At one point in their loss on Thursday night, Princeton Rays pitchers had struck out 18 without walking a single batter. What does that even mean?
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 8, Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 2
Jesse Hahn‘s major league career is off to a nice start, but the starting pitching prospect that the Rays essentially swapped him for, Matt Andriese, isn’t too shabby in either. In this game, Andriese went 6 innings allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking just 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was also a perfect 10-0. On the year, he is now 7-4 with a 3.53 ERA, striking out 76 while walking only 29 in 89.1 innings pitched. He also entered the start with a 52.0% groundball rate. Andriese has the ability to be a really good pitcher, and he has a chance to get there by the end of this season.
In other news, Brandon Gomes is still alive–he worked around 2 hits with 3 strikeouts in 2 shutout innings–and Steve Geltz‘s suspension is over. Geltz struck out 2 in a perfect inning in his return, but unfortunately for him, the Rays bullpen now has several players ahead of him. On the offensive side, meanwhile, Jeremy Moore had a ridiculous game, going 2 for 5 with a homer and 5 RBI, and Jayson Nix, Mikie Mahtook, and Robby Price also had multiple hits. Moore looked awesome in spring training before injuries derailed him, but now he has multiple hits in both his games for Durham.
Double-A Southern League: Huntsville Stars (MIL) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 1
A rough all-around game for the Biscuits between the offense, the defense, and the pitching. Montgomery was 4-hit by Stars pitching, the first 7 innings of which came from starter Drew Gagnon. 2 of the 4 hits came from Taylor Motter. On the defensive side, the Biscuits made 2 errors plus Luke Maile allowed a passed ball. Those certainly were no help to Victor Mateo, who allowed 4 runs in 7 innings of work but just 1 earned run. It is not as though Mateo was perfect, though, as he had a 4-4 strikeout to walk ratio. Braulio Lara did finish the game in awesome fashion, tossing 1.2 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts. He continues to generate inconsistent results, but when he’s on, outings like this can happen.
High-A Florida State League: Palm Beach Cardinals 7, Charlotte Stone Crabs
Reinaldo Lopez had a really bad start for Charlotte, allowing 7 runs on 8 hits in 3.1 innings pitched. Aside from that, though, there were a few Stone Crabs highlights. Zach Cooper appeared in his first full-season ball game in the system and allowed just a walk in 2.2 innings pitched, striking out 1 and getting 5 more outs on the ground. Ryan Garton then looked very good to finish the game, going 2 innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 4. On the offensive side, meanwhile, Patrick Leonard went 2 for 3 with his 11th homer and a walk. While Tyler Goeddel has cooled off, Leonard has continued to rake to the tune of a .281/.364/.504 line. Leonardo Reginatto also went 3 for 4 with a triple and a run scored while Julian Ridings went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 9, Lake County Captains (CLE) 3
Ryne Stanek took the ball for the first time since June 26th and the results were not exactly what he was hoping for. He allowed 3 hits in the first 2 innings, but tossed shutout ball with the help of a James Harris outfield assist. In the third, however, an error opened the floodgates for three runs and ended his outing. Overall, Stanek did strike out 5 while walking 1 in his 3 innings, but the Rays are certainly hoping for more from him nonetheless. Luis Cabrera did follow with 3.2 hitless innings, striking out 5 while walking 3, and he was awarded the win after the Hot Rods offense came together. Harris went 2 for 4 with his second homer of the season, Kean Wong went 3 for 4 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and then there was the matter of Yoel Araujo. Moved to the leadoff spot in a Joe Maddon-esque move by Hot Rods skipper Michael Johns, Araujo responded by going 2 for 4 with a triple, a walk, an RBI, and 3 runs scored. The walk was just Araujo’s 9th of the season against 86 strikeouts–but his 13-5 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 10 games inspires hope that his plate discipline will eventually come around.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 14, Staten Island Yankees 3
This was a fun game for the Renegades as their offense scored 14 runs on 13 hits. Leading the way was Hunter Lockwood, who went 4 for 5 with 2 doubles, a triple, 4 RBI, and a run scored. Lockwood’s power is his calling hard, but those extra-base hits were actually his first in 10 games. You have to hope that a game like this will get Lockwood going. Bralin Jackson, meanwhile, went 2 for 3 with 2 walks, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored and Clayton Henning went 2 for 4 with a double, 3 RBI, and a run scored. Coty Blanchard didn’t have the RBIs but did everything else, going 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored. Blanchard, the Rays’ 15th round pick in 2013, is off to a nice start for the Renegades, hitting to a .341/.400/.390 line with 7 stolen bases already.
On the mound, Oscar Armenta delivered an outing best described as halfway-decent as he allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings of work, but Isaac Gil was better behind him. Gil went 4 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. Despite the fact that he entered with Hudson Valley up 14-3, Gil gets the save based on a baseball rules quirk for throwing the last 4 innings of the game. Gil now has a 12-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 innings to begin 2014, and he has yet to allow his first run of the season.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Kingsport Mets 5, Princeton Rays 4 (17 innings)
This game was totally nuts. It began, oddly enough, with both starting pitchers struggling. The P-Rays led 3-2 after 2 innings after Hyrum Formo allowed a pair of solo home runs, but his offense got two RBI singles and a Riley Unroe solo shot. Kingsport eventually tied the game in the 6th on an unearned run off Kyle McKenzie. That notwithstanding, something ridiculous was happening to the Princeton pitching staff after that second inning. Formo went 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. McKenzie allowed that unearned run on 2 hits in 2 innings of work, striking out 3 while walking none. Rafael Cordova took the P-Rays through 10 with 3 innings pitched allowing just 2 hits, striking out 5 without walking a batter. Justin McCalvin helped Princeton to the 12th after 2 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and no walks while striking out 3. You may notice something in common for all those Princeton pitchers: no walks. And after Mario Fernandez struck out 2 in the 13th, the P-Rays were up to 18 strikeouts without a single base on balls in the contest. Fernandez did allow a walk in the 14th, but he finished with the best all-around numbers of anyone: 4 innings pitched allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 3. The Princeton Rays managed a 22-1 strikeout to walk ratio at that point, which is nearly incomprehensible. Ruben Paredes came apart in the 17th, with two errors leading to 2 runs for the Mets, but the P-Rays did go down swinging, getting an RBI single by Cristian Toribio and getting him as far as third base before falling 5-4.
In terms of the offense, Riley Unroe, Angel Moreno, Hector Montes, and Nic Wilson all had multiple hits, although it is much easier to do that when you have 8 plate appearances. Montes and Wilson do get extra credit for 2 walks each. Montes began the season with Hudson Valley, but he has hit out of his mind since heading to Princeton, hitting .435 with four straight multi-hit games.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 9, GCL Red Sox 0
The GCL Rays picked the wrong night to strike out 13 in a 5-hit shutout thanks to the efforts of Princeton, but this was a great game nonetheless. 19 year old Jose Alvarado started for Princeton and allowed just 1 hit in 5 innings, striking out 7 while walking 3 and forcing a 5-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Then Jordan Harrison had the type of rehab outing you hope for, going the final 4 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 without walking a batter and forcing a 5-1 groundout to flyout mark. (Like Gil, he earned the save for going the final four innings) The lefty Harrison has been a pleasant surprise for the Rays since being selected in Round 25 in 2012, and the Rays will hope to get him back to full-season ball before long.
In terms of the offensive effort, there was not quite as much offense as you would expect from a team that scored 9 runs, but a few players did perform superbly. Jose Rojas, a 21 year old catcher, went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored, Jamie Mitchell went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Bill Pujols went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored. This Pujols is a shortstop and a somewhat interesting one–he has a .300/.364/.500 line to begin 2014.