The Undercards: Curt Casali, Defensive Madness Stand Out in Durham Bulls Loss
So much is happening in the Rays minor league system that we’re having our first ever Rays Colored Glasses Minor League Update later today in addition to this. Over there, though, you will get to hear about Curt Casali‘s Durham Bulls debut and the chaos that ensued in the contest.
Triple-A International League: Syracuse Bulls (WSN) 8, Durham Bulls 4
We’re going to be talking about this game for a while, but let’s just preface these comments by saying that this was a pretty bad loss for the Bulls. Matt Andriese had nothing in his start, allowing 7 runs on 8 hits in 3.2 innings, walking 5 while striking out just 1. He also literally could not have picked a worse time to have a bad outing. Because Nate Karns was brought up to the major leagues on Sunday, the Bulls had a relief day as they covered his start. Then news broke that key reliever Steve Geltz had been suspended for a drug of abuse, so obviously he was out. Adding to the fun is that the Rays are going to call up a reliever on Tuesday, so another pitcher (probably Brad Boxberger) could not appear in this game. The Bulls desperately needed a good start from Andriese, and when he sputtered, they were put the type of predicament that we’ve seen too often with the Rays. The good news: the position changes.
The Bulls began was a usual defensive alignment, but then Charlie Montoyo pinch-hit for Hak-Ju Lee with Robby Price in the 5th inning and the carousel began. Price moved from pinch-hitter to third base while Cole Figueroa shifted from third base to shortstop. Then Price took the mound in the 9th, and Jerry Sands moved from DH to first base while Vince Belnome went from first base to third base. Overall, four Bulls player switched positions without a single player–other than Lee, who was pinch-hit for–needing to leave the game. That says a lot about the versatility of the Bulls’ roster and most impressive was Price. After just three innings defensively at third, he headed to the mound for the second time this season and threw a 12-pitch inning, although he did allow a solo home run. Price hasn’t hit at all the last two years, but his versatility has gotten him to Triple-A and may eventually earn him a big league chance.
Now, to the less quirky highlights. Curt Casali’s first Triple-A game was quite reminiscent of Double-A as he went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Not a shabby way to start off. Casali has done nothing but impress since joining the organization, and now he is just one step away from the major leagues. Kevin Kiermaier, meanwhile, went 2 for 5 with a run scored to raise his average to .300 on the season, and Vince Belnome had a bases clearing double for 3 of the 4 RBIs. After Andriese’s rough outing, Jeff Beliveau worked around 2 walks and a hit to toss 1.2 scoreless innings. Adam Liberatore did the same in flashier fashion, tossing 1.2 perfect frames with 2 strikeouts. Beliveau and Liberatore have been going neck-and-neck all season, with Beliveau having a 23-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 13.2 innings pitched and Liberatore at 25-3 in 17 IP. The Rays love the competition–they may just get a pair of formidable lefty relievers out of it.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 2, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 1
The biggest beneficiary of Curt Casali’s promotion was obviously Casali himself, but also receiving a big opportunity is Luke Maile as Casali’s promotion will allow him to handle the bulk of Montgomery’s catching duties. All smiles so far as Maile’s RBI single in the 7th lifted the Biscuits to a 2-1 win. Maile’s big hit gave the win to Victor Mateo, who went 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 9 while walking 3. Mateo has been incredible for Montgomery since the second half of last season, but there simply is no room in the Durham rotation. Andrew Bellatti finished the game with 2 innings of 1-hit all, striking out 4 while walking none. Bellatti has been in relief for the last two years, but he is now a 22 year old impressing at Double-A and that has to mean something. Alejandro Segovia also had a nice game for the Biscuits, going 2 for 3 with a triple and a double.
High-A Florida State League: St. Lucie Mets 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
Alex Colome pitched last night for the Charlotte Stone Crabs. What? Doesn’t he still have 18 more games to go on his suspension? Well, like big leaguers who are suspended, Colome does get a certain amount of “rehab games” prior to returning to Durham, and this was his first. It did not go particularly well as he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks in 2 innings, although he did strike out 4. In any event, he has a lot to prove now, but it’s nice to see him back. The regularly scheduled starter, Leonel Santiago, followed with his straight good outing after three disastrous ones, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 2 and walking 2 as well. At the plate, Maxx Tissenbaum‘s 8-game hitting streak and 5-game multi-hit streak ended with an 0 for 3 night with a walk. But Tyler Goeddel stayed red-hot, going 2 for 4 with an RBI, and Tommy Coyle went 1 for 2 with a double, 2 walks, and a stolen base. Coyle hasn’t hit for any power yet this year, but it is hard to find fault with his .398 OBP, 21-19 strikeout to walk ratio, and 6 stolen bases in 7 attempts.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 9, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 4
The Hot Rods came up huge to finish this game, scoring 5 times in the 9th to win 9-4. The go-ahead run scored on an error, but the Bowling Green offense was not going to let anyone say that luck handed this game, getting RBI singles from Armando Araiza and Granden Goetzman before Oscar Hernandez drilled a 2-run triple. Goetzman, Kean Wong, Darryl George, and Ariel Soriano all had multi-hit games in the Hot Rods win, but the most impressive player is Goetzman. He went 2 for 4 with a walk, that RBI, and 2 runs scored, and it is the walk that is especially notable. He now has 6 on the season, 4 of which have come in his last 7 games. Goetzman has been breaking out all year, but the question of his plate discipline remained. Goetzman looks to be up to that challenge as well.
On the pitching side, Jordan Harrison survived in what was far from his best outing, going 4.1 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits. Stone Speer followed and did allow an unearned run, but he otherwise went 3.2 innings allowing just 2 hits while striking out 3. Speer walked 4 in his outing on September 17th–since then, he has 13 strikeouts without walking a batter in 11.2 innings pitched. It is incredible to see the way that he has turned himself around. Ian Kendall tossed a perfect 9th to finish the game, improving his ERA to 1.15 in 15.2 innings pitched.