The Undercards: D.J. Slaton, Isaac Gil Head to Bowling Green
Only one game in the Tampa Bay Rays system on Wednesday, so we’ll cover it quickly before heading to a series of promotions in the organization.
Foreign Rookie Dominican Summer League: DSL Rays 13, DSL Indians 4
We don’t usually cover the Dominican Summer League here in our minor league recaps, but it is nice to check in with them every once in a while. After their win on Tuesday, they sit at 21-18, tied for second place in the Boca Chica Northwest Division of the DSL with their Cleveland Indians-affiliated counterpart who they beat in this contest.
This game was actually 2-1 entering the 6th inning before the DSL Rays (or the D-Rays if you will), scored twice in the 6th, 4 times in the 7th, and 5 more times in the 8th to turn it into a blowout. The 9th hitter for the D-Rays, 20 year old shortstop Joseph Astacio, had a huge game, going 3 for 6 with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. Astacio is older than you wouldb want him to be for a player still in the DSL, but he does have big numbers for what it’s worth, hitting to a .377/.468/.472 line with 9 walks against 4 strikeouts plus 6 stolen bases. He leads the team in average and on-base percentage. Another 20 year old, catcher Eric Maria, also played well, going 2 for 6 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Then, in terms of younger players, 17 year old left field Carlos Perez went 2 for 5 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored while 19 year old right fielder Angel Perez went 2 for 5 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. The latter Perez has put together a solid season, hitting to a .303/.378/.386 line compared to the .245/.343/.335 league average.
On the mound, there were also a couple of interesting players. Soon-to-be 19 year old right-hander Willy Ortiz started for the DSL Rays and went 4 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. In 8 starts and 30.1 innings pitched this season, Ortiz has a 2.97 ERA and a 25-6 strikeout to walk ratio. Lefty Genesis Cabrera followed with 2 shutout innings, working around 2 hits and a walk. Cabrera, just 17, was not at his sharpest on Tuesday, but that walk was actually his first of the season against 15 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. Especially at this level, numers only mean so much, but when you have a 17 year old pitching like that, he may be worth a second look.
In regards to the aforementioned promotions, a big hat tip to RaysProspects as they note that right-handers D.J. Slaton and Isaac Gil have been promoted from Short Season-A Hudson Valley to Low-A Bowling Green while fellow righties Kyle McKenzie and Trevor Dunlap will head to the Renegades from Princeton and the GCL respectively to replace them.
Slaton is an interesting story as he was a 37th round pick by the Rays out of San Jose University in 2013 who has done nothing but pitch well since join the system. Young for his year with an October birthday, Slaton managed a 2.66 ERA at Princeton last season before dominating in five starts and a relief appearance for the Hot Rods in 2014, putting up a 0.64 ERA and a 23-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 28 innings pitched. With the Hot Rods, Slaton will suddenly be a decent margin below the league average age and has a chance to make himself better known. With a fastball touching 93 MPH and an assortment of secondary pitches that he continues to refine, D.J. Slaton could be a sleeper in the Rays system.
Gil, 22, has a 2.01 ERA in parts of four minor league seasons since being a 31st round pick in 2011, but he never struck batters out like he did with the Renegades this year. In 7 relief appearances, Gil is 5-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA (and no unearned runs allowed), striking out 23 while walking 7 in 18.2 innings pitched. Yes, that is the same strikeout to walk ratio as Slaton, but is all the more impressive that Gil struck out as many batters in nearly 10 less innings. Gil is still an unknown quantity, but it says something that he has lasted in the system despite moving slowly up the ranks, and the Rays may think that they have made some breakthrough in his development.
Finally, McKenzie and Dunlap, selected in the 20th and 30th round respectively in this year’s draft, will be heading to more age-appropriate level with their promotions. McKenzie, who will turn 24 in September, was an interesting prospect out of high school who the Rays gave a flier on, and he did pitch well at Princeton, managing a 2.08 ERA and a 11-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 8.2 innings pitched. Dunlap, meanwhile, stands out for his 6’7″, 225 frame and did not allow a run across 5.1 innings in the GCL, although he walked 4 against 4 strikeouts. In any event, both pitchers are being given a chance to open some eyes, and we will have to see how they do as member of Hudson Valley.