The Undercards: Richie Shaffer Stays Hot, Curt Casali Drills Walk-Off Home Run


A player can be having a terrible season, but suddenly one great game leads to a run and everything turns around. The opposite can be quite true as well. A big league appearance can result in the type of adrenaline rush impossible to replicate in the minor leagues and suddenly a great season can begin to fall apart. The good news in this case: 2012 first rounder Richie Shaffer is the one turning it around, while the player who may be in trouble is not a friend but a recent foe.

Triple-A All-Star Game: International League All-Stars 4, Pacific Coast League All-Stars 3

The starter in this game for the PCL was Jarred Cosart, fresh off his dominant big league debut in which he shut down the Rays for 8 scoreless innings last Friday, out-dueling Price in the process. But his results in this game were a lot tougher. Cosart went the first 1.2 innings allowing all 4 runs with International League would score, including a 3-run home run by Pirates catching prospect Tony Sanchez. A lot of funny things happen in All-Star Games–remember when Justin Verlander got destroyed last year or when Brad Lidge blew his only save of the year in the 2008 Game? But the Astros have to either get Cosart back to the majors in short order or simply hope that he can find a way to settle down and return to the dominance that got him the All-Star start and earned him a shot in the majors to begin with. In any event, let’s talk about the Rays prospects in this one. J.D. Martin tossed the first shutout inning of the game as he tossed a hitless frame working around a rare walk in the 2nd, forcing two groundouts in the process, Vince Belnome started at 3rd base and went 1 for 3, and Kirby Yates tossed a perfect 8th, striking out 1. It’s not much consolation that the pitcher that shut down the Rays struggled in his next start, but at least the trio of Rays minor leaguers did well to help the International League to victory.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Daytona Cubs 3

It’s an extremely frustrating feeling–one the Rays experienced quite a bit early on this year–when a late lead evaporates and suddenly you find yourself behind. But while that’s not advisable in the slightest, there are not too many many satisfying games than the ones where you let everything slip away for somehow find a way to get all the way back. Ryan Carpenter went the first 7 innings for Charlotte in this one and was great, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. He went 6 innings for the first time since June 10th and 7 innings for the first time since May 11th, finally having a great start after a string of inconsistency. But Carpenter’s efforts went entirely to waste as Andrew Bellatti allowed a run each in the 8th and 9th to put the Stone Crabs behind 3-2. But in the bottom of the 9th, Richie Shaffer began the inning with a single, moved to 2nd on Alejandro Segovia‘s single and 3rd on a groundball, and he scored on Jeff Malm‘s game-tying bloop single to make it a 3-3 game going to extra innings. And two frames later, Curt Casali came in the bottom of 11th straight off a 7-RBI game in his last contest (June 15th) but just 0 for 4 with a walk in this one. But how quickly things can change as Casali sent Charlotte to the win with a walk-off home run. Nate Garcia earned the win, working around a hit and a walk in 2 shutout innings, striking out 1. And aside from Casali, offensive heroes included Shaffer, who went 2 for 5 with a homer, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, Drew Vettleson, who went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI, Segovia, who went 2 for 4, and Ryan Brett, who stole two bases. Shaffer extended his hitting streak to 7 and what a hitting streak it has been for him. Shaffer has hit .407 with 4 doubles, this home run, but most impressively, a 5-5 strikeout to walk ratio after patience had been a serious issue for him beforehand. Shaffer has had a rough go in his pro debut, but maybe he is finally hitting his stride and ready to show everyone just how good he can be.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 6, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 2

Hot Rods pitchers were far from dominant but found a way and Patrick Leonard and Justin O’Conner delivered clutch hits as the Hot Rods drove by the Timber Rattlers with a strong finish to win this game 6-2. Blake Snell got the start and only struck out 2 while walking 2, but he managed to go a career-high 7 innings allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits, forcing a 10-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Snell had gone even 6 innings just once previously all season, but he was able to force some weak contact early in the count and deliver the type of length he hadn’t given the Hot Rods all season. Ryan Garton tossed the last 2 innings for the save but in messy fashion, working around a hit and 3 walks in 2 innings. Patrick Leonard gave Bowling Green the lead with an RBI single in the 7th before Justin O’Conner provided some insurance with a 3-run home run the following inning. Leonard went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI in the game, O’Conner went 2 for 4 with his homer, and Andrew Toles went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. O’Conner looked to have cooled off after a recent hot streak, but he may just be started something again after notching 2 hits and 2 RBIs each in his last 2 games, not striking out a single time.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 7, Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) 3

Three pitchers combined to prevent the Crosscutters from doing much cutting in the first 8 innings and the Renegades offense was as potent as ever as they found their way to a nice and easy win. Jamie Schultz made his first career start and did so in style, notching his third straight scoreless appearance and 6th in his first 8 games. He went 3 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. Schultz, a reliever by trade, could not provide much in terms of length, but he had plenty of capable pitchers behind him to pick up the slack. Colton Reavis went 3 relief innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1, and Willie Gabay made his Short Season-A debut with 2 hitless innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. Congrats to Gabay on getting the call after beginning the year in the Gulf Coast League. Now to the offense. John Alexander had a big day, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and a run scored, Johnny Field and Ariel Soriano each went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored, with Field driving in 3 and stealing a base while Soriano stole 2 bases, and Ty Young went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Pat Blair also somehow managed to score 2 runs without a hit or walk (he did get hit by a pitch). Huge game for the Renegades as they won their fifth game in a row.

Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 4, GCL Twins 3

Brandon Gomes gets the headline here with a successful rehab appearance, but Nick Ciuffo laced his second clutch hit in as many days to help lead the Rays to victory. Gomes started and went a perfect inning, striking out 1. His setback in his rehab has him back to square one and he’s probably at least two weeks from returning to big league action, but at least he got off a nice start in his return to action. Jose Alonzo went the next 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2, before Roel Ramirez dominated to end the game and rightfully earned the win, tossing 3 perfect innings, striking out 1 and forcing a 4-1 groundout to flyout ratio. The Rays’ 8th rounder in this year’s draft still sees his ERA at 6.52 after 5 appearances, but nice to see him finally showing what he can do. The 3 runs Alonzo allowed put the GCL Rays down 3-1 entering the 7th, but it was right then that they went to work. Kean Wong made it 3-2 with an RBI double in the 7th and the fireworks continued the following inning. Nick Ciuffo tied the game with an RBI double and Erick Vasquez but the GCL Rays in the lead with an RBI single as they came all the way back to win 4-3. Can’t finish the recap of this game without also mentioning Cristian Toribio, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored, and 2013 second rounder Riley Unroe, who went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.