After the way the Tampa Bay Rays won yesterday, you had to believe that all of their affiliates also found ways to emerge victorious, right? Well, as we know, wins and losses between the majors and minors are uncorrelated, but it was appropriate that the system had a nice day in its own right. The story remained the same: the starting pitching was excellent, and the offense delivered enough moments.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 1, Buffalo Bisons (TOR) 0
After a pair of rough outings, Dylan Floro got right back on track in this game to lead the Bulls to victory. He went 6 shutout innings allowing 3 hits and no walks, striking out 4 and forcing a 9-3 groundout to flyout ratio. He out-dueled Daniel Norris, who held the Rays to 1 run in 7 innings of work on April 25th but was demoted following his next start. Back to Floro, you always worry about a not-so-overpowering pitcher hitting a wall at higher levels, but Floro seemed ready to make the adjustment necessary to avoid that.
Following Floro was a pitcher named Grant Balfour, who struck out 2 in a scoreless inning while working around a hit. We’ll have to see if he can make it back to the Rays’ bullpen, although admittedly his results will mean little. What he needs is to regain velocity or start using his curveball and/or changeup a lot more. Andy Oliver and Ronald Belisario tossed finished the game for Durham with a shutout frame each.
There wasn’t much on the offensive side for the Bulls, but Mikie Mahtook had a great game, going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. He is now hitting .338 for the Bulls in 2015. Nick Franklin went 0 for 2 in his rehab start, but he drew 2 walks and stole a base. Typically you have to be feeling good to attempt a steal, so it is always nice to see that. Franklin’s oblique injury is almost in the past, and the Rays are hoping that he can contribute to their success.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 7, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 0
As the score would suggest, this was a fun game for the Biscuits. The offense was led by a surprise–Cameron Seitzer, who went 2 for 4 with a homer, a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored–but a trio of well-regarded prospects also performed quite well. Boog Powell went 4 for 4 with a walk and an RBI to raise his average to .325 on the season. Powell has hit for limited power and still can’t steal bases, but his plate approach continues to look excellent even though he was pushed aggressively to Double-A. That is a great sign.
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Daniel Robertson, meanwhile, delivered a 2-for-4 day with 3 RBI and a run scored. He has put up spectacular numbers after an early-season slump and is now up to a .287/.389/.457 line on the season. He is putting the ball in play, drawing his walks, and hitting the ball with a good amount of authority. He is certainly meeting expectations if not exceeding them. Johnny Field, meanwhile, went 2 for 4 with a double as Double-A hasn’t been a challenge for him either. He has been rolling since getting past a mediocre stint in Hudson Valley in 2013.
We haven’t even gotten to the pitchers, who were also quite good. Jaime Schultz started and went 6 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking 3. He wasn’t striking out every other batter like usual, but he was still awfully difficult to hit. Matt Lollis and Colton Reavis then allowed just 1 hit in the final 2.1 innings, striking out 5 while walking 9 as they did so.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 2
Buddy Borden appeared in his first 6 games of the season in relief, but starting this game proved to be no difficult task. Borden went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Charlotte suddenly had a rotation opening when Blake Snell (who starts today) moved up to Montgomery, and Borden will hope to hold it down. Steve Ascher blew the save despite allowing just 1 run in 3 innings before Brad Schreiber struck out 1 in a perfect ninth for the save.
After Ascher allowed that lone run, the game was tied at 2, but Willy Adames came up with what went down as the game-winning on an RBI single in the seventh inning. He finished the contest 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored as he continued to hold his own against competition as much as four years older than him. Adames could be off to a better start–he has a .275/.343/.385 line–but there are always going to be growing pains with such a young player and he is getting through them fine.
Juniel Querecuto and Maxx Tissenbaum also had nice games for Charlotte, with Querecuto going 2 for 5 and Tissenbaum having a 1-for-2 day with a walk and an RBI. Querecuto began the season without a clear spot for playing time, but he has forced his way into action and is off to a nice start.