The Undercards: Richie Shaffer Responds in Move Down to 8 Hole
After the David Price trade, there has never been a better time for Tampa Bay Rays fans to evaluate the present and look to the future. We’ll be doing that plenty today in our numerous articles analyzing the deal here at Rays Colored Glasses, but it is fitting to start by looking at the minor league games from yesterday. Richie Shaffer, Cameron Seitzer, and Jaime Schultz were among the players who impressed.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 12, Jackson Generals (SEA) 2
Hours after the Rays and the Seattle Mariners joined together as part of a three-team trade, the Biscuits gave Jackson a pummeling. Mike Colla had a strong outing for Montgomery, going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. Braulio Lara followed with a dominant appearance, striking out 4 in 2 perfect innings. Lara’s control is always an issue, but this is how good he can be when he is locked in. In any event, let’s get to the offense.
The Rays are done babying Richie Shaffer. The struggling former first rounder found himself in the 8th spot in the Biscuits’ order on Thursday, and he has much to prove as he hopes to move higher up. Luckily, his first game was a good way to start. Shaffer went 2 for 3 with a 3-run homer, a sac fly, a walk, and 2 runs scored. It had been six games since he last had a game without a strikeout and seven games since he drew a walk, but he knocked both of those out in one go. Shaffer still has the talent to reach his potential, but it is time for him to figure out his approach at the plate and start making contact more consistently.
Beyond Shaffer, Cameron Seitzer had a huge performance, going 2 for 6 with a homer, a double, and 5 RBI. Jeff Malm, meanwhile, went 4 for 5 with a double and 2 runs scored, Jake Hager went 3 for 6 with a run scored, and Leonardo Reginatto and Alejandro Segovia both had multiple hits as well. For Reginatto, his 2 for 4 day with a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored was a nice way to break his 0 for 6 to begin his Double-A tenure. The 24 year old out of Brazil does not hit for much power, but he does nice job making contact and drawing walks, and the Rays will hope that he can hold his own with the Biscuits.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 7, Tampa Yankees 3
Speaking of adjustments to new levels, we can talk about Juniel Querecuto, who replaced Reginatto with the Stone Crabs. Reginatto went 1 for 4 with a triple, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored in his second game in a Charlotte uniform. Amazingly, Charlotte had just 3 RBIs as errors assisted them to score their other runs. Marty Gantt had the other run batted in, going 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored.
On the mound, meanwhile, Jordan Harrison had his second straight strong outing, going 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a strong 6-2. Harrison, a 23 year old lefty, has been an interesting player in the system since being a 25th rounder back in 2012, and he has pitched very well for Charlotte since moving up there, striking out 27 while walking 11 in 28.1 innings pitched. Then Zach Cooper finished the game in excellent fashion, retiring all four batters he faced, 2 on strikeouts and 2 on groundouts. Since allowing 5 runs in his third Stone Crabs appearance, Cooper has a 0.93 ERA in his 9 games since.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 8, Bowling Green Hot Rods 7
This was a sad loss for Bowling Green as they allowed 5 runs in the bottom of the ninth. In any event, there were a lot of positives. Jaime Schultz made his second start off the DL for Bowling Green and looked very good, going 3.1 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. German Marquez followed and was just as impressive, going 4.2 innings allowing 2 run on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking none and forcing a 5-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Schultz and Marquez have a long way to go in their respective developments and both spent time on the DL this season, but both feature excellent stuff that will make them worth watching moving forward.
In terms of the run support, Ty Young went 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI while James Harris went 3 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Young has rebounded well from his rough pro debut, hitting to a .268/.361/.449 line this season, while the athletic but enigmatic Harris is finally showing signs of doing something at the plate. Since returning from a rehab assignment on June 25th, Harris has a .297/.347/.407 line in his last 91 plate appearances. Oscar Hernandez and Darryl George also had multiple hits in the loss.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Game 1: Jamestown Jammers (PIT) 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 1 (7 innings)
Game 2: Jammers 4, Renegades 2 (7 innings)
This doubleheader did not go well for the Renegades, so we’ll go through it quickly. In Game 1, Chris Pike allowed 4 runs in 5 innings in his start, although he did strike out 4 while walking 1. Clayton Henning drilled an RBI double for the only Hudson Valley run while Casey Gillaspie extended his hitting streak to 10 with a 1-for-3 day. In the second game, Hunter Wood started and allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, on 8 hits in 4 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. He did have a 6-0 groundout to flyout ratio, so it is not as though all hope is lost. Finishing the game was Brian Miller, who struck out 2 in a perfect 6th. Miller continues to dazzle for Hudson Valley, allowing just an unearned run on 2 hits in 13 innings pitched, striking out 16 while walking 1. Braxton Lee and Bralin Jackson each went 1 for 3 with a run scored in the loss.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 6, Burlington Royals 1
Little went wrong for the P-Rays in this one as they rolled to a relatively easy win. Roel Ramirez got the start, and he was not overpowering, but extremely effective nonetheless. He went 6 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and no walks while striking out 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a strong 7-2. Outings like that have been a trend for Ramirez this season as he is 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA but has just 15 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched, although he has walked only 5. Damion Carroll followed with 1.2 innings allowing an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. In stark contrast to Ramirez, Carroll has a 0.93 ERA in 22 strikeouts in 19.1 innings, but his 10 walks are concerning. Kyle Bird finished the game with 1.1 perfect innings, striking out 1.
In terms of the bats, it was two of Princeton’s more veteran hitters that stepped up to provide the run support. Blake Grant-Parks went 2 for 4 with a double and 3 RBI while Nic Wilson drilled a 2-run home run. Thomas Milone also had a strong game, going 2 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored. Milone, the Rays’ third round pick from last year, did not hit much in his pro debut but has turned everything around at Princeton, hitting to a .279/.359/.401 line.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 5, GCL Twins 4
This game was the opposite of the Bowling Green game as the GCL rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to emerge with the victory. With two outs, Jose Rojas drilled an RBI double before young catcher David Rodriguez drilled a walk-off two-run single. That hit was all Rodriguez got in 5 plate appearances, but he certainly made it count and he was also busy defensively. Rodriguez picked a runner off third base while throwing out 3 runners attempting to steal. Also playing well for the Grays were Tim Beckham, who went 1 for 2 with 3 walks and a solo homer, and Jaime Ayende, who went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored in the best game of his young career. Ayende’s single began the ninth inning rally. Angel Yepez allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, in 3.2 innings to put the GCL Rays in a deficit, but Nick Sawyer followed with 1.1 hitless innings before Tommy Lawrence allowed just 1 run in the last 4 innings to give the Rays a chance to come back.