It’s bad enough for the Tampa Bay Rays to have a 1-6 day as an organization, but losing to the major league-worst Philadelphia Phillies just makes things worse. At least Matt Moore showed more velocity, Taylor Guerrieri made it through 5 innings, and Jose Mujica made his Low-A debut.
Philadelphia Phillies 5, Tampa Bay Rays 3
Matt Moore’s pure stuff looked really good in this game. His fastball averaged 93.1 MPH, he forced 5 whiffs on his changeup, and he even unleashed a few nasty curveballs. Unfortunately, his command problems continued, and that was a huge reason why the Rays lost this game. Moore finished with 4.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 3 as well. He looked better after allowing 3 runs in the second inning, although he was helped out by an outfield assist and Alex Colome allowed his final runner to score.
For whatever reason, Moore continues to have problems holding leads, but that isn’t as much of an immediate concern as his command. Moore wasn’t a pitcher who lit up the strike zone to begin with, and combining that fact with the usual location issues that are associated with Tommy John Surgery makes for disaster. It is great to see Moore’s stuff get crisper, and once the command gets back to passable levels, he should resume being an effective major league pitcher. For now, though, it is tough to watch him and we can’t know when this will end.
The Tampa Bay Rays offense continues to struggle, although 3 runs isn’t a bad output continuing how little the team has produced lately. Logan Forsythe delivered a big 2-run double while Kevin Kiermaier went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored and Grady Sizemore went 2 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. Sizemore was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the game to accommodate Steven Souza Jr.‘s return from the DL. It was interesting that he was the one sent away rather than Joey Butler, but evidently he had a clause in his contract that allowed the Rays to option him.
The Rays will hope to rebound tonight in Philadelphia at 7:05 PM EST as they send Nate Karns to the hill against highly touted prospect Aaron Nola in his MLB debut. I’ll actually be at this game, and while it will definitely lead to several pieces on this site, hopefully I will also get to see the Rays perform well.
Triple-A International League: Charlotte Knights (CHW) 5, Durham Bulls 2
Poor pitching took the day once again as Scott Diamond allowed 4 runs in 5 innings and Jose Dominguez allowed another run in his 2 frames. On the positive side, Richie Shaffer drilled a 2-run homer, his 15th at Triple-A and 22nd of the season. Shaffer had been hitless in his previous 2 games, but here he is coming up big again. Shaffer now has 175 plate appearances with the Bulls, the same number that he had with the Biscuits, and has struck out the same exact amount of times (49) while being much more productive. We will have to see if and when the Rays deem his power significant enough to outweigh the K’s.
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Mikie Mahtook also had a nice game, going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI, while Boog Powell went 1 for 3 with 2 walks and 3 stolen bases. Mahtook and Ryan Brett both made their big league debuts this season but have struggled mightily at Triple-A. We can have less quibbles about Powell, who has followed up his .824 OPS in Montgomery with an .834 mark in Durham. He isn’t hitting for much power, but he has walked 17 times against 13 strikeouts and now has 5 stolen bases in 7 tries. Powell needs to keep working on reading pitchers–he stole just 11 bases in 19 tries at Double-A–but the speed is there for him to eventually become a significant stolen base threat.
Double-A Southern League: Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 1
Jacob Faria has set such a high standard for himself, that the following qualifies as a bad outing: 3 runs allowed on 6 hits in 7 innings, striking out 6 while walking 3. Faria has allowed 2 home runs in 31 Double-A innings after giving up just 1 in 74.1 High-A frames as his competition is doing a better job taking advantage of his mistakes, but he still has a strong 2.32 ERA. Though Faria still isn’t a top prospect, with fastball command and the lack of an effective third pitch being his principal concerns, he still may have another big step forward in him considering he still isn’t 22 years of age.
Justin O’Conner had a nice game at the plate for the Biscuits, going 2 for 4 with a double, while Tyler Goeddel went 1 for 3 with a walk. O’Conner has a .304/.336/.539 line in his last 107 plate appearances as he continues to move towards respectability.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, St. Lucie Mets 0
Just like the one game that the Tampa Bay Rays have won since the All-Star Break, a couple of home runs saved the day in this one. The Stone Crabs went just 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, but Marty Gantt drilled a 2-run shot and Mike Marjama contributed a solo homer. Marjama, Willy Adames, and Andrew Velazquez all went 2 for 4 on the day, with Adames stealing a base and scoring a run while Velazquez recorded a double. Velazquez has been red-hot since coming off the DL, hitting to a .406/.441/.531 line on his 8-game hitting streak.
On the pitching side, Taylor Guerrieri reached a big milestone as he tossed 5 innings for the first time since July 1st of 2013, his second-to-last start before Tommy John Surgery. He allowed no runs on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking none and forcing a 6-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Any starting pitcher’s numbers would look better if he didn’t need to go as deep into games, but people are impressed by Guerrieri’s 2.14 ERA and 44-11 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings nonetheless. He is reestablishing himself as a top prospect, with Keith Law considering him the 34th best in baseball.
Steve Ascher followed with a great relief outing, allowing just a hit in 3 innings while striking out 4. The 4 K’s were Ascher’s season-high and an encouraging sign for a pitcher with just a 4.6 K/9 so far this season. Isaac Gil got the save by working around a hit with a pair of groundouts in the ninth.
Low-A Midwest League: Lake County Captains (CLE) 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3 (10 innings)
Is Jose Mujica a top Rays prospect? It’s probably too early to say so, but it’s clear that the team thinks the world of his potential. Mujica was jumped from Princeton to Bowling Green for this game and held his own, tossing 6 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. It’s pretty remarkable that he tossed 6 innings in his first full-season ball start after stopping at 5 in his 4 Advanced Rookie starts, although that is probably a matter of the Rays taking the training wheels off of him more than anything else.
The Hot Rods delivered 12 hits, 8 of which went for extra bases, but they still mustered only 3 runs. Hunter Lockwood drilled a 2-run homer in the eighth inning, Nick Ciuffo went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, Bralin Jackson went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk, Justin Williams went 2 for 5 with a double, a run scored, and an outfield assist, and Mac James went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. The defensive reviews continue to be excellent for Ciuffo, and he has heated up at the plate of late, hitting to a .345/.345/.466 line in his last 58 plate appearances.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Connecticut Tigers 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 2
Cameron Varga got off to an awful start in this game, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk. He couldn’t even get out of the inning himself–he needed Taylor Hawkins to throw out a runner attempting to steal. From there, however, he was dominant. Varga retired the final 15 batters he faced to get through 6 innings, forcing 7 groundouts along with a pair of strikeouts. That wasn’t enough for the Renegades in this game, but Varga certainly exited this game with some confidence and hopefully can continue making strides in his development.
Timothy Ingram followed Varga with 2 more no-hit innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. If you’re keeping score, the Renegades threw a no-hitter for the final 8 innings of this game. A Michael Russell RBI triple and a Joe McCarthy RBI groundout got the Renegades on the board with a pair of runs in the eighth inning, and Angel Moreno also went 2 for 4.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Pulaski Yankees 10, Princeton Rays 4
The pitching was ugly for the P-Rays for most of this game as Jose Alvarado allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, in 3.1 innings before Ruben Paredes allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in just 1.2 innings. At least Deivy Mendez had an interesting game, going 3.1 hitless innings allowing a run on 4 walks while striking out 7. Mendez is allowing a lot of walks, but he’s also missing plenty of bats with a fastball reaching 97 to 98 MPH. Zacrey Law also went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in the game while Blake Butera went 1 for 2 with a hit-by-pitch and an RBI.