Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Angel Perez Goes 3 for 4 With 4 RBI
Just one more day without Tampa Bay Rays baseball! Can you survive? Given that you lasted this long, I’ll say yes. In any event, this minor league recap features one more All-Star Game, two notable pitching prospects losing their control, and a ton of power down at Rookie ball.
Triple-A All-Star Game: International League All-Stars 4, Pacific Coast League All-Stars 3
This game was broadcast on MLB Network and had quite a finish. After the IL scored once in the first inning, the PCL tied the game in the sixth and went ahead on a Peter O’Brien 2-run homer in the eighth. However, the IL roared back in the top of the ninth, scoring 3 times to win 4-3. Unfortunately, as Adam Sanford reminded me on Twitter, Taylor Motter missed this game after a hamstring injury. Motter has delivered a huge season for the Durham Bulls, hitting to a .306/.364/.484 line, and hopefully he won’t be sidelined for long.
One Bull did actually appear in this game, Jhan Marinez. Marinez allowed a Cristhian Adames solo homer and another hit, but he did strike out 2 in his inning of work. Marinez hit 96 MPH several times while showing a mid-80’s slider, and it was easy to see promise. A bunch of his fastballs showed run and sink, and one of his K’s came on a nice heater up. He also got solid break on a couple of his sliders. However, his command was iffy and his slider didn’t move much most of the time. Marinez is still only 26 and has great stuff, but he looks like a fill-in option at best for the Rays right now.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 1
Jacob Faria had difficulty throwing the ball over the plate in this game, but he kept it together to deliver another strong outing. Faria went 6 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 8 while walking 5. He got up to 106 pitches, just 55 strikes, but it is great to see that he was able to walk the tightrope successfully. Now the hope is that he won’t have to walk it again for a while. Faria has allowed more walks and home runs in his brief Double-A time, but he is also striking out a ton of guys while posting a 1.88 ERA.
On the offensive side, Thomas Coyle drilled a 2-run homer, Joey Rickard went 2 for 4 with a stolen base, and Justin O’Conner stayed hot by going 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI. Rickard had been slumping, hitting just .175 in his last 50 plate appearances, but he managed a .340 OBP in that span thanks to excellent plate discipline and hopefully that hits are going to start coming more frequently again as well. O’Conner, meanwhile, now has a 6-4 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 28 plate appearances compared to 76-7 in his previous 252.
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High-A Florida State League: Tampa Yankees 6, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4
This was the first time all season that Taylor Guerrieri simply didn’t have it. He tossed 3.2 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits in 3.2 innings, walking 4 without a strikeout. Guerrieri did have a previous outing where he allowed 5 runs, but he had been sharp in that game before collapsing as he pitched into the fourth inning for the first time since Tommy John Surgery. In this one, though, Guerrieri allowed a run in 3 different innings and walking 4 after not walking more than 1 in any of his 10 prior outings. Don’t be surprised if this game looks like a huge outlier at the end of the season.
After Kyle McKenzie allowed 3 more runs in 1.1 innings after relieving Guerrieri, Eduar Quinonez did get past 3 hits with 2 strikeouts in 2 innings, also getting 3 outs on the ground. Josh Kimborowicz then finished the game with a hitless inning, striking out 2 while walking 1. In terms of the run support, Marty Gantt drilled a solo homer, Armando Araiza went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, and Willy Adames went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Araiza has been Charlotte’s Rene Rivera as a ridiculous defender who hasn’t hit, but like Rivera, he is playing well of late, hitting .303 in his last 10 games.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 6, Great Lakes Loons (LAD) 2
Yesterday really was a day of catchers hitting in the Tampa Bay Rays system, with Nick Ciuffo joining O’Conner and Araiza. Ciuffo went 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, tying his career-high in hits. Ciuffo is relatively hot at the plate lately, but his .295/.295/.386 line in his last 44 plate appearances only amounts to a .682 OPS. Ciuffo has really struggled at the plate in his first season at full-season ball, failing to show plate discipline and power, but the Rays still love his defense and are optimistic that his bat will eventually come around.
Justin Williams also went 2 for 4 with a homer, a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Williams needs to draw more walks, but his .289/.309/.430 line on the year is solid and he has upped that to .319/.337/.478 in his last 190 plate appearances. Cristian Toribio also went 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 RBI while Bralin Jackson went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
On the mound, Greg Harris delivered a huge start, tossing 5 shutout innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 6 while walking 2 and hitting 1 batter. Harris is repeating Low-A, but he is doing so in dominant fashion, pitching to a 2.17 ERA and an 84-28 strikeout to walk ratio in 83 innings pitched. He turns 21 in August and hopefully he has progressed enough to start moving more quickly through the system. Ryan Pennell followed by getting past 2 walks in his scoreless frame before Edgar Gomez allowed 2 runs in the final 3 innings.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Aberdeen IronBirds (BAL) 5, Hudson Valley Renegades 1
Aberdeen pitching had a huge game in this one, striking out 15 Renegades without issuing a walk. The top three in the Hudson Valley lineup–Jake Cronenworth, Michael Russell, and Matt Dacey–went a combined 0 for 12 with 9 strikeouts. That’s pretty crazy. At least Joe McCarthy went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and the lone run scored, Taylor Hawkins gave the system another catcher with a strong day by going 1 for 3 with an RBI, and Manny Sanchez went 1 for 3. Hawkins also threw out 1 of 2 attempted basestealers.
Greg Maisto had a rough outing for the Renegades, requiring 82 pitches to get through 3.1 innings. He allowed 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking 3. Tim Ingram followed by allowing an unearned run on 2 hits in 2.2 innings, striking out 2, before Cristopher Crisostomo allowed a run in the last 2 frames.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 8, Kingsport Mets 3
The offense for the P-Rays was exciting, but the pitching wasn’t too shabby either. Blake Bivens started and tossed 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was also a nice 5-2. There is a lot to like about 16-5 strikeout to walk ratio on the season, and it’s actually 15-2 if we remove his first start of the year. On the more alarming side, he has allowed a homer in each of his 3 starts, and hopefully that streak can stop soon. His 46% groundball rate on the year inspires confidence that he will be fine.
Garrett Fulenchek, the high-upside right-hander who the Rays acquired from the Atlanta Braves for an international bonus pool slot, earned the win in the game by tossing a perfect inning, striking out 1 and forcing a pair of groundouts. After managing just a 7.71 ERA and a 4-8 strikeout to walk ratio in his 2 appearances with the Braves’ Appy League affiliate this year, he now has a 0.00 ERA and a 6-2 strikeout to walk ratio in his first 2 games with Princeton. Small sample sizes are fun. Noel Rodriguez followed by allowing a run in 1.2 innings before Alberto Casanas tossed 2.1 shutout frames.
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All of pitchers had the benefit of quite a bit of run support, and leading the way was right fielder Angel Perez. Perez went 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored, raising his line to .369/.404/.538 in 69 plate appearances on the season. It’s pretty impressive that Perez has a .944 OPS on a team that has a .683 mark on a whole, and no player in the league that’s 20 or younger and has at least 55 PA’s is hitting better than he is. At 20, Perez could certainly be younger, but he is starting to make a name for himself by hitting like this after playing in the Dominican Summer League last year. On the negative side, he has just a 16-3 strikeout to walk ratio.
It wasn’t just Perez clubbing the homers as Brett Sullivan went 2 for 4 with a 2-run blast and 2 runs scored while Kewby Meyer drilled a solo shot. Meyer is the P-Rays’ second-best hitter, managing a .379/.362/.443 line with a solid 13-8 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s also 22 years old and if the Rays like his bat, he will push his way to Hudson Valley soon. Blake Butera also went 2 for 4 with a stolen base in the win while Landon Cray went 1 for 2 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and 2 runs scored.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Discussing Trea Turner, Joe Ross Again