The Undercards: Hunter Wood Tosses 5 Shutout Innings for HV
By Robbie Knopf
A lot of rain (plus a power outage in the Durham game) severely limited the Rays’ minor league slate for Saturday. At least Hunter Wood, Casey Gillaspie, and Johnny Field give us something to talk about.
Double-A Southern League: Jackson Generals (SEA) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3
The Biscuits entered the bottom of the ninth down 4-0, but they battled until the very end, scoring thrice and getting the tying run as far as second base before finally meeting their end. Albert Suarez was ineffective, but battled to keep his team in the game, going 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 10 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. Suarez now has a 4.34 ERA and a 32-19 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 starts and 56 innings for Montgomery. It was a pleasant surprise that Suarez logged some time as a starter for the Biscuits this season, but given how he has done, he will likely move to the bullpen for next season, whether it’s with the Rays or another organization. Suarez will be a minor league free agent in a few months.
Kevin Brandt followed Suarez with a shutout inning before Santiago Garrido allowed a run in the seventh that proved to be the difference in the game. The inconsistent Braulio Lara did have one of his better outings, tossing 2 shutout innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 3. On the offensive side, Jeff Malm delivered an RBI single before Willie Argo made it a 4-3 game with his 2-run double. Richie Shaffer started the entire rally with a walk as he had an encouraging game, going 0 for 2 but walking twice and scoring a run without striking out. Shaffer has showed off a mature approach to go along with his usual power amid his hot streak in his last 15 games as he has hit to a .327/.460/.714 line with 4 doubles, 5 homers, 15 RBI, and 13 walks against 8 strikeouts in 63 plate appearances. The strong stretch certainly doesn’t mean that Shaffer has broken through, but at least he’ll have something positive to build off of as he hopes for more sustained success next season.
High-A Florida State League: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 7, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2 (Game ended after 8+ innings–rain)
In case you weren’t aware, it rains a lot in Florida. This game itself was the completion of a suspended game from Friday, but they ended it one batter into the ninth inning before more rain came around. Jared Mortensen started the game pre-suspension and tossed 2 shutout innings. Marcus Jensen starting the resumption of the game was another story. The usual reliever entered the game having allowing 9 runs, 7 earned, in 7 innings pitched as a starter this season. His performance on Saturday did not count as a start, but the results were even more horrific as he allowed 6 runs, 5 earned, in 2.2 innings pitched. Jordan Harrison did at least follow with a nice outing, going 3.1 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 6-1. Harrison, 23, is not particularly young, but he is a lefty who has delivered a nice season primarily between Charlotte and Bowling Green, managing a 3.10 ERA and a 61-24 strikeout to walk ratio in 81.1 innings pitched.
The Stone Crabs managed 2 runs despite just 3 hits and 1 walk, an even less inspiring performance when we realize that they had two big leaguers–David DeJesus and Curt Casali–in their lineup. DeJesus did have a sac fly to score Johnny Field with his first run of the day. Speaking of Field, he was basically the entire Charlotte offense as he managed the harder half of the cycle, going 2 for 4 with a homer, a triple, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Finally playing in a league where he is younger than the average age, Field has a .317/.393/.545 line in 163 plate appearances. He may have done enough to earn a quick promotion to Double-A next season, where we will find out whether he is really a prospect.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Connecticut Tigers 2, Hudson Valley Renegades 1
Two runs by Connecticut in the sixth inning off Trevor Dunlap proved to be the difference in the game as Hudson Valley’s only run came in the bottom of the ninth. Hunter Wood pitched well for the first five frames for the Renegades, allowing no runs on 2 hits and no walks while striking out 3. Wood has been solid, if far from spectacular, since his demotion to Hudson Valley, managing a 3.08 ERA and a 57-16 strikeout to walk ratio in 64.1 innings pitched. He’ll likely to give Bowling Green another try to begin next season. Dunlap did rebound from that rough sixth to toss two shutout innings before Kyle McKenzie worked around a walk with a strikeout and two groundouts to toss a scoreless ninth inning.
In terms of the bats, Casey Gillaspie continue his recent string of strong games by going 2 for 4 with a double and Hudson Valley’s only RBI. He has reached base multiple times in three of his last four games. Braxton Lee was the player that Gillaspie drove in as he went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and that run scored. Lee, drafted 11 rounds after Gillaspie in the draft, has hit .287 with a .349 OBP for Hudson Valley, but it would have been nice to see him hit for some more power and be more efficient on stolen base attempts. He is just 11 for 20 stealing bases this season.