Mitch Lekuvics has been around the Rays’ system since well before the start of the franchise- he began working with the Rays way back in 1995. He played a variety of roles before eventually becoming the Rays’ Minor League Director, overseeing the development of the Rays’ prospects into the major league players that have led the Rays from a perennial last place finisher all the way to one of the best teams in baseball over the last five years. In recognition of Lukevics’ contribution to the Rays, he has been elected the Chief Bender award for “distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development.” Here‘s what Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner and Lukevics had to say about the award.
“Mitch Lukevics has played an integral role in developing players [who] have contributed to the recent successes of the Tampa Bay Rays,” Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner said in a statement. “His relationships with Rays’ affiliates, knowledge of the rules and concern for his players and staff remind me so much of Chief and the legacy this award honors. Mitch’s efforts have been invaluable for the Rays, who compete in one of the toughest divisions in baseball — the American League East.”
“Chief Bender set the standard on how to develop young players, and was admired and respected by all of us in the industry,” Lukevics said in a statement. “To receive an award bearing his name is truly an honor. This wouldn’t be possible if not for the support I receive from the Rays organization and the tremendous people that I am fortunate to work with.”
Congratulations are in order to Lukevics on the well-deserved honor, and it’s perfect to go from Lukevics’ honor straight to the prospects he has worked so hard to develop. Let’s get into the Rays’ minor league recap for Monday.
Arizona Fall League: Phoenix Desert Dogs 5, Scottsdale Scorpions 1
The Desert Dogs jumped out to an early lead and got great pitching the whole way through as they breezed to a 5-1 victory. The Desert Dogs hit Yankees prospect Zach Nuding hard from the start, tagging him for 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits over 3 innings. Hak-Ju Lee had a single as part of a 2-run first inning before Tim Beckham tripled and scored in the 2nd. Phoenix then got another Yankees prospect, Dan Burawa, for 2 more runs in the 5th, with Lee walking, stealing second base, and scoring on a single by the Marlins’ Kyle Jensen for the first run. On the pitching side, Braves prospect Zeke Spruill tossed the first 3.1 innings scoreless, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out just 1 but posting a 4-1 groundout to flyout ratio, Brewers prospect Kyle Heckathorn allowed just 1 hit over 1.2 innings, striking out 1, fellow Brewers prospect Jimmy Nelson was dominant in 2 perfect innings, striking out 4, and yet another Brewers prospect, Johnny Hellweg, allowed the Scorpions’ first run in the 9th inning but held them there as the Desert Dogs won 5-1. Lee went 1 for 4 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored while Beckham went 1 for 4 with a triple and a run scored, and they looked fine defensively working as a double play combination, something we could see at Triple-A Durham in a regular basis in 2013. Lee and Beckham did not have the best night, but they showed flashes and it was nice to see Lee get back on track on the basepaths after getting caught in 4 straight attempts and Beckham deliver an extra-base hit for the second consecutive game.