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Tampa Bay Rays MLB/MiLB Recap: 3 Rehabbers in Charlotte

By Robbie Knopf
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As has been the trend lately, the Tampa Bay Rays’ major league game was tough, but there were more highlights in the minors. In this case, the highlights may have a direct effect on the Rays’ roster in the coming days.

Cleveland Indians 6, Tampa Bay Rays 2

The story was similar to last night–an Indians pitcher took a perfect game bid deep into the game while striking out only 2 batters–but at least the Rays scored the game’s final 2 runs. Asdrubal Cabrera drilled an RBI double and the second run scored after an error was made on a Curt Casali groundball. Casali also doubled for the Rays’ first hit and capped his nice day by throwing out Michael Bourn attempting to steal. Casali is easily the best offensive catcher the Rays have right now, and while he is no Rivera defensively, he isn’t bad behind the dish.

The Rays’ bullpen blew up again, with Steve Geltz allowing a 3-run homer and Kirby Yates giving up a 2-run shot. Before that happened, though, Erasmo Ramirez was dominant in his return from a groin injury, tossing 5.2 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. Can we do anything but marvel at how good Ramirez has been since getting off to one of the worst starts in team history? Xavier Cedeno also retired both batters he faced before Geltz was brought in to face left-handed batters for some reason. Yates was demoted and Ronald Belisario (who tossed 1.1 perfect frames) was DFA’d after the game concluded.

Tonight, Alex Colome will take on Carlos Carrasco at 7:10 PM EST as the Rays hope to find some way to get back on track.

Triple-A International League: Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 10, Durham Bulls 3

What a difference four starts makes. Dylan Floro has been absolutely lit up of late, allowing at least 6 runs in each of his last 4 starts to raise his ERA from 3.01 to 4.87. In this game, he allowed 6 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings, striking out 1 while walking 1. The worst sign of all was that the usually groundball-heavy Floro managed just a 4-10 groundout to flyout ratio. His command of his sinking fastball has simply disappeared of late.

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At least there were some offensive highlights. Hopefully the turnaround is underway for Nick Franklin after he went 2 for 3 with a solo homer and 2 RBI, and Tim Beckham also went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI. Hak-Ju Lee also added a tidy 1-for-3 performance with a double, a walk, and a run scored while Taylor Motter went 1 for 3 with a walk. We will have to see how long Beckham stays in the minors (remember, he’s been optioned and is no longer on a rehab assignment), and if Franklin hits the cover out of the ball for a while, he will be a big league possibility again as well.

High-A Florida State League: Clearwater Threshers (PHI) 12, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2

The Threshers scored 11 runs in the sixth inning against Chris Kirsch and Eduar Quinonez to give this one its unfortunate final score. On the positive side, Andrew Bellatti started for Charlotte and worked around 2 hits to toss 2 shutout innings. John Jaso also got a game in first base and went 0 for 3 while James Loney started at DH and went 1 for 4. The Rays haven’t been able to get anything going at first base since Loney went down, and they can’t wait for the first among Loney and Jaso to return and start for them at first base.

On the prospect side, Kean Wong went 2 for 3, Mike Marjama drilled a 2-run homer, and Isaac Gil finished the game with 3 shutout innings, getting past 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. Wong has a 5-game hitting streak and finished June with an insane .389/.404/.474 line. We are still waiting for his power to come along, but his on-base skills have improved, and he did drill 8 doubles in June after managing just 4 in April and May.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 7, Fort Wayne TinCaps (SDP) 2

Amid a tough day in the system, this game was the shining light. Leading the way was Justin Williams, who went a perfect 5 for 5 with a double, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored. He has salvaged what was looking to be a major down year by hitting to a .326/.345/.500 line since May 20th. He needs to improve his plate approach drastically, but at least he is hitting the ball with more authority and has cut down on the strikeouts of late.

Other strong performers were Nick Ciuffo, who went 2 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI, Hunter Lockwood, who went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored, and Alec Sole, who had a 2-for-5 day with a double and a run scored. Lockwood now has 3 walks in his last 8 games after managing just 2 in his previous 20. Sole, meanwhile, has looked much better at Bowling Green than he did at Hudson Valley, hitting to a .298/.340/.383 line.

The pitching was also sharp for the Hot Rods as Chris Pike started and tossed 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. Pike has allowed 2 runs or less in 10 of his 12 starts this season. Jordan Harrison and Damion Carroll then tossed shutout ball for the last 3 innings, striking out a combined 2 while allowing 2 hits.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) 6, Hudson Valley Renegades 4

The Renegades rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth only to let it get away. Angel Yepez struck out 7 while walking 1 in 4.1 innings, but he also allowed 3 runs on 8 hits. Cristopher Crisostomo then allowed a run in 2.1 innings before a pair of unearned runs did Diego Castillo in. Offensively, Alex Schmidt went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored while Cade Gotta went 1 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, an RBI, a run scored, and an outfield assist.

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Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Greeneville Astros 10, Princeton Rays 6

Jose Alvarado had a rough outing for the P-Rays, allowing 6 runs in 3 innings, but he actually struck out 5 while walking 1. Bryan Bonnell pulled off something similar, striking out 3 while walking 1 in 1.1 innings, but allowing 3 runs. There were no such qualifications about Spencer Moran‘s outing, however, as he tossed 3 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. The Rays gave Moran, a projectable 6’6″ right-hander, an above-slot bonus in the 11th round of the 2014 draft, and he has a nice 7-1 K-BB ratio in 6.2 innings to start 2015. Porter Clayton also tossed 1.2 hitless inning for Princeton, working around a walk.

On the offensive side, young catcher David Rodriguez went 1 for 5 with a homer and 3 RBI, Angel Perez went 2 for 5 with a run scored, and Blake Butera went 1 for 3 with a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored. Butera was 0 for 13 to begin his professional career, but now he has that first hit out of the way and hopefully he can get going from here. Patrick Grady also went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored in the loss.

Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Twins 7, GCL Rays 3

Yael Regalado, a rare non-drafted free agent out of high school, didn’t pitch at all in 2014 after some injury, but he finally returned in this game. He worked the first inning and did so in perfect fashion, striking out 2. Jeffry Done provided length behind him,  allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits in 4 innings, striking out 2 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 7-2. Herminio Germoso then had an actual good outing, getting past a hit with a strikeout in 2 shutout innings, before Sam Triece and Matt LeVert were iffy to end the game.

In regards to the run support, Devin Davis continued his nice start to his pro career by going 2 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored. It is always nice to be hitting .500 with a 1.167 OPS through your first 6 professional at-bats. Catcher Jovany Felipe also went 2 for 2 while Juan Carlos Arias finished 1 for 3 with a walk.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Garrett Whitley’s Journey Begins in the GCL

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