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Tampa Bay Rays MLB/MiLB Recap: Kiermaier Wrecks Havoc

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There is a lot more MLB Draft content ahead today, but let’s quickly go through what happened to the current players in the Tampa Bay Rays system yesterday. The Rays had a great game while the affiliates were a perfect 5-0.

Tampa Bay Rays 4, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2

This is the type of win that the Tampa Bay Rays were supposed to have many of this season. They received a nice start from Erasmo Ramirez, dominant relief from Kevin Jepsen, Brad Boxberger, and Jake McGee (the order we were supposed to see entering the season), Evan Longoria drilled a go-ahead home run, and Kevin Kiermaier did a little bit of everything.

Ramirez went 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. He rolled other than a rough third inning thanks to a similar strategy to previous starts–a decent fastball, a lot of good changeups, and the occasional swing-and-miss on a curveball or a slider. He threw just 78 pitches, but the bullpen was up to finishing off the win. Later in the game, the Rays went to Boxberger rather than McGee in the eighth inning with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Kole Calhoun due up, and it went perfectly as he retired all three of them.

On the position player side, Longoria’s blast was great to see, as was Asdrubal Cabrera‘s double for an insurance run in the eighth and Nick Franklin‘s 1-for-3 evening with a bunt single, a stolen base, and a walk. Kiermaier, meanwhile, went just 1 for 4 with an RBI single, but as the Rays’ broadcasters remarked after the game, that really doesn’t tell the full story at all. To begin with, he made a great diving catch in center, and then there was his baserunning.

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Kiermaier was stuck between first and second base after his single, but his hesitation as Albert Pujols got the ball forced a bad throw and got him to second safely. Then Joey Butler hit a groundball to Angels rookie Kyle Kubitza at third base that should have ended the inning without a run scoring. Instead, Kiermaier hustled right towards him and Kubitza was thrown off. He tried to tag Kiermaier and did eventually get him out, but only after the second Rays run had come across. Had Kubitza simply thrown to first, the run would not have counted because no runs can score when the final out of the inning is made on a force play. A tag is a different story.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (PHI) 8 (12 innings)

It was a bullpen day for the Bulls with Enny Romero coming off a big league relief appearance and Andrew Bellatti back in the majors himself. It didn’t go well as the relievers allowed 8 runs and blew an 8-5 lead in the ninth inning. Saving the day, however, was usual infielder Leonardo Reginatto. Reginatto, who went 1 for 5 with a double and an RBI at the plate in the game, earned the win with 3 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits. He isn’t about to convert to the mound–he was throwing in just the low-80’s–but position player relief appearances don’t get any better than that.

The one pitcher other than Reginatto who did well was C.J. Riefenhauser, who struck out 3 in 1.1 perfect innings. Riefenhauser hasn’t looked like himself this season and missed time with a shoulder injury, but a game like this prompts optimism that he will be just fine. He only throws in the low-90’s, but his excellent slider and solid changeup help him retire batters from both sides. If he gets back on track, he can be a valuable reliever for the Rays as soon as this season.

On the offensive side, Richie Shaffer had a huge game, going 3 for 5 with a homer, a double, a hit-by-pitch, and 3 RBI. He needs to improve upon his 19-6 strikeout to walk ratio so far at Triple-A, but we have to like his .320/.397/.640 line. Hak-Ju Lee also impressed, going 3 for 5 with a double, a walk, and an RBI, while Taylor Motter went 3 for 7 with a double, a stolen base, an RBI, and 2 runs scored.

Double-A Southern League Game 1: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Mississippi Braves 2 (7 innings)

Blake Snell‘s control was off in this game, but his results were fine as he allowed 1 run on 5 hits in 5 innings, striking out 3 while walking 4. His groundout to flyout ratio was nice 6-2. Hopefully this is a transition outing before he starts dominating again. At the plate, meanwhile, Joey Rickard, Cameron Seitzer, and Hector Guevara had the RBIs while Boog Powell went 2 for 3 with a triple, a double, and 2 runs scored. Patrick Leonard also had a nice game, going 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.

Game 2: Montgomery 8, Mississippi 0 (7 innings)

It was a doubleheader sweep for Montgomery with Bradin Hagens and Powell leading the way. Hagens went 5 shutout innings allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. His first year in the system has gone quite well. Powell, meanwhile, capped his huge day by going 2 for 3 with a triple, a walk, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He’s up to a .333/.414/.430 line on the year. Cameron Seitzer also went 3 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Juniel Querecuto went 2 for 3 with a triple and 2 runs scored.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 12, Dunedin Blue Jays 6

Buddy Borden (3 runs in 5 innings) wasn’t great and the relievers behind him were even worse, but it didn’t matter with the offense surging. Dayron Varona went 3 for 5 with a homer and 4 RBI, Kean Wong went 4 for 6 with a double and 2 RBI, Jake Bauers drilled his 6th homer, and both Braxton Lee and Yoel Araujo had 3-hit games as well. Varona is hitting .382 while Wong is up to .265 after a dreadful start.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 12, Beloit Snappers (OAK) 4

This was a similar game, with Chris Pike lasting just 3 innings but Kyle Bird following with 4 decent innings to bridge the gap. Offensively, Justin Williams went 4 for 5 with a homer, 4 RBI, and 3 runs scored, Mac James going 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and a run scored, and Jace Conrad delivering a 3-for-5 performances with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. Conrad will be mentioned in our next draft profile in a few minutes.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Davis A Second Powerful Catcher in Round 16

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