The biggest factor that would seem to unbalance the competition in the minor leagues is rehabbing major league players. However, every team will have a rehabbing big leaguer at some point, and because they’re rehabbing, they’re often not at the top of the game anyway. But something that you can’t measure is the impact that the rehabbing player will have on the team not just through his play but through his presence, through the little tips he gives the players he will call teammates for a couple of days, and because having a legitimate major league player on your minor league team has to exhilarate you at least a little bit. Maybe that isn’t really the case, but in any event, the Bulls won handily on Wednesday.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 8, Norfolk Tides (BAL) 2
One big leaguer, Matthew Joyce, returned for the Bulls to go along with nice performances by some ex-big leaguers. Jim Paduch got the start for the Bulls and pitched pretty well, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings, striking out 4 while walking 2. Cesar Ramos and Dane De La Rosa tossed 2 shutout innings each to complete the ballgame, with Ramos allowing a hit and a walk but striking out 3 while De La Rosa was perfect, striking out 1. Reid Brignac had one of his best games of the season, going 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 4 RBI, Tim Beckham had a 2-run homer, and Henry Wrigley went 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored. Joyce, meanwhile, went 0 for 2 with a walk before being replaced by Jesus Feliciano. The reason: discomfort. Hopefully it was just precautionary, but you still have to worry- especially after what happened to Evan Longoria.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Mobile Baybears (ARI) 2
Matt Buschmann continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the season in the Rays organization. He was great again on Wednesday, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1 and posting an 8-4 groundout to flyout ratio. His offense gave him a lift with 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th to make him eligible for the win, which he got after Kirby Yates tossed 2 perfect innings for the save. Brett Nommensen had a big day for the Biscuits, going 3 for 4 with a triple short of the cycle, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored, Kyeong Kang slammed a solo homer, and Hak-Ju Lee and Tyler Bortnick continued to show the speed, stealing their 28th and 23rd bases respectively of the season. Lee also went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.
High-A Florida State League: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 7, Charlotte Stone Crabs 5
5 runs in the last two innings was not enough as the Stone Crabs fell 7-5 to the Miracle. C.J. Riefenhauser struggled for the second straight start, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits in 3.1 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a horrific 0-6. Alex Koronis allowed 3 runs in 3 relief innings before Lenny Linsky actually tossed 2 shutout innings- but only while allowing 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out just 1. The Rays are still waiting for him to get on track. (He’s the Stone Crabs’ Kyle Farnsworth). Charlotte got 3 for 4 days by Steven Tinoco and David Wendt and Derek Dietrich went 2 for 5 with a 9th inning bases-clearing 3-run double while Philip Wunderlich had an 8th inning 2-run single.
Low-A Midwest League: Fort Wayne Tincaps (SDP) 8, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1
Now it’s time to worry. Felipe Rivero left after 3 innings or less for his second consecutive start, despite pitching OK, allowing a run on 3 hits, striking out 2 in just 2 innings of work. Have to hope he’s not injured in any way. The Hot Rods thought to piggyback him with fellow starter Roberto Gomez, but that plan completely floundered as Gomez allowed 7 runs in the 4th inning. There weren’t too many highlights in this game for the Hot Rods, but a good sign was that Tyler Goeddel slammed a solo homer, while Cameron Seitzer went 2 for 3 and Drew Vettleson went 1 for 4 with his 11th stolen base of the season.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Vermont Lake Monsters (OAK) 2, Hudson Valley Renegades 1
As the Rays know very well, it’s very hard to win when you only score 1 run. Jesse Hahn tossed 3 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4 and managing a great 5-0 groundout airout ratio. But Edgar Quinonez and Dylan Floro allowed a run each in relief, and the Renegades could only manage a solo home run by Charles Epperson, the first of his professional career. Congrats to him on that big moment. Justin O’Conner also went 2 for 4 with a double.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 6, Pulaski Mariners 5
Blake Snell has been incredible all season. That continues to be the case. Snell finally allowed his first earned run of the season on Wednesday but still delivered another nice outing, going 5 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2 and posting an 8-3 groundout to flyout ratio. His bullpen collapsed behind him, but he was good enough and got enough run support to lead Princeton to victory. Willie Argo had a big game for the P-Rays, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and 3 runs scored, while John Alexander went 2 for 4 with a triple and RBI. Brandon Martin and AlvinW Toles each had a double and an RBI as well.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: Game 1: GCL Rays 4, GCL Red Sox 3
Have to credit the bullpen and timely hitting in this one. Jorge Rodriguez was great in the first 3 innings before allowing 3 runs in the 4th. He went 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5. His groundout to flyout ratio was a bad 1-4. But the GCL Rays came back with 3 runs of their own in the 5th to take a 4-3 lead, and Brett Blaise and Jason Wilson struck out 5 while allowing just 1 baserunner in 3 shutout innings to finish the game. Miguel Beltran went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, while Bralin Jackson went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Game 2: GCL Red Sox 4, GCL Rays 3
The GCL Rays couldn’t get the doubleheader sweep, but there were positive signs in this one. Stepan Havlicek allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings, but he struck out 4 while walking one and posted a great 8-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Kyle Pelchy also allowed just 1 baserunner in the final 2 innings, striking out 2. On offense, Benjamin Kline continued his tear, going 2 for 3 to raise his batting average to .625 on the season (7 games) and Cesar Perez had a 2-run single. Clayton Henning also went 1 for 4 with a run scored.