The Undercards: Richie Shaffer Has 3-Hit Day With Homer
By Robbie Knopf
The Tampa Bay Rays unfortunately suffered a heartbreaking loss in Miami last night, losing despite overcoming a seven-run deficit. The Durham Bulls suffered a loss that was a couple of rungs down on the frustration scale, coming back in the ninth before losing after a blown save. The Bulls were the only team in the organization that led at any point as Rays affiliates went 0-4.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Braves 5, Durham Bulls 4 (11 innings)
One day after Dylan Floro tossed 6 shutout innings despite striking out just 1, Everett Teaford pulled off a similar feat. He went 5 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 1 and walking 1 as well. HIs groundout to flyout ratio was an excellent 9-1. Unfortunately for him, each of the Bulls’ relievers allowed at least one run and his performance did not culminate with a victory.
On the offensive side, Eugenio Velez went 2 for 5 with a triple and a run scored and Joey Butler continued his great start to the year by going 1 for 3 with 2 walks and a run scored. Jake Elmore went 0 for 2 but managed 3 walks and an RBI. His plate discipline continues to be excellent, but he needs to show that he can hit the ball with more authority.
Double-A Southern League: Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 6, Montgomery Biscuits 2
It is a little embarrassing for the Tampa Bay Rays that their first round pick from 2012, Richie Shaffer, is having to repeat Double-A, and they certainly hope he won’t be at the level for long this time. Another month filled with performances like he had in this game, and Durham may come calling for Shaffer. He led the Biscuits offense in this game by going 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 2 runs scored.
Montgomery did not have much offense aside from Shaffer. Other notables included Johnny Field, who went 2 for 3, and Daniel Robertson, who had his first regular-season Double-A hit. Boog Powell failed to follow up his 3-for-4 season debut, but he did register on outfield assist.
On the mound, Austin Pruitt had a strange outing, albeit a solid one. He went 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs, neither earned, on 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking none. He struck out 8 in 4.2 innings (15.4 per 9 IP) after striking out just 6.5 per 9 at High-A last year and managing 8 or more K’s just twice. Both came in at least 6 innings of work. If you want to be super optimistic, maybe this is the start of Pruitt’s breakthrough.
In the bullpen, meanwhile, Mark Sappington managed to work around a hit and 2 walks to toss a scoreless inning while Colton Reavis struck out 6 in 2 innings yet allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.
High-A Florida State League: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 3, Charlotte Stone Crabs 0
Getting 3-hit is never particularly fun, although this game wasn’t without its highlights for the Stone Crabs. Ryne Stanek had a strong season debut, going 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. He is another ex-first rounder that the Rays hope will start moving more quickly through the system.
Stanek was followed by Buddy Borden, who the Rays acquired for Sean Rodriguez, and he had a nice appearance in his own right. He lasted 2.2 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. Borden’s fastball reaches the mid-90’s, and the Rays did a nice job getting an arm of the quality for Rodriguez. Nick Sawyer also struck out the only batter he saw for Charlotte.
There isn’t much to talk about on the position player end for the Stone Crabs, but Kean Wong went 1 for 4 with a stolen base while Armando Araiza went 0 for 2 with a walk, a runner picked off, and 1 of 2 runners caught stealing. He is a great defender–will he ever hit?
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Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Cubs 7, Bowling Green Hot Rods 4
A few errors on defense and a rough relief appearance from Edgar Gomez marred this game for the Hot Rods, but several players did have games to remember. Greg Harris, who came over along with Jose Dominguez in the Joel Peralta trade, went 5 innings allowing 3 runs, just 1 earned, on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was 6-1. Harris also spent 2014 at Low-A, so he is yet another guy with a chance to move up over the course of the season. Maybe he’ll get his chance at Charlotte when Stanek is moved up.
In regards to the offense, meanwhile, Jace Conrad had a big game in his season debut. He went 2 or 4 with two stolen bases, an RBI, and a run scored. At-bats will be tough to find for Conrad with Riley Unroe starting at second base, but the Hot Rods may have to find a few more if he keeps playing like this. Cristian Toribio also went 2 for 4 with an RBI while Justin Williams settled for a plain 2 for 4.
Speaking of Unroe, he went 1 for 4 with an RBI in this game and also scored on Grant Kay’s RBI single. Finally, Thomas Milone went 1 for 5 but stole his first base of the year.