Rays Prospects

Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Matt Moore Strikes Out 16

By Robbie Knopf
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If you were looking for a sign that Matt Moore is back, Saturday’s game is the closest that you are going to get.

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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Columbus Clippers (CLE) 2

With 2 outs and nobody on in the sixth inning, Matt Moore gave up an infield single to Tyler Holt before making his first real mistake of the game, surrendering a 2-run homer to Zach Walters. But Moore finished his outing with 1 last strikeout, and the good from this outing clearly outweighed the bad. Moore finished with 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out an insane 16 while walking just 1. The 16 K’s were his career-high at any level, blowing past his previous high of 13, and this was also the first game where he struck out 12 or more batters while walking 1 or fewer. By the way, the Bulls’ previous franchise record was also 13 strikeouts.

This wasn’t just about the numbers either–Moore hit 95 MPH for the first time since Tommy John Surgery according to MiLB.com, and Bulls manager Jared Sandberg liked his curveball and changeup in addition to his fastball. This quote was especially encouraging.

"“The in-zone strike percentage on the fastballs was really, really good and with that, the confidence continues to grow as he continues to get swings and misses with his fastball.”"

Today is my last day on vacation, and after a game like this, a discussion of Moore’s role with the Tampa Bay Rays in September deserves a full piece. Hopefully I can get that up in the next couple of days.

Elsewhere in this game, Robert Zarate followed Moore with 2 shutout innings, getting past a walk with a strikeout and 2 groundouts, before Kirby Yates worked around a walk in the ninth as he struck out the side. Gotta love those 20 strikeouts by the Bulls’ pitching staff as a whole in this game as well.

The Bulls actually trailed this game 2-1 after 6 innings, but Boog Powell tied the game in the seventh on a sac fly before Nick Franklin put the Bulls ahead on an RBI single. J.P. Arencibia then padded the lead with a 2-run base hit. Franklin finished 1 for 2 with 2 walks in the game while Powell went 1 for 3 with a double. Franklin and Yates joined Moore as demoted big leaguers playing quite well in Durham.

Double-A Southern League Game 1: Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 6, Montgomery Biscuits 5 (8 innings)

The Biscuits took a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth, which was an extra inning in this scheduled 7-inning contest, only to see the struggling Brad Schreiber give it all back. Earlier in the game, Jared Mortensen started for the first time since August 7th and looked decent, allowing 4 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits in 7 innings, striking out 3 while walking 4. The walks were his first since July 28th.

At the plate, Justin O’Conner drove in 2 runs, Tyler Goeddel went 2 for 3 with 2 walks, an RBI, a run scored, and an outfield assist, Johnny Field went 2 for 4 with a double and a run, and Leonardo Reginatto went 2 for 3 with a run driven in. The incredibly clutch Reginatto delivered the go-ahead hit in the eighth.

Game 2: Montgomery 5, Tennessee 2 (7 innings)

Daniel Robertson batted sixth in the Biscuits’ order in the first game of the doubleheader, going 0 for 2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored, but he moved into the 3-hole for this game and delivered a performance worthy of that spot. Robertson went 3 for 4 with a triple and 2 runs scored, and suddenly his numbers are looking spectacular since he returned from the DL. In 68 plate appearances for the Biscuits, Robertson is up to a .321/.426/.482 line with 4 doubles, a triple, a homer, 7 RBI, and a 9-9 strikeout to walk ratio.

We have discussed previously that the Tampa Bay Rays were planning on bringing up Robertson to Triple-A Durham right when he broke his hamate bone. Given his strong play, however, it still makes sense that he will finish 2015 with the Bulls. On September 1st, the Rays will likely call up several members of the Durham’s current squad, but the Bulls still need to field a team through September 7th. Robertson could get a cup of coffee of up to 7 games with the Bulls in September in anticipation of his assignment there to start next season.

Goeddel also wrapped up his strong doubleheader by going 2 for 4 with a 2-run homer and a stolen base. He’s been playing out of his mind for the last month-plus, hitting to a .336/.420/.568 line with 6 doubles, 7 homers, 22 RBI, 8 stolen bases, and a 25-15 strikeout to walk ratio in 143 PA’s. He is doing everything he possibly can to earn a 40-man roster spot following the season. Reginatto also went 1 for 3 in this game with a double and 2 RBI while Jake Bauers went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI.

Matt Lollis, who has profiled as a mediocre reliever for Montgomery this season, actually made a spot-start in this one and looked pretty good. He gave up just 1 run on 2 hits in 4 innings, striking out 2 while walking 2 and forcing a 5-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Jeff Ames then finished the game with 3 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. Ames has been incredible since moving up to the Biscuits, pitching to a 0.47 ERA, a 9.5 K/9, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 0.0 HR/9 in 19 innings pitched.

High-A Florida State League: Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 2, Charlotte Stone Crabs 0

Hunter Wood rebounded from a couple of iffy outings to look as sharp as he has all season. Wood tossed 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6. Wood has come a long way since being demoted from Low-A to Short Season-A in 2014 and starting this year in the Bowling Green bullpen. Colton Reavis then gave up a walk in 0.2 innings before Josh Kimborowicz joined the list of nice relievers in the system who had rough outings as he let the Hammerheads take the lead in the ninth. At least 3 of his 4 outs came via the strikeout.

The Stone Crabs managed just 3 hits, 1 each by Granden Goetzman, Mike Marjama, and Hector Guevara. Goetzman’s hit was a double as he went 1 for 3.

Low-A Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 11, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3

Jose Mujica had his first bad outing at Low-A as he was hit around for 8 runs, 7 earned, on 11 hits in 4 innings, striking out none while walking 2. At least his groundout to flyout ratio remained solid at 6-3, and obviously it was just 1 bad game. Ryan Pennell gave up 3 more runs in 3.1 frames before usual position player Carter Burgess retired both batters he faced on the mound. Offensively, Alec Sole went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI while Coty Blanchard went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.

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Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Tri-City ValleyCats 7, Hudson Valley Renegades 6

The bullpen collapses continue as the Renegades led this game 6-3 after the top of the seventh before it all came apart. Angel Yepez started and struck out 5 while walking 1 while also forcing a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio. His 3 runs allowed on 5 hits in 5 innings was less impressive. Justin McCalvin then let in 3 more runs in 1.1 frames before the finishing blow came against Reece Karalus in his 1.2 innings. At least Jake Cronenworth delivered a 2-for-4 game with a walk, 3 RBI, and a run scored while Joe McCarthy went 2 for 5 with 2 doubles, a stolen base, and an RBI. It was the first time in McCarthy’s young pro career that he managed 2 extra-base hits in the same contest.

Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Bristol Pirates 2, Princeton Rays 0

Princeton was 4-hit in this game, but their pitchers did all look good. Brock Burke started and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was a solid 7-3. Burke, who just turned 19, remains a project, but things are going well so far as he has pitched to a 3.40 ERA and a 31-10 strikeout to walk ratio in 47.2 innings this season. The incredibly inconsistent Deivy Mendez then came through with one of his best outings as a professional, tossing 3 no-hit innings in which he struck out while 4 while walking 1, before Bryan Bonnell got past a hit with a strikeout in the ninth.

Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Orioles 6, GCL Rays 1

After making it through 2 innings in his previous rehab outing, Ernesto Frieri could only record 2 outs in this one. He didn’t allow a hit but gave up 2 walks and a hit batsman as he finished with 3 runs, 1 earned on his final line. Justin Marsden also experienced quite different results from his previous outings as he gave up 3 runs in 3.1 innings pitched, walking 2 without a strikeout. He did finish by retiring the last 5 batters he saw.

On the positive side, Devin Davis went 2 for 4 at the plate and Junior Feliz delivered his best outing of the season. Feliz worked around 2 hits and 3 walks in 5 shutout innings, striking out 9. He blew past his previous career-high of 5. Feliz, 21, was disappointingly demoted from Princeton back to the GCL, but he has looked much better in his last few outings and is hoping to finally find himself on the mound in his fourth pro season since signing out of the Dominican Republic.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 123: Asdrubal Cabrera Delivers

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