It initially didn’t seem like John Jaso‘s wrist injury would be so bad. Obviously it was as he hasn’t played at any level since Opening Day. However, now he is finally starting the process of returning, and his first rehab game went well. The Tampa Bay Rays’ next issue will be figuring out what to do with David DeJesus once both Jaso and James Loney are back.
Triple-A International League: Columbus Clippers (CLE) 3, Durham Bulls 1 (7 innings–the second game of the doubleheader was rained out)
Speaking of rehabbers, Matt Moore has made what should be his last rehab outing for the Durham Bulls. In this game, Moore tossed 5 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits, striking 8 while walking 3. His control wasn’t always there and he labored a little bit, but he could have allowed only 1 run had a perfectly placed popup over the head of Richie Shaffer and an Alexi Casilla error not occurred. In any event, the stuff of recovering pitchers always matters more than the results, and Moore’s fastball, changeup, and breaking ball all looked fine. He is ready to come back.
This is a different Durham Bulls team, and it is younger and more interesting. Allan Dykstra and Eugenio Velez have both been released, creating room for a group of exciting players. Boog Powell is up from Montgomery to be their left fielder, Richie Shaffer has moved from third base to first base in anticipation of his big league role, and the ex-big league duo of Nick Franklin and Tim Beckham are in town to work on their offense (timing, bat speed, basically everything for Franklin, on-base skills for Beckham) as well as their versatility.
Yesterday could have been a better beginning for those guys, but Ryan Brett went 2 for 3 with a solo home run, Taylor Motter went 1 for 3 with a double, and both Powell and Shaffer went 1 for 3. Jim Miller also made an appearance, working a scoreless frame working a hit in the sixth inning.
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Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 7, Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 3
Jacob Faria made his Double-A debut, and his results were quite good. He tossed 6 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. He allowed a home run after he gave up just 1 in his 74.1 High-A frames, but it was great to see him missing bats and holding his own as the Biscuits’ youngest pitcher. Faria has some adjustments to make, but he has come a long way since finally getting to Low-A in 2014 after three seasons at Rookie ball, and Double-A may just be a challenge he can handle. Matt Lollis followed with a shutout inning, striking out 2 while walking 1, before Parker Markel managed the same strikeout and walk totals in the final 2 fames.
On the offensive side, Cameron Seitzer had a huge game, going 2 for 3 with a homer, a walk, and 4 RBI. Joey Rickard, meanwhile, has replaced Powell as Montgomery’s leadoff hitter and continued his bounce-back season in this game. Rickard went 2 for 2 with 3 walks, a stolen base, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, raising his line to .309/.414/.420 in his 156 plate appearances since making it back to the Biscuits. That is quite is turnaround from his .243/.337/.296 line last year. Rickard’s plate discipline has always been excellent, but he has done a better job using it to find pitches to hit this season.
Also impressing were Leonardo Reginatto, who went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored, and Jake DePew, who had a 2-for-4 performance with an RBI. Reginatto has now appeared in 5 games since coming back from Durham, and he is scorching hot, recording a hit in all 5 games and managing a .409/.435/.682 line with a homer, a triple, a double, and 3 RBI overall. Reginatto was in Triple-A by necessity a lot more than merit, but it is great for him that he was able to use his stint there to build some confidence and start performing at his proper level.
High-A Florida State League: Clearwater Threshers (PHI) 8, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
Brent Honeywell‘s first High-A start certainly could have gone better, but there was a lot of bad luck going against him. He finished with 6 innings allowing 6 runs on 8 hits, but he struck out 5 while walking 1 and 4 of the runs came in fluky fashion. Here is how Honeywell’s fifth inning went: infield single, groundball single, fielder’s choice at home for the first out, infield single, groundball single, groundball triple (!!), groundout, flyout. Don’t expect that to happen again to Honeywell for a long time. He was striking batters out and forcing grounders, and if he keeps doing that, he will be fine.
This was also the second game of 2015 for John Jaso, and it went pretty well as he delivered a 2-for-3 game with a walk out of the leadoff spot. Jaso will require a relatively lengthy rehab stint after how much time he missed, but the Tampa Bay Rays are looking forward to him hitting like that at the top of their order before too long. Granden Goetzman also went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored while Pat Blair went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI. Goetzman improving his strikeout to walk ratio at High-A from 53-6 last year to 25-14 this year is one of the most interesting stats in the system.
Low-A Midwest League: Dayton Dragons (CIN) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
Honeywell had his excuses, but the pitching was downright ugly for the Hot Rods in this game. Hyrum Formo allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, in 2.2 innings to begin the game, and after Kyle Bird delivered 3.1 shutout frames, Damion Carroll gave up 2 more runs in 2 innings of work. Jordan Harrison then finished the game with 2 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits but striking out 2 and forcing a 3-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Harrison started the season at Double-A before going to High-A and now Low-A. Hopefully he can get himself together now.
Offensively, Riley Unroe went 2 for 5 while Cristian Toribio went 1 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored. Everything keeps clicking for Unroe, who has a .362/.403/.441 line in his last 140 plate appearances. Thomas Milone also went 0 for 3 with 2 walks and his 15th stolen base of the season.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Orioles 4, GCL Rays 0
Orlando Romero is off to a strange start to 2015. The (relatively) highly regarded right-hander has a 7-2 strikeout to walk ratio in his first 7.2 innings, but he has also allowed 7 runs, 6 earned, on 13 hits, allowing opponents to his .382 against him. In this game, he allowing 3 runs on 6 hits in 3.2 frames even though he struck out 4 while walking 1. Hopefully the rest of his season is closer to what we would expect based on the strikeouts than what would we expect based on all of the hits.
18-year-old right-hander Sandy Brito, making just his second appearance since moving on from the Dominican Summer League, had a more even game, tossing 2 shutout innings allowing only a hit while striking out 3. Ian Kendall then struck out 2 in 2 perfect innings. Kendall, the Rays’ fifth round pick from 2010, has never been able to throw his big-time stuff for strikes often enough, but the hope is that with some time working with Marty DeMerritt at the GCL, he can finally start moving towards a big league bullpen role.
There wasn’t much happening at the plate for the Grays, but Adrian Rondon drilled a triple, Juan Carlos Arias had a double, Samm Wiggins went 1 for 2, and Oscar Rojas came through with a nice throw for an outfield assist at home.