Jeremy Hellickson‘s road back to the big leagues have been a long one this season, and it will have to last at least a little bit longer. Hellickson leaving his rehab start early overshadows a few excellent performances from elsewhere in the Rays system.
Triple-A International League: Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 7, Durham Bulls 2
The numbers for Jeremy Hellickson were not bad. He went 3 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 1 and walking 1 as well. However, the real concern is the reason why he left after 3 innings: some discomfort in his elbow. Joe Maddon described the situation as the Rays being a little bit overcautious, but you never want to see a rehabbing pitcher going through a setback of any kind. Hellickson may need even another rehab start, and Erik Bedard‘s time with the Rays is not over yet.
Both Durham runs in this game came on a two-run homer by Mikie Mahtook, and Jeremy Moore also had a great game. He went 1 for 4 and delivered two outfield assists, both coming at home plate. The Bulls lost by five runs, but it could have easily been seven or more without those throws by Moore.
Double-A Southern League: Huntsville Stars (MIL) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3 (11 innings)
We always knew that Cameron Seitzer had raw power. Now, he may finally be starting to tap into it in games. Friday saw Seitzer drill a pair of home runs to account for all the Montgomery scoring, and he now has four home runs in his last nine games after also managing four in his last 59 contests. Seitzer’s return to Double-A has been a disappointment overall, but it will all be worth it if he can continue hitting for more power.
In other news from this game, Richie Shaffer went 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored, and a couple of Montgomery pitchers had solid outings. Angel Sanchez‘s second start in the Rays organization was much better than the first as he went 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. Jim Patterson, meanwhile, went 1.1 innings allowing just 1 hit while striking out 2. Patterson’s ERA is a mediocre 4.01 on the season, but you can’t argue with his 37-6 strikeout to walk ratio and only 2 home runs allowed in 42.2 innings pitched.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 10, Palm Beach Cardinals 5
The Stone Crabs exploded for seven runs in the top of the first inning, certainly a big break for Leonel Santiago. The right-hander allowed 4 runs in 5.2 innings of work, but he came away with his second win of the season nonetheless. The actual best pitcher in the game for Charlotte was Casey Weathers, who allowed just a hit in 2.1 innings, striking out 2. But let’s talk about the offense. Ariel Soriano had a huge game, going 2 for 3 with a double, 3 RBI, and an outfield assist. Justin O’Conner was right behind him, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Josh Sale and Marty Gantt also had multi-hit performances, and it was also an encouraging game for Tyler Goeddel, who went 1 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, and 2 runs scored. Goeddel has been up-and-down all season, but he has been seeing the ball well lately and the Rays have to hope that another hot streak is on the way.
Low-A Midwest League: West Michigan Whitecaps (DET) 1, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0
Bruedlin Suero came down from Charlotte to make a spot-start for the Hot Rods and what a start it was. He went 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. Unfortunately for him, the Hot Rods offense got nothing as they lost 1-0. Kean Wong and Johnny Field did each go 2 for 4 in the loss for Bowling Green, with Wong drilling a double and Field stealing a base. Wong continues to hit and is even hitting for a little more power–he has four extra-base hits in his last nine games after managing eight in his previous 53.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 1, Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 0
Alec Sole was the Rays’ 18th round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, and his professional career is off to an interesting start. He began his career 0 for 23 before finally breaking out in this game, going 2 for 3 with a walk and 3 stolen bases. He is still hitting just .069–but actually has managed 9 walks against 4 strikeouts and has stolen 6 bases without being caught. It will be interesting how this season progresses for Sole in a Renegades uniform.
Elias Torres joined Sole with a big play at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base, but as the score would indicate, this game was all about the pitching. D.J. Slaton had a strong start for Hudson Valley, going 4 innings allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. However, Edgar Gomez was even better in relief as he earned the win, going 5 no-hit innings allowing just a walk while striking out 4. For good measure, Gomez also had a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Gomez was an afterthought at Princeton last year, but the 21 year old out of Mexico now has a 1.88 ERA and a 13-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 14.1 innings pitched this season. Is he emerging as a sleeper prospect?
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 9, Kingsport Mets 3
Carter Burgess, the Rays’ 28th round pick in 2014, was in the P-Rays’ lineup as the third baseman batting 9th. He may be moving up in the batting order before long. In this game, Burgess went 4 for 4 with a double, 2 runs scored, and a steal of home (!). That steal of home also happens to be the first stolen base of his professional career. A quick perusal of Twitter provided no insight into how Burgess pulled it off, but please chime into the comments if you know. In any event, it was a big game for Burgess to help key the Princeton win.
Hector Montes drilled a 3-run homer for the P-Rays in this game, and Cristian Toribio also managed to do some damage out of the 8th spot in the batting order, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Thomas Milone, meanwhile, had one of the best games of his young pro career, going 1 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. And to top it all off, Roel Ramirez had a great start for Princeton, going 6 innings allowing a run on just 1 hit, striking out 2 while walking 1. The Princeton team features a gallery of lower-level Rays prospects to watch, and nice to see a bunch of them coming through with strong games.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 9, GCL Orioles 0
Maybe I’m crazy, but I have been trying to think of a good nickname for the GCL Rays for quite a while. The reason is simple–there’s no city to call them by, so all you can really call them is the GCL Rays. I have called them the G-Rays or the Rookie Rays at times here at Rays Colored Glasses, but neither of those names really stuck. Here’s my next attempt: the Grays. The Providence Grays were once an actual major league baseball team (from 1878 to 1885), and I happen to think that it’s pretty catchy. In any event, use it or totally ignore it like usual.
This was a big game for the GCL Rays and the type of contest where it is very difficult to find a quibble. 19 year old right-hander Henry Centeno started for the Grays and was incredible, allowing just a hit and a hit batsman in 6 innings of work. He struck out 6 while walking none and also forced an 8-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Centeno pitched in the Venezuelan Summer League the last three years, but suddenly he has allowed just 5 hits and 1 walk in his 11 innings in the States while striking out 11. The sleeper prospect watch is on.
At the plate, Bill Pujols did his best Albert Pujols impression, going 2 for 4 with a double, 4 RBI, and a run scored, and he combined with Cade Cotta and Matt Reida to drive in 8 of the 9 Grays runs. Both Gotta and Reida went 2 for 4, with Gotta drilling a triple while Reida scored a run. Well, they drove in 8 but only scored twice between them, so who scored the runs? Look no further than Patrick Grady and Jeremy Hadley, who both went 1 for 3 with 3 runs scored. Grady reached two additional times based on hit-by-pitches while Hadley had the more conventional two walks. It was a strong performance by the GCL Rays in this one as they improve to 4-3 on the young Gulf Coast League season.