The Undercards: Mikie Mahtook Unstoppable in Five-Hit Day

By Robbie Knopf

Nearly every player in baseball eventually has that one day when everything goes right. The question is what happens afterwards. Mikie Mahtook finally looked like the player the Rays selected 31st overall in 2011–is he finally starting to come into his own?

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 6, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 0

With the Rays facing so much rotation turmoil, the Bulls faced a bullpen night right from the start on Monday. Luckily, their offense scored 4 runs in the top of the first inning, and this game turned out to be a breeze. The star of the contest was Mikie Mahtook, who went 5 for 5 with a triple, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Mahtook has a .356/.396/.444 line in 48 plate appearances to begin 2014, and although he is not the prospect the Rays initially thought he could be, we could see him in the big leagues in September. Beyond Mahtook, Vince Belnome went 1 for 3 with a solo homer, 2 walks, and 2 runs scored, and Roman Ali Solis drove in a pair of runs.

Speaking of those relievers, they turned out to be quite effective in this game. Juan Sandoval started and went 3 shutout innings, although he did have to work around 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out just 1. Juan Carlos Oviedo ended up getting credit for the win after a perfect 4th inning, striking out 1. Steve Geltz followed with 3 no-hit innings, striking out 2 while walking 1, before Adam Liberatore and Kirby Yates tossed shutout frames to finish off the 3-hit shutout. Geltz in particular had a very nice game, using just 41 pitches to throw those 3 innings. Geltz has a 1.13 ERA in 8 innings to begin the year, allowing just 2 hits.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 1 (6 innings–rain)

If this game had continued, Pensacola might have came back. The game ended with 1 out, a man on third, and the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 6th. But the Biscuits will take the win because the game indeed was stopped. Victor Mateo went the shortened complete game allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 5.1 innings, striking out 4 while walking 2. Then at the plate, Cameron Seitzer and Taylor Motter had the RBIs, with Motter and Richie Shaffer each going 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored, and Ryan Brett went 1 for 2 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored to get his average above .300 for the year at .305.

High-A Florida State League: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 7, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3

Charlotte manager Jared Sandberg decided to pull a Joe Maddon and take a struggling player, Justin O’Conner, and move him up in the lineup. That move worked brilliantly as O’Conner went 2 for 4 with a 3-run home run and even picked a runner off at first base. But that was basically all that went right in the Stone Crabs’ 7-3 loss. Leonel Santiago started and was lit up, allowing 6 runs on 13 hits in just 4.2 innings. D.J. Slaton did allow just 1 run in his 2.1 frames, but only after working around 3 walks without a single strikeout. At least Nick Sawyer did look good to finish the game, working around 2 hits to toss 2 shutout innings, striking out 2 while walking none. At the plate, the Stone Crabs got 4 hits, and 2 were from O’Conner. The other 2 were from Thomas Coyle, who went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. This was most certainly a forgettable game for Charlotte, but O’Conner getting himself together is huge, and the Rays have to hope it lasts.