Mar 15, 2014; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Mikie Mahtook (67) hits a grand slam during the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Undercards: Mikie Mahtook, Merrill Kelly Help Durham Dominate

Nothing like a day in the Tampa Bay Rays system where one team wins 9-0 and another gets one-hit. It was Mikie Mahtook leading the way in the former game.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Rochester Red Wings (MIN) 0

This game was actually 2-0 until the Bulls pulled away in the 8th inning. In any event, the Bulls had a fun time. Merrill Kelly got the start and flashed his early-season form for the first time in a while. He went 6 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 5. It’s a pity that the Bulls simply have not been able to find Kelly consistent starts since Alex Colome came back. C.J. Riefenhauser followed with an encouraging outing of his own, allowing 2 hits and nothing else in 1.1 scoreless innings, striking out 3. Josh Lueke then finished the game with 1.2 perfect frames striking out 3.

On the offensive side, a couple of prospects had nice days as Mikie Mahtook went 4 for 6 with 2 RBI and Hak-Ju Lee drilled a solo homer. Mahtook entered the game in just a 6-for-33 (.186) slump, and the Rays have to hope that this is the start of him getting back to what he has done all season. For Lee, meanwhile, the Rays are happy for simply something positive in what has been a disastrous year. Three veterans also had huge games for the Bulls, with Mike Fontenot delivered 4 hits for the second time in three games, Ray Olmedo going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI, and Wilson Betemit drilling his 18th homer of the season.

Double-A Southern League: Mississippi Braves 4, Montgomery Biscuits 1

A trio of multi-hit performances prevented this game from being a total negative experience. Albert Suarez had a poor start, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings, striking out 2 while walking 2. Matt Lollis  and Jim Patterson did provide 3 shutout relief innings of the too-little, too-late variety. The lineup, though, saw Ryan Brett go 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored, Taylor Motter go 2 for 4 with a double, and Jeff Malm go just a plain 2 for 4. We know how good Brett is as a prospect–although it would be nice to see him draw a few more walks–but Motter has delivered a surprise strong year, slamming 14 homers after hitting just 13 in his first three pro seasons, and Malm has done a solid job holding his own at the level.

High-A Florida State League: Palm Beach Cardinals 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4

It is sad on multiple levels that Austin Pruitt took the loss in this game. First off, he allowed just 1 hit in 7 innings, and secondly, reliever Zach Cooper extended the Stone Crabs’ deficit before their offense finally kicked into gear. Overall, Pruitt went 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 1 hit, striking out 6 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a solid 10-5. He was excellent as he tossed his fourth straight quality start, but he had the misfortune of allowing three of his four baserunners consecutively in the seventh inning, leading to two runs on groundouts.

In terms of the bats, Johnny Field finally got Pruitt a run in the sixth inning on a solo homer before Tyler Goeddel had 2 RBIs and Patrick Leonard a third in the eighth inning. Granden Goetzman also had an encouraging game, going 2 for 3 with a walk. Goetzman has been overmatched in 141 High-A plate appearances, hitting to a .198/.255/.275 line, and while we all saw this coming thanks to his poor plate discipline, we have to hope that he can begin to adjust.

Low-A Midwest League: Great Lakes Loons (LAD) 12, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1

My comments about this game will be short because there are not many positive things to say. After D.J. Slaton allowed 8 runs, 7 earned, in just a third of an inning, Josh Kimborowicz did allow just 1 run in the following 3.2 frames. The Hot Rods did have a couple of players who impressed at the plate, with the red-hot James Harris going 2 for 4 with his 7th homer while Kean Wong also went 2 for 4. I probably should have described Wong as “red-hot” as well–he has a seven-game hitting streak with multiple hits in his last three contests.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) 1, Hudson Valley Renegades 0

I’ll have even less to say about this game. Jose Alonzo pitched well, allowing no runs on 2 hits in 5 innings, striking out 4 while walking 3. But his offense managed just 1 hit and his bullpen collapsed behind him. Casey Gillaspie had that lone the Renegades hit.

Tags: Merrill Kelly Mikie Mahtook Tampa Bay Rays

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