What is prospect watching if not worrying about the future of the Rays’ recent first round picks? Well, on Monday, the results from Casey Gillaspie and Nick Ciuffo had to leave people just a touch more optimistic.
Triple-A International League: Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI) 7, Durham Bulls 1
After going hitless in his first two days in the Rays organization, Nick Franklin has now doubled in his last two. Wilson Betemit also had a nice day at the plate, drilling his 17th home run of the season. However, Alex Colome struggled, and this game got away from the Bulls in a hurry. Colome went 7 innings allowing 7 runs on 7 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. Doug Mathis followed with 3 shutout innings of relief, striking out 1 and getting 5 more outs on the ground as he worked around 3 hits, before Merrill Kelly struck out 2 in a perfect 9th. Kelly has a 2.84 ERA and a 28-9 strikeout to walk ratio in 10 relief appearances for the Bulls, perhaps a foreshadowing of his eventual big league role.
Double-A Southern League: Jackson Generals (SEA) 2, Montgomery Biscuits 1
Victor Mateo has been a workhorse all season for the Biscuits, finishing this game with the second most innings in the system at 137.2 to go along with a 3.60 ERA. He pitched well again on Monday, but the Biscuits offense could not do enough to get him win number 11. Mateo went 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. Cory Burns finished the game with a perfect 9th. In terms of the limited offense their was, Hector Guevara had an RBI double, Kes Carter went 2 for 3 with a double and 2 walks, and Richie Shaffer showed off his patience with 2 more walks. The Biscuits were hit by 4 pitches to go along with 5 hits and 6 walks, but they went just 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position as they put up just one run.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 5, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1
It isn’t too often that the long reliever is the story of the game, but that was certainly the case here. Isaac Gil had a rough outing, going 3 innings allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, although he did strike out 4 while walking none. But then Ben Grist took over and had his best outing of the season. Griset went 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking none. He even had a 7-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Griset has a solid fastball-curveball combination, but he experienced inconsistent results as a starter. The hope is that this outing will be the start of more extended success. Ty Young homered for the only Bowling Green run in the loss. Young has a strong .262/.358/.443 line for the Hot Rods this season. The disclaimer of him being a college player at Low-A certainly applies, but he may have a little more power than similar players we’ve seen in the system.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 3, State College Spikes (STL) 2
This was like the game the Rays wish they had won last night. Casey Gillaspie drilled a 4th-inning homer and drove in 2 overall in the game while Alec Sole drilled an RBI single. On the mound, meanwhile, Oscar Armenta went 6.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1, before Mike Franco tossed 2.2 shutout innings to end it, allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 4. Gillaspie continues to impress for the Renegades, maintaining a .279/.366/.464 line despite a rough start. Franco, meanwhile, has a 1.59 ERA in his first 6 pro appearances, with 11 strikeouts against 2 walks in 11.2 IP.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 5, Danville Braves 4
Princeton scored 5 early runs then hung on for dear life as the Braves came back. Luckily, they did so successfully. The 5 runs came on a 2-run blast by Nick Ciuffo and a 3-run shot by Angel Moreno. Moreno and Riley Unroe both went 2 for 4, with Moreno’s homer being his first since coming to the US. On the pitching side, meanwhile, Cameron Varga started and allowed just 1 hit in his 3 innings of work, striking out 2 while walking none, before the relief was sketchy behind him. The Rays moved Varga up from the GCL after just 5 appearances, and he showed in this game that he should be just fine. Ruben Paredes closed out the game for the P-Rays with a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts.