It was an 0-4 day in the Tampa Bay Rays organization yesterday, quite appropriate given how the Rays’ game went against the New York Yankees. However, Logan Forsythe was a major highlight in the Rays’ loss, and several prospects made nice contributions in their games.
Triple-A International League: Buffalo Bisons (TOR) 9, Durham Bulls 4
The Triple-A level continues to treat Dylan Floro quite poorly. The right-hander went 5 innings allowing 5 runs on 11 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was 5-2, but he simply allowed too much hard contact. Floro now has just a 4.46 ERA through 7 starts–should we be concerned? The answer is “probably not,” and the reason is his start to 2014. At Double-A, he actually had a 5.92 ERA through 7 starts before pitching to a 2.80 ERA the rest of the way. Floro needs some time to adjust, but there is a good chance that he will eventually be fine.
Jake McGee followed Floro with a scoreless inning of work, getting around a hit and a walk with 2 strikeouts. McGee has allowed just 1 hit in his 5 rehab appearances, but he has also walked 4 while striking out 6. He has just another couple of appearances to make sure he knows where the ball is going. From the Rays’ perspective, though, it is not as though he needs to come back and immediately be the closer. If he is ready enough this weekend to be effective for the most part, they can ease him back into a high-leverage role.
Bryce Stowell and Grant Balfour allowed 2 runs each in the final 2 innings to make the Bulls’ comeback from 5-1 to 5-4 prove inconsequential. Speaking of that comeback, Taylor Motter went 1 for 4 with a homer, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Nick Franklin went 2 for 4 with a pair of clutch two-out RBI singles in his rehab apperance. The second of those made it a 5-4 game. Franklin has looked good for the Bulls and is almost ready to help the Rays.
Three other players to talk about from this game are Alexi Casilla, Hak-Ju Lee, and J.P. Arencibia. Casilla went 1 for 3 with a walk, 2 stolen bases, and 2 runs scored, Lee went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI, and Arencibia went 2 for 4. Casilla has hit well for the Bulls, but those are just his first 2 steals of the season against 2 caught stealings. Lee is red-hot at 8 for 17 (.471) on his 4-game hitting streak with a pair of doubles. The Rays are really hoping that can last. Finally, Arencibia is up to a .279/.333/.574 line with 6 homers in 18 games as he hopes to return to the majors.
Double-A Southern League: Tennessee Smokies 4, Montgomery Biscuits 0
Joey Rickard and Richie Shaffer both had nice games for the Biscuits, but other than a Boog Powell single and a Justin O’Conner walk, they were literally the entire Montgomery offense. Since they were 5 spots apart in the lineup and everyone around them was getting out, neither of them batted a single time in the same inning as the other. That wouldn’t have mattered if they were hitting home runs (which Shaffer does a reasonable amount), but that wasn’t the story in this game.
On the contest, Rickard went 3 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base while Shaffer delivered a 2-for-3 day with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. Shaffer also reached on an error in his other plate appearance. Rickard began this season at High-A after a rough stint with the Biscuits in 2014, but he played well and returned to Montgomery with some momentum. He is now 5 for 11 to begin his second stint with the team, and at (soon-to-be) 24 years old, he isn’t old for the level if he can find his form.
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What does Richie Shaffer need to show the Tampa Bay Rays before he gets promoted to Triple-A? He is hitting to a .277/.369/.536 line with 8 doubles, 7 homers, and 21 RBI in 29 games to begin the year, finally hitting like an advanced college hitter from the first round should. He is still striking out, but his K rate is down to 25.1% and he does have 16 walks to go against his 33 strikeouts. Shaffer has faded considerably as a prospect, but his bat speed and power remain, making his career still salvageable. We will have to see when the Rays give him a chance to take that process to the Durham Bulls.
On the mound, Jaime Schultz went 5 innings allowing an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 5. Schultz’s control issues popped up again, but he was difficult enough to hit when he was around the zone that the Smokies couldn’t get him for much. Instead, then got Zach Cooper for 3 runs in 2.2 innings. Things got bad enough for him that Cameron Seitzer pitched for the final out of the game, and he did a nice job, needing just 1 pitch to induce a flyout.
Low-A Midwest League: West Michigan Whitecaps (DET) 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1
Announcement: Brent Honeywell is human. He needed 71 pitches to get through just 3 innings in this game, and while he only allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, the Rays took him to be extremely cautious with his arm. Honeywell still struck out 5 while walking none, but he will hope to be more efficient in his next outing. Edgar Gomez followed with 3 innings allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out 4. Gomez has been inconsistent to a ludicrous extent, tossing 4 appearances with an ERA of 3.00 or lower and 3 with an ERA of 27.00 or higher with none in between.
On the position player side, Nick Ciuffo had a nice game, going 1 for 4 with 1 runner caught stealing and another picked off first base. He has an impressive 35% caught stealing rate on the season and 42% for his pro career, but his bat needs to come around. Thomas Milone also went 3 for 5 with a double while Cristian Toribio went 2 for 4. Casey Gillaspie had the lone RBI for Bowling Green just after Jace Conrad had stolen his 12th stolen base in as many attempts.