One of the most frustrating things in baseball: when your pitcher goes all 9 innings but doesn’t get the complete game because you didn’t score him enough runs. At least the Montgomery Biscuits did win in 14 innings, one of three extra-inning wins for Rays affiliates on Friday night. On the negative side, Rays affiliates got excellent starting pitching, but each of them followed in Floro’s footsteps and failed to get the win.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 2, Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 1 (10 innings)
The Tampa Bay Rays have something in Merrill Kelly. We still need to find out exactly what, but we can say one thing for sure: after he went undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft last year, but the Rays will have to add him to the 40-man roster or lose him this time around. In this game, Kelly went 6 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was also an impressive 8-1. Maybe it will come out of the bullpen, but Merrill Kelly has the ability to make a big league impact and do so soon.
Behind Kelly, C.J. Riefenhauser walked 2 in his inning of work and Brandon Gomes walked 3 more, but somehow both tossed shutout ball. Then Jake Thompson and Adam Liberatore combined to toss a scoreless 9th before Jeff Beliveau struck out 2 in a perfect frame to earn the save in the 10th. Why did he have that opportunity? That was thanks to Cole Figueroa, who gave his team the lead with a go-ahead double in the top of the 10th. Figueroa, Vince Belnome, and Ali Solis all had multiple hits in the Durham win.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 3 (14 innings)
Remember when Dylan Floro was struggling to begin 2014 and we wondered whether the Rays were overreaching when they skipped him past Low-A to Double-A? Well, those doubts are long gone. Floro has looked incredible since then, and Friday was his crowning achievement. He went 9 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. He tossed a would-have-been complete game on just 87 pitches. That’s unreal. Unfortunately for him, the Biscuits got him just 2 runs and the game continued.
Santiago Garrido continued where Floro left off, tossing 3 innings allowing just a lone baserunner on a hit while striking out 3. Then, after Braulio Lara tossed a scoreless 13th, Willie Argo had an RBI single and Jeff Malm drove in 2 more as the Biscuits finally came away with a win. Jake DePew came out of nowhere to go 3 for 6 with a walk and an RBI in the Montgomery victory while Cameron Seitzer went 2 for 5 with a walk and a run scored.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, Fort Wayne Tincaps (SDP) 3 (10 innings)
On Thursday, Spencer Edwards collected his first full-season ball hit. Then, on Friday night, he showed off just how dynamic he can be. In the 10th inning, Edwards singled, stole second base, and scored on Johnny Field‘s RBI single to provide the winning margin for the Hot Rods. Overall, he went 2 for 4 with 2 stolen bases, a walk, and a run scored. Edwards has work to do as he hopes to turn himself into one of of the Rays’ top prospects, but the former second round pick has the ability to get there.
In other news from this game, Christopher Kirsch went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2 as well. His groundout to flyout ratio was a strong 9-1. Stone Speer followed with 2 perfect innings with a strikeout, and after Willie Gabay blew the save, Colton Reavis K’d 3 in 1.2 spotless frames. On the offensive side, Pat Blair went 2 for 4 with a 3-run homer while Oscar Hernandez and Juniel Querecuto also recorded multi-hit games.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 2, Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 1
It was Opening Day for the Renegades and Hunter Lockwood made sure it ended the way the fans wanted. Lockwood, fresh off a Princeton Rays-leading 9 homers in 2013, drilled a walk-off 2-run home run as the Renegades won 2-1. Lockwood had a huge game, going 3 for 4, and his counterpart with a strangely similar name also had a strong contest. Hunter Wood went 4 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. We saw Wood in Bowling Green earlier this year and he pitched fine, but he will attempt to build some confidence in Hudson Valley and dominate when he returns.