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Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Drew Smyly Hit Hard in Rehab Start

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I hope that you haven’t had enough of talented lefties struggling after returning from serious arm injuries. We (hopefully) have two pieces on Matt Moore coming today after his latest rough outing, and then there is Drew Smyly. It is great to see Smyly back on the mound, but the Rays had to be hoping for better results than what he delivered.

Triple-A International League: Norfolk Tides (BAL) 11, Durham Bulls 1

To make the comparison even stronger, it was another once-dominant lefty returning from injury against a team in the Baltimore Orioles organization who got hit hard. Smyly needed 51 pitches to get through just 2.1 innings allowing 4 runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. The hits weren’t cheapies either–Christian Walker hit a 2-run homer while the other two hits came on line drives. Now is a good of a time as any to remind everyone that Smyly’s rehab will take time and there is no guarantee that he returns to the pitcher he was before quickly. The hope is certainly that Smyly will be fine, but he will need some time to get to that point.

Jose Dominguez managed to escape that third inning before Scott Diamond allowed 7 runs in the last 5 frames. On the offensive side, meanwhile, Mikie Mahtook went 3 for 4 with a triple, a double, and a run scored, Hak-Ju Lee had the lone RBI on a groundout, and Nick Franklin went 0 for 2 but drew 2 walks and stole a base.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 11, Jackson Generals (SEA) 2

Somebody in the system was hitting yesterday (although we’ll see a couple of low-scoring victories below). The top of the Biscuits lineup was as good as it gets as Joey Rickard went 3 for 5 with a triple, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, Leonardo Reginatto went 4 for 6 with a triple, 2 doubles, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Dayron Varona went 3 for 6 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Reginatto has run his line up to .319/.383/.481 in his 139 Double-A plate appearances, with only Rickard (.321/.413/.478) beating him in OPS on the Biscuits.

Montgomery’s third-best hitter to this point, Jake Bauers, also had a huge game, going 2 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, and 3 runs scored to raise his line to .336/.387/.458. Extremely notable is the fact that Bauers is at least five years younger than both Rickard and Reginatto–he isn’t a huge upside guy, but it is impossible to argue with the numbers he is producing at Double-A such a young age (19). The Biscuits other position player prospect to talk about, Justin O’Conner, delivered a triple and 3 RBI while Thomas Coyle went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored.

The only real negative from this game was that Jaime Schultz departed after getting hit in the leg by a line drive. Hopefully he is all right. But after Schultz finished with 1 run allowed in 2+ innings, Jeff Ames tossed 3 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts before Ryan Garton was also spotless in his 2 frames, striking out 1. Parker Markel then allowed a run before Matt Lollis finished the game with one more 1-2-3 frame.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Dunedin Blue Jays 1 (10 innings)

The Stone Crabs couldn’t get anything going at the plate for quite a while and rust was surely a factor. They hadn’t played since Thursday after three straight games (including a doubleheader) had been rained out. But in the bottom of the ninth, they tied the game at 1 after Kean Wong tripled and scored on Willy Adames‘ sac fly. Then, in the following frame, Maxx Tissenbaum singled, Marty Gantt pinch-ran for him and stole a base, and Jace Conrad won the game with a walk-off single. Wong, Tissenbaum, and Conrad all finished the game at 2 for 4.

Buddy Borden looked good in his start for Charlotte, tossing 5 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. While Sean Rodriguez languishes in Pittsburgh, Borden has delivered a nice season, going 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA and a 77-36 strikeout to walk ratio in 95 innings. He also hasn’t missed much of a beat since becoming a starter (3.18 ERA). Kyle McKenzie then pulled a Houdini act in the next 2 innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk but no runs with the help of 3 strikeouts, before Isaac Gil finished the game with 3 perfect innings, striking out 2.

More from Rays Prospects

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, Fort Wayne TinCaps (SDP) 2

Make it two walk-offs for the Tampa Bay Rays’ A-ball affiliates as Alec Sole won this one with a home run in the ninth, the first of his career in his 375th plate appearance. Sole went 2 for 4 overall on the day and has managed to remain productive even without much over-the-fence power. After hitting to just a .199/.285/.243 line in 239 PA’s at Hudson Valley in 2014, he now has a .279/.328/.402 line in 132 PA’s in Bowling Green. The Rays kept him back in extended spring training for a while, and it seems clear that they made a breakthrough with him at the plate. We have to wonder whether he can keep hitting at higher levels, but given that he is a solid defender at shortstop, he is certainly giving himself a chance to make the majors after that seemed just about impossible after last season.

The resurgent Grant Kay also went 3 for 4 with an RBI while Justin Williams went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored and Riley Unroe went 2 for 4. Kay’s season has been a disaster, but his .317/.369/.376 line and 13-8 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 112 plate appearances certainly inspires some hope. Just don’t tell him that Williams has a similar OPS across his last 310 plate appearances.

On the mound, Jose Mujica looked good again, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was 8-3. He isn’t missing any bats yet at Low-A (3.0 K/9), but it’s nice to see him hold his own–and even throwing 6 innings in both of his starts–after jumping from Princeton to Bowling Green. Edwin Fierro followed by allowing just a hit in 2 innings, striking out 3 while walking none, before Brian Miller finished the game with a perfect frame.

Short Season-A New York-Penn League: State College Spikes (STL) 5, Hudson Valley Renegades 3

This was the opposite of the last 2 games as 2 runs against Diego Castillo proved to be the difference. Earlier in the game, Cameron Varga allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on 9 hits in 5 innings, striking out 1 while walking 1, before Reece Karalus tossed 3 innings of 1-hit ball, striking out 1 and forcing 4 groundouts. At the plate, meanwhile, Joe McCarthy went 2 for 4 with 2 stolen bases and a run scored, Nic Wilson went 3 for 4, and Angel Moreno went 2 for 4. The Renegades had no RBIs as a team, scoring their runs on an error and a wild pitch.

Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Johnson City Cardinals 9, Princeton Rays 4

The P-Rays had a 4-0 lead after 5 innings before a complete bullpen collapse. Blake Bivens started and pitched well, tossing 4.1 innings allowing a lone hit, striking out 4 while walking 2. He didn’t last long in the game, but it is nice that he only allowed 1 hit after giving up at least 5 hits in each of his previous 5 starts. In terms of his run support, Angel Perez went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored, Blake Butera and Peter Maris went 2 for 4 with an RBI, Blair Beck went 1 for 2 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored, and Jose Rojas went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 100: Matt Moore Can’t Find the Answers

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