The Tampa Bay Rays pride themselves on putting together a minor league system full of pitching, and that was no more evident than Friday. Matt Andriese, Dylan Floro, Austin Pruitt, and Blake Snell were the starters for the Rays affiliates. Combined they would throw 27.2 innings, allowing just 3 earned runs. Not a bad showing if you ask me.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 3, Columbus Clippers (CLE) 1
There was a lot of getting back on track today, as the Bulls got some key contributions from guys who have been struggling as of late. One of those players was Bulls starter Matt Andriese, who has had a rough start to the year thanks to uncharacteristic command issues. But none of that showed Froday, as he went 7.0 innings, giving up just 1 run while striking out 4 and walking 1. Behind him, lefties Adam Liberatore and Jeff Beliveau each went a scoreless inning. Beliveau STILL has not given up a run this year in 22.0 innings between Triple-A and the big leagues.
Offensively, the Bulls were good enough to back the strong pitching. Hak-Ju Lee went 2-4 with a double. He is finally getting back on track after showing some rust early this year thanks to missing most of last year with a knee injury and the first part of this year with a calf injury. Jerry Sands was the top performer, going 3-4 with a double. Ray Olmedo and Vince Belnome also added doubles of their own to cap off the offense’s day.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 6, Huntsville Starts (MIL) 1
Groundball-specialist Dylan Floro started for the Biscuits and dominated, going 8.0 scoreless innings and posting a 10-4 groundout-flyout ratio. Early this year it looked like the Rays made a mistake by skipping Floro over High-A, but now in his last 3 starts he has gone 22.0 innings and given up just 1 run to lower his season’s ERA to 3.90. After Floro, Andrew Bellati threw the 9th and let up a run.
On offense, Luke Maile stayed red-hot by going 2-4 with a double, 3 RBIs, and a run scored. Jake Hager contributed a 3-3 performance with a double of his own. Richie Shaffer also went 2-4 with a double, and Taylor Motter got a pair of hits out of the leadoff spot. A great day overall from some of the Rays highly regarded prospects in Double-A.
High-A Florida State League: Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 5, Lakeland Flying Tigers (DET) 3 in 19 innings
This was a crazy game, as the Stome Crabs got behind by three, but tied it up with a run in the 7th and two in the 8th. Then the offenses of both teams decided to take a break until the top of the 19th, when the Stome Crabs would get the deciding two runs. Austin Pruitt would go 5.1 innings, allowing 2 ER and another unearned. Behind him the bullpen would allow no runs in 13.2 innings pitched. Notables were Marcus Jensen who went 5.0 scoreless innings and Ben Griset who went 3.1 scoreless. But possibly the most clutch performance was Jake DePew, a normal catcher who threw the final 3.1 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win.
Justin O’Conner was the top offensive performer, going 2-8, both doubles, and adding 2 RBIs and a run scored. Andrew Toles, Tommy Coyle, and Hector Guevara would also pick up 2 hits. One more key hit and the offense would’ve finished it before the 19th, but in the end a win is a win.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Lake County Captains (CLE) 0
Once again, a Rays affiliate got a dominating performance from a starter, this one from Blake Snell. Snell would go 7.0 innings while allowing no runs, also striking out 9 and walking 2. Snell has dominated Low-A to the tune of a 1.79 ERA after repeating the level this year, but he soon may be on his way to High-A if he keeps pitching like this. Stone Speer would earn the save behind him by throwing 2.0 perfect innings.
Offensively, Juniel Querecuto was the only player with multiple hits in a 2-3 performance. He also would steal a pair of bases. Oscar Hernandez, Ariel Soriano, and Pat Blair would all have a double in the game. Thanks to timely hitting, the Hot Rods came out of this game with 5 runs, though they hardly needed that many.