Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Matt Andriese Strikes Out 11
By Robbie Knopf
The Durham Bulls have an interesting competition brewing. The Tampa Bay Rays need to figure out who their fifth starter will be later this month, and the Bulls feature Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, and Matt Andriese, all of whom are trying to earn that spot. Smyly is the favorite considering how well he has performed since joining the Rays, but he also needs to prove that he is back to normal after rehabbing his torn labrum. Moore has a good enough track record of his own that if he can find his command, the Rays may give him starts before the year is through even if Smyly is fine. Then there is Andriese, who is in a tough position as the pitcher delivering the best results, but only with the least impressive stuff and track record of the three.
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Triple-A International League: Louisville Bats (CIN) 3, Durham Bulls 1
Moore looked great on Friday, but Andriese did everything he could in this game. He tossed 6 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 11 while walking just 2. The 11 was his career-high by a wide margin–he had never struck out more than 8 before. His previous season-high was just 7. There is no question that Andriese’s Triple-A numbers this year are incredible. He is 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA and a 64-9 strikeout to walk ratio in 60 innings, and it isn’t as though anyone is complaining about his 3.11 ERA with the Rays. However, the issue is always going to be that the Rays can’t start Andriese over a potential ace in Smyly and a possible number two or three starter in Moore unless his competition simply isn’t ready. But given that reality, would the Rays consider using Andriese to improve their bullpen?
Enny Romero had his latest rough outing behind Andriese, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits in 3 innings. Desmond Jennings‘ latest rehab game didn’t amount to much as he went 0 for 2 with a walk. Jennings’ plate discipline has looked fine, but Rays fans would love to see him hitting higher than .111 with Durham. J.P. Arencibia went 2 for 4 with the lone run for Durham, scoring on Ryan Brett‘s RBI single.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 3
Offensive explosions are always fun, and the Biscuits managed to get one after falling behind 2-0 after 5 innings. Cameron Seitzer went 2 for 4 with a double, 3 RBI, and a run scored, the unlikely duo of Jake DePew and Juniel Querecuto drove in 2 runs each, and then we have the two guys fighting for 40-man roster spots following the year. Tyler Goeddel, who was recently moved into the Biscuits’ leadoff spot with Joey Rickard (and Boog Powell before him) now in Durham, went 2 for 5 with a solo homer. Patrick Leonard, meanwhile, had a 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored.
Goeddel has his line up to .255/.330/.385 with 9 doubles, 7 triples, 8 homers, 51 RBI, and 20 stolen bases in 410 plate appearances. Those are alright numbers, and a team could conceivably say that Goeddel’s speed and defense are enough to select him in the Rule 5 Draft and hope the bat develops further. On the other hand, he simply isn’t big league-ready physically at 6’4″, 186–the work in the weight room that he has always needed still hasn’t happened, and the Rays will likely take the gamble that he can’t stick on another team’s roster all year. Even if a team could keep him as a fifth outfielder, is he a good enough prospect that it is worthwhile to bend over backwards for him?
Austin Pruitt got the start in this game and looked fine, tossing 6 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was a solid 8-3. Pruitt has been rock-solid this year for Montgomery, pitching to a 3.02 ERA, a 6.9 K/9, a 2.2 BB/9, and a 0.1 HR/9 in 128 innings. He is about to turn 26 years of age and has many guys ahead of him on the starting depth chart, but it wouldn’t be crazy if he emerged as a middle relief option at some point. Jeff Ames then gave up 2 hits and a walk in his inning but stranded them thanks to 2 groundouts and a pickoff before Mark Sappington allowed 1 run in 2 innings of work.
High-A Florida State League: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 2, Charlotte Stone Crabs 1
Like many of the Stone Crabs’ pitchers, Greg Harris has seen his schedule thrown entirely off thanks to way too much rain in Florida. After starting on July 28th, Harris made a 2-inning relief appearance on six days’ rest on August 4th before coming back on three days’ rest to pitch this game. He wasn’t sharp, but he battled to deliver solid results, tossing 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out 1 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout was a solid 6-3. It’s nice to see Harris showing poise even as he adjusts to the High-A level.
Josh Kimborowicz was then perfect behind Harris, retiring all 9 batters he faced including 5 strikeouts and 2 groundouts. Kimborowicz is 23 and isn’t a hard-thrower like other relief pitchers, but he has been amazing this year, pitching to a 1.51 ERA, a 9.3 K/9, a 2.5 BB/9, and a 0.3 HR/9 in 31 appearances and 35.2 innings pitched. He has always had a great breaking ball and nice bite on his low-90’s fastball, and he’s been good enough to warrant getting an updated report on his stuff. Colton Reavis finished the game by getting past a walk in a shutout frame.
Getting a run out of just 4 hits isn’t so bad, but the Stone Crabs are kicking themselves for this game because they also drew 6 walks. Kean Wong went 2 for 4 with a double while Marty Gantt had the RBI and Jace Conrad scored the lone run.
Low-A Midwest League: Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 8, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
Jose Mujica certainly isn’t dominating at Low-A, but it’s nice that he continues to hold his own after entering the season completely off the radar. Mujica tossed 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. Unfortunately, all 3 hits went for extra bases, but his groundout to flyout ratio was a solid 10-5. It’s great to see Mujica healthy and as a player who just turned 19 but is already at Low-A, he has plenty of time to reach his still lofty potential. Edgar Gomez let up 5 more runs, 3 earned, in the final 2 innings of this one.
Offensively, Cristian Toribio, Coty Blanchard, and Nick Ciuffo all went 2 for 4, with Toribio driving in a run, Blanchard scoring a run, and Ciuffo throwing out a runner that attempted to steal. Ciuffo is hitting .310 in his last 100 plate appearances, but only with 11 strikeouts against not a single walk. Alec Sole also went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored while Grant Kay laced a double and was hit by a pitch in 4 trips to the plate.
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Short Season-A New-York Penn League: Staten Island Yankees 10, Hudson Valley Renegades 1
I will be in the Renegades’ press box for their game this afternoon, and hopefully that contest will turn out much better than this one did. Cameron Varga began the game with 3 shutout innings before allowing a run in the fourth and melting down following an error in the fifth. He finished with 4.2 innings allowing 6 runs, just 1 earned, on 10 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 3 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 7-3. Luis Urena and Tomas Michelson allowed 4 more runs in the following 2.1 innings before Reece Karalus ended the game with a perfect frame.
Hector Montes has now delivered two incredibly bizarre performances this year. He isn’t hitting much at all, managing just a .232/.252/.384 as a 23 year old at Short Season-A, but he hit 3 home runs in one game to account for all 3 of his homers this season and then went 4 for 4 with a double and a run scored in this one. It would truly be remarkable if Montes doesn’t homer again the rest of the year. The Renegades managed just 2 other hits, 1 each from Joe McCarthy and Oscar Sanay. McCarthy had the lone RBI and a stolen base while Sanay added a walk.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Burlington Royals 6, Princeton Rays 2
Blake Bivens completed 6 innings for the first time in his career as he delivered his third straight strong start for the P-Rays. In his 6 frames, he gave up just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1 and forcing a 9-4 groundout to flyout ratio. On the year, Bivens is now 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and a 34-13 strikeout to walk ratio in 8 starts and 39 innings pitched. As an advanced young pitcher who is about to turn 20 years of age, Bivens is a prime candidate to start next season in the Bowling Green rotation.
Noel Rodriguez‘s control and defense didn’t help him at all as he allowed 5 runs, 1 earned, on 2 hits in 1.1 innings, striking out 1 while walking 2 and hitting a batter. Armando Bastrado was unable to bail him out either, allowing all 3 runners he inherited to score. The insufficient run support came on a David Olmedo-Barrera solo homer and a Zacrey Law RBI single. Angel Perez also went 1 for 2 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Orioles 6, GCL Rays 3
Garrett Whitley went 0 for 3 in this game for the GCL Rays, but he still managed to make things happen. He drew a walk, stole a base, scored a run, and delivered 2 outfield assists, the first 2 of his career. Devin Davis had a more conventional big game, going 2 for 2 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Davis’ pro career is off to a nice start as his line is up to .265/.375/.353. If that doesn’t impress you, remember that the Grays as a team have just a .202/.280/.268 line in the very pitcher-friendly Gulf Coast League. Blake Grant-Parks also went 1 for 2 with a double and an RBI in the loss.
John Williams had a horrific start in this one, allowing 6 runs in 3.1 innings, but the pitchers behind him were exponentially better. Jesus Ortiz rebounded from a meltdown in his previous outing to toss 3.2 shutout innings giving up just 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. Reign Letkeman then finished the game with 2 shutout innings, getting past 2 hits with a strikeout.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 111: Bats Surge Against Syndergaard