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Tampa Bay Rays MLB/MiLB Recap: Matt Moore Sharp in Rehab

By Robbie Knopf
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As you have seen lately on the site, I am really in draft mode right now. Rounds 11 through 40 are coming today and the plan is the same as it has been every year since 2011 (and since 2012 at this site): cover all 40 Tampa Bay Rays draft picks. Our first 10 draft profiles are here, and the list will be updated as the day progresses. For right now, though, let’s talk a tiny bit about the Rays’ rough loss and a little more about the exciting things that happened in the minor leagues.

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 8, Tampa Bay Rays 2

Nate Karns had a rough outing, going 5.2 innings allowing 5 runs, 4 earned, on 9 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Only 1 run was unearned, but it cost him pitches and concentration when three errors were made behind him, two more by Nick Franklin and another by Jake Elmore. Another piece is coming on Franklin once this draft content is completed. Enny Romero was then pretty bad in relief behind him, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits in 2.1 innings. On the positive side, he hit 98 MPH on the gun and his promise (at least in relief) is clear.

The Rays’ only runs came on a 2-run double by Joey Butler–who else? Rene Rivera also went 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, and a run scored in this game while Kevin Kiermaier went 1 for 3 with the other run. Evan Longoria began this game on the bench as the Rays are being especially careful with his wrist, but he did pinch-hit for Rivera in a big spot in the seventh inning. It didn’t work out, but you don’t have to worry–he will be back tonight. He wouldn’t be appearing off the bench if he was seriously injured to any extent.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 7, Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI) 4

How about Corey Brown?  The veteran outfielder went 2 for 4 in this game with a 3-run homer, a 2-run blast, and a walk for good measure. Brown still has a .220/.290/.415 line on the season, but he has been playing quite well of late, hitting to a .300/.361/.600 line with 3 homers and 9 RBI in his last 9 games. He even has a solid 7-4 strikeout to walk ratio in that stretch. Brown needs to do more to push for a call-up, but it is always nice to have another guy playing well at Triple-A.

Also delivering multiple-hit games for the Bulls were Taylor Motter, Luke Maile, and Leonardo Reginatto. Motter had a particularly good performance, going 2 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. Nice to see three of the Bulls’ younger players step up. The biggest story on the position player side, though, was Hak-Ju Lee making his Triple-A return now that he has recovered from his hand laceration. He finished 1 for 4 with a run scored, and the Rays are still hoping that he can find some sort of consistency at the plate.

On the pitching side, Scott Diamond was excellent, going 7 innings allowing just an unearned run on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 10-3. Kirby Yates also made his Durham return behind him, although it didn’t go well as he allowed 3 runs in a third of an inning. He doesn’t look close to being a big league option again. Jhan Marinez then struck out both batters he faced in the eighth inning before Ronald Belisario worked around a hit with a strikeout and 2 groundouts in a scoreless ninth.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 11, Dunedin Blue Jays 5

This game marked Matt Moore‘s second minor league rehab start, and he looked everything like a recovering big leaguer should. He went 4 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. There is a big difference between retiring batters at High-A and doing so in the major leagues, but Moore is showing few ill signs after Tommy John Surgery. His velocity was as high as 93 MPH, and his command, curveball, and changeup were all good for the most part. The Rays are certainly expecting him to make a major impact when he returns.

Following Moore was Taylor Guerrieri, who was excellent for his first 3 innings, allowing just 1 hit and no walks while striking out 7 as he pitched shutout ball. Then the Stone Crabs extended him to a fourth inning for the first time, and it didn’t go well as he allowed 4 hits and a walk before departing. All of them came around to score, although 3 of them crossed the plate when Isaac Gil was in the game.

There was some bad luck in there for Guerrieri–half the hits came on groundballs–but maybe the Stone Crabs were a touch too aggressive with him after how good he looked to begin his outing. Even so, he is making major progress in his own rehab from Tommy John Surgery and is reestablishing himself as one of the Rays’ top pitching prospects. The fourth inning didn’t go well this time, but expect at least a handful of strong 5-innings starts before the season is through.

One of Guerrieri’s fellow 2011 first rounders, Jeff Ames, finished the game with 1.1 shutout innings, working around a hit with a pair of strikeouts. He certainly won’t be starting games at any level, but he has been strong in relief, pitching to a 2.28 ERA in 13 appearances and 23.2 innings pitched. His 22-13 strikeout to walk ratio is mediocre, but he has upped that to an outstanding 19-6 mark in his last 14.2 frames. I can’t say I have a firsthand report on his velocity, but that is certainly a good sign.

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And then we have the offense. Every hitter in the Charlotte lineup had a hit, with 7 out of 9 also driving in a run and a different 7 out of 9 scoring a run. Leading the way was Yoel Araujo, who went 2 for 4 with a homer, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Araujo remains an extremely raw player even though he will turn 22 in December, but his power potential is incredible. Granden Goetzman, meanwhile, went 2 for 5 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Jake Bauers, Kean Wong, Braxton Lee, Pat Blair, and even Armando Araiza also contributed 2-hit performances.

Other than recent addition Dayron Varona, Bauers has been the Stone Crabs’ best all-around hitter this season, hitting to a .280/.369/.450 line with 13 doubles, 5 homers, 32 RBI, and a 32-26 strikeout to walk ratio in 217 plate appearances. He leads Charlotte in homers, RBI, runs scored, and walks while tying with Willy Adames for the lead in doubles. Pretty good for the team’s youngest player.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Sam Triece Closes Out MLB Draft Day 2

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