The Montgomery Biscuits opened their season by defeating the big league Tampa Bay Rays in a scrimmage by 6-5. That inspired some hope that they could be a solid team this year, and a four-game winning streak to start the year also led to excitement. But when the dust settled and the season was over, the Biscuits left more to be desired. The team went 66-74, which put them on the outside of the playoff picture. That said, there were plenty of positive takeaways from the season, and there are a couple of members from this team that could factor into the Rays’ plans sooner rather than later.
The Rays acquired Nick Franklin to factor into their second base plans for next season, but don’t forget about Ryan Brett. The 22-year-old second baseman did nothing put hit this year, putting up a .303/.346/.448 line, good for a 122 wRC+. The fact that he hit for so much power is particularly impressive, as he is just 5’9”, 180 pounds. On top of that Brett’s speed was on display, as he stole 27 bases on the season. Brett could be ready to help the Rays by the end of next season thanks to his bat and all-out style. He can get reckless on defense sometimes, which resulted in 21 errors this year, and he will have to work on honing that in as he continues to develop.
Another position player with a successful season was utility man Taylor Motter. Though not on many Rays’ prospect radars, Motter put up a .274/.326/.436 line and a 111 wRC+ while showcasing nice raw power. He also did so while making an appearance at every position but first base, pitcher, and catcher. At 25 years old, Motter could find his way into a big league utility role at some point in time.
On the pitching side of things, Dylan Floro led the way. The groundball specialist put up a 3.48 ERA, 5.6 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9 over 178.2 innings of work. His stuff is nothing impressive, but he has excellent command and pitchability, and that could make him ready for a back-end rotation job in the big leagues by 2016.
Richie Shaffer continued his struggles as a pro, hitting .222/.318/.440 this year. That slugging percentage indicates how much power he still has, but the Shaffer’s pitch recognition and plate discipline has simply not made any progress. If he can hone those in and hit even .250 then he could hit for enough power to be a solid player, but if he can’t do so then his struggles are only going to get worse against more advanced pitching.
After a solid 2013 season in which he posted a 131 wRC+ at Low-A Bowling Green, I picked Joey Rickard as a potential breakout candidate this season. But despite the Rays showing enough faith in him to skip High-A, Rickard disappointed. He was hurt for a good part of the year, playing just 68 games, and when he was around he hit just .248/.337/.296. Rickard could still turn into a nice piece, but if he can’t rebound he risks becoming irrelevant in the system.
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Other Players To Keep An Eye On
Grayson Garvin experienced a mixed season for the Biscuits. He once again had some injury issues (though not to his arm), and he only totaled 74.0 innings on the year. When he was healthy, he pitched well though, throwing to a 3.77 ERA, 7.3 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9. Garvin looks like a number two starter on the right day thanks to good stuff and better command and pitchability, but he hasn’t built up innings and could be moved to the bullpen.
Catcher Luke Maile was nothing too spectacular this season, but he was solid in all facets of the game. His .268/.341/.387 and 107 wRC+ were solid enough, and there might be a bit more power that he could tap into. He also does a good job defensively behind the plate, throwing out 32% of runners. He many never do any one thing particularly great, but his whole package could make him an everyday catcher down the road.
Outfielder Kes Carter had some of his first success as a pro upon promotion to Double-A, hitting .241/.339/.377 in 56 games. The former 1st round pick has disappointed in his career, but this decent stretch gives hope he can turn into a platoon outfielder down the road. Carter will head to the Arizona Fall League this year to continue his development.
Signed to a minor league deal mid-season, Bryce Stowell had a dominant year in relief for Montgomery, posting a 1.99 ERA, 9.8 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 in 38 outings. He is finally learning how to use his great stuff and is improving his command, and it looks like he could turn into a big league reliever sooner rather than later.
Despite an underwhelming season overall from the Montgomery Bicuits, there are plenty of players to keep an eye on. A couple of these players could see big league time next year and many of them might find a way to crack the Rays’ roster in 2016 on a full-time basis.
Check out our Durham Bulls season review as well.