The Tampa Bay Rays are not feeling good after three straight losses to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Charlotte Stone Crabs aren’t too enamored of the Blue Jays either after losing to their High-A Dunedin affiliate. But in that Charlotte loss, Ben Zobrist returned, and the Rays have one more reason for optimism as they hope to overcome this rough start to the season.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 7, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 0
Hopefully the Rays can get back to games like this in the near future. Matt Andriese started and looked as good as ever, going 7 innings allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6. His sinker was working well to help him to 9 groundouts. Adam Liberatore and Jacob Thompson finished the game with 2 perfect innings and 3 strikeouts.
The bats also had quite a day, and the first player to talk about is call-up candidate Curt Casali. He picked a great time for his first Triple-A homer, capping a 3 for 4 day. The Rays would love to let Casali keep developing at Triple-A, but he is certainly a better big league option than Ali Solis and the Rays will have to throw him into the fire before long. Also impressing were Mikie Mahtook and Jayson Nix. Mahtook went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored while Nix went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and 3 runs scored. Mahtook looks to be a few rungs down on the Rays’ outfield ladder, but it is a pretty good bet that Nix will crack the Rays’ roster at some point this season.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 11, Montgomery Biscuits 3
This type of outing from Dylan Floro is driving everyone nuts. He went 7 innings and struck out 4 against no walks while forcing a 12-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Yet he allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits. It seems like a few isolated mistakes down Floro every outing, and hopefully he can continue working to eliminate those errors. Sam Runion had a disastrous outing behind Floro to seal the Biscuits’ fate.
On the offensive side, Joey Rickard did go 1 for 2 with a double and 2 RBI, Ryan Brett went 1 for 3 with the other RBI, and Willie Argo went 1 for 3 with a stolen base and a run scored. Argo has not hit much, but he is 16 of 17 in stolen base attempts.
High-A Florida State League: Dunedin Blue Jays 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3
A lot of times in rehab games, the player in question departs early. That was not the case for Ben Zobrist in this one and that tells you how close he is to coming back. Zobrist played the entire contest, going 1 for 4 with a walk, and expect to see him back on the Rays’ roster on Friday assuming all goes well today.
In other news, Leonel Santiago allowed runs in 4.1 innings, Marcus Jensen tossed 3.2 shutout frames, and Leonardo Reginatto went 3 for 4 with a stolen base, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Reginatto isn’t a real prospect, but he’s hitting .341 to begin 2014 and doing his best to change that perception.
Low-A Midwest League: Fort Wayne Tincaps (SDP) 12, Bowling Green Hot Rods 7
Yoel Araujo‘s performance has been….interesting for the past month. After getting off to just a 3 for 35 start, Araujo now has a .248/.292/.533 line in his last 114 plate appearances. He has drilled 8 homers and 4 doubles while driving in 18. But even in his so-called hot streak, he has struck out 44 times against just 4 walks. Let’s just say that Araujo has a long way to go on his quest to become a slugging right fielder. He did look really good in this game, though, going 2 for 4 with a homer, a double, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored, and an outfield assist. Also notching 2 hits for Bowling Green in this game were Pat Blair and Granden Goetzman.
The pitching performance for the Hot Rods in this one was quite interesting. Jaime Schultz was overpowering again, striking out 8 in 4.2 innings pitched. He did allow 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, but it was another strong outing. The bullpen, though, was another story as Stone Speer and Colton Reavis allowed 5 runs each. I thought we were done with this type of loss after the Rays bullpen recovered, but apparently not.