Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Andriese, Bellatti Dominate


The numbers game that is baseball–Matt Andriese and Andrew Bellatti are both at Triple-A Durham despite strong major league results. Alex Colome and Brandon Gomes are out of minor league options while Andriese and Bellatti still have all three of their options left, and for the sake of depth, they remain in the minor leagues. However, especially with Gomes pitching poorly, the Tampa Bay Rays’ calculation may be changing, and it may be only a matter of time until we see one of them with the Rays to stay. As they wait, Andriese and Bellatti keep dominating in the minors.

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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 0

Matt Andriese lowered his ERA to 1.84 in his Triple-A time with his latest excellent start. He tossed 7 innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking none. Overall in 44 Durham innings, Andriese has a ridiculous 44-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 44 innings to go along with a 51% groundball rate. Andriese’s 3.77 ERA across 162.1 Triple-A innings was solid last year, but he has improved in every possible way since then and has nothing left to prove in the minors. However, he finds himself in the sixth spot in the Rays’ starting depth–and quite possibly seventh once Drew Smyly returns–and the Rays consider him to be more valuable as insurance for injury than as a bullpen arm. A full piece is coming on Andriese soon.

Andrew Bellatti followed in the game and was superb, finishing the game with 2 innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. Bellatti hasn’t quite been Andriese-esque at Triple-A, but it’s hard to argue too much with his 2.76 ERA and 29-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 29.1 innings pitched. His control has been iffier in the majors as he has walked 7 in 12 innings (5.3 BB/9), but there is a lot to like about his mid-90’s fastball, changeup, and slider. The next time he is in the majors, he will have a real chance to stick.

On the offensive side, Ryan Brett went 1 for 5 with a stolen base and 2 RBI, Luke Maile went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Boog Powell went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Hak-Ju Lee also did some encouraging things–he went 0 for 2, but he drew 2 walks and stole a base. Under the radar, he is playing extremely well in his last 67 plate appearances, hitting to a .259/.394/.407 line with 5 doubles, a homer, 5 RBI, a 19-12 strikeout to walk ratio, and 5 stolen bases without getting caught. It is a little strange that his average is still low on the streak, but it is great to see him drawing walks and hitting the ball with more authority, and he needs more where this came from.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 6, Jackson Generals (SEA) 0

Ladies and gentleman, Joey Rickard is a prospect again. He will never be highly regarded, but he is back to the fourth outfielder upside that he had when he was drafted and has at least a halfway-decent chance of getting there. In this game, he went 3 for 5 with a triple, a double, and 3 RBI, raising his line to .319/.409/.467 since joining the Biscuits. Richie Shaffer and Blake Snell have both delivered breakout seasons after beginning 2015 by repeating a level, but Rickard was actually demoted from Double-A to High-A before coming all the way back.

Tyler Goeddel also went 3 for 5 with a stolen base, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Cameron Seitzer went 2 for 5 with a solo homer and Juniel Querecuto went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. Goeddel has more upside than another Rule 5-eligible prospect like Powell, but he simply hasn’t played well enough to be protected on the 40-man roster at this point. He still hasn’t bulked up enough to tap into his raw power, and he doesn’t even play third base anymore. Someone might select him, but he hasn’t shown enough that the Rays should care too much about that.

On the mound, Jared Mortensen returned to the Biscuits after helping lead the Canadian team to a gold medal at the Pan American Games, and his first start back was quite good (at least on the runs allowed side). He tossed 7 shutout innings allowing 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 2. Matt Lollis was then perfect to finish the game, striking out 3 in 2 shutout innings. Lollis has almost the same exact results as he repeats Double-A this season, and it looks unlikely that the Rays will get much from him as a throw-in as part of the Logan ForsytheAlex Torres trade.

High-A Florida State League: Daytona Tortugas (CIN) 3, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2

Hunter Wood just wasn’t quite good enough given his team’s limited offense for the Stone Crabs to win this game. Wood tossed 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. It’s always nice when a start like that is considered disappointing–that is how well Wood has pitched. Josh Kimborowicz then finished the game with 2 shutout innings, striking out 4 while walking 2.

Yoel Araujo went 2 for 3 with an RBI at the plate for Charlotte while Mike Marjama went 2 for 4 with a double and Braxton Lee went 2 for 4 with a double. Granden Goetzman had the other RBI. Lee has a .279/.348/.298 line this season, hitting for no power but doing everything else. That certainly can’t qualify as a great year, but given that he skipped over Low-A despite managing just a .681 mark at Short Season-A, we could not have expected much more.

Low-A Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 5, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0

Brad Wallace was also decent in his third Low-A start, but that is about all we can say from this one. Wallace tossed 5 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 3 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2 as well. Kyle Bird then allowed 2 more runs in relief before Edgar Gomez got past 2 hits with 3 groundouts in his inning of work. The Hot Rods were 4-hit offensively, but Grant Kay did go 2 for 3 while Alec Sole went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) 8, Hudson Valley Renegades 3

A 5-run seventh inning turned this game into a nightmare for the Renegades. They got their share of hits but went just 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Jose Paez went 2 for 3 with a triple and 2 RBI, but Jake Cronenworth went 2 for 4 with a walk, Oscar Sanay went 2 for 4, and Cade Gotta went 2 for 5 without any of them factoring into the scoring. Hector Montes had the other RBI in the loss.

On the mound, Travis Ott allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits in 4 innings, but there were other reasons for optimism. He struck out 6 while walking none and forced a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio, and hopefully that is a sign of things to come more than anything else. Tomas Michelson followed with 2 shutout innings, getting past 3 hits and a walk with 2 strikeout and 2 groundouts, but Justin McCalvin allowed that 5-run inning. To his credit, he finished the game with 2 scoreless frames after that.

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Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Elizabethton Twins 2, Princeton Rays 1

This was another tough loss as the P-Rays went 0 for 7 with RISP and lost after the Twins scored twice in the ninth. Garrett Fulenchek had a rough start, allowing 3 walks and 2 hits in 2.1 innings, but he didn’t allow a run after Ian Gibaut stranded a pair of his baserunners. Gibaut was dominant for the remainder of his outing as well, tossing 2.1 frames allowing just a hit and a hit batsman while striking out 7. Gibaut has rolled through the Appy League all season, posting a 0.00 ERA and a crazy 24-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 16.1 innings pitched. He was just the Tampa Bay Rays’ 11th rounder in this year’s draft, but he has far more potential than that might indicate, touching 97 MPH with his fastball. We have to expect that he will be moved up to Hudson Valley soon.

Junior Feliz also pitched well, but he came apart in the ninth before Armando Bastardo allowed the winning run. Feliz finished with 4 innings allowing a lone hit but those 2 runs, striking out 5 while walking 2. In more positive news, Brett Sullivan went 2 for 4 with a homer and a double, Bill Pujols went 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base, and David Rodriguez went 2 for 3 with a walk. Sullivan, the Rays’ 17th rounder from this year, is hitting for a ton of power but has just a .272 OBP and a 21-2 strikeout to walk ratio to start his pro career.

Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 6, GCL Red Sox 2

The GCL Rays are just 6-20 on the season–we haven’t had too many good things to say about them all season–but this game was a welcome exception. Jose Disla entered this game with just a 7-11 strikeout to walk ratio, but he turned that around entirely in this game. He tossed 5 innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking none and forcing a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Disla is only 19, and it is nice to see a young pitcher turning himself around.

John Williams followed with 2 shutout innings, getting past 2 hits with 3 strikeouts, before Sandy Brito had one of the worst outings you’ll ever hear about. He failed to record an out while allowing 3 walks, 3 wild pitches, and 2 earned runs. Luckily Collin Chapman restored order after him, tossing 2 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts plus a pair of groundouts.

On the offensive side,  Rafelin Lorenzo drilled a 2-run double and Adrian Rondon, Devin Davis, and Miguel Hernandez also had an RBI each. Jaime Ayende also went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and a run scored while Oscar Rojas went 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored. Rojas has been the Grays’ best hitter by an uncomfortably large margin. On a team that has just a .203/.274/.275 line, he is hitting to a .301/.356/.494 mark with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 7 RBI, and 7 stolen bases in 9 attempts across his 91 plate appearances.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Should a Spot Be Cleared for Richie Shaffer?