Tim Beckham‘s first full major league season was a source of excitement when he first came up as he delivered several huge hits off the Tampa Bay Rays’ bench. However, his performance waned in additional playing time, and then he went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. He was later optioned to Triple-A, where he has been playing regularly and waiting for another chance. That opportunity will begin today as the Rays have placed Asdrubal Cabrera on the DL (ironically, with the same injury) and called up Beckham.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Gwinnett Braves 2
This game was interesting for the Bulls for a variety of reasons, most of them good. This was Tim Beckham‘s last Durham game for a while, and it went well. He had a 2-for-4 evening with a double, 3 RBI, and a run scored. Other notable performances came from Boog Powell, who went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Hak-Ju Lee, who went 1 for 2 with a double, 2 walks, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored.
Taylor Motter went just 1 for 4 in this game, but he still found a way to be productive, drawing a walk, stealing 2 bases, driving in a run, and scoring twice. Vince Belnome also went 1 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI while Nick Franklin went 0 for 3 but drew his first 2 walks since returning to Durham. He has performed well since returning to Durham, hitting to a .288/.311/.488 line, but the walks were the one thing that he was missing.
On the pitching side, meanwhile, Scott Diamond‘s excellent season hit a bump in the road. Diamond was hit by two line drives, the second of which hit him in the elbow and forced him to leave the game. He allowed 1 run in 2.2 innings before departing, striking out 3 while walking none. In a major irony, this was his first start of the year where he struck out more than a batter per inning. Hopefully he will be OK (and improve the strikeouts, while we’re at it).
C.J. Riefenhauser entered in relief and looked good, allowing just a walk in 1.2 hitless innings, striking out 2. Jhan Marinez then allowed 1 run in 2.2 innings, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 1, before Everett Teaford looked great in relief to end the game. He allowed a lone hit in 2 innings while striking out 2, also forcing 3 outs on the ground. The Bulls are running out of starting pitchers, but Teaford is certainly a more viable major league option in a bullpen role and it may be worthwhile for him to see more time in relief at Triple-A.
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Double-A Southern League: Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3
This was an all-around decent game for the Biscuits. Their offense went 4 for 14 (.286) with runners in scoring position and their pitching staff was alright, but that didn’t prove to be enough. Chris Kirsch made his Double-A debut and tossed 6 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was a solid 10-4. Kirsch has never struck out many batters in the minors, but he forces groundballs, complements his sinker with a bunch of decent secondary pitches, and is a lefty. He’s no top prospect, but there are some things to like. Parker Markel followed by allowing a run in an inning of work before Ryan Garton tossed a perfect eighth with 2 strikeouts.
Leonardo Reginatto has been moved from the bottom of the Biscuits order to the top, and he made that look smart in this game, going 2 for 4 with a triple, a double, a walk, and a run scored. Reginatto gained some confidence by hitting .269 in a fill-in role at Triple-A, and now his numbers are getting crazy at Montgomery. He now has a .340/.390/.515 line in 105 plate appearances. Jake Bauers also went 2 for 2 with a hit-by-pitch and an RBI in this game while Dayron Varona went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 12, Brevard County Manatees (MIL) 2
The Stone Crabs scored 12 runs without an extra-base hit in this game, and that is pretty impressive. Pat Blair had the best game of all, going 2 for 2 with 2 walks, a stolen base, 3 RBI, and a run scored. Blair has now improved at every level, going from a .558 OPS at Short Season-A to .685 at Low-A, and now .773 with the Stone Crabs. It has probably helped that the Rays are having him play shortstop less and less and focus more on his hitting. Blair’s upside is a utility player thanks to his versatility, decent power and speed, and solid plate approach.
Kean Wong also went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and 3 runs scored while Braxton Lee had a 3-for-4 game of his own with a run scored. Granden Goetzman, Jace Conrad, and Yoel Araujo also each went 3 for 5. Goetzman has made huge strides with his plate approach, but his power has been sapped in the process–his slugging percentage is just .306. Really everyone we mentioned in this paragraph could use more extra-base hits, although Conrad was hitting plenty of them before he was promoted to High-A.
Steve Ascher made a spot-start in this game, starting for just the second time among his 22 appearances on the season, and it could not have gone much better. Ascher tossed 5 shutout innings allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 8-2. Ascher isn’t a guy that we have talked about much, but he’s another solid pitcher in the system. He is a 21-year-old left-hander with a polished 4-pitch arsenal, and the Rays thought enough of him to jump him from Princeton to Charlotte. He isn’t striking out many guys, but you have to like his 1.64 ERA and 50% groundball rate.
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Low-A Midwest League: West Michigan WhiteCaps (DET) 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
Two of the Hot Rods’ moderate disappointments both had big games to make this one close. After Henry Centeno allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, in 5.2 innings, Brian Miller entered and tossed 2.1 innings getting past 2 hits with 4 strikeouts. Miller was expected to be a quick-to-the-majors reliever, or at least a guy who you push to the upper minors and see what happens from there. Instead, he is still at Bowling Green, and though he has a 2.32 ERA, he is striking out just 5.9 batters per 9 innings. He needs several additional games where he is striking out more hitters.
At the plate, meanwhile, almost the entire offense came from Cristian Toribio, who went 3 for 3 with a solo homer and an RBI single. Toribio was skipped from Princeton to Bowling Green this year and the Rays saw him as a potential starting shortstop. Unfortunately, he has hit to a .251/.283/.375 line–his lack of plate discipline is especially concerning–although he has improved of late and continues to progress defensively at shortstop.