Currently rehabbing in the minor leagues are Desmond Jennings and Drew Smyly, but another player has actually returned. Daniel Robertson remains a while away from joining the Tampa Bay Rays, but it is exciting that he is finally back at Double-A Montgomery and ready to resume what was looking to be another strong season.
Triple-A International League: Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 5, Durham Bulls 1
Blake Snell looked good again for the Bulls, but a few wild pitches, an error, and some bad luck took him to the loss. Snell finished with 5 innings allowing 3 runs, just 1 earned, on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. All 4 hits came on groundballs, 2 of which didn’t even leave the infield, and Snell could have avoided allowing a single run had it not been for a wild pitch in the first inning and his own defensive miscue in the third. Snell also forced a 6-1 groundout to flyout ratio–he really was pounding the bottom of the zone as effectively as ever in this game. That’s a great sign that overshadows everything else from this game.
Jordan Norberto followed Snell with 2 shutout innings, forcing 4 groundouts, before Jose Dominguez and Jhan Marinez allowed a run each as they finished the game. That put the contest well out of reach–the Bulls were only able to score on an error in the ninth. Luke Maile did go 2 for 4 while Boog Powell went 2 for 5, Jennings went 1 for 3 with a double in his rehab game, and both Joey Rickard and Ryan Brett went 1 for 3 with a walk, with Brett scoring the lone run. Rickard was promoted to Triple-A after starting the season at High-A, and what a turnaround he has experienced after a rough 2014.
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Double-A Southern League: Mississippi Braves 7, Montgomery Biscuits 6 (11 innings)
In his first game back at Double-A after 4 rehab games with the GCL Rays, Daniel Robertson went 1 for 5. It wasn’t a particularly impressive game, but the bigger deal is that he is actually back at the level at which he belongs. Robertson now has a .270/.344/.430 line in 227 plate appearances for the Biscuits, following up his breakthrough 2014 in the Oakland Athletics organization with another strong season. He was close to joining the Durham Bulls–and possibly earning some big league time when Asdrubal Cabrera got injured–when he went down himself, but now the hope is simply that he has a great August in Montgomery and maybe finishes the season with a cup of coffee in Durham. It would have been nice to see him in the Triple-A playoffs, but the Bulls are unlikely to earn a spot.
The Biscuits scored 6 runs in this game with the help of strong performances from a quartet of players. Cameron Seitzer went 4 for 5 with a walk and an RBI, Johnny Field went 2 for 5 with a triple, a double, a walk, a stolen base, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Patrick Leonard had a 2-for-6 evening with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run, and Tyler Goeddel went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and a run. Field is down to a .258/.328/.442 line after seeing his OPS go down each month of the season, but the hope is that he can finish strongly and prompt optimism for next year.
It was 99 degrees as this game was played, and Chris Kirsch could not take the heat. He finished with 5 innings allowing 5 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 3 and walking 3 as well. The heat can’t be an excuse for all of his struggles as he now has a 4.88 ERA and a 19-12 strikeout to walk ratio in 24 innings. Jeff Ames was then dominant behind him, allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 4 in 3 shutout innings, but Ryan Garton gave up the lead in the ninth inning before Mark Sappington lost the game in the 11th.
High-A Florida State League: Palm Beach Cardinals 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4 (10 innings)
Brent Honeywell reeled off 4 straight quality starts before running into a bit more trouble in this game. He finished with 5+ innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. Mike Franco then tossed a perfect frame with a strikeout before Greg Harris made his first relief appearance of the year and allowed a run in 2 innings. I presume that he was only pitching in relief because rainouts have disrupted the Stone Crabs’ schedule so much. Steve Ascher then lost the game on an unearned run in 1.1 frames.
Offensively, Willy Adames had a nice game, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Kean Wong went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Braxton Lee also went 2 for 4 with an outfield assist at home. Adames has turned in a strong season even as a 19 year old in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, hitting to a .273/.354/.407 line with 22 double, 6 triples, 4 homers, 45 RBI, and 8 stolen bases. If and when Robertson heads to Durham, Adames would likely get a chance to show what he can do in Montgomery.
Low-A Midwest League: Quad Cities River Bandits 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0
It is always annoying when a young pitcher throws the ball well enough to warrant coming out for an extra inning only to come apart immediately afterwards. At least Yonny Chirinos still finished with a solid outing, allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits in 6.1 innings, striking out 3 while walking 2. It took 8 starts for Chirinos to allow more than 2 runs in any outing. The 21 year old right-hander held his own in a pair of spot appearances in Charlotte and dominated at Hudson Valley before posting a 1.19 ERA in his 5 Bowling Green starts. Needless to say, he is having himself a huge season.
Brian Miller stranded one of Chirinos’ baserunners and finished the game with 1.2 shutout innings getting past a walk and a hit while striking out 2. At the plate, meanwhile, Nick Ciuffo went 2 for 4 with a double, also throwing out a runner attempting to steal. Justin Williams and Riley Unroe had the other 2 Hot Rods hits. Ciuffo continues to show strong defense, and he has gotten hot at the plate, hitting .315 in his last 89 plate appearances.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Tri-City ValleyCats 1, Hudson Valley Renegades 0
Roel Ramirez delivered the best start of his pro career, but it unfortunately came in a losing effort. Ramirez tossed 6 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 8-4. Ramirez has delivered a strong 2.22 ERA in 44.2 innings for Hudson Valley this season, and though he has struck out just 5.0 batters per 9 on the year, he has gotten that up to a more reasonable 6.5 in his last 5 starts. He has struck out at least 4 batters in each of his last 5 outings after managing just 4 K’s combined in his first 3 starts.
Luis Urena then looked good to finish the game, but 1 run in the ninth was enough to give the ValleyCats the lead. He allowed 1 run on 2 hits in 3 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a spectacular 6-1. There is nothing wrong with giving up just 1 run on 3 innings–it isn’t right to get on relievers for giving up a run no matter what–but in a game like this, Urena had to keep dominating given the Renegades’ lack of offense and he was unable to do so.
The Renegades managed just 4 hits and compounded their problems by going 0 for 9 with with runners in scoring position. Matt Dacey went 1 for 3 with a walk while Jake Cronenworth went 0 for 1 but drew 3 walks and stole 3 bases.
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Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 4, Danville Braves 3
I find it amusing to compare the Tampa Bay Rays game and those of their affiliates, but the comparison doesn’t work at all for yesterday’s game. On a day that the Rays delivered a huge win, this was the only victory in 8 tries in the system. Leading the way was Zac Law, who went 1 for 2 with a homer, a walk, a stolen base, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. The Rays managed to sign Law as their 23rd round pick last year, and he has proceeded to emerge as one of Princeton’s best hitters as their youngest position player, hitting to a .286/.342/.442 line with 4 doubles, 5 homers, 18 RBI, and 7 stolen bases in 165 plate appearances.
Blake Butera also went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored while Kewby Meyer and David Rodriguez delivered 1-for-4 games that were a touch more interesting than usual. Meyer stole a base and drove in a run while Rodriguez threw out a runner attempting to steal to complete a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. Rodriguez has upped his caught stealing rate from 27% to 42% from 2014 to 2015, and the hope is that his next breakthrough will be at the plate.
Eduar Lopez, who was acquired in the David DeJesus trade, got his Rays organization tenure off to a good start as he tossed 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Lopez stays at the Advanced Rookie level as he moves from the Pioneer League to the Appy League, and before the year is through, he may finally escape Rookie ball for the first time in his 4-year pro career. Bryan Bonnell followed with 2.2 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 2 while walking none, before Armando Bastardo tossed 1.1 shutout frames to finish things off.
Rookie Gulf Coast League Game 1: GCL Red Sox 10, GCL Rays 2
This was a mostly forgettable doubleheader for the GCL Rays. Sam Triece managed to start the game with a shutout inning despite allowing 2 walks before another rehabber, lefty Jimmy Patterson, worked around a hit with a strikeout in a scoreless second. Patterson, usually a reliever, actually delivered a pair of solid spot-starts for Durham just days before he hit the DL. Then everything came apart for the Grays as Jose Disla allowed 7 runs, 6 earned, in 3.2 innings and Francisco Mena gave up 3 more runs, 2 earned, in the last 2.1 frames.
The cool things from this game were that Garrett Whitley stole his first base as a professional and Devin Davis drilled his first pro home run. Oscar Rojas also went 3 for 3 with a double while Adrian Rondon went 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Game 2: GCL Red Sox 2, GCL Rays 1 (7 innings)
The GCL Rays were 2-hit in this one, but they managed to score in the first inning on a walk, a wild pitch, a stolen base, and an error. Miguel Hernandez and Jovany Felipe had the hits while Whitley went 0 for 1 but walked twice and stole his second base. On the mound, Junior Feliz allowed 2 runs in 4 innings, and that was enough to provide the Red Sox’ winning margin. Justin Marsden was dominant in relief behind him, tossing 1.2 hitless frames giving up just a walk while striking out 3, before Collin Chapman finished the game with 1.1 shutout innings.