The Tampa Bay Rays are always looking to add to their minor league system, whether that is through the draft, international signings, or other means. One way they look for players is in the independent leagues. Jared Mortensen was picked up from the Independent Grand Prarie AirHogs and was aggressively assigned to Double-A Montgomery in just his first full season in affiliated ball. Whether he establishes himself as a prospect remains to be seen. In Wednesday’s game, he led a strong performance among Biscuits pitchers, throwing 5.0 innings of shutout ball.
Triple-A International League: Norfolk Tides (BAL) 9, Durham Bulls 6
The Bulls offense was strong on the day, but the pitching staff kept the game out of reach. Mike Montgomery had been putting his name into consideration for a big league call-up with a strong start, but he struggled in this contest. He gave up five earned runs, allowing four hits and five walks in his 2.1 innings pitched. Recently-signed Doug Mathis threw the next 2.2 innings, allowing one run in the process, and C.J. Riefenhauser became the only Bulls’ pitcher to give up nothing with 2.0 scoreless innings. Mayo Acosta threw the final 2.0 innings looking to keep the Bulls in the game, but he could not do so, giving up three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
The Bulls offense stayed hot today, though it was not enough to make up for the nine runs that the Tides Scored. Wilson Betemit was the top performer, going 2-4 with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored. No other Bulls would have multiple hits in the game, but every hitter other than Vince Belnome managed to get a hit. Justin Christian, Jerry Sands, and Mike Fontenot all pitched in with a double. With the Bulls’ offense staying hot and the Rays’ offense continually struggling, we could see some roster moves before too long.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 0
Jared Mortensen was the star of the pitching staff, as he went 5.0 innings while allowing just three hits and striking out four. After Mortensen, starter-turned-reliever Jake Thompson went the next three innings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four. He has struggled as a starter in the past, but his stuff plays much better out of the bullpen, and he has responded to the transition by posting a 0.90 ERA in the early going this season. Santiago Garrido also continued a strong start, pitching a scoreless final inning.
The five runs scored masked the offense’s true production, as they managed just four hits. But, they drew eleven walks and were able to capitalize on a Jeff Malm grand-slam. Richie Shaffer showed nice plate discipline after struggling to do so last year, drawing three walks on top of a 1-2 performance. Curt Casali had a nice day as well, getting on base three of his five times at the plate. The hit count was not great, but Malm pulled through when he needed to.
High-A Port Charlotte: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 6, Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 5
The Stone Crabs had a good offensive performance, but like the Bulls, it was wasted by bad pitching. Starter Reinaldo Lopez was good, going 6.0 innings and giving up just two runs while striking out five. However Jose Molina came in to ruin Lopez’s good performance, going just 1.2 innings and giving up three runs. Ryan Garton threw the final 1.1 innings, giving up just an unearned run thanks to a Maxx Tissenbaum error, but that would prove to be the deciding run.
The offense strung together 14 hits and drew five walks, but could only managed to score five runs. Kes Carter continued a recent hot streak, going 3-5 with a pair of RBIs. Josh Sale added a 2-5 performance with an RBI. Tissenbaum and Thomas Coyle both put up 2-4 performances, and every Stone Crabs hitter had at least one hit. The pitching performance was not pretty, but with the amount of hits and walks that the offense had, they probably should have scored more runs to pull out with the victory.
Low-A Midwest League: Kane County Cougars (CHC) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
The Hot Rods continued their struggles this year, dropping this contest to bring their losing streak to ten games. Jacob Faria started and performed nicely, giving up just one unearned run off of a James Harris error. He has pitched nicely in the Rays organization, and could establish himself as one of their top pitching prospects with a solid year this year. Faria’s performance was spoiled by Andrew Hanse, who cane in to allow five runs in just 2.1 innings. Aaron Griffon threw the final 0.2 innings, but could not salvage the damage let up by Hanse.
The offense was likewise poor, netting just five hits and three walks. Darryl George had a second strong day in a row, going 2-4 with a pair of singles. Kean Wong raised his early season average to .375 thanks to a 1-2 performance. He has impressed so far this season despite being aggressively assigned to full season ball after being drafted out of high school just one year ago. Overall, a poor performance all around from the Hot Rods. You would have to think that they will get going sooner or later.