A debut and a return didn’t quite go as expected, and we bring out the baseball rulebook in Hudson Valley. Welcome to this Tampa Bay Rays minor league recap.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Braves 9, Durham Bulls 3
We know that Matt Andriese is big league-ready, but this was a really tough start. He tossed 5 innings allowing 6 runs, 4 earned, on 11 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. That being said, he rebounded well after allowing 5 runs in the first inning, and obviously he will be fine. Everett Teaford then allowed 3 runs, 1 earned, in his inning before C.J. Riefenhauser was sharp to end the game. He tossed 2 perfect innings, striking out 2.
Taylor Motter had a great game at the plate, going 4 for 5 with a run scored, while Grady Sizemore went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored and Richie Shaffer drilled a 2-run double. Sizemore may soon be recalled now to give the Rays a lefty bat now that David DeJesus has been traded to the Angels. Playing time has also potentially been opened up for Motter and Shaffer if the Rays elect to go that route.
Double-A Southern League: Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 8, Montgomery Biscuits 0
This was Taylor Guerrieri‘s Double-A debut, but the Tampa Bay Rays are also hoping that it doubles as his worst start for several weeks. Guerrieri began the game with 2 shutout innings before coming apart in the third. He finished with 3 innings allowing 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was still a great 4-1, and bear in mind that Guerrieri would have kept pitching if the Rays weren’t being so careful with him after Tommy John Surgery. He will also be OK, but obviously it would have been nice if he had started off better.
The Biscuits actually alternated shutout outings and 4-run outings in this game. Jared Mortensen and Parker Markel each tossed 2 scoreless innings, but Kyle McPherson allowed 4 more runs in his 2 innings. Montgomery didn’t manage much offense, but Thomas Coyle went 2 for 4 with a double, Dayron Varona went 1 for 3 with a walk, and Jake Bauers stole his first base at Double-A.
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High-A Florida State League Game 1: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Dunedin Blue Jays 2 (7 innings)
Brent Honeywell‘s last start before this was a complete-game shutout where he allowed 4 hits and no walks while striking out 9. However, that was back on July 18th–Honeywell was pitching on nine days’ rest in this game because of a series of rainouts for the Stone Crabs. However, Honeywell showed no signs of rust. He tossed 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was also a solid 8-3. I would have more of a comment on Honeywell, but we just had a huge piece about him the other day. Colton Reavis then finished the game with a perfect inning, striking out 2.
With regards to the run support, Pat Blair went 1 for 3 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored, Granden Goetzman went 2 for 2 with a walk and a run scored, Willy Adames had a 1-for-2 game with an RBI and a run scored, Andrew Velazquez went 1 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run, and both Armando Araiza and Braxton Lee went 1 for 3 with an RBI. I don’t like talking player stats between two games of a doubleheader–we’ll get to that in just a sec.
Game 2: Charlotte 11, Dunedin 5 (7 innings)
Granden Goetzman has delivered some great games in his life, but this has to be right up there with any of them. Goetzman went 2 for 3 with a walk in this game, drilling a grand slam in the fifth inning and later leaping at the wall to rob Mitch Nay of a home run. Hitting a home run and robbing a homer, not too shabby. Goetzman has looked better this season after he looked feeble once he had been promoted to the Stone Crabs in 2014, but his improvement has only been from a .213/.259/.287 line to a .248/.307/.320 mark. He has been much more successful stealing bases and drawing walks, but his power continues to be absent.
Goetzman would have to absolutely go off for the remainder of the season for the Rays to consider protecting him on their 40-man roster, but we can also say that he has made good progress this season. His raw power was going to mean nothing unless he could make more contact and see more pitches, and now he has achieved both of those conditions. Even though he isn’t the ball with authority at all right now, at least he is giving himself a chance. And even as he has struggled, his tools are still there. Goetzman remains a project, but he retains the athleticism to eventually become a solid player.
Mike Marjama also had a huge game, going 2 for 3 with a homer, a double, a walk, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Marjama now has a .305/.333/.480 line–who doesn’t like when organizational catchers hit like crazy? Kean Wong also went 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored while Lee drove in 2 more runs, Willy Adames went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk, and 2 runs, and Velazquez gave himself 3 stolen bases in his last 3 attempts after starting the season just 1 for 7. The pitching was unmemorable, but Steve Ascher tossed 2.2 shutout innings for the win.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 2, West Michigan WhiteCaps (DET) 0
The Whitecaps also lost to a Rays affiliates, but at least they had some pitching. Yonny Chirinos was dominant for the Hot Rods, tossing 7 shutout innings allowing 4 hits and no walks while striking out 5. His groundout to flyout ratio was pretty alarming at just 2-11, but Chirinos throws strikes and has real stuff, touching 93 MPH with his fastball to go along with a solid curveball. He has been dominant as dominant as it gets between Short Season-A, Low-A, and a pair of emergency appearances at High-A, going 4-1 with a 0.64 ERA and a 34-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings.
Kyle Bird finished the game with 2 perfect innings, striking out 2, and there was just enough offense for all of the pitching to matter. The RBIs came from Mac James and Thomas Milone while Justin Williams went 2 for 3 with a double and Alec Sole went 2 for 3. Sole’s .288/.336/.408 line after a disastrous stint in Hudson Valley last year continues to make him one of the better stories in the system.
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Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Brooklyn Cyclones 3 (10 innings)
This one ended in a walk-off, but not in any way that I’ve ever seen before. Here’s how it’s described in the play-by-play at MiLB.com: “Matt Dacey flies out to right fielder Michael Bernal. Jake Cronenworth scores. Interference error by catcher Brandon Brosher.” Obviously that set off alarm bells in my head, so I asked people in Hudson Valley about what in the world happened. According to an eyewitness in the Renegades’ press box, the catcher Brosher obscured Cronenworth’s path to the plate by standing up the third base line and directly in the way of Cronenworth before he had the ball. In other words, the Renegades won the game because the Cyclones’ catcher blocked the plate illegally. If you want more information than that, I would be glad to provide it in the comments.
Back the statistics, Michael Velasquez had a great start for Hudson Valley, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. Velasquez now has a 3.08 ERA and a shiny 20-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 23.1 innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen was sketchier behind him to set up the crazy finish. Tim Ingram allowed an unearned run in 2 innings before Brandon Koch allowed 1 run on 2 hits in 2 innings. At least he struck out 4 against 1 walk. Koch has just a 5.65 ERA in his first 14.1 pro IP, but his 18-2 strikeout to walk ratio inspires confidence. Justin McCalvin then earned the win with a perfect frame.
Cade Gotta, Angel Moreno, and Nic Wilson had the RBIs for the Renegades, with Gotta going 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. Dacey didn’t get an RBI because of the error. Michael Russell also went 1 for 3 with a stolen base in the win.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League Game 1: Princeton Rays 9, Bluefield Blue Jays 2 (7 innings)
We are out of time, so let’s go rapid-fire. Garrett Fulenchek had no control at all (6 walks in 1.2 IP), but Noel Rodriguez tossed 3.1 innings of 1-hit ball for the win. At the plate, Blair Beck went 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored, Zac Law went 3 for 4 with a homer, 2 runs scored, and an outfield assist, and Angel Perez went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk, 3 RBI, and a run scored.
Game 2: Bluefield 5, Princeton 2 (7 innings)
This one didn’t go as well. Junior Feliz allowed the 5 runs in 3 innings before Ian Gibaut continued his dominance to finish the game, allowing just 2 hits in 3 innings while striking out 2. Perez had another big game in the loss, going 3 for 3 with a triple and an RBI. He’s hitting .312 on the year.
Rookie Gulf Coast League Game 1: GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 1 (7 innings)
This was Daniel Robertson‘s first rehab game, although he left in the top of the third. This game was suspended on Monday due to rain, though, and we have every reason to believe that he will be fine. He should be back in the upper minors before too long. The pitching was mediocre–although Ty Nichols tossed 1.1 perfect frames with 2 strikeouts–while Juan Carlos Arias went 1 for 3 with a double and the lone run scored. Ryan Caldwell had the only other hit while Rafelin Lorenzo had the RBI.
Game 2: GCL Twins 2, GCL Rays 1
3 hits in a doubleheader for the GCL Rays? Yup. Miguel Hernandez got the only hit in this for the Grays on a double. At least Orlando Romero looked good, tossing 3.1 innings allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was a great 5-0. Romero is one of the biggest sleepers in the system, touching 98 MPH with his fastball to go along with a potential plus curveball.