On Monday, the Montgomery Biscuits had the type of game that every team dreams of having. On a day where their offense scored 16 runs, their starting pitcher still got the headline. The Tampa Bay Rays have to be hoping that a few such games are on their way for the big club as well.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 1
Everett Teaford will be a call-up candidate in the next few days, and for what it’s worth, he looked worthy in this game. Teaford went 6 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. He has now pitched well in two of his three starts for Durham, managing a 4.20 ERA and a 12-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 15 innings overall. Teaford has never been a particularly impressive pitcher, but if the Rays need a long reliever for a limited period of time, they could certainly do worse.
Behind Teaford, the Bulls received shutout relief from Bryce Stowell, Andy Oliver, and Ronald Belisario. All of them looked at least decent, but Oliver was spectacular, retiring all four batters he faced on 3 strikeouts and a groundout. It’s obviously too early to say that Oliver is fixed, but that is how good he can be if his control is on. The Rays are certainly hoping that they can find a permanent solution for him and turn him into a big league option.
On the offensive side, Mikie Mahtook went 1 for 4 but delivered 3 RBI, Hak-Ju Lee went 1 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored, and both Joey Butler and Alexi Casilla went 1 for 3 with a walk, with Butler also scoring while Casilla added a double.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 16, Mobile BayBears (ARI) 1
The Biscuits offense had a huge day that we will go into detail about in one moment. First, let’s talk about Jaime Schultz. Schultz pitched 6 no-hit innings allowing 3 walks while striking out 8. At one point, he struck out 6 hitters in a row, and his groundout to flyout ratio was even 5-0. Schultz has lasted 6 innings just 3 times in his 27 professional starts, but this time he was quite efficient, tossing 88 pitches.
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It was a little questionable that the Rays pushed Schultz to Double-A for 2015 after he had managed a 3.13 ERA but a 21-15 strikeout to walk ratio in 23 innings after moving up High-A Charlotte last year. Schultz’s stuff has always been great, but his control continues to be inconsistent and he certainly doesn’t look like a potential big league starting pitcher. Even so, Schultz has exceeded expectations ever since the Tampa Bay Rays made him their 14th round draft choice in 2013, and they will keep giving him chances to continue that. They see a successful power reliever, but they can’t stop wondering whether he could be even more.
Now, to the offense. Tyler Goeddel is now up to a 9-game hitting streak after going 3 for 3 with 2 triples, 2 walks, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. He is now up to a .400/.488/.686 line on the season. Johnny Field, meanwhile, went 2 for 3 with a grand slam, a double, a stolen base, 2 walks, and 3 runs scored. The slam came off of a position player, but that can be your only quibble about Field’s .351/.415/.649 start.
The Biscuits also received multiple RBIs from Daniel Robertson, Justin O’Conner, Richie Shaffer, and Kes Carter. Robertson went 2 for 5 with a walk and 2 runs scored as he has suddenly heated up, delivering a 5-game hitting streak with multiple hits in the last 3 contests. Fun fact: his middle name is Ray. He really was meant to be with the Tampa Bay Rays franchise. Boog Powell also went 2 for 4 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and 2 runs scored in the blowout victory.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 2
Blake Snell looked absolutely unhittable in his first two starts on his way to a Minor League Pitcher of the Week award and the #2 spot on Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Then, in this game, he fell back to earth. Snell threw 87 pitches in just 4 innings, although he did keep the Marauders off the board. He somehow worked around 4 hits and 5 walks with 3 strikeouts and a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio.
Steve Ascher followed and was iffy in his first High-A appearance even as he earned the win, allowing 2 runs in 2.2 innings. At least Isaac Gil earned the save with a promising outing, going 2.2 innings allowing just 2 hits while striking out 2. Gil struggled mightily in his first two games of the season before finally putting his mid-90’s fastball to good use this time around.
In terms of the run support, Jake Bauers went 1 for 3 with a walk and a solo homer while Kean Wong and Joey Rickard drove in 2 runs each. Braxton Lee also had a nice game, going 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored. It is crazy that Lee is in Charlotte and a guy like Casey Gillaspie isn’t even though Lee managed just a .681 OPS for the Renegades. To his credit, though, he is off to a decent start, managing a .323/.400/.323 line with a strong 4-4 strikeout to walk ratio.
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Low-A Midwest League Game 1: Lake County Captains (CLE) 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3 (Completion of Suspended Game)
The second half of this game on Monday went a lot better for Bowling Green than the first half on Tuesday, but they couldn’t do quite enough to come back. Chris Pike allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in his 4 innings, but Hunter Wood completed the game by going 5 no-hit innings allowing just a walk while striking out 4. Wood was moved to the bullpen for this season, but an appearance like that certainly catches some eyes as he hopes to return to his original role.
Wood has actually tossed no-hit ball in 2 of his 3 appearances, giving him completely crazy numbers to begin the year. In 11 innings, he has a 0.82 ERA and just 1 hit allowed in 11 innings, striking out 14 while walking 5. Wood is still 21 years old and certainly retains life as a prospect. Whether he is going to be a starter or a reliever moving forward, his fastball-curveball combination makes him a player to watch.
At the plate, Jace Conrad and Mac James both went 2 for 4, with Conrad stealing 2 more bases to give him 6 already this season. Nick Ciuffo, Bralin Jackson, and Cristian Toribio had the 3 runs batted in for the Hot Rods in the loss.
Game 2: Bowling Green 4, Lake County 1 (7 innings)
The Hot Rods staked Enderson Franco to 4 early runs, and their pitching did the rest. Grant Kay went 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored, James and Coty Blanchard each went 2 for 3, with Blanchard both driving in and scoring a run, and Riley Unroe also went 1 for 2 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Then there was the new face who contributed: Taylor Hawkins, who went 1 for 2 with an RBI in his first game at full-season ball. Hawkins, 21, is a catcher who was signed to an above-slot $272,500 bonus back in 2012 but failed to hit at all the last three years. At this point, we can’t expect anything from him, but it says something that the Rays sent him to Bowling Green, and we will have to see if he can start delivering on his promise.
Back to Franco, he went 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. Considering his impressive stuff and his age (22), Franco could be another player that the Rays consider pushing up the ranks. The pitcher who closed out the game for Bowling Green, Brian Miller, certainly won’t be with the team for long.
Miller’s perfect inning gives him 5 innings at Bowling Green allowing just 3 hits and an unearned run, striking out 5 while walking none. More importantly, he is an advanced college reliever with the ability to zoom through the system. Miller’s promotion to Charlotte should come over the next month, and if he pitches well there, then he will truly get on the fast-track for the big leagues.