Rays Prospects

Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Matt Moore Officially Returns

By Robbie Knopf
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We had heard for months and months about Matt Moore‘s rehab process following Tommy John Surgery. He eventually started throwing off a mound and even getting into an extended spring training. There is something to be said, though, about actually pitching in a rehab game. Moore’s 30-day rehab clock has begun, so the Rays are saying that they expect him back by July 3rd. And now we can look at his Baseball-Reference page and actually see some statistics that have been recorded for him this season.

Triple-A International League: Charlotte Knights (CHW) 4, Durham Bulls 2

The Bulls’ starter had a bad game, and Durham trailed 4-0 after 5 innings. As the final score tells us, that was where the similarities between the Tampa Bay Rays’ game and the Bulls game ended. Matt Buschmann went 4 innings allowing 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking 4. The bullpen was better behind him to give the Bulls a chance to make this game a little more interesting.

Jordan Norberto was first up and worked around a hit and a walk in 2 shutout innings, striking out 1. Next was Jim Miller, who allowed just a hit in 2 scoreless frames, striking out 1. That was quite a game for Miller, who lowered his ERA to 1.69 to go along with a 6.5 K/9, a 1.1 BB/9, and a 0.0 HR/9. He isn’t missing bats, but it’s always nice to have a veteran guy who could be called up in an emergency. Jhan Marinez then finished the game with a hitless inning, striking out 1 while walking 1.

On the offensive side, Curt Casali homered in the ninth to cap a 1-for-3 day with a walk and 2 runs scored while Richie Shaffer went 2 for 4. Casali has a clear opportunity for playing time with the Rays, but not until he improves his .179/.316/.295 line by a wide margin. Shaffer is probably farther away, but his .357/.406/.750 line in his first 32 Triple-A plate appearances is excellent. Of course, he is still striking out like crazy, 31.3% of his PA’s in this case. Taylor Motter also went 1 for 3 with a walk and an outfield assist in the loss.

Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3

The Biscuits scored a trio of runs on productive outs and received a quality start by Jaime Schultz, but that didn’t prove to be quite enough. Thomas Coyle hit an RBI groundout while Cameron Seitzer and Johnny Field each contributed a sac fly. The Biscuits went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, but when you can get runners to third and score them on outs, that doesn’t matter. The only issue is that Coyle was in the game because Daniel Robertson departed with a hand or wrist injury. Hopefully Robertson won’t be out for long.

The players who managed more than RBIs were Boog Powell and Hector Guevara. Powell went 3 for 5 with a triple and 2 runs scored while Hector Guevara delivered a 2-for-4 day. Powell has proved that his breakout 2014 wasn’t a fluke as he has hit to a .324/.408/.408 line on the year. The disclaimers are the same–he hasn’t hit for much power and needs to improve his success rate on stolen bases–but we have to love his plate discipline and pure hitting.

Schultz, meanwhile, tossing 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking 3. It certainly could have been better, but he lasted 6 innings in a start for the first time since May 6th. The Rays are still waiting for Schultz to get his pitches back under control–he has a 32-36 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 34 innings, and if that persists, we have to believe that his days as a starter will be over. Mark Sappington allowed the go-ahead run in his relief inning before Matt Lollis finished the game with a perfect frame.

High-A Florida State League Game 1: Charlotte Stone Crabs 5, Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 4 (10 innings)

Just like the Tampa Bay Rays, the Miracle scored a run to break the tie in the top of the 10th, but the Stone Crabs rallied to win on a critical error and a Yoel Araujo walk-off single. The game was exciting enough by itself, but there were plenty of other interesting things that took place earlier on.

Matt Moore started for the Stone Crabs in his first game with recorded statistics since April 7, 2014. He went 2.1 innings allowing a pair of unearned runs on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 3. He threw 52 pitches, 31 of which were strikes. The game wasn’t anything special, but it was a nice step for Moore in his recovery and he should only get better from here. The Rays could welcome him back into their rotation before June ends.

After Isaac Gil tossed a 0.2-inning scoreless relief appearance, Taylor Guerrieri was the next highly regarded pitcher to appear in the game. He went 2.2 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. He made some mistakes and allowed a few line drives, but we have to like the strikeouts and his 4-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Guerrieri now has a 1.69 ERA and a 14-2 strikeout to walk ratio in 11.2 innings at full-season ball since his Tommy John Surgery. He is slowly but surely reestablishing himself as one of the Rays’ top prospects.

Eduar Quinonez then went 2.1 shutout innings, a much better result than his last time following Guerrieri, before Kyle McKenzie got the win with 1 run allowed in 2 innings. Offensively, Dayron Varona, Kean Wong, and Willy Adames all went 2 for 5. Adames had an RBI while Braxton Lee had 2 RBI and stole 2 bases. Adames got his average up to .311 by the end of this game.

Game 2: Fort Myers 4, Charlotte 2 (7 innings)

German Marquez‘s season is getting increasingly bizarre. He has a 2.94 ERA in 49 innings pitched, albeit with just a 6.2 K/9. In this game, he tied his season-high with 6 strikeouts, but just like in the other such game, his outing was mediocre on the hole. Marquez went 5 innings allowing 4 runs on 11 hits, striking out 6 while walking none. He even forced a 5-2 groundout to flyout ratio, but the results weren’t there in terms of runs allowed. Marquez did finish the game with shutout ball in his last 3 innings.

On the offensive side, Wong completed his nice game by going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI while Lee went 1 for 3 with his third stolen base of the season and a run scored. Granden Goetzman also went 1 for 2 with a walk as he continued his encouraging start to the season. After managing just 6 walks in 185 plate appearances for Charlotte last year, Goetzman already has 7 in 90 PA’s this season. He has seemingly made significant strides in the plate discipline department.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, Kane County Cougars (ARI) 1

Chris Pike‘s streak of 4 straight starts going 7 innings came to an end, but he still managed to secure his 6th win of the season. He went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 5. He now has a 2.72 ERA in 53 innings pitched–in 2014, he also had exactly a 2.72 ERA in 53 innings pitched. That is pretty remarkable. Ryan Pennell and Kyle Bird managed to work around 6 hits in their 4 combined innings to toss shutout ball for the remainder of the game.

In terms of the run support, Bralin Jackson went 2 for 4 with an RBI while Nick Ciuffo went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Jackson now has an 11-game hitting streak that includes 7 multi-hit games. Overall, he has a ludicrous .475/.543/.725 line with 5 doubles, a triple, a homer, 5 RBI, and an 8-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 46 plate appearances during that stretch. That is incredible considering he had just 4 doubles and a 27-6 strikeout to walk ratio in his 124 PA’s before it began.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 54: Kevin Kiermaier’s Homer Wins It in 10

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