The only bad thing about feeling like you’re unstoppable is knowing that it’s eventually going to end. Talent is biggest determinant of where professional baseball players end up in their careers, but confidence is a key factor as well. And right now, Dylan Floro is one of several Rays minor league pitchers whose confidence is sky-high.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 6, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 3
Matt Buschmann isn’t supposed to be here. The 29 year old right-hander is supposed to be languishing in the upper minors lucky that he has a job in baseball at all. Instead, he continues to pitch well, and it certainly is not a case of him getting fortunate. In this game, Buschmann went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, striking out 8 while walking 3. It certainly was not his most dominant outing–but what type of shifty veteran strikes out 8 batters in 6 innings and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. In 11 starts and 61.2 innings pitched for the Bulls, Buschmann has not just a 3.36 ERA but an insane 10.7 strikeouts per 9 innings, a decent 3.9 BB/9, and a great 0.6 HR/9. Matt Buschmann is too old to be a prospect and maybe these numbers are just a mirage. But it could also be a case where the Rays may have a late bloomer on their hands who’s poised to not just make the major leagues but make an impact.
In non-Buschmann news, Josh Lueke worked around 2 hits in 2 innings for the save, striking out 4 and getting the other 2 outs on the ground. His ERA is now 0.55–not too shabby. On the offensive side, Leslie Anderson went 3 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored, Vince Belnome went 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored, and Evan Frey went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and an RBI.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Mississippi Braves 2
Jake Thompson has gone from polished second round pick determined to zoom through the minor leagues to one of the most enigmatic pitchers in the system. Right now, though, he’s looking more like what the Rays thought he would be when he signed. Thompson battled to toss 7 innings of 2-run ball, working around 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 1. He was far from overpowering, but he used solid fastball command to force an 11-6 groundout to flyout ratio and give the Biscuits length. In his last six starts, Thompson has a 2.20 ERA, and while his 14-10 strikeout to walk raito certainly leaves something to be desired, it’s a whole lot better than when he was striking out more guys but getting lit up. Thompson’s run support came from the 3-4-5 spots in the Montgomery lineup as they accounted for 7 of the Biscuits’ 9 hits. Cameron Seitzer went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored, and Todd Glaesmann went 2 for 4. Mahtook and Glaesmann are both working on 4-game hitting streaks.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Dayton Dragons (CIN) 0
It’s terrible not just for the Rays but the Hot Rods that Taylor Guerrieri is out for the rest of the year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. But while Guerrieri was undoubtedly the best prospect on the team, don’t think that he was the team’s ace. That title has belonged to Dylan Floro all season, and on Wednesday he proved it once again. In this game, Floro went 7 shutout innings allowing no runs on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 and forcing an 11-3 groundout to flyout ratio. And after yet another masterful performance, Floro’s numbers on the season are staggering. Floro is 9-2 with a 1.56 ERA, managing a 79-18 strikeout to walk ratio and nearly three groundouts for every flyout in 18 starts and 103.2 innings pitched. Wow.
Marcus Jensen worked the final 2 innings in 1-hit shutout fashion for the Hot Rods, striking out 3. His 2.24 ERAE on the season isn’t too shabby either–and neither is his 57-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 64.1 innings pitched. On the offensive side, Justin O’Conner had a big game, going 2 for 5 with a homer, a double, and 3 RBI, also throwing out a runner trying to steal. Which is more impressive, O’Conner’s 11 home runs or 52% caught stealing rate? Leonardo Reginatto also went 3 for 5 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Andrew Toles went 3 for 5 with a run scored as well.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Vermont Lake Monsters (OAK) 5, Hudson Valley Renegades 2
Certainly wasn’t Ben Griset‘s fault this game turned out the way it did. Griset started for Hudson Valley and had a great game, going 6 innings allowing 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1 and forcing a 9-2 groundout to flyout ratio. On the season, Griset has very impressive numbers, managing a 3.53 ERA, a 32-5 strikeotu to walk ratio, and a 1.76 groundout to airout ratio in 8 starts and 35.2 innings pitched. A college lefty with a big 12-to-6 curveball can do that at Short Season ball, but an impressive start for Griset nonetheless. Unfortunately the Renegades bullpen blew it behind him in this one. Oscar Hernandez did have his first big game in far too long, going 2 for 2 with 2 walks an RBI, Omar Narvaez went 2 for 4 with an RBI, and Daryl George went 2 for 5 to put his batting average at an even .300.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 10, Johnson City Cardinals 9
Rookie ball is crazy. That’s about the only way to explain this game as the P-Rays nearly blew a 9-2 lead and a player who entered the game hitting .135 with no homers in 112 plate appearances drilled 2 home runs. D.J. Slaton started for Princeton and was mediocre, going 5 innings allowing 4 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a great 7-2. Stepan Havlicek tossed 2 shutout innings for his first career save, allowing just a hit. But let’s talk about the offense, specifically Yoel Araujo. Araujo was a high-profile international free agent signing a few years back and apparently has big-time raw power somewehre in side of him, not we have seen it at all this season. Well, on Wednesday we did. Araujo went 3 for 5 with 2 homers and 4 RBI in this game. Unbelieveable. Travis Flores went 1 for 5 with a double, 4 RBI, and a run scored, Spencer Edwards went 2 for 2 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored (but then left the game early, not a good sign), and Johnny Eierman and Wilmer Dominguez also had multi-hit games for Princeton, with Eierman drilling his first home run of the season.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Twins 3, GCL Rays 0
The two teams went a combined 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position in this game. The result: a pitcher’s duel, but not one that was particularly quick to play. Freddy Alvarez got the start for the GCL Rays and pitched well, going 4 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. Pretty terrible that he took the loss in the game. Yael Regalado threw the ball well in relief, allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 3.1 innings, striking out 2 while walking 2. On the offensive side, Nick Ciuffo and Jose Paez both went 2 for 4, and Clayton Henning went 1 for 3 with a stolen base.