After Erasmo Ramirez struggled mightily for the second time in his two Tampa Bay Rays appearances, fans would go crazy if he started again for the Rays on April 25th. Luckily for the team, that may not be necessary. Alex Colome took the next step in his rehab on Thursday, and Marc Topkin reports that he has a chance to be ready in time to replace Ramirez for his next start.
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Triple-A International League: Norfolk Tides (BAL) 4, Durham Bulls 1
ALERT: Hak-Ju Lee has finally done something at the plate. He entered the game just 2 for his first 22 with 11 strikeouts against his first walk, which is about as bad you can get. In this game, though, he went 2 for 4 with a double, taking a baby step in the right direction. The Rays are not too optimistic about Lee’s future at this point, but if this game can be the start of something, he has the ability to get himself back on the map.
Elsewhere on offense, Eugenio Velez went 2 for 4 while Jake Elmore went 1 for 3 with a walk. Ryan Brett had the only RBI for Durham. On the mound, meanwhile, Matt Buschmann lasted 7 innings but allowed 2 runs in his final frame to mar his outing. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits overall, striking out 5 while walking 3 and forcing a 9-4 groundout to flyout ratio.
A pair of Durham relievers also had nice games, with Ronald Belisario forcing 3 groundouts in his second appearance for the team and Jordan Norberto working around a hit with 2 strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning. Either pitcher has a chance to make an impact for the Rays this season, and it is always nice to have guys at Durham who we can say that about. With the Rays’ middle relief looking a little sketchy, remember that the team has other options it can resort to.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 3, Montgomery Biscuits 2 (10 innings)
A poor bullpen effort ruined this game for Montgomery, but two players had huge games. The first is Tyler Goeddel, who went 1 for 2 with a solo homer, 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, and an outfield assist. He put together his first outstanding all-around game as an outfielder, and the Rays are hoping that plenty more of those are coming. The Rays have been waiting for his breakout season, and this might be it.
Then, on the mound, Austin Pruitt looked sharp again. He lasted 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was 8-4. Pruitt has always been an advanced right-hander out of college, but he is missing a lot more bats to begin the year, 15 in his first 11.2 innings to be exact. If that is because of an actual adjustment rather than just feeling good for a pair of starts, he could be a quick-to-the-big-leagues type of a pitcher.
High-A Florida State League Doubleheader Game 1: Daytona Tortugas 4, Charlotte Stone Crabs 0
Alex Colome made his second recap start in this game and certainly could have looked better. He went 3 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, with both runs coming on homers. On the other hand, he struck out 4 while walking none and forced a 3-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Even big leaguers on rehab stints sometimes make mistake pitches.
In any event, Colome got up to 58 pitches and the question is whether that will be enough for him to be promoted. He is lined up for another start before April 25th, but the days don’t work out–he is lined up to go on April 21st and then April 26th. He could toss a short outing on the 21st and then be ready, but would the Rays take him even if he is able to only throw 75-80 pitches? Given Ramirez’s struggles, the answer to that question is probably yes.
Game 2: Daytona 2, Charlotte 1
The Stone Crabs had quite a pair of starters on Thursday as Ryne Stanek pitched the nightcap. He looked fine in his start, going 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was 7-3. The Rays would love to see him dominate, but the big thing for him at this point is to stay healthy, keep working on his pitches, and be ready to start zooming through the minors if and when they move him to relief.
Low-A Midwest League: Dayton Dragons (CIN) 5, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
The coolest part about this game was Riley Unroe‘s first homer at full-season ball, a two-run shot. A few too many Tampa Bay Rays top prospects have been struggling–and therefore not in these minor league recaps–but hopefully guys like Unroe can start breaking through. Bralin Jackson also had a great game, going 2 for 3 with a stolen base.
On the mound, meanwhile, Greg Harris had a solid game, going 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. He also forced an 8-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Harris, acquired along with Jose Dominguez in the Joel Peralta deal, has 11 strikeouts against 2 walks in his first 11 innings of the season plus is forcing a ton of groundballs. Charlotte may come calling for him before too long.