Kavadas continues to make a strong impression following his promotion to the Sea Dogs

The Red Sox drafted Niko Kavadas in the 11th round in 2021 after 4 years at Notre Dame. Showing power and discipline at the plate, he was recently promoted to the Portland Sea Dogs. Courtesy of the Portland Sea Dogs

Ask any Boston Red Sox fan about first base prospects in the minor league pipeline, and the name Tristan Casas is bound to come up. Now at Triple-A Worcester, the former Sea Dogs slugger is on the verge of joining his parent club at Fenway Park.

Besides Casas, there is another interesting prospect. Niko Kavadas has played just nine games in Portland and hit his first Double-A home run on Saturday. At 23, he is a year older than Casas, who was drafted in the first round out of high school in 2018.

Kavadas, on the other hand, played four years at Notre Dame and went in the abbreviated five-round draft in 2020 after a shortened junior year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Red Sox drafted him in the 11th round in 2021 after a big season in which he hit 22 home runs in 47 games for the Irish.

He broke camp with low-A Salem in April for his first full professional season, and through late June averaged nearly one walk per game while hitting 14 home runs. He was promoted to senior Greenville and homered 10 more times in six weeks while continuing to display impressive plate discipline.

“He has a unique package of strengths and approach,” said Brian Abraham, Boston’s director of player development. “He does a really good job of not missing pitches in the zone he can control. He also does a good job of not expanding the strike zone.”

Including his brief stint with the Sea Dogs, Kavadas has compiled an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.043 this season. That’s the most by any hitter in the Red Sox system. He has 92 walks to go along with 25 home runs. More than half of his 98 hits went for extra bases.

Sea Dogs hitting coach Doug Clark knew little about Kavadas in spring training, but heard plenty from his Class A counterparts in the early months of the season.

“We’re in contact up and down the levels,” Clark said, “so you hear the vibes of how he’s doing there. You always look forward to someone who’s had success at the lower levels getting a chance to prove himself at the next level.”

Clark calls Kawadas a cerebral player, someone who works hard, pays attention to details and uses the whole field.

“We know he can hit the ball hard,” Clark said. “We know he knows what he wants to do at the plate. … WI’m always looking for someone who can have a big impact on the game and a home run is definitely a game changer.

Growing up not far from the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, Kavadas had two big sports dreams. One was to play professional baseball, and the other was to play for Notre Dame, where he saw future pros like Aaron Heilman and Jeff Samardzija.

As a freshman in high school, Kavadas went to Indiana University, his father’s alma mater, on spring break to watch future big league hitters Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis, both of whom spent time with the Red Sox. At 235 pounds, Kavadas has the build of a stocky Schwarber.

“Being 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-4, my arms are a little short,” Kavadas said before the Sea Dogs’ final game. “There is not enough leverage but more barrel control i guess. So I can swing a little more aggressively. “You don’t have to be that perfect because the levers aren’t that long.”

In college, Kavadas played two seasons at third base before moving from the diamond to first. In high school, he played shortstop and center field before putting on “good weight” from a special lifting program.

So the field of interior design is still relatively new, and it continues to learn.

“He’s definitely a bigger guy, but he moves well,” said farm director Abraham. “There are some little things we’ve been able to clean up, that’s being in good shape. I see continuous progress in this field.”

When it comes to getting promoted to Triple-A or the big leagues, Kavadas has learned to keep his focus between the white lines.

“These are completely uncontrollable things, where you start and where you end,” he said. ” You are not going to introduce yourself by thinking about where you are. You will introduce yourself by performing under the lights.”

The Sea Dogs open a six-game series at New Hampshire on Tuesday before returning to Hadlock Field for their final scheduled home opener of the season next week against Binghamton. They hold a half-game lead over first-half champions Somerset in the second-half play-off race.

If Somerset wins in the second half, the other divisional playoff spot would go to the team with the next best overall record, likely Hartford.

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