Rays Notes: Upton, Shields Named AL Players of the Week, Renegades Head to NYPL Finals

By Robbie Knopf

Monday was an off-day for the Rays but it was an eventful one as two of their players received recognition for outstanding performance over the past week and one of their minor league affiliates is heading to their league finals after advancing in the postseason.

James Shields and B.J. Upton were the stars for the Rays on Sunday, with Shields tossing a 2-hitter and Upton drilling 3 home runs, and both have been recognized for not only that game but their outstanding overall performance of late. From September 3rd to September 9th, Shields went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA while Upton hit .400 with 5 homers and 6 RBI. The two are the Rays’ first players to be named player of the week this season and it’s always nice for the baseball community to give the Rays some credit. Congrats to Upton and Shields and hopefully their great runs of late continue far beyond this past week.

The Hudson Valley Renegades, the Rays’ Short Season-A affiliate, have had themselves a season to remember, winning a franchise record 52 games as they imitated the big league Rays all season. Their starting pitching was arguably the strongest in the league behind 2011 first rounder and Rays top prospect Taylor Guerrieri, 2011 supplemental pick Jeff Ames, Jesse Hahn, and Matthew Spann. Their offense was more inconsistent, but they were led by third baseman and 2012 first rounder Richie Shaffer (their Evan Longoria equivalent), second baseman Thomas Coyle, and centerfielder Joey Rickard. And their success did not stop when the regular season ended as they came back from a 1-0 deficit in the best of 3 first round of the New York-Penn League playoffs to beat the Mets affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones and head to the New York-Penn League Finals for the first time since 1999. More on the clincher, in which Guerrieri and the Renegades combined on a 1-hitter, in our minor league recap. The Renegades are the Rays’ last minor league affiliate standing and they have deserved it thanks to a tremendous year highlighted by great performances by top prospects and players stepping up from all over the place, and good luck to them in the New York-Penn League finals.

We’ll close with some advice from the venerable Evan Longoria on fantasy football.