Rays Prospects

The Undercards: Nick Franklin Pulls Bulls Within 1 Game of IL Title

By Robbie Knopf

After another frustrating Tampa Bay Rays loss, quite possibly the most frustrating one of the season, we can take solace once again in the success of the Durham Bulls.

Triple-A International League Championship Series Game 3: Durham Bulls 4, Pawtucket Red Sox 3 (Bulls lead series 2-1)

This game was bookended by disappointing stretches for the Bulls as Matt Andriese allowed a pair of early runs and Josh Lueke allowed another run in the ninth. In between, however, the Bulls did enough to hold on and move within one game of defending their International League title. Andriese proved to be excellent following that rough beginning, going 6 innings allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 8 while walking none. Andriese wound up delivering a gem in what will be his final Triple-A start of 2014, and it will be interesting to see whether we see more of him in the major leagues. Andriese is not yet on the 40-man roster, but he will need to be added following the season anyway to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. C.J. Riefenhauser followed Andriese with 2 shutout innings working around a hit and a walk while striking out 2.

Jeremy Moore was the first to cut into the Bulls’ 2-0 deficit with an RBI single off Boston Red Sox top prospect Henry Owens in the third inning, and Tim Beckham‘s 2-run double later in the frame gave the Bulls their first lead at 3-2. Then it was Nick Franklin continuing his excellent postseason with a solo homer in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference in the game. Franklin also had a double and a walk in the game as he raised his average to .417 in the postseason. Nick Franklin was underwhelming in the regular season with the Bulls after the Rays acquired him from the Seattle Mariners in the David Price trade, but we always knew the potential was there, and now it is coming out. The sample size is small, but we know that much of Franklin’s struggles were due to adjustments the Rays were making to his swing, and we have to hope that those adjustments are finally taking hold.

After the Rays beat Owens on Thursday, the next pitcher standing in their way is another well-regarded Red Sox pitching prospect, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. He will match up against Mike Montgomery in Game 4 at 7:05 PM tonight as the Bulls hope to clinch the IL title and avoid a deciding Game 5.