In something of a twist on Saturday, no Tampa Bay Rays affiliate managed more than 8 hits and, in seemingly every game, and each team’s hits were extremely bunched up among only a few players. Luckily, thanks to the pitching of Grayson Garvin, Taylor Guerrieri, and others, this turned into a 3-4 day in the organization and not something worse.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Braves 3, Durham Bulls 1
Alex Colome delivered a strong start for Durham, going 6 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking 3. He rebounded well from a stretch of two disaster outings in his previous three starts. Unfortunately for him, Jeff Beliveau had a rare bad outing, allowing 2 runs in the 8th, and a single tally in the 9th was all the Bulls could muster. The Bulls totaled 6 hits, but they came between just two players: Jayson Nix and Robby Price. Nix went 4 for 4 with a triple, a double, and the only RBI while Robby Price went 2 for 4. That was literally it.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 6, Jackson Generals (SEA) 5
From innings 2 to 8, this game was a disaster for Montgomery as they were outscored 5-1. However, Taylor Motter drilled a 2-run homer in the first inning, and the Bulls had a rally ready when they entered the 9th down 5-3. In the frame, Willie Argo tied the game with an RBI single to set up Jake Hager‘s walk-off hit as the Biscuits won 6-5. Hager had a big game, going 2 for 5 with 2 RBI, and delivering another big hit for Montgomery this season.
The final score obscures the fact that Grayson Garvin had his best outing in a long time. The lefty out of Vanderbilt went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a solid 6-3. The big news: it was his first start of at least 5 innings since 2012. If Garvin can stay healthy, he has the ability to be one of the Rays’ best pitching prospects. Everyone is hoping that this can be the start of his breakout. Braulio Lara tossed 2.1 perfect innings after a bullpen collapse to give the Biscuits a chance to come back.
High-A Florida State League: Lakeland Flying Tigers 9, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4
Ryne Stanek‘s second High-A start was much worse than his first, but, honestly, he simply didn’t have it and probably would have gotten hit hard at Bowling Green as well. Stanek went 5 innings allowing 6 runs on 8 hits, walking 3 without striking out a batter. Every pitcher is entitled to a clunker, and this was Stanek’s. On the offensive side, the Stone Crabs had 8 hits and 6 came from Johnny Field and Thomas Coyle at the top of their batting order. Field went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored while Coyle was 3 for 5 with a triple and 2 runs scored. Field has been dynamite since being promoted to Charlotte, notching multiple hits in his last three games. The Rays didn’t think all that much of him as they sent him to Low-A for his first full season as a college player, but after his strong performance there, he is getting a chance to prove that he is a legitimate prospect.
Low-A Midwest League: Beloit Snappers (OAK) 5, Bowling Green Hot Rods 4
D.J. Slaton allowed a pair of home runs in his full-season debut, but managed to keep it together. Overall, he allowed 9 hits and 3 runs in 5 innings pitched, striking out 5 while walking none. Unfortunately for him and the Hot Rods, Stone Speer allowed 2 runs in the sixth inning before getting it together in the following frame, and that was enough to cost them. Armando Araiza had a huge game, going 2 for 3 with a homer and a 2-run double, Juniel Querecuto went 2 for 5, and Elias Torres did everything for Bowling Green, going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and two outfield assists. Torres is off to a nice start since getting promoted from Hudson Valley, hitting to a .278/.333/.417 line in his first 10 games. But the Hot Rods did not score after the 6th, and that did not prove to be enough in this game.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Vermont Lake Monsters (OAK) 0
Coty Blanchard drilled a 3-run homer to cap the Renegades’ 4 runs on 4 hits, but this game was really about Hunter Wood. The 20 year old right-hander went 6 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Overall, Wood has been dominant since joining Hudson Valley, pitching to a 1.72 ERA and a 34-10 strikeout to walk ratio in 7 starts and 36.2 innings pitched. It was crazy that he was sent down from Bowling Green despite decent numbers, but it is great to see him pitching well, and he should be back with the Hot Rods before the season ends. Eli Echarry went 3 shutout innings for the save for the Renegades.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Kingsport Mets 3, Princeton Rays 0
Let me let you in on a little secret: Nick Ciuffo‘s overall numbers still aren’t very good, but he is finally hitting his stride. After a 1 for 3 day with a walk on Saturday, Ciuffo now has a .316 average and a .381 OBP in his last 5 games. He has a lot more work to do, but it’s a start.
In other news from this game, José Alonzo allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings pitched, striking out 5 while walking 2. Tomas Michelson was even better in relief, tossing 3 perfect innings with a strikeout and 4 groundouts. Unfortunately for them, the Princeton offense didn’t really show up.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 2, GCL Orioles 1
This pairing of Taylor Guerrieri and Cameron Varga that the GCL Rays have going will not last. Guerrieri will head to High-A before long, and he may never be teammates with Varga again until maybe the big leagues. For the last few starts, however, they have delivered something special, and this was the best of them all. Guerrieri started this game and went 3 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 4 and getting his other 5 outs on the ground. Varga followed with 4 perfect innings, striking out 5 and getting his other 7 outs on the ground. Varga doesn’t need any help being a talented pitcher, but pitching behind a pitcher in Guerrieri with such excellent command has to be a good influence on him. The crazy thing from this game is that the GCL Rays almost lost this game despite how they pitched, but 4 GCL Orioles errors helped make sure that didn’t happen.