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Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Dylan Floro’s Remarkable Comeback

By Robbie Knopf
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As Tampa Bay Rays fans hope for their team can return to form following their poor recent play, they can look at a parallel case in Dylan Floro. Floro got off to a great start to 2015 with the Durham Bulls, pitching to a 3.01 ERA in 74.2 innings, but he entered his start on Sunday having allowed an insane 25 earned runs over 17.2 innings in previous four starts, which amounts to a scary 12.74 ERA. Then he took the hill yesterday, and things looked like they were getting even worse. However, something clicked from there, and maybe he is finally ready to get back on track.

Triple-A International League: Norfolk Tides (BAL) 8, Durham Bulls 5

Yes, the Bulls lost and Dylan Floro didn’t pitch well, but he had to get this headline. As noted by Bulls manager Jared Sandberg, Floro allowed 6 runs on his first 11 pitches of this game. However, that was it. Floro finished with 7 innings allowing 6 runs on 10 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. The game will go down as his fourth straight start allowing at least 6 runs, but it may just be his last.

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People were unsure what to expect from Floro entering the season–he had pitched well at Double-A, but his lack of strikeouts was concerning. Then he began the season extremely well, and it looked like he was not only handling the level, but also emerging as a major league option, especially given the Rays’ injury issues. It all slipped away as his ERA stands at 5.07, but he has two months to get his numbers back in order. This is a critical year for Floro in the system as the Rays will need to decide whether to add him to their 40-man roster or expose him to the Rule 5 Draft. We have to think that they will add him, but they would love to see him roll the remainder of the year and make their decision easier.

Kirby Yates had a great relief appearance for Durham, striking out the side in his inning of work. He has gone from clear bullpen option to shuttling between the Bulls and Rays this season, and he will need to succeed more consistently to change that. On the offensive side, meanwhile, the rehabbing John Jaso went 1 for 5 with an RBI, Taylor Motter went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored, and J.P. Arencibia had the same day, only with just 1 double out of his 3 hits.

Boog Powell went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored in this game. He hasn’t missed a beat since joining the Bulls, hitting to a .308/.406/.462 line in 32 PA’s after managing a .328/.408/.416 line with the Montgomery Biscuits. It’s funny that Powell batted directly behind Jaso in this game because he has a chance to be a variant of the same player. He doesn’t have much power and we will see if he can improve on the basepaths, but he is on-base machine destined for the top of a big league order. The good news for him is that he is also a quality defensive centerfielder and hits lefties well.

Double-A Southern League: Biloxi Shuckers (MIL) 10, Montgomery Biscuits 9

The Biscuits rallied from a 7-2 deficit to take a 9-7 lead only to give it all away. The offense was surging, with Hector Guevara drilling a 3-run homer, Leonardo Reginatto went 3 for 5 with a double, 3 RBI, and a run scored, and Dayron Varona went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. Varona, a 27-year-old outfielder signed out of Cuba, has found Double-A considerably harder than High-A, but hopefully this is a sign that he is finding his way.

A player fitting a similar description is 19-year-old Jake Bauers, and he also had a great game, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored. Bauers somewhat alarmingly had a 6-1 strikeout to walk ratio since joining the Biscuits after a 33-29 mark at Charlotte, but we have to believe that the walks will come and the strikeouts will become less frequent. Patrick Leonard also went 2 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored while Tyler Goeddel went 2 for 5 with a run scored. Leonard extended his hitting streak to 12, and he’s hitting .444 in that stretch.

I barely want to talk about the pitching, but I guess that’s my job. Jaime Schultz went 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking 5. Schultz’s 3.73 ERA on the year is fine, but his 6.0 walks per 9 innings are terrifying. The Rays gave him a chance to become a starter, but it looks like his future will be in the bullpen as most people expected to begin with. Matt Lollis and Parker Markel were then terrible in relief, allowing 7 runs, 6 earned, in 4 innings, although they did strike out 6 while walking 1.

High-A Florida State League: Palm Beach Cardinals 10, Charlotte Stone Crabs 0

This game was bad, but there was one nice highlight. German Marquez started and allowed 5 runs, 3 earned, in 4.2 innings, but what until you hear about what happened to Eduar Quinonez. Three errors were made behind him as he allowed 5 runs, just 1 earned, in just 0.2 innings. At least the pitching recovered from there. Brad Schreiber tossed 1.2 innings getting past a walk. And then Mike Marjama, a usual catcher, was even better.

Marjama tossed 2 innings allowing just a walk, and he actually forced a 4-1 groundout to flyout ratio. He even touched 90 MPH three times according to the Stone Crabs. That has to open some eyes, especially considering Marjama is a 25-year-old organizational catcher at High-A. What do the Rays or some other team have to lose converting him to the mound this offseason? The Rays have already had one former position player prospect turn into a decent relief prospect with another team: Reid Redman, their 23rd rounder from 2012.

Kean Wong and Yoel Araujo both went 2 for 4 for the Stone Crabs while Marjama went 1 for 4. He lined out after he had taken over on the mound–it would have been funny if his only hit had come while he was pitching.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 9, South Bend Cubs 4

The Stone Crabs had a game reminiscent of the Yankees from yesterday (especially the error-fest) while the Hot Rods were more like the Rays. Henry Centeno started and was great but not overpowering. He tossed 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 1 while walking 3. On the offensive side, meanwhile, Thomas Milone began the game with his second homer of the season, Justin Williams went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and a run scored, and both Nick Ciuffo and Alec Sole went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored, with Ciuffo hitting a double and Sole lacing a triple.

Sole had a big game, but he entered under unfortunate circumstances–Cristian Toribio exited the game prior to the top of the second, presumably because of injury. Hopefully Toribio is OK, but it would be nice for Sole to get a few starts for Bowling Green at shortstop. Sole, who turned 22 in June, stands out most of his ability to be a solid shortstop and also has bat speed and a decent approach at the plate. He has hit well in a small sample this year, managing a .318/.375/.460 line in 73 PA’s, and that is significantly better than his .199/.285/.243 line at Hudson Valley last year.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Staten Island Yankees 3, Hudson Valley Renegades 2

Speaking of the Renegades, they were unable to complete the two-game sweep of Tampa Bay Rays affiliates versus Yankees affiliates on Sunday. At least the Rays won the far more important game. Travis Ott had his first rough start of the season, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits in 4 innings, striking out 1 while walking 4. The Hudson Valley was excellent to keep the Yankees right there, with Timothy Ingram getting past a hit in a scoreless inning before Cristopher Crisostomo tossed 3 no-hit innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 5-2.

On the offensive side, Joe McCarthy had a nice pro debut, going 2 for 4 with a double. McCarthy, the Rays’ fifth rounder from this year’s draft, is a left fielder/first baseman with an excellent plate approach who could profile offensively at either position if he can do a better job tapping into his raw power. Seventh rounder Jake Cronenworth also went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI, driving in both of those runs in the eighth inning, but the Renegades could get no closer than that.

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Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Elizabethton Twins 5, Princeton Rays 2

Jose Mujica threw just 3 innings last season because of a foot injury, but this season has seen him get right back on track. Mujica tossed 5 innings in this game allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. In his 3 starts this season, Mujica has a 1.20 ERA and a 16-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 15 innings. I would love to know if his velocity is still in the mid-90’s and whether his secondary pitches (particularly his changeup) are still impressive, but if his stuff is where it was pre-injury, we are talking about a top-10 or at least a top-15 prospect in this system. And considering the injury wasn’t to his arm, the probability of that being true is high.

Then the Princeton bullpen completely fell apart, with Junior Feliz allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, in just a third of an inning before Porter Clayton gave up 2 more runs in 1.2 innings. Bryan Bonnell was strong to end the game, allowing a hit while striking out 1 in 2 innings. His groundout to flyout ratio was also a nice 3-1. That is a good sign for Bonnell, who struggled at UNLV this season and at the outset of his pro career despite an excellent sinker.

At the plate, Landon Cray went 3 for 4 with a double, a walk, and an RBI, Brett Sullivan and Peter Maris both went 2 for 5, with Sullivan driving in a run, and Bill Pujols went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. Cray’s pro career is off to a very good start as he has hit to a .270/.400/.432 line with 8 walks against 6 strikeouts. David Olmedo-Barrera, the Rays’ 12th round pick in 2015, also made his pro debut and went 0 for 4. Olmedo-Barrera has a bizarre profile as a well below-average outfielder despite blazing speed. David Rodriguez also picked a runner off first base in the loss.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 84: The Turnaround (Hopefully) Begins

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