, has a 4.75 ERA over 30 1/3 innings. Despite the high runs allowed, he also continues to post solid strikeout numbers with 30. Brandon Workman is right behind Britton at 12th, recording a 2.73 ERA in 292/3 innings. He has 34 strikeouts and six walks.
Anthony Ranaudo, ranked 14th, has been the most impressive so far this season. He holds a 1.00 ERA, allowing three runs in 27 innings with 30 strikeouts and six walks.
Portland was 17-9 entering the weekend.
CONTINUED SUCCESS: Several former Augusta GreenJackets are continuing their success on the mound with the San Jose Giants, the Advanced-A affiliate of the San Francisco club.
Clayton Blackburn, one of the aces of the 2012 Augusta staff, has a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings for San Jose. He entered the season ranked sixth in the Giants system by Baseball America following an impressive full-season debut in Augusta. His solid command and control have led to 33 strikeouts to four walks to start the season.
Edwin Escobar has a 2.16 ERA in 25 innings, walking five and striking out 37. The left-hander moved up quickly on prospect lists following a good full-season debut in Augusta last year, and his strikeout stuff continues to show at the higher level.
Chris Marlowe has a 1.73 ERA in five starts. Adalberto Mejia has a 4.19 ERA in four starts.
POWER POTENTIAL: The Hickory Crawdads’ offensive potential is already showing 27 games into the season.
Hickory, loaded with power and big bodies, leads the South Atlantic League with 44 home runs, 18 more than the next-highest team.
Third baseman Joey Gallo, considered by many to have the best power in the 2012 draft class, is the first hitter to 10 homers in the league. Nick Williams has seven, while Lewis Brinson, Ryan Rua and Joe Maloney each have five.
The Crawdads also have plenty of swing-and-miss to go along with the power; they lead the league in strikeouts with 285.