When your pitchers are injured, you expect to do worse. The more frustrating scenario is when your starters are healthy but simply not performing, as the Tampa Bay Rays saw with Jake Odorizzi at the beginning of late year. The good news is that instance, though, is that the turning point could come in any given start, and the Rays are hoping that German Marquez‘s outing on Friday will be such a game for him.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 8, Gwinnett Braves 6
Joey Butler had a huge game for Durham, going 2 for 4 with a 2-run double in the first inning and a walk-off homer in the ninth, plus a walk and 2 runs scored. His numbers just keep getting better for the Bulls as he is now at .339/.439/.554 with 4 doubles, 2 homers, and 12 RBI. He even has a 15-8 strikeout to walk ratio. Butler is 29 years old and no longer a prospect, but some team will eventually give him a chance to be a big league backup outfielder.
Elsewhere on the offensive side, Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, an RBI, and 3 runs scored. He continues to solve the Triple-A level and is hoping for a more extended Triple-A chance. Luke Maile, Eugenio Velez, and Alexi Casilla also had multi-hit games for the Bulls.
Dylan Floro‘s start is what happens when he doesn’t have his command. He went 5.2 innings allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out 1 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was 9-3. When Floro is off, he still forces a lot of grounders and doesn’t walk anyone, but he allows a pair of home runs. Luckily for him, the Durham offense did enough to overcome his struggles in this game. Jim Miller allowed 1 run in 2.1 innings before Bryce Stowell tossed a hitless inning with 2 strikeouts.
Double-A Southern League: Mobile BayBears (ARI) 2, Montgomery Biscuits 1
Bradin Hagens was given the opportunity to return to starting after 3 successful relief appearances, but this game certainly could have gone better. He went 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking 4. Mikey O’Brien and Matt Lollis tossed scoreless ball in the last 5 innings, but by that point, it was too late.
What little offense the Biscuits received came from Cameron Seitzer and Tommy Coyle. Seitzer went 3 for 4 with a double and the only run scored while Coyle had a 1-for-3 day with a walk, a stolen base, and the only RBI. Seitzer is off to a rough start in his return to Double-A, managing a .250/.250/.333 line, and he certainly needs more than that to advance to Durham.
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High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Palm Beach Cardinals 1
German Marquez entered his third start of the year having allowed 9 runs, 7 earned, in 9 innings pitched. He pitched dramatically better in this game, going 6 innings allowing an unearned run on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. It is the type of outing that could build confidence for Marquez as he is one of the younger players in the Florida State League at 20 years old.
Marquez hasn’t gained much notoriety as a Tampa Bay Rays prospect yet, but that is no fault of his own. He is a pitcher who is advanced beyond his years, features a fastball that can touch the mid-90’s, and two promising secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. He can be one of the best pitching prospects in this system if he can stay healthy and continue delivering strong results.
Willy Adames had a big game to help support Marquez, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Kean Wong went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run. Juniel Querecuto is taking advantage of Andrew Velazquez‘s absence to deliver solid numbers, including a 1-for-3 performance with a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored in this game. The victory takes the Stone Crabs to 11-5 on the season.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 6, Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 5
The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays handily yesterday, but this game between their affiliates was considerably closer. The Hot Rods trailed 5-0 after the top of the second, but they came back with two runs in the bottom of the frame and four more in the bottom of the seventh to come away with the victory.
Henry Centeno lasted just those first two innings, but Hunter Wood and Edwin Fierro held the Lugnuts off the board for the final seven frames. Wood was incredible again, tossing 4 innings allowing just a hit while striking out 7 and walking none. His numbers are the year are unbelievably good: in 15 innings across 4 games, he has a 0.60 ERA and just 2 hits allowed, striking out 21 while walking 5. That is some way to start off a season.
On the offensive side, Riley Unroe went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored while Nick Ciuffo had a 2-for-3 day with a walk and a run scored. The walk was his first of the year against 10 strikeouts, but the Rays are hoping that his approach is finally getting up to par. Coty Blanchard also had a nice game, going 2 for 5 with 2 RBI. He has now received multiple starts at shortstop, both corner outfield spots, and first base for Bowling Green already this season.