It was the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game on Saturday, the Rising Stars Game, and a couple Rays had the opportunity to take part. But the Rays players who shined the brightest were elsewhere. Sometimes the best comes out best under ordinary circumstances- and there were a lot more Rays players not participating in the Rising Stars Game as they played in all the other offseason leagues.
Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game: AFL East Rising Stars 9, AFL West Rising Stars 4
The East had their way with the West in this one, tallying 6 runs in the 5th on their way to victory, and unfortunately the Rays prospects were on the West side. Hak-Ju Lee went 1 for 3 with a single and an RBI, driving in a run in the 5th inning, while C.J. Riefenhauser went an inning allowing 1 run on 2 hits, throwing 9 of 12 pitches for strikes but getting hit pretty hard. The real stars of the game were Reds prospect Billy Hamilton for the West, who went 1 for 3 with 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, and 2 runs scored, Padres prospect Rymer Liriano for the West, who went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Nationals prospect Brian Goodwin for the West, who went 2 for 5 with a homer, a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. The Diamondbacks’ Chase Anderson also struck out 4 in 2 shutout innings for the West while the Yankees’ Mark Montgomery struck out the side in the 8th, also for the West.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 4, Leones del Escogido 3 (13 innings)
It was the Luna show for Cibaenas as the Rays’ Omar Luna and the Phillies’ Hector Luna came up huge in the clutch to back their great pitching in their 4-3 win. With the Aguilas down 3-1 in the 7th, Omar Luna delivered a 2-run single, and in the 13th, Omar Luna was hit by a pitch, was bunted to second base, and Hector Luna ended the game with an RBI single to seal the win. Omar Luna went 2 for 5 with 2 huge RBI and the game-winning run scored, notching a hit for the third straight game since moving to the leadoff spot for Cibaenas, but the story in this game was the pitching. Tigers prospect Kelvin De La Cruz pitched 3 shutout innings of relief for Cibaenas, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 6 and walking none, while Angel Castro, briefly a Rays prospect, went 2 innings of 1-hit ball striking out 3. Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez went 2 for 4 and former Reds prospect Edward Valdez went 5.1 innings of 1-run, 3-hit ball, striking out 4 while walking 1, to highlight the performances in the loss for Escogido.
Toros del Este 3, Gigantes del Cibao 0
A former Rays prospect, Aneury Rodriguez, had a dominating performance to lead the Toros to victory. Rodriguez, now with the Astros, went 5 innings allowing just 3 hits and striking out 5 while walking none, and the Este bullpen did the rest, tossing hitless ball to close out the 3-hitter. Orioles prospect Kyle Newby took a tough loss, going 5 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking none. Another ex-Rays prospect, Rhyne Hughes, was a victim of Este pitching, going 0 for 3, while former Giants utility player Eugenio Velez went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored for the Toros.
Mexican Pacific League: Mayos de Navojoa
The Mayos lost 9-6 on Saturday with the red-hot ex-Rays prospect Wes Bankston not in the lineup for the second straight game. Apparently Bankston is away for “personal reasons” according to this Spanish tweet, so no reason for alarm.
Venezuelan Winter League: Aguilas del Zulia 6, Navegantes de Magallanes 5
Alex Torres was spotted 5 runs in the first inning but struggles to his worst Winter League start even as Zulia staggered to victory. Torres went 3.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3, allowing 4 hits and a walk in a 3-run second inning. Torres was going up against a couple of current and former Rays prospects and could not quite do the job. Leslie Anderson went 1 for 5 with a second inning single and a run scored to follow up his 2 for 3 with a walk in his first game for Magallanes while Chris Nowak went 1 for 3 with 2 walks, extending his hitting streak to 4 and reaching base at least twice in each game. Nowak is hitting .342 in his last 10 games to raise his VWL average to .313 overall. National catcher Jesus Flores homered for Magallanes.
Leones de Caracas 6, Bravos de Margarita 5
The Leones came back from a 5-3 deficit after 7 innings with three current and former Rays making appearances to overcome a big performance by another ex-Ray. Henry Wrigley went 4 for 5 while moving around from first base to left field to right field, and Wrigley is now hitting a ridiculous .390 in his last 10 games and .325 on the VWL season. Daniel Mayora, Wrigley’s former teammate with the Montgomery Biscuits who spent 2012 in the Giants organization, went 3 for5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored and is hitting .371 in 14 games for Caracas. His single in the 8th started a 3-run rally that would win the game for Caracas. Victor Zambrano also worked around a 1 hit with a strikeout in a scoreless inning of relief. Armando Galarraga started for Caracas allowing just 1 run in 2 innings but walking 3 while striking out just 1. Ex-Devil Ray Sean Burroughs did everything he could for Margarita, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored, but it was not enough as the Leones closed out the 6-5 win.