When you’re reading this minor league recap, the focus should be on the great performances. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see that the only players I tagged were the ones that I considered to have distinguished themselves from the crowd with outstanding play. Sometimes the bigger statement isn’t who I tagged, but who I didn’t. My opinions mean nothing- but it’s the enigmatic performances that stick with you. If Pitcher A is great one time and horrific the next, you’ll remember the latter more clearly. It’s not always the pitchers that give up 6 runs who are the enigmatic ones, it may even be pitchers who tossed shutout ball. But it’s always frustrating to see 5 strikeouts and 6 walks. In the major leagues, a win is a win. If a pitcher buckles down despite horrific control, we praise him. In the minors, we scrutinize more, it’s not so clear-cut. Sean Bierman and the Renegades got my arbitrarily assigned headline today, but even as Rays affiliates had an overall successful day in terms of winning, we dwell on the negatives. Because we can’t let these players be smug. Winning isn’t enough. In the major leagues, they won’t have the same margin of error that they do in the minors. We can’t let them have that delusion. Sorry for the negativity, but it’s all part of the game.
Triple-A International League: Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (PHI) 10, Durham Bulls 1
Three pitchers pitched this game for the Bulls, 3 innings apiece. Two-thirds were a disaster. Alex Torres got the start and lasted just 3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was an unimpressive 3-2. His ERA on the season now stands at 6.79. The ability is still there with Torres, but other than intermittent flashes, the performance is not. Romulo Sanchez allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in the final 3 innings. But Josh Lueke may have really broken through. He went 3 innings in this one allowing no runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking none and posting a 4-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Lueke was terrible when we saw him in the big leagues and his ERA this year in the minors is still just 5.32. But in his last 8 appearances (16 IP), Lueke has posted a 1.69 ERA and a 21-0 strikeout to walk ratio. You can’t be much better than that. Lueke turns 28 in December, but if he has really found something, he could have a promising career ahead as a middle reliever in the big leagues. On offense, Rich Thompson, Henry Wrigley, and Chris Gimenez all went 2 for 4, with Wrigley tripling in the only Durham run, and Tim Beckham went 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 6, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 2
Kyle Lobstein has managed a pretty solid year in 2012, posting a 4.02 ERA in 100.2 IP. But will he ever come up with peripherals to get him even up to that level? Lobstein went 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits on Thursday, striking out 6. That’s great. But he also walked 5 and his groundout to flyout ratio was 4-5. Lobstein seems to be gunning to become the Rays’ next enigmatic lefty, but honestly he doesn’t have the pure stuff to reach that level. Lobstein and the Biscuits got their run support on this game from Hak-Ju Lee, who went 3 for 5 with 2 steals, bringing his to 34 on the year, and a run scored, Greg Sexton, who went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, Michael Sheridan, who went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Ryan Garko and Ty Morrison, who each went 2 for 5.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Clearwater Threshers (PHI) 1
Next up on the enigmatic pitcher list is Enny Romero, who got the win in this one despite Brody Colvin pitching a whole lot better for Clearwater. Romero went 5 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, but striking out 5 and walking 5 as well while managing a 6-4 groundout to flyout ratio. If he’s trying to emulate Matt Moore, somebody remind him that Moore didn’t really struggle until he arrived in the big leagues. Romero is a long way from that. Colvin went 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 8 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2 and posting a 9-4 groundout to flyout ratio. But between Romero’s luck and the bullpen’s prowess, the Stone Crabs managed to beat him. Lenny Linsky tossed 2 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits but striking out 1 while walking none in his first real encouraging outing of the season after coming back from a shoulder injury. He lowered his ERA on the year to a cool 7.00. Hopefully he can continue to lower that, but he needs a mulligan for this year and hopefully he can get back on the fast track to the big leagues in 2013. Theron Geith followed with a shutout inning before Chris Rearick tossed a perfect 9th with 2 strikeouts to nail down his 20th save of the season. On offense, Mikie Mahtook went 3 for 3 with a walk and his 19th steal of the season yet didn’t manage to factor in the scoring. Robby Price went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, Luke Bailey went 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored, and Derek Dietrich had the other RBI for Charlotte.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 5, Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 4
A bullpen collapse threatened to ruin a great game for Hudson Valley, but the Renegades managed to hold on. Sean Bierman tossed 5 shutout innings for the second start in a row, allowing just 4 hits and striking out 4 while walking none and posting a 7-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Great to see him pitching well after a rough start. Ian Kendall survived in relief of Bierman, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits in 3 innings, striking out 3 while walking 2 but posting just a 1-4 groundout to flyout ratio. But Ryan Garton had his second straight disaster appearance, allowing 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in just a third of an inning, recording his only out via the strikeout. Garton had to come back to earth eventually, but hopefully he can get back on track in his next outing. Marcus Jensen retired both batters he faced for the save. In terms of the offense, Joey Rickard went 3 for 4 with a double, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored, Marty Gantt slammed a solo homer, and Justin O’Conner and Tommy Coyle also had RBIs for the Renegades.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 2
As is far too prevalent in Rookie ball, terrible defense let this one slip away for the GCL Rays. Matthew Ramsey, the Rays’ 19th round pick in 2011, got the start, his first of his professional career after undergoing Tommy John Surgery soon after he was drafted. It was a short outing as Ramsey lasted just 0.2 innings, allowing a hit and striking out 1. Ramsey has an intriguing fastball-curveball arsenal in a relief role, and hopefully his rehab continues to progress well. Luis Cabrera pitched next for the GCL Rays and went 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs, just 1 earned, on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2 and posting a 7-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Brett Blaise didn’t allow a run in the the final 3.2 innings, although he really had to work out of trouble, allowing 2 hits and 4 walks while striking out just 2, posting a 3-2 groundout to flyout ratio. On offense, Ben Kline went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .463 on the season in 54 plate appearances, and Bralin Jackson and Spencer Edwards each went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored, with Edwards also driving in a run.