Rays Winter Ball Recap: Mike Montgomery Just Doesn’t Stop

By Robbie Knopf

Mike Montgomery entered the Arizona Fall League with his future in serious question. Then in his first appearances, he allowed 3 runs in just 1.1 innings pitched, and it looked like the end was near. Instead, the last few weeks have seen Montgomery put it all together in a way he hasn’t in four seasons.

Arizona Fall League: Salt River Rafters 3, Scottsdale Scorpions 2

Just one Ray appeared for the Rafters in this game. When he pitches like Montgomery, they’ll be fine like that every time. Montgomery tossed the 6th and 7th innings for Salt River, and was unhittable, going 2 innings retiring all six batters he faced, striking out 2 and getting the other four outs on the ground. Montgomery’s numbers just keep getting better. He now has a 2.57 ERA in 9 appearances, striking out 14 while walking just 4 in 14 innings pitched. 3 of those walks actually came in one bad outing–he has been locked in basically every other time. Everything is clicking right now for Montgomery–and the question is going to be whether this is happening because he is working in relief or whether he has made enough of a breakthrough with his arsenal that he can translate this back to starting.

Mexican Pacific League: Aguilas de Mexicali 6, Yaquis de Obregón 5

What a difference a league makes. During his time in the Dominican Winter League, Russell Branyan went just 0 for 14 with a walk in 15 plate appearances. The Mexican Pacific League has been an entirely different story. In this game, Branyan went 1 for 2 with a 2-run homer and a pair of walks to lead Mexicali to victory, and he now has a .333/.576/.857 line in 33 plate appearances, slamming 2 doubles and 3 homers while driving in 8, and walking an insane 11 times versus just 4 strikeouts. After the Dominican League release, it looked like Branyan was done. The way he is playing in the Mexican Pacific League, he may just have something left. Armando Araiza went 0 for 1 with a walk in the loss for the Yaquis.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Gigantes de Carolina 6, Criollos de Caguas 4

The Gigantes’ two former Rays minor leaguers had solid games in this one, with Robinson Cancel going 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI and Jesus Feliciano going 1for3 with a sac bunt and a run scored. Feliciano has seen his season get off to a great start, hitting .360 in his first 8 games. He hasn’t hit much since the 2010 season that improbably saw him make the New York Mets’ outfield, but he has to hope that he is finding something now.

Venezuelan Winter League: Aguilas del Zulia 2, Leones del Caracas 1 (11 innings)

With the Leones down 1-0 in the 8th, Danny Dorn came through with a huge RBI single to tie the game at 1. Unfortunately, the Aguilas came back in the 11th to come away with the victory nevertheless. Dorn went 2 for 5 with his RBI in the game, which was just his second contest since November 8th. We have been covering the Leones closely in these recaps because of both Dorn and Daniel Mayora, but with both of them out of the lineup from injuries, we haven’t heard much about them the last few days. Hopefully Dorn can stay back and keep hitting and Mayora will join him soon as well.