The Undercards: Merrill Kelly, Felipe Rivero Dominant in Shutout Outings


Especially for prospects in the minor leagues, stats certainly don’t mean everything. Seeing a pitcher’s stats tells you nothing about what type of stuff he has and whether his performance is something he could sustain at higher levels. But whether the pitcher is a top prospect like Felipe Rivero or a less-touted one like Merrill Kelly, when they come through with outstanding performances, it’s always special.

Triple-A International League: Syracuse Chiefs (WSN) 2, Durham Bulls 1

To begin 2013, Wil Myers hasn’t exactly blown the ball all out of the park every time, hitting just 2 home runs. There was one stat that especially stood out, though: he had reached base in all 19 of the Bulls’ games in which he had appeared. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and Myers’ streak came to an end as Chiefs pitching owned the Bulls in this one. Syracuse pitchers struck out only 3 Bulls hitters in the game, but they held him to 3 hits, 3 walks, and an unearned run in the 9th. It was a pity too because Bulls pitching was excellent on the other side. Alex Colome continued his great start to the year, going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2 and forcing a 7-3 groundout to flyout ratio. While it’s top prospects Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi that have attracted all the attention in the Bulls rotation, it’s actually the lesser-touted Colome and Alex Torres who have been Durham’s best. Lefties Jeff Beliveau and Adam Liberatore kept the Chiefs at 2 runs to end the game, but the Bulls just could not come back. Rich Thompson went 1 for 2 with 2 walks, a stolen base, and a run scored, Jason Bourgeois drove him in with a single, and Brandon Guyer went 1 for 3 in the game with the other hit.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 0

A 3-hitter is much more fun when you’re the one throwing it. Merrill Kelly got the start for the Biscuits, and not much was expected of him considering he has been become known as an organization type of pitcher who has split time between starting and relieving. In this game, though, Kelly gave Montgomery everything he had, going 7 innings allowing no runs on just 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. Marquis Fleming and Matt Nevarez allowed just 1 hit to finish the game to end the shutout and the 3-hitter as the Biscuits won 3-0. Kelly’s career ERA is a rock solid 3.54, and stands out for a fastball with good life and a decent breaking ball, and whether he can striking more batters out consistently will determine whether he will ever make the major leagues. On the offensive side, Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, Cameron Seitzer went 1 for with 2 walks, and, in his first with the Biscuits since getting called up from High-A, Kyeong Kang had an RBI double. Great to see Kelly pitching well and the Biscuits finding their way to a dominant win.

High-A Florida State League: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 2, Charlotte Stone Crabs 1

This is a script that Rays fans have seen far too often when their teams isn’t going well: they get a great start, as usual, but then the bullpen blows the game, but at the end of the game everyone blames the offense for not scoring enough runs. The Stone Crabs were stuck in that scenario on Saturday, spoiling a breakthrough performance for Felipe Rivero. Rivero went 6 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 6 while walking 3 and managing a 6-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Rivero has allowed just 1 run in 10 innings in his last 2 starts after allowing 10 runs in 10 innings in his previous 4 starts and he has really turned himself around after a terrible start to the year. In relief of Rivero, Lenny Linsky looked really good, striking out 3 without walking a batter and forcing a 3-0 groundout to flyout ratio, but he made one big mistake, an Angel Morales double that tied the game at 1. Then in the 9th, Jacob Partridge had no control, walking 4 including the game-winning run as the Stone Crabs lost 2-1. Luke Scott looked decent in his rehab game, going 1 for 4 with the only RBI. There was some concern after Scott was hit by a pitch in the elbow on Friday, but he was fine. Kes Carter went 1 for 3 with the only run scored and Drew Vettleson and Richie Shaffer also had a hit each for Charlotte. Tough loss in this one, but Rivero coming on means that plenty more wins are ahead, and Scott looking good is great news for the Rays. He could rejoin the team on Tuesday.