The pitching was there for Rays minor league affiliates on Saturday, as usual. But after the Rays’ 16-run outburst against the New York Yankees yesterday, this is a nice time to acknowledge the hitting. The Rays always knew that 2011 supplemental first rounder Tyler Goeddel was an extremely talented player, and with the help from some Joe Maddon-esque maneuvering by Charlotte Stone Crabs manager Jared Sandberg, he may finally be breaking out.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 2, Norfolk Tides 1 (11 innings)
While the Rays were out scoring 16 runs, the Bulls were playing the type of game that usually exemplifies the organization. Matt Andriese started for Durham, and after 2 starts where he allowed 3 runs in 5 innings along with a relief appearance, he finally delivered the type of outing the Rays had been waiting for. He went 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking just 1 and forcing a 10-3 groundout to flyout ratio. This is how good Andriese can be when he has his sinker working to set up his strong slider and splitter, and hopefully we will be seeing more of this in upcoming starts.
Unfortunately for Andriese, the hit he allowed on an RBI groundout in the 7th was enough to tie the game because all the Bulls offense got for him was a Cole Figueroa solo home run in the 6th. Mike Wright matched Andrise with 7 innings of 1-run, 4-hit ball, so it came down to which bullpen would crack first. When it is a battle of the bullpens, though, you never bet against the Durham Bulls (and not because of the terrible pun). Juan Carlos Oviedo struck out the side in the 8th working around a hit and a walk before Steve Geltz through 2 innings allowing just a walk while striking out 4 to take the game into the 11th. Then it was Kevin Kiermaier finally getting the Bulls the run they needed. Kiermaier walked then stole both second and third base before scoring on a Mikie Mahtook infield single, and Kirby Yates struck out 2 in a perfect bottom of the inning for the save as the Bulls won 2-1. Durham pitching tallied 16 strikeouts against just 3 walks in the victory, and Kiermaier had an especially good game, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, those two big stolen bases, and his game-winning run scored. Kiermaier has always had the speed, but never was a major threat on the basepaths. It is great to see him finally being as explosive stealing bases as the Rays always knew he could be.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Mississippi Braves 0
Victor Mateo has been extremely hit-or-miss for the Biscuits the last two years, but this game was certainly a hit. Mateo went 7 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. Mateo was followed by recent Rays minor league signee Bryce Stowell, who worked around a hit with a strikeout in a scoreless 8th. Stowell was three times ranked among the Cleveland Indians’ top prospects, and he will get his own post here at Rays Colored Glasses by the end of today. Santiago Garrido was perfect in the 9th to finish things.
On the offensive side, the Biscuits’ stars were at the bottom of the lineup as 8th and 9th hitters Luke Maile and Jake Hager each went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Ryan Brett also went 2 for 5 with an RBI while Willie Argo stole his 9th base without getting caught. Maile and Hager were each aggressively promoted to Montgomery and have proved the Rays correct in doing so, managing OPS’s of .791 and .769 in the early goings.
High-A Florida State League: Palm Beach Cardinals 13, Charlotte Stone Crabs 9
Tyler Goeddel was struggling mightily until Jared Sandberg moved him up from 9th to 8th in the lineup for one game and he hit a home run. Then on Saturday, Sandberg decided to be a little more aggressive. He moved Goeddel all the way up to 2nd in the lineup, daring him to prove he belongs. Goeddel certainly passed the test, going 2 for 4 with a homer, a triple, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored, and suddenly his numbers on the season look scary. Goeddel has a .292/.414/.583 line in 58 plate appearances, slamming 2 homers, 3 triples, and 2 doubles while managing an impressive 5-9 strikeout to walk ratio. We have seen Goeddel get hot before–the start of his career at Bowling Green in 2012 comes to mind–but the Rays have to hope that this is him finally establishing himself as a top prospect.
The Charlotte pitching (Leonel Santiago and Marcus Jensen) got obliterated in this game, so we’ll stick to talking about the hitters. Patrick Leonard is putting in his best effort to be more than just a footnote in the Wil Myers–James Shields trade, going 1 for 3 with a 2-run homer, 2 walks, and 2 runs scored in this game. Hard to argue with his .283/.356/.585 line to begin the year including 3 home runs after he hit 9 all of last year. Justin O’Conner‘s line is at just .213/.245/.283, but he is 7 for 20 (.350) with 4 doubles, a homer, and 5 RBI in his last 5 games. Then there was Jake DePew, who went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored. With the Rays likely to give O’Conner a few more days at positions other than catcher to try to keep his bat going, DePew could get a few more starts, and it will be interesting to see what he can do with them.
Low-A Midwest League: Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 9, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1 (10 innings)
Poor Hot Rods. After tying the game in the 6th to force the contest into extra innings, a 10th inning that was about as horrific as anyone could have imagined sent them to their 13th straight loss. Prior to the 10th, the Bowling Green pitching was actually excellent. Hunter Wood went 4 innings allowing just an unearned run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2 and forcing a 4-1 strikeout to walk ratio. After an ERA above 7.00 in each of his first two starts to begin the year, Wood really needed an outing like that. Aaron Griffin followed and went 4 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. Then in terms of the offense, Kean Wong went 3 for 5 with a triple and a double while Pat Blair went 2 for 4 with a double and the only RBI. Wong, who only just turned 19, is hitting an impressive .333 in 47 plate appearances to begin the year, while Blair has rebounded from his tough start by going 6 for 17 (.353) with 2 doubles, 3 walks, and 2 RBI in his last 6 games.