Rays Winter Ball Recap: Mike Montgomery’s Struggles Continue
By Robbie Knopf
Even the reclamation projects that teams believe in the most so often fail to work out. Acquiring Mike Montgomery in the James Shields trade was a worthwhile gamble, but it’s beginning to look more and more like it will not work out.
Arizona Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox 8, Salt River Rafters 1
After the first two Arizona Fall League games saw Rays prospects star for Salt River, this one was tough to watch. Mike Montgomery entered the game in the 4th innign with the Rafters up 2-0 and departed with them in a deficit, going 1.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits. Two of the hits were infield singles as Montgomery’s defense did him no favors, but Montgomery simply can’t find the light at the end of the tunnel after three years of struggles. If he doesn’t pick it up in the Arizona Fall League, a move to teh bullpen will be imminent as the Rays’ last-ditch effort to see if they can get something out of him. Aside from Montgomery, Todd Glaesmann went 1 for 4 with a double, Matt Ramsey worked around a hit to toss 0.2 scoreless innings of relief, and Ryan Brett went 0 for 4 out of the leadoff spot.
The past two installments of this only featured in the Arizona Fall League, but yesterday the Venezuelan Winter League began play as well. For the Caribbean Leagues, we are going to highlight all the ex-Rays in action, and after the Rays signed Juan Sandoval out of the Dominican Winter League, maybe we can find the Winter Ball standout they sign this offseason.
Venezuelan Winter League: Tigres de Aragua 6, Navegantes del Magallanes 5
Aragua came back from a 5-1 deficit after 4 innings to win this one, capping their comeback with 2 runs in the 9th. Erold Andrus, who spent 2007 and 2008 i nteh Rays organization, was a big reason Magallanes took the lead in the first place, going 3 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored. Other former Rays minor leaguers in this game included Jesus Flores for Magallanes and Hector Gimenez and Ray Olmedo for Aragua. Gimenez went 1 for 5 while Flores and Olmedo both entered for defense. Gimenez and Olmedo are both best known for their big league time with the White Sox, but Gimenez spent time in the Rays organization in 2008 and Olmedo was there in 2009 and 2011.
Caribes de Anzoategui 12, Tiburones de La Guaira 11
This game featured one of the craziest endings you will ever see. La Guaira entered the 9th inning up 11-6 but Justin Friend struggled mightily, allowing a double, a single, and a walk to load the bases. The Tiburones went to the bullpen to escape the jam, but instead of bringing in a reliever, they brought in White Sox outfield prospect Trayce Thompson. And Thompson actually struck out the first batter he faced! A walk brought in a run, but then Thompson struck out another batter and La Guaira was one out away from victory. But the Caribes refused to go down as Luis Nunez drilled a 2-run double to bring the go-ahead run to the plate as “real” reliver Sergio Escalona entered the game. But Cory Aldridge won the game for Anzoategui with a walk-off 3-run home run, making sure the home fans left happy and leaving Tiburones supporters to wonder what just happened. Cesar Suarez, who was with the Rays organization from 2006 to 2009, went 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored for La Guaira while Rayner Oliveros, who spent 2009 and 2010 in the system, tossed a scoreless 8th to help make the Caribes’ comeback possible. How could someone named “Rayner” not play for the Rays?
Leones del Caracas 8, Bravos de Margarita 1
A pair of players drafted by the Rays made sure this game never got close. Danny Dorn, who was an unsigned 23rd round pick by the Rays in 2005, went 3 for 4 with a 2-run homer and a double, and Bobby Abreu–yes, that Bobby Abreu–went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Abreu, as you may remember, was selected by the Rays in teh expansion draft before getting infamously traded for Kevin Stocker.
Aguilas del Zulia 4, Cardenales de Lara 3
Is there such a thing as one of these games without a comeback? Zulia trailed 4-3 but scored a run each in the 7th, 8th, and 9th to win this one 4-3. Zulia was the team Alex Torres played with last winter as he continued to work on the adjustments that made him a dominant reliever for the Rays last season, and while we will have to see whether he returns, the Aguilas did feature a pair of former Rays minor leaguers. Virgil Vasquez, who spent 2010 at Triple-A Durham, went 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. He retired 12 straight after Hernan Iribarren‘s triple to lead off the game, but he left with the bases loaded and nobody out after a tough start to the 5th inning. Also seeing time for Zulia was Juan Apodaca, Durham’s backup catcher for much of 2013, who went 0 for 1 with 2 walks. Two former Rays also figured prominently into the game for Lara: first baseman Tomas Perez and reliever Romulo Sanchez. Perez, who was a forgettable utility player for 99 games on the 2006 Devil Rays, palyed well in this game, going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI, but Sanchez allowed the Aguilas to tie the game in the 8th on a wild pitch. Fun to see former Rays making a difference on both sides of the diamond in this one, and at least one of these random ex-Rays we’re talking about, Perez, actually appeared in some big league games for the team.