A player doesn’t go from rolling to slumping instantaneously. There’s always a transition period, that moment where he stops seeing the ball as well and a game or two later, the hits stop dropping in. Everyone has been waiting for Curt Casall to fall to earth and it hasn’t happened. And meanwhile, two of Casali’s teammates may be doing the opposite transition. Mikie Mahtook may finally be showing some improved plate discipline and Ryan Brett is slowly going from struggling right back to exceling to give the Biscuits a three-headed offensive attack as good as any in the Rays system.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Jackson Generals (SEA) 2
The best games are the ones when you can find nothing to complain about. This was one of those games as the Biscuits dominated from start to finish. Marquis Fleming started for Montgomery and pitched well, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 5 innings, striking out 7 while walking 2. Fleming now has a 5.01 ERA since joining the Montgomery rotation, but he looked as good as ever in this start with the 7 strikeouts tying his career-high. Jimmy Patterson struck out 2 more working around 4 hits in 2 shutout innings before Erik Hamren also struck out 2 as he allowed just a hit in the 8th. The pitchers did well for the Biscuits, but the lineup had even more fun. Curt Casali, Mr. Constant for Montgomery of late, did it yet again, going 2 for 5 with a homer, a 2-run double, and 2 runs scored, and Kyeong Kang also had a great game, going 4 for 5 with a triple, a double, and 3 RBI. Casali actually lowered his average just a bit to .403 in the game. But it was two other Biscuits, Mikie Mahtook and Ryan Brett who showed the most promise. Mahtook has struggled through plenty of issues with overaggressiveness this season, but in this game he drew 2 walks without striking out. By the way, he also went 2 for 3 with a homer, a stolen base, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. It’s only one game, but Mahtook has been playing great of late and now is finally starting to mix the plate discipline component in. Could Mahtook finally be clicking in that regard? Brett, on the other hand, broke an 0 for 18 stretch with a hit on Friday, finally regaining some confidence, and in this game he looked to be right back to normal, going 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Brett was on fire for a while, but every player has their slumps and they have to learn to get by them. Hopefully this game is the start to Brett proving that he can do exactly that.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Palm Beach Cardinals 0
It hasn’t seemed to happen quite as often this year with the Rays offense looking as good as ever, but it’s always nice to win the low-scoring pitchers’ duel type of game and get just enough to reward a great pitching effort. That’s exactly what the Stone Crabs did in this game to edge Palm Beach. Felipe Rivero got the start and pitched well, allowing no runs on 6 hits in 6 innings, striking out 1 while walking 3. Rivero has a 1.90 ERA but just a 13-9 strikeout to walk ratio in his last four starts. He remains difficult for opposing hitters to square up, but you want to see him overpowering them more given how good his stuff is. Jared Mortensen followed with his Rays organization debut, working 2 no-hit innings in which he struck out 1 and walked 1. Mortensen, 25, was signed after dominating at Independent Grand Prairie in his first professional season this year, managing a 3.77 ERA, an 8.4 K/9, a 2.2 BB/9, and a 0.0 HR/9 in 15 starts, 2 relief appearances, and 101.1 innings pitched. It’s going to be tough for Mortensen to keep that up at High-A ball, but he got off to a solid start. Nate Garcia worked around a walk in the 9th with a strikeout to pick up his 10th save. On the offensive side, Willie Argo and Hector Guevara both went 2 for 3 with a double, but neither ended up factoring in the scoring. In the 5th inning, Jonathan Quinonez doubled and scored on Taylor Motter‘s RBI single to give the Stone Crabs the only run they needed.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 2, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1
It’s nice to win 1-0, but usually you’re going to have to score a couple more runs if you want to win. Austin Pruitt started for the first time for the Hot Rods and was great, allowing no runs on 3 hits in 5 innings, striking out 3 while walking none. Pruitt lowered his ERA to 1.33 in his 7 appearances and 20.1 innings pitched, striking out 17 while walking just 3. But the 2 runs Matthew Spann allowed in the 6th were enoguh to lose the Hot Rods this game. Ryan Garton did finish this game with a shutout 9th, extending his shutout streak to 18.2 innings pitched. In terms of the offense, Leonardo Reginatto went 3 for 4 with a double, raising his average to .322 on the year with his third straight multi-hit game, and Geoff Rowan went 2 for 4 with a double. Andrew Toles left the game after the first inning, but no word on what happened to him yet.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Lowell Spinners (BOS) 5, Hudson Valley Renegades 3
The Renegades actually pushed a few runs across in this game, but Ben Griset, who has pitched well for them all year, picked the wrong game to struggle. Griset lasted just 3.2 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. Richard Teasley did well, allowing just 4 hits in 3.1 innings, striking out 5 while walking 1, but he allowed two critical unearned runs after a Darryl George error with 2 outs in the 7th. George did at least have a strong game at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a double and Granden Goetzman had an RBI triple and a sac fly.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Bluefield Blue Jays 6, Princeton Rays 5
Princeton rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the 9th, but Bluefield came right back with 2 runs in the 9th to win this game. Hunter Wood had a strong start for the P-Rays, allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 6 while walking 1 and forcing a 5-2 groundout to flyout ratio. He matched the Blue Jays second rounder from last year, Chase DeJong, inning for inning. But Luis Cabrera allowed 3 runs in the 6th inning to put Princeton in a hole entering the 9th. In the 9th inning, Bralin Jackson and Hunter Lockwood both drilled dramatic 2-run homers, but Bluefield came right back in the bottom of the inning. Lockwood went 2 for 5 with that homer, a double, and 2 runs scored in the game, and Coty Blanchard went 1 for 3 with a pair of walks.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Orioles 3, GCL Rays 1
The GCL Rays got not one, not two, not three, but four good pitching performances, but it didn’t matter because their offense came up with almost nothing. Wilking Rodriguez began the game with a rehab start, working around a hit and a walk in his scoreless inning. It was his 5th rehab start, and hopefully he can get back up to High-A before long and start reestablishing himself as a prospect. Freddy Alvarez then went the next 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 and forcing a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But the 2 runs he allowed were enough to seal the Rookie Rays’ fate. Yomelbin Almonte managed to allow an earned run in 3 innings despite not allowing a hit, striking out 3 and walking 2, and Hyrum Forno finished the game with a perfect inning. But only one GCL Rays hitter could say he had a good game: Cristian Toribio, who went 2 for 3 with a stolen base and the only run scored. Toribio has found the GCL much tougher than the Dominican Summer League, but he’s really hitting his stride now, managing a .355 average in his last 10 games.