Rays Prospects

Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Jose Mujica Rolls for Princeton

By Robbie Knopf
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On Monday, it was Adrian Rondon who stood in the Tampa Bay Rays system. Then on Tuesday, it was the Rays’ top international signing from two years prior who made waves. Mujica was injured for almost all of last season, but in his first start of 2015, he looked to be well on his way to reestablishing himself as a top prospect.

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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 4 (11 innings)

This game ended in bizarre fashion. After Richie Shaffer doubled to start the bottom of the 11th, Hak-Ju Lee delivered a walk-off hit in a way that you would not expect. As MiLB.com put it, “Hak-Ju Lee singles on a pop up to third baseman Mike Hessman.” That is pretty bizarre. In any event, Shaffer finished the game at 2 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored while Lee went 2 for 5 with that game-winning RBI and a run scored. Taylor Motter also went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Bobby Wilson went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.

On the mound, meanwhile, Everett Teaford had an interesting outing. He struck out 9 while walking none and forced a 6-0 groundout to flyout ratio, but he wound up allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings, allowing 2 home runs. That is just the way that his season has gone–when you have a 5.66 ERA on the year, you are allowing a bunch of runs even when you are feeling good. Luckily for the Bulls, the relievers behind him were excellent.

Jose Dominguez returned from injury to toss a scoreless inning working around a hit, striking out 1. Jim Miller was next up and delivered an incredible outing, striking out 2 in 3 perfect frames. Then Jhan Marinez earned the win, striking out the side to get past a hit. Marinez has been incredible with the Bulls, pitching to a 1.44 ERA and a 37-10 strikeout to walk ratio in 31.1 innings pitched. He has a chance to return to the major leagues for the first time since 2012, at least for an appearance or two.

High-A Florida State League: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 7, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3 (10 innings)

Former supplemental first rounder Jeff Ames has delivered a solid season for the Stone Crabs, but this game was an exception as he took the loss by allowing 4 runs in the 10th. Earlier in the contest, Buddy Borden struck out a season-high 8 in 6 innings pitched. He finished allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 4 hits and 4 walks. Steve Ascher also struck out 1 in a perfect frame before the rest of the bullpen was iffy.

On the offensive side, Tim Beckham took the next step in his rehab as he played second base for 5 innings and went 1 for 2 at the plate. Grady Sizemore also went 1 or 4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored as the Stone Crabs’ leadoff hitter and DH. Back to the prospects, Kean Wong went 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI while Granden Goetzman and Maxx Tissenbaum each went 1 for 3 with a walk. Tissenbaum also scored a run.

Midwest League All-Star Game: East All-Stars 5, West All-Stars 0

Five different Bowling Green Hot Rods got into this game for the East and several of them had nice games. On the position player side, Jace Conrad went 1 for 2 with a double, Nick Ciuffo went 1 for 2 with a run scored, and Grant Kay went 0 for 2 with an RBI. On the mound, meanwhile, Brent Honeywell retired both batters he faced, 1 via the strikeout, before Chris Pike ended the contest on a groundout.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 6, Lowell Spinners (BOS) 3

The Renegades are off to a great start to their season, beginning 2015 at 4-1. Angel Yepez started for them but was questionable, going 4.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. On the positive side, he forced a 7-2 groundout to flyout ratio and the bullpen was much better behind him. Brad Wallace, the Rays’ 10th round pick in 2014, tossed 3.2 perfect innings, striking out 4. He even forced a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Wallace turns 23 in September, but he has a good arm and will hope to start expediting his development.

Offensively, Jose Paez went 3 for 4 with a stolen base, 3 RBI, and a run scored, Cade Gotta went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored, and Jake Cronenworth stayed hot with a 2-for-5 performance with a double and a run scored. Cronenworth has a tidy .333/.400/.444 line in 4 games to start the year, playing 2 games at shortstop and 2 at second base.

Advanced Rookie Princeton: Burlington Royals 4, Princeton Rays 2

Jose Mujica‘s development has gone very slowly since the Tampa Bay Rays made him the jewel of their 2012 international free agent class, but the great thing about signing a player at 16 is that he has a couple of years to get on track before he gets old by any standard. Mujica, who turns 19 on June 29th, may finally be ready to tap into his potential. In his first game above the Gulf Coast League, Mujica tossed 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking none and forcing a 6-2 groundout to flyout ratio.

Mujica stood out after signing for a four-seam fastball touching the mid-90’s, a two-seamer with big sinking action, a promising changeup, and even a curveball that is starting to come along. The Rays love how advanced his command and control is for a young pitcher, and if he can stay healthy, he could start moving much more quickly through the minors. The injury that sidelined him for all but two games in 2014 was a foot injury rather than anything to do with his arm, and this may be the season that he breaks out.

Junior Feliz tossed the remainder of the game for Princeton and it didn’t go as well. He tossed 4 innings allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was shiny at 8-1. In terms of the run support, meanwhile, Kewby Meyer had a great pro debut, going 2 for 3 with a homer, a walk, and 2 RBI. Outfielder Angel Perez also went 1 for 3 in the loss.

Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Red Sox 8,  GCL Rays 0

Kyle McPherson, one of the pitchers that the Rays signed to a minor league deal after Tommy John Surgery, made his first professional appearance since 2013 in this game. He allowed an unearned run on 1 hit in his inning of work, striking out 1. And then the walk parade began. Jose Disla only allowed an unearned run on 1 hit in 3.1 innings, but he walked an insane 5 while striking out just 1. Then Herminio Germoso was even worse, allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 1.2 innings, striking out 2 while walking 5.

There wasn’t much happening on the hitting side either, but there was Adrian Rondon and another rehabber. Rondon went just 0 for 2, but he still drew 2 walks without striking out. The 16-year-old shortstop has 4 walks without a K in his first two games. That’s pretty crazy. Ty Morrison, meanwhile, went 1 for 4 with a stolen base. Morrison was the Rays’ fourth round pick in 2008 and a solid prospect at some point, but this was also his first pro game since 2013. When healthy, he will try to get back to where he left off at Double-A. He turns 25 in July, so he still isn’t that old.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 73: Chris Archer Dominates Again

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