Desmond Jennings will return to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, and we will discuss the implications of that in a piece later today. Until then, let’s talk about the minor league games from yesterday, which includes some more craziness to accompany everything that happened to the Rays.
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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Norfolk Tides 3
After looking dominant in his first start back at Triple-A, Moore looked iffier in this game. He finished having allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 7 while walking 3 and hitting a batter. His control was off again, and his command problems were back as well as he gave up a pair of home runs. He did at least force a 4-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Moore’s first Triple-A outing was a step in the right direction, but it is clear that he still has a ways to go to get back to the pitcher that he used to be. Hopefully he can keep making strides and help the team in some capacity in September.
Jose Dominguez followed with one of his better outings in a while, striking out 1 and forcing 2 groundouts in 1.2 perfect innings. Dominguez tossed 5.2 shutout innings for the Rays earlier this year, but he has just a 6.45 ERA and a 21-16 strikeout to walk ratio in 22.1 innings at Triple-A. His shoulder has been bothering him and he still possesses electric stuff, but the Rays were certainly expecting better than this after they acquired him in the Joel Peralta deal (not that Peralta has been good either). C.J. Riefenhauser and Jim Miller then finished the game with 1.1 shutout innings each.
Offensively, Luke Maile delivered the go-ahead 2-run single in the eighth inning, Ryan Brett went 1 for 2 with 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored, and Jake Elmore went 1 for 2 with a double, 2 walks, and a run. Nick Franklin got the only other hit to cap a 1-for-3 day with a walk and a run as Durham impressively scored 4 runs on 4 hits. On the other hand, they also drew 9 walks.
High-A Florida State League: Palm Beach Cardinals 4, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3
Desmond Jennings’ last rehab game was his best one as he finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and an outfield assist. Both of his outs came on line drives. Jennings’ rehab stint got off to a rough beginning, but he finished by reaching base twice in each of his last 3 games. His strikeout to walk ratio has been great (6-5), and he has been drilling everything that he has been seeing in the last couple of games. His timing is back and the Rays are excited to see how much he can improve their outfield.
Also having nice games at the plate were Andrew Velazquez, who went 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Mike Marjama, who went 2 for 4. Braxton Lee gave the Stone Crabs a 1-for-3 performance with a walk as well. Velazquez now has his average up to .290 in his injury-riddled season, although he was caught stealing in this one to give him just 5 stolen bases in 13 attempts this season. He went 50 for 65 in steals last season, but he simply never got on track this year.
On the mound, Buddy Borden allowed just 1 hit but 4 runs in 5+ innings. The reasons were pretty simple–he walked 6 batters against just 1 strikeout and Mike Franco allowed all 3 runners he inherited from him to score. Franco did toss 3 innings letting up no runs of his own on 2 hits, striking out 2, before Colton Reavis finished the game with a shutout frame.
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Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 2, Burlington Bees (LAA) 1
Bradley Wallace entered this game coming off his worst game as a professional and a pair of questionable starts before that. This game luckily went much better as he surrendered 1 run on 7 hits in 5.1 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a nice 5-2. It’s interesting that Wallace has been starting at Bowling Green after all 7 of his appearances at Short Season-A came in relief. The 10th rounder from 2014 likely will end up in the bullpen moving forward, but it’s always nice to give him a chance to work further on his secondary pitches as long as he can pitch decently enough.
Kyle Bird followed with 2.2 shutout innings, getting past a hit and a walk while striking out 3, before Brian Miller finished the game by giving up a hit while striking out 1 as he earned the save in the ninth. The Hot Rods managed just 5 hits (and unlike the Bulls, only 2 walks), but Nick Ciuffo and Cristian Toribio delivered RBI singles while Ciuffo and Carter Burgess scored a run each. Ciuffo is hitting .311 with half of his 18 doubles on the season in his last 106 plate appearances, although the Rays would really like to see him draw some walks.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) 2, Hudson Valley Renegades 0
This game qualifies as Angel Yepez‘s worst start in exactly a month. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 3 while walking 2. He didn’t exactly take the Renegades out of contention in his game, although the Hudson Valley offense managed nothing. Following Yepez was Tyler Brashears, who made his Hudson Valley debut after 3 appearances in the Gulf Coast League: So far, so good as the Scrappers only got a hit against him in 2.1 shutout innings, and he also struck out a batter. Brandon Koch finished the game with a strikeout in a perfect eighth.
Alex Schmidt went 2 for 2 in the loss while Jose Paez went 1 for 3. There admittedly isn’t much else to talk about for the Renegades offensively. Schmidt is on a little bit of a hot streak, going 10 for his last 35 (.286) with 3 doubles and a triple.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Danville Braves 5, Princeton Rays 4
This was a more satisfying loss at the very least. Alexis Tapia wasn’t unhittable again but did look OK, giving up 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits in 5 innings. He struck out 5 while walking 1 and forced a 7-3 groundout to flyout ratio. The runs are the first he has allowed since joining the Tampa Bay Rays organization, but no one is complaining about his 14-2 strikeout to walk ratio in 13 innings. Ian Gibaut then allowed a run on 2 hits in 3 innings, striking out 4 while walking none, before Armando Bastardo let the deciding run score in the ninth.
Brett Sullivan is one of the hottest hitters in the system and kept it up in this game, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. He now has a .261/.301/.534 line with 7 doubles, 5 homers, 12 RBI, and a 7-4 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 93 plate appearances. Kewby Meyer also went 2 for 4 with an RBI while Peter Maris went 2 for 5 and Angel Perez went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run.
Rookie Gulf Coast League Game 1: GCL Twins 5, GCL Rays 2 (7 innings)
Adrian Navas wasn’t good in his brief start, allowing 2 runs in 2 innings, before Francisco Mena gave up 3 more runs, though just 1 earned, in 4 innings behind him. Mena did strike out 3 whiel walking none. Oscar Rojas, Gilbert Marrero, Blake Grant-Parks, and Rafelin Lorenzo had a hit each for the GCL Rays, with Rojas driving in a run and Grant-Parks scoring one.
Game 2: GCL Rays 1, GCL Twins 0
The first US homer by Miguel Hernandez was a walk-off blast to win this game. Oscar Rojas and Samm Wiggins had the other 2 Grays hits while Garrett Whitley and Jaime Ayende each walekd and stole a base. On the mound, Reign Letkeman was good to begin the game, allowing no runs on 3 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 1 while walking 2, before Edrick Agosto delivered the best outing of his young career by far to earn the win. Agosto tossed 4.1 inning giving up just 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking none.