Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: 2015 Draftees Rebound

By Robbie Knopf

Today, there will be a full slate of games in the Tampa Bay Rays system, with every affiliate but the Durham Bulls taking the field. Yesterday, however, was a different story. On the day that Major League Baseball played the All-Star Game, only the South Atlantic League and the Gulf Coast League had games. The Rays’ Low-A affiliate is in the Midwest League, so the GCL Rays were the only team that played. Let’s see how many words we can write about one blowout loss–although several 2015 draftees give us something to discuss.

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This was not Orlando Romero‘s day as he allowed a first-inning grand slam. At least he looked a little better from there, finishing with 3.1 innings allowing 5 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 1 while walking 4. His groundout to flyout ratio was a strong 5-0. The 4 walks were as many as Romero had allowed across 17.1 innings in his previous 4 appearances, and hopefully this will go down as an outlier and not the start of a trend. Also struggling was Herminio Germoso, who walked all 3 batters he faced and wound up allowed 3 earned runs. Matt LeVert allowed the runners he inherited to score and gave up 3 more unearned runs in 2.2 innings.

Now to the better news. Reign Letkeman and Jesus Ortiz, the Rays’ 23rd and 24th round picks in this year’s draft, entered this game with absolutely disastrous numbers. Letkeman had allowed 5 runs in just two-thirds of an inning in his first game (135.00 ERA) while Oritz had given up 5 runs in an inning of work across his 2 appearances (45.00 ERA). In this game, however, Letkeman tossed 1.2 innings allowing just a hit while striking out 1 and Ortiz finished the game with 1.1 shutout frames allowing a lone hit as well. It is nice to see both players getting themselves on track.

On the offensive side, Garrett Whitley reached base for the first two times as a professional, going 0 for 2 but drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch. Adrian Rondon went 0 for 3 but did walk as well. The Grays managed just 3 hits as a team, with Ryan Caldwell going 1 for 3 with a walk, Blake Grant-Parks going 1 for 2, and Miguel Hernandez going 1 for 4 with a double. Grant-Parks turns 22 today, and is considered an “elite-level player” by one Rays scout despite being at that age in the Gulf Coast League. I don’t know what to make of that.

Caldwell, though, is a fascinating prospect. The Rays somehow signed him as a high school player in the 34th round, and the switch-hitter stands out as a tremendous athlete with blazing speed and solid power potential. The question was going to be whether the Rays could get him signed, and now that they have, he is the type of player who could break out as he plays exclusively baseball for the first time and turn into a top prospect.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Chris Archer Amped Up in All-Star Game