Rays Winter League Recap: Merrill Kelly Continues Impressive 2013 Campaign

By David Hill

The Salt River Rafters may as well be an extension of the Rays farm system, with a whopping eight Rays farmhands on their roster. However, that has unfortunately not resulted in victories thus far in the early going. Last night, the Rafters fell in another close game, as the bullpen was unable to hold an early lead.

Arizona Fall League: Peoria Javelinas 5, Salt River Rafters 3

Merrill Kelly had an excellent season after being called up to the Durham Bulls, putting together one of the better runs of his minor league career thus far. That performance has carried over thus far in the Arizona Fall League, particularly in his performance last night. Entering the game in relief of starter Sam Gaviglio, Kelly fired two scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out Austin Hedges to keep the game tied at 3-3. However, the Javelinas snapped the tie in the top of the eighth, when Hedges hit a soft RBI single to center, plating the go ahead run. Delino DeShields Jr. had another RBI single in the ninth to tack on an insurance run, as Peoria held on the for the 5-3 victory.

Aside from Kelly, the only other member of the Rays system to appear in the game was Richie Shaffer. Playing third last night, Shaffer was 0-4 with a strikeout. Strikeouts were a problem for Shaffer with the Charlotte Stone Crabs last season, and while this is just one game, it may be worth watching to see whether or not those issues follow Shaffer to the Rafters.

Venezuelan Winter League: Navegantes del Magallanes 6, Cardenales de Lara 4

What started as a pitcher’s duel ended up turning into an offensive explosion. Lara held a 2-1 lead after seven, but the Navegantes bats came alive against the Cardenales bullpen. Mario Lisson hit two run homers in both the eighth and ninth innings, and Magallenes held off a rally by Lara for the victory. Former Rays farmhand Erold Andrus and Jesus Flores were both 1-4 in the game.

Leones del Caracas 9, Bravos de Margarita 7

Caracas jumped out early, taking a 5-2 lead after the third only to watch Margarita rally. RBI singles from Rene Reyes and Adam Duvall brought the Bravos within a run before Edgar Duran tied the game with an RBI infield single in the top of the sixth. The Leones came right back in the bottom of the inning, taking the lead as Gregorio Petit homered to left. Former Ray draft pick Danny Dorn keyed a three run seventh inning, hitting a two out, two run homer that ended up providing the final margin of victory. Dorn continued his torrid start to the season, going 3-4 with his second home run in as many games. He drove in three while scoring twice in the win. Bobby Abreu, who is trying to build interest as he seeks to continue his career, was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored.