In 2013, Leslie Anderson is having his best season yet in his third season as a professional since coming over from Cuba. He has improved each of the last three years and you have to wonder why the Rays aren’t giving him a chance–but only until you take another look at the Rays’ active roster. Ryan Roberts, a perfectly fine player, just got sent down to Triple-A for no other reason than that the Rays had better options. If Roberts isn’t worthy of a roster spot, how could Anderson, who isn’t a real prospect and hasn’t yet logged a single game in the major leagues? The good news for Anderson: he’s going to be a free agent at the end of this season (or at least he would seem to be since he signed a 4-year contract back in 2010), and if he keeps playing like this, another team could very give him a chance.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 6, Columbus Clippers 5 (10 innings)
It’s pretty obvious why the Bulls are leading the Southern Division of the International League by 7.5 games right now: their lineup is the oldest in the league loaded with players with big league experience and their pitching staff is the youngest in the league, composed of a multiplicity of highly-touted pitching prospects before the Rays started raiding them for the big league staff. Merrill Kelly did the starting and the Bulls veteran offense pushed the runs across as the Bulls improved to 53-33 on the season. Kelly, not one of the top prospects entering the season but maybe establishing himself as something notable in his own right, lowered his ERA to 2.83 in his 4 Durham starts in this one with another solid performance. He went 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a startling 1-10, but he just kept the ball of the barrel and the Clippers in check. Kelly departed with the lead after the Bulls spotted him 5 runs, including homers by Leslie Anderson and Shelley Duncan. However, Steve Geltz was disastrous in relief, allowing 3 runs in just a third of an inning, to tie the game at 5. But the Bulls relief corps kept the damage to just that one inning, with Jeff Beliveau tossing 2.1 hitless innings striking out 3 while walking 1 and Kirby Yates tossing 1.1 perfect frames with 2 strikeouts before the Bulls finally walked off on Anderson’s RBI single in the 10th. Anderson is doing everything he was supposed to do now, homering, walking, and not striking out, but he’s just out of luck in this organization for now. Anderson went 2 for 4 with his homer, the walk-off single, and a walk to raise his batting line to .323/.401/.524. Shelley Duncan went 2 for 5 with his 2-run shot, Vince Belnome went 2 for 3 with 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored, and Cole Figueroa went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. This Bulls team is really good.
Double-A Southern League: Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3 (13 innings)
On a night that saw Homer Bailey toss a no-hitter for the Cincinnati Reds, it seemed for a while like Victor Mateo might have something special of his own in store. Unfortunately, it didn’t last and the Biscuits eventually lost in 13 innings. Mateo retired the first 10 batters he faced before walking Arismendy Alcantara, and he still had a no-hitter through 4 innings. However, Christian Villanueva drilled a solo home run leading off the 5th and Rafael Lopez drilled a two-run home run three batters later to put Tennessee ahead 3-0. Mateo settled for just a bare minimum quality start, going 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 and walking 3 as well. But Braulio Lara followed with a nice relief appearance, going 2 innings allowing 2 hits and a walk but striking out 1 and getting 5 groundouts, and Lara’s efforts kept the Biscuits right in the game. That paid off when they finally rallied in the bottom of the 8th. With 2 outs and nobody on, Todd Glaesmann hustled out an infield single and Hector Guevara walked before Keith Castillo came through with a 2-out, 2-run double to make it 3-2. And then in the 9th, Kevin Kiermaier walked and move second on a wild pitch before a critical error scored him to send the game into extra innings. After Austin Hubbard had tossed a perfect 9th for Montgomery, Juan Sandoval allowed just 1 hit in the 10th and 11th, striking out 1 and recording his other 5 outs on the ground, but Villanueva came through again against Jim Patterson in the 13th, drilling a go-ahead double to give the Smokies the 4-3 win. This game featured an outstanding start and an exhilarating rally for the Biscuits, but it certainly did not finish the way they would have hoped. Castillo went 2 for 4 with his big 2-run double and Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 6 with his 16th stolen base.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 6, Hudson Valley Renegades 2
There was finally some scoring in this one after the Renegades played two straight 1-0 contests, but unfortunately most of the scoring went the wrong way. One bad inning did Jordan Harrison in as he allowed homers to Trey Mancini and Jeff Kemp in the Ironbirds’ 3-run 6th, but he did finish with solid numbers overall. Harrison went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 10-3 for the game, but when he left pitches up, they were punished. Jamie Schultz allowed 3 more runs, 2 earned, in relief before Andrew Hanse tossed 0.2 perfect innings to finish the game. On the offensive side, Ariel Soriano went 2 for 4 with a stolen base from the leadoff spot while Darryl George went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. You have to hope the Renegades can find a way to make their offense come alive.