Before we begin, the Tampa Bay Rays announced a roster move last night, calling up Enny Romero to serve as a long reliever while demoting Tim Beckham. We will have more on that later, but it was probably a good idea to note that somewhere on this site as early as possible. The timing works out well for Beckham to get regular playing time at Triple-A, but only because of an injury.
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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders (NYY) 1
Hak-Ju Lee is actually hurt. Yesterday, we talked about how he needed to leave Thursday’s game after getting his hand stepped on as he was picked off, and we wondered how long he will be out. He will be on the shelf for at least seven days (there is a 7-day DL in the minor leagues), although now we know that Beckham will take over his at-bats while he is out. Leonardo Reginatto returned to Durham for this game and went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored and he could replace Enny Romero’s spot on the roster, but his playing time is less clear with Beckham in Durham.
The Bulls actually had only 2 RBI in the game, with the other 2 runs scoring on errors. Jake Elmore drove in the other run on an RBI double. Other notable players at the plate for Durham included Eugenio Velez, who went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and a stolen base, and Corey Brown, who went 2 for 4 with a walk, a steal, and a run scored. Velez has put together a nice season since signing with the Rays as minor league depth, hitting to a .307/.364/.433 line.
On the mound, meanwhile, Everett Teaford had a solid start, allowing 1 run on 6 hits in 5.2 innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. Kevin Cash specifically mentioned his name the other day as a guy who could see time with the Rays in a long relief role, so that’s a good sign for him. Jhan Marinez followed by showing his true colors but not the poor results that we would expect would come with them. He allowed 2 walks and a hit in 1.1 innings, but he managed to pitch shutout ball and prevent any inherited runners from scoring.
Andy Oliver was next up and tossed a hitless innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. Oliver has a 1.12 ERA in 12 Durham appearances and a 7-1 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 2 games. His control issues remain a serious problem, so he will need to look that electric for quite a bit longer to garner consideration for the big leagues. Preston Guilmet then earned the save in the ninth, working around a walk with a strikeout in his shutout frame.
Double-A Southern League: Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 1
Speaking of control problems, wait until you hear about Jaime Schultz‘s start in this game. He went 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 2 hits, striking out 7 but walking 6. Schultz’s strikeout to walk ratio is now just 23-19 in his last five starts, although he still has a 2.92 ERA in that span. Schultz’s stuff is electric, but the control issues that we knew were inside him somewhere were among the reasons that he was unlikely to remain a starter. Hopefully he can get past this stretch, but eventually the Rays will have to consider fast-tracking him to a big league bullpen role.
Behind Schultz, Mikey O’Brien allowed just a hit in 2 shutout innings, striking out 1, before Mark Sappington allowed a run in 2 innings. The Biscuits offense got 2-hit in this game, but Richie Shaffer did deliver a nice performance, going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI. Shaffer has a relatively strong .262/.362/.470 line on the season, but he is still striking out in 28% of his plate appearances.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Tampa Yankees 1
German Marquez had just a 4.74 ERA through his first 4 starts of the season, but he now has just a 2.48 ERA on the year as his ERA in his last 4 outings as been an incredible 0.43. In this game, he reached the seventh inning for the first time as a professional as he tossed 7 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was 8-8, not too impressive but still a marked improvement over where he was before. He has gone from 0.43 groundouts for every airout in his first 4 starts to 0.88 in his last 4.
Marquez is a player that has slowly emerged as a legitimate prospect in the last couple of years, although there is certainly room for additional improvement. He does a nice job throwing his low-90’s fastball for strikes, although as the groundball issues above remind us, his command isn’t quite there yet. He also throws a nice curveball and a solid changeup, although the curveball hasn’t looked as good this season as his K/9 has gone down to 6.1. Even so, he has a 2.7 BB/9 and a 0.4 HR/9 and he has been red-hot lately. Hopefully his arsenal will keep clicking.
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Granden Goetzman led the way in regards to Marquez’s run support, going 3 for 3 with a double, a walk, 2 stolen bases, an RBI, and a run scored. He has looking better than he ever has before in the minor leagues, hitting to a .333/.392/.489 line with 2 doubles, a triple, a homer, 11 RBI, and 9 stolen bases in 11 attempts in 52 plate appearances. I say that this is the best we have seen from Goetzman because he has found his way to other hot streaks, but never with a strikeout to walk ratio as good as 10-5. The hope is that he is finally breaking through as a prospect.
Juniel Querecuto went 2 for 4 with a run scored for the Stone Crabs in their win while Jesus Araiza had a 1-for-3 day with a walk. Jake Bauers and Braxton Lee had an RBI each for Charlotte in the game as the team improved to an incredible 28-14 on the season.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Cubs 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
Bowling Green went with only Francos on the mound and it worked relatively well, but the run support wasn’t there. Enderson Franco started and tossed 6 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was 9-4. Franco isn’t young at 22 years of age, but he burst onto the scene with his stuff last season at Hudson Valley and has looked good again to start 2015, pitching to a 3.15 ERA and a 29-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 40 innings.
Mike Franco was up next and worked around a hit and a walk to toss 2 shutout innings despite failing to strike out a batter. He now hasn’t recorded a strikeout in his last 2 games, pretty strange for a player with 9.8 strikeouts per 9 on the season. The Hot Rods offense finally got something after his second inning, scoring in the top of the ninth on RBI singles by Thomas Milone and Casey Gillaspie. Gillaspie finished the game at 3 for 4 while Hunter Lockwood went 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored.