Rays Prospects

Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Casey Gillaspie Follows Brother’s Cue

By Robbie Knopf
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If you feel bad about Conor Gillaspie‘s home run to give the Chicago White Sox a 4-3 lead against the Tampa Bay Rays last night, here is a reason to feel a little better. Conor’s brother Casey Gillaspie was the Rays’ first round pick last year, and as stated by scouting reports and reinforced by his excellent play in the Midwest League this year, he should eventually be a much better hitter than his sibling.

Triple-A International League: Louisville Bats (CIN) 8, Durham Bulls 6

Matt Buschmann had a disastrous outing in this one, allowing 8 runs in 6.1 innings, but he deserves credit for giving the Bulls that many frames after allowing 5 runs in the second. There is a little bit of Alex Cobb in that (remember that game in 2013?). There were some highlights on the offensive side, however, with Corey Brown going 2 for 4 with a solo homer, a walk, and 2 runs scored, Allan Dykstra going 2 for 5 with 3 RBI, and Mikie Mahtook having a 3 for-4 day with a double, an RBI, and a run scored in his first game back at Durham.

Ryan Brett also had a nice game, going 2 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored. It was the first multi-hit performance for Brett since May 30th and just his second since returning to Durham after his DL stint. He has just a .585 OPS overall. Brett’s season has been thrown off entirely, but his talent hasn’t changed and the Rays are waiting for him to come alive at the plate. They see a game like this and hope that it can be a start of a streak.

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Double-A Southern League Game 1: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 2 (7 innings)

Thomas Coyle had quite a game for the Biscuits in this one, scoring the tying run in the fifth inning before drilling a walk-off homer in the seventh. He finished 1 for 2 with the homer, a hit-by-pitch, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored. Coyle is hitting just .219 on the year, but his plate discipline has been fine (49-27 K-BB), and he already has 5 homers in 193 plate appearances after managing just 5 in 525 PA’s last year. Coyle found additional power in the Australian Baseball League and has managed to maintain it, but we certainly want to see him get his average up. Hopefully Coyle can find a better balance between homers and putting the ball in play.

Boog Powell also had a nice performance, going 2 for 3 with a double, a stolen base, and an RBI. His finished his game with his average at .343–is that good? Cameron Seitzer and Tyler Goeddel each went 1 for 3, with Goeddel swiping his 14th base, while Juniel Querecuto went 1 for 1 with a walk and a run scored. Querecuto delivered his best-ever offensive output at Charlotte, managing a .293/.355/.373 line, but he is still trying to find his form at Montgomery. He is still hitting .185, although his 3-3 K-BB ratio in 31 plate appearances prompts reason for optimism.

On the mound, Austin Pruitt had a solid start, going 5.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 9 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. Out of the hits, 4 came on groundballs, and Pruitt also had a 6-3 groundout to flyout ratio in the game. In any event, Pruitt departed with 2 runners on and a tie game in the sixth before Ryan Garton came in for a big boy relief appearance. He escaped that frame on his way to the victory, going 1.1 innings allowing just a hit while striking out 3. Garton doesn’t throw hard but does have a nice changeup, and he has looked good for the Biscuits of late.

Game 2: Montgomery 4, Pensacola 3 (8 innings)

Make it two dramatic wins in one day for the Biscuits, although they won they game in pretty bizarre fashion. Down 3-1 enter the bottom of the seventh, they received 2 walks before Powell came through with an RBI single. Justin O’Conner also registered a base hit to set up Seitzer’s bases-loaded walk to tie the game. Then, in the following frame, Patrick Leonard made it to second on an error and third on a flyball before scoring on a wild pitch. I personally prefer walk-off home runs.

O’Conner finished with a 2-for-4 performance for Montgomery to break a 1-for-26 stretch. This season has been a disaster for him at the plate, and the and the Rays are hoping that he can find some way to break through. On the mound, Jared Mortensen went 5 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. Mark Sappington followed with 2 shutout frames working around a walk before Parker Markel received the win after getting past a single in the eighth inning.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 9, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 3

German Marquez and the bottom of the Charlotte order both impressed to lead the Stone Crabs to victory. Marquez tossed 7 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. Marquez has this weird thing going on where he does worse when he strikes out more batters–on the year, he has an 8.36 ERA when striking out 5 or more and a 1.76 ERA otherwise. More than half of his earned runs in his 12 starts have come in his 3 games with the most K’s. What? Eduar Quinonez followed by matching Marquez’s strikeout total, 3, in 2 perfect innings.

On the offensive side, all 7 of the Stone Crabs’ RBIs came from 6-7-8 hitters in the order (the other 2 runs scored on an error), as did 6 of the 9 runs scored. Mike Marjama went 3 for 4 with a double, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored, Yoel Araujo went 3 for 4 with a triple and 3 RBI, and Maxx Tissenbaum went 3 for 4 with an RBI and 3 runs scored. Araujo’s numbers on the season are a train wreck, but he is working to change that. In his last 4 games, he is 8 for 17 (.471) with a homer, a triple, 9 RBI, and 2 stolen bases.

Higher in the order, Dayron Varona went 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored while Braxton Lee and Willy Adames each went 2 for 5. Varona should really be at Double-A, but it would be complicated for the Tampa Bay Rays to figure out playing time for all of the Biscuits’ outfielders. They don’t want to take away playing time from Boog Powell, Johnny Field, or Tyler Goeddel.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 2

Casey Gillaspie’s numbers were mediocre with no signs of turning around as late as May 19th as he had managed just a .220/.283/.439 line. Since then, however, he has an insane .383/.479/.728 line with 8 homers, 20 RBI, and a 13-14 K-BB ratio in 96 plate appearances, giving him a .284/.363/.554 line on the season. He got there with his performance in this game as he went 1 for 3 with a solo homer and a walk. He has homered in 3 straight games and has 6 homers in his last 9 contests overall.

It also sounds like Gillaspie’s plate approach is in exactly the right place. Read what he told MiLB.com.

"“I’m not swinging at everything that I think I can hit; I’m more selective up there and focused on the ball up the middle earlier in the count and taking the ones that aren’t,” he explained. “I wanted to hit those balls out of the park instead of waiting for something that is a little higher up in the zone. I like the ball down, but I think that I can do more damage with balls that are up in the zone and over the middle.”"

Having the discipline to find pitches to hit is critical for any hitter, and now Gillaspie has internalized its importance. Gillaspie always had the raw power to go off like this, but whether he got there was going to surround whether he could use his patience at the plate to not only draw walks, but also find pitches he could drive. The best hitters take that nasty fastball on the outside corner knowing that they can’t do anything with it while inferior ones make contact and hit a lazy groundball to second base. This was the lesson that Gillaspie was supposed to learn at Low-A, and now he is ready for his next challenge.

Greg Harris had a nice game on the mound for Bowling Green, going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3, before Edgar Gomez managed to work around 5 hits hits and a walk to finish the game with 3 shutout innings.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Hoping Joey Bart (Rd 27) Changes His Mind

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