There was just one win in the Tampa Bay Rays system out of the four games played, and even that win featured a bullpen collapse. At least we can focus more on the two pitchers doing their best Chris Archer impressions, Jacob Faria and Chris Pike.
Triple-A International League: Rochester Red Wings (MIN) 8, Durham Bulls 2
Everett Teaford had a disastrous start for Durham, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings pitched. C.J. Riefenhauser then made his return to Durham behind him, getting past 2 hits with 2 groundballs in a scoreless inning. Andrew Bellatti was the first pitcher in the game to actually look good, tossing 3.1 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. He actually departed with 2 outs and a runner on first in the ninth, but his earned run came when the struggling Jose Dominguez allowed a 2-run home run to Josmil Pinto.
Dominguez has just a 13.50 ERA and 2-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 1.1 innings across his last 3 appearances. He doesn’t look like a real option for a call-up at this point, leaving Bellatti and Matt Andriese as the only possibilities when the Rays next need a fresh arm. Given that Andriese is back to starting while Bellatti is back in relief, we have to expect that Bellatti will be the Rays’ choice. His stuff looked good in his first big league stint, and it is always nice to have a guy who can throw 3 or 4 innings.
J.P. Arencibia had a nice day to lead the offense, going 3 for 4 with an RBI, while Ryan Brett, who was just activated off the DL and optioned to Durham, went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. Arencibia was able to see time in the big leagues with the Texas Rangers last season after a strong Triple-A stint, but this year has been a different story so far as he has just a .206/.245/.405 line for the Bulls. For Brett, meanwhile, it is nice to see him have his first good game at Triple-A since April 14th, and hopefully many more are on the way.
Double-A Southern League: Jackson Generals (SEA) 12, Montgomery Biscuits 4
The Montgomery pitching staff experienced quite mixed results. Jaime Schultz had his second horrific start out of 10 this season, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits in 3.1 innings. Later on, Colton Reavis allowed 2 runs in his inning and Bryce Stowell allowed 4 unearned runs in his frame. On the other hand, Kyle Winkler tossed 1.2 perfect innings, striking out 3, and Parker Markel delivered a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. Winkler has piqued our interests by allowing just 1 hit in his first 2.2 IP with the Biscuits while striking out 5.
Offensively, Hector Guevara drilled a bases-clearing 3-run double, Joey Rickard went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored, and Jake DePew went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Rickard remains red-hot to begin his Double-A return, hitting to a .339/.394/.458 line with 5 doubles, a triple, 7 RBI, and a 12-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 67 plate appearances. Rickard, who throws lefty but bats righty like Rickey Henderson and few others, was thought of as a potential fourth outfielder and is trying to get back to reaching towards that upside.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Brevard County Manatees (MIL) 2
Jacob Faria spent three years at Rookie ball, and apparently it was just the right amount of time. He was solid in his first year at full-season ball in 2014 and has been strong to start 2015 as well. In this game, he went 7 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. He now has a a 7.8 K/9, a 3.2 BB/9, and a 0.0 HR/9 in 53.1 innings pitched. There is some luck involved with that–he’s getting fortunate stranding runners and is certainly going to allow some home runs–but he should remain effective even when his luck turns.
Faria was just a 10th round pick in the Rays’ big 2011 draft, but he is one of the prospects that they are more optimistic about from that group at this point. They selected him as a 6’4″, 175 high school pitcher with a fastball in the mid-80’s, but they counted on him doing the requisite work in the weight room to fill out and get his fastball up to much loftier heights. That is exactly what Faria has done–now he is 6’4″, 200–and he continues to progress as a pitching prospect in this system.
Jeff Ames, another 2011 pick, followed Faria with 2 strikeouts in a perfect inning. He has a 0.79 ERA and a 13-5 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 11.1 innings. However, Brad Schreiber could not mirror the results of the two pitchers ahead of him. He entered with a 3-0 lead but proceeded to allow 2 runs and get the tying run on second base before finally escaping. Luckily for the Stone Crabs, their bullpen collapse didn’t result in a loss.
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On the offensive side, Willy Adames went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, Jake Bauers went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, and Braxton Lee turned in a plain 2 for 4. Adames has a .305/.372/.448 line in 172 plate appearances on the year, which would be excellent for anyone and is absolutely nuts for a 19-year-old shortstop at High-A. Jake Bauers is actually a little bit younger than him, though, and his .274/.367/.473 line with a 24-21 strikeout to walk ratio is just as impressive even though he’s a first baseman. Finally, Lee has certainly held his own since jumping from Hudson Valley to Charlotte, hitting to a .293/.376/.319 line with 22 strikeouts against 14 walks. After he was iffy for the Renegades, he has been a pleasant surprise this year.
Low-A Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3
Chris Pike is a machine. In this game, he went 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. And with that, he has now tossed exactly 7 innings allowing exactly 2 runs in 4 straight starts. That is pretty incredible. On the whole, Pike has a 2.81 ERA in his 8 starts and 48 IP, posting a 5.6 K/9, a 1.3 BB/9, and a 0.6 HR/9. He isn’t missing many bats or forcing many groundballs, but he is pounding the strike zone, keeping hitters off-balance and yielding strong results time after time. That has to count for something.
Damion Carroll lost the game behind him by allowing 4 runs in 1.2 innings, but let’s move onto the offense. Mac James had a big game, going 2 for 2 with 2 walks and 2 RBI, while Jace Conrad went 1 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored. James is now up to a .337/.383/.419 line, and he also played well defensively at catcher, throwing out 34% of attempted basestealers without allowing a passed ball. Speaking of stealing bases, Conrad has been almost unstoppable, swiping 16 in 18 attempts. He certainly looks like the best basestealer in the system.