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Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Hunter Wood Rolls in High-A Debut

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The Durham Bulls followed the Tampa Bay Rays’ cue by getting blown out, but there was one big highlight in that game and more interesting things going on elsewhere in the system. Among the top performers were pieces from the two Wil Myers trades and arguably the breakout prospect in the Rays’ system this year, Hunter Wood.

Triple-A International League: Pawtucket Red Sox 13, Durham Bulls 4

This was a rough game for the Bulls as Bradin Hagens allowed 7 runs in 5 innings and Enny Romero allowed 5 more in 1.1 frames. Jose Dominguez managed to allow only 1 of Romero’s runners to score as he went 1.2 shutout innings giving up 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4. Jordan Norberto then made it an unlucky 13 runs by Pawtucket in his 0.2 innings before Jhan Marinez finally finished the game by retiring the only batter he saw.

At least the offense got something going as J.P. Arencibia went 2 for 5 with 2 homers and 3 RBI. Arencibia’s numbers really aren’t that great–he has a .232/.264/.467 line with 87 strikeouts against 11 walks–but his 18 home runs are 3 more than anyone else in the International League. For all of his flaws, Arencibia still has his power, although he needs better on-base skills for it to matter in the major leagues.

Corey Brown, who is tied for second in the league with 15 homers, had the other RBI for Durham. Richie Shaffer, meanwhile, is tied for fourth with 14 and went 2 for 5 with a double. Hak-Ju Lee, who is decidedly not a power hitter, also went 2 for 3 with a walk in the loss.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 3

The Biscuits scored thrice in the bottom of the eighth to grasp victory from the clutches of defeat. Patrick Leonard helped them get there by going 1 for 3 with a homer, 2 RBI, and a walk while Jake DePew went 2 for 4 with a double and Thomas Coyle went 2 for 3 with a walk. Both Jake Bauers and Dayron Varona also went 1 for 3 with a walk each, with Bauers driving in a run while Varona scored once and added an outfield assist.

Bauers is up to a .338/.390/.441 line in his 78 Double-A plate appearances (as a 19 year old!) thanks to an absolutely crazy stretch. He is now on an 8-game hitting streak where he has a .481/.548/.519 line with 3 walks and no strikeouts in 32 plate appearances. We are still waiting for Bauers to deliver power more often, but he may be able to hit, get on-base, and play defense at the major league level as a 20 year old. That is awfully impressive.

The pitching was questionable for the Biscuits in this game, but it managed to get the job done. Chris Kirsch started and tossed 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. Matt Lollis then worked around 2 walks in a scoreless inning while Ryan Garton got past 2 more walks and a hit in his 2 innings. Then Brad Schreiber used a double play to get the save despite allowing 3 hits and a walk in a 1-run game.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Tampa Yankees 0

The Hunter Wood show has arrived in Charlotte. Wood made his High-A debut and acted like nothing had changed, tossing 7 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. He may been able to go farther in the game had the Stone Crabs wanted him to–he only used 81 pitches. Wood had posted a 1.43 ERA and a ridiculous 67-13 strikeout to walk ratio out of the Hot Rods bullpen before making 3 starts (with a 3.14 ERA) and earning his promotion.

I was one of Wood’s biggest fans, ranking him among our RCG Top 45 Rays prospects, but when I saw him, he was throwing primarily 88 to 92 MPH. This year, however, his velocity took a jump to 97 MPH–I certainly wasn’t thinking of that–and he has turned into a completely different pitcher. Wood looks to go from 29th round pick to top prospect, and he may just get there. Whether or not he ever is that highly regarded, the Rays are looking to see what he can do in coming seasons.

Steve Ascher earned the save with 2 perfect innings, and then there was the limited offense. Mike Marjama drilled a solo homer, Willy Adames brought home the other run on a sac fly, and Maxx Tissenbaum went 1 for 3 and threw out the only runner that attempted to steal against him.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 92: Jake Odorizzi Struggles Out of Gate

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