Feb 26, 2014; Port Charolette, Fl, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Andriese (82) poses for a portrait during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Undercards: Matt Andriese, the Pitchers Dominate

Even in the Tampa Bay Rays’ loss to the Kansas City Royals, Jake Odorizzi delivered a very good outing, going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. From Odorizzi to Matt Andrieseto every single affiliate, the starting pitching was excellent on Monday night in the Rays organization.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 2, Norfolk Tides (BAL) 1

After Matt Andriese allowed a run in the top of the first inning, Jeremy Moore laced an RBI single in the bottom frame before slamming a solo home run in the 4th inning. That was all that Andriese and the Bulls pitching staff would need. Andriese went 7 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. The 4 strikeouts were Andriese’s lowest in 6 starts, but he forced weak contact and did not let that bring him down. Adam Liberatore then followed with 1.1 perfect innings, striking out 3, before Josh Lueke retired both batters he faced in the 9th for the save. Back to the offense, Moore went 2 for 3 with a walk overall while Jayson Nix went 2 for 3 with a double.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 9, Mississippi Braves 0

The Biscuits scored 7 runs in the first inning of this one, and Victor Mateo made sure they never looked back. Mateo went 6 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2 as well. Mateo is stuck at Double-A thanks to the rotation depth in Durham, but he continues to pitch well, especially against right-handed pitching. Mateo has the ability to be a big league option for the Rays at some point, although likely out of the bullpen. Matt Lollis and Bryce Stowell then followed with 3 no-hit innings to finish the game. Stowell has been spectacular since signing, managing a 2.56 ERA and a 34-14 strikeout to walk ratio in 21 appearances and 31.2 innings pitched.

When you score 9 runs, hopefully you have several players with games they can be proud of, and that was certainly the case in this contest. Luke Maile went 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 2 runs scored, Ryan Brett went 3 for 5 with a homer short of the cycle, an RBI, and a run scored, and both Alejandro Segovia and Willie Argo drilled 2-run home runs. Brett finally got the big game he was waiting for after being 5 for his previous 37 (.135). Maile was just slightly better at 6 for 37 (.162), but he has delivered a very strong season overall as a catcher who skipped High-A, managing a .271/.342/.417 line.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League Game 1: Hudson Valley Renegades 8, Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) 4 

Game 2: Cyclones 3, Renegades 2 (7 innings)

In the first game, Nolan Gannon had quite an interesting start. On the one hand, he allowed 4 runs, including a 2-run home run, and allowed two wild pitches. On the other, Gannon reached 7 innings for the first time as a professional and struck out 10 without walking a single batter. On the season, he now has a 25-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 23 innings pitched to go along with a 1.96 ERA. Gannon did allow the 4 runs in this game, but he is starting to establish himself as a legitimate prospect. As a former fourth round pick, we can look at Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb and see a precedent for pitchers like Gannon panning out. The Rays have to hope that Gannon will live up to even a portion of that.

Behind Gannon, right-hander Brian Miller made his professional debut and did so in dominating fashion. The crafty right-hander went 2 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts, also getting 3 other outs on the ground. Miller is extremely difficult to face thanks to his excellent slider and his ability to throw his pitches from a variety of different arm angles–from a conventional three-quarters delivery all the way to a true sidearm one–and he has the ability to move fast. It would not be any shock if Miller ends up with Bowling Green before the 2014 season ends.

In terms of the offense from that first game, Hunter Lockwood drilled a solo homer, Wilmer Dominguez went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, and both Clayton Henning and Bralin Jackson went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Henning stole a base while Jackson drilled a double. Lockwood is off to a huge start to 2014, hitting to a .301/.352/.554 line with 5 home runs, and while his plate discipline needs work, his raw power is among the best in the system.

In Game 2, Hunter Wood allowed 3 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, and that was enough to lose Hudson Valley the game. It was a poor finish to an outing that saw Wood go 5 innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. In terms of the limited offense, Casey Gillaspie did drill a double while Coty Blanchard and Alec Sole had the two RBIs. Gillaspie has a .314/.429/.529 line in his last 63 plate appearances after starting his pro career 2 for 25.

Tags: Brian Miller Luke Maile Matt Andriese Nolan Gannon Tampa Bay Rays

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