Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Jaime Schultz K’s 10 for Biscuits
It’s always difficult to figure out what to make of stretches of great games or terrible ones. Is there any meaning to the order in which things occurred or does it just so happen that a player was playing one way before and another way now? In any event, 6 starts certainly isn’t enough of a sample to say that Jaime Schultz has found his control and is ready to take off as a pitching prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, but he had to start somewhere and now there is some reason for optimism.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 10, Jackson Generals (SEA) 4
10-4 was both the score in this game and Jaime Schultz’s strikeout to walk ratio. To accompany that strong mark, Schultz gave up just 3 hits on his way to 6 shutout innings. It was a nice rebound for Schultz after his 5-run outing on August 19th, and now his numbers from his last 5 starts are back in a more-than-respectable range. In that span, he is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA, striking out 35 while walking just 13 in 29 innings pitched.
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If you don’t know Schultz very well as a pitcher, the 35 strikeouts in 29 innings are pretty average for him. On the season, Schultz has a 10.7 K/9, and in this stretch, it has only gone up to 10.9. What are more interesting are the walks. This game was not a great example, but his 4.0 BB/9 of late is far better than his horrific 6.1 overall mark. Schultz is one of those pitchers who simply needs to throw strikes to dominate, and that’s exactly what he has been doing of late. Schultz is already 24 years old and may not remain a starter given the Rays’ depth in that area, but he was going to need to throw strikes even if his ultimate role was a late-inning reliever, and the hope is that his control has made strides.
After Schultz, Kyle McPherson had a good appearance, striking out 2 while walking 1 in 2 hitless innings. McPherson’s return from Tommy John has been far closer to Matt Moore‘s to Matt Harvey‘s as he has just a 7.01 ERA in 25.2 innings between Rookie ball, High-A, and Double-A, but his minor league deal extends to next season and the Rays will be as patient with him as they can be. In his strong MLB debut in 2012, he averaged 94 MPH with his fastball to go along with a solid curveball–he does come with upside. Mark Sappington then struggled to end the game, surrendering the 4 runs.
There was also, unsurprisingly, a lot of fun for the Biscuits on the offensive side. Tyler Goeddel went 3 for 5 with a home run short of the cycle, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, while his partner in crime, Patrick Leonard, went 3 for 4 with a hit-by-pitch, 2 RBI, and a run. Jake Bauers and Thomas Coyle also each had a 2-for-4 game with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored, with Bauers lacing 2 doubles while Coyle slammed a triple.
Jake DePew also had a nice game, going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run. Going along with our opening, I have dismissed basically all of DePew’s nice games this season as random good performances from an organizatonal catcher. On the other hand, we have the following stat comparison. In 96 games this season, Justin O’Conner has hit to a .229/.255/.378 line (.633 OPS), throwing out 49% of opposing basestealers but allowing 14 passed balls. DePew, meanwhile, has played in only 41 games but has a .233/.285/.349 line (.634 OPS), a 52% CS%, and just 2 passed balls allowed.
And by the way, DePew is just one month older than O’Conner. With all of this mind, how can we call O’Conner a prospect and not DePew? Honestly, that argument falls apart when we consider upside–DePew has almost no power potential, so he wouldn’t be able to hit much better than this at any level. O’Conner at least has a chance to be a starting catcher–DePew simply does not. That being said, his chances of making the major leagues for at least a couple of games has certainly gone up this year.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 8, St. Lucie Mets 5
Speaking of catchers hitting, Mike Marjama went 2 for 3 with a double, a hit-by-pitch, 3 RBI, and a run scored. His line on the year is an actually impressive .296/.320/.464, but he is 2.5 years older than O’Conner and DePew yet playing at a level below. Anything is possible, especially given how few catchers hit, but don’t call Marjama a prospect. In addition, Jace Conrad, Willy Adames, and Hector Guevara all went 2 for 4, with Conrad delivering 2 RBI, Adames driving in 1 run and scoring another, and Guevara walking and scoring 3 times.
On the mound, Buddy Borden entered this game having allowed exactly 4 runs in under 5 innings in each of his last 4 starts, but that streak thankfully ended. He tossed 6.1 innings allowing 3 runs, 1 earned, on 5 hits. He struck out only 2 while walking 2, but his 11-1 groundout to flyout ratio was excellent. Mike Franco followed with 1.2 perfect innings with a strikeout before Isaac Gil had some trouble finishing the game.
Low-A Midwest League: Great Lakes Loons (LAD) 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0
After beginning his full-season ball tenure with a 0.99 ERA in his first 6 starts, Yonny Chirinos has now struggled in 2 straight outings. In this game, he allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, on 9 hits in 6 innings. At least, unlike the previous start, he struck out 6 while walking none, and hopefully that is a sign of things to come. Hard-thrower Diego Castillo then looked to finish the game, getting past a hit and a walk with 2 strikeouts in 2 innings pitched.
The Hot Rods had some baserunners but couldn’t knock them in. Hunter Lockwood went 3 for 4, Coty Blanchard and Nick Ciuffo each went 1 for 3 with a walk, and Thomas Milone stole 2 bases. The walk was just Ciuffo’s sixth of the season, and the Tampa Bay Rays are certainly hoping for a lot more than that.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) 2
A bullpen and defense hiccup put the Renegades behind in the sixth inning, but they managed to come right back. Michael Velasquez started and looked good, tossing 5 shutout innings getting past 4 hits and a walk while striking out 5. His groundout to flyout ratio was a perfect 7-0. I didn’t like the lefty Velasquez when I saw him, but he can have games like this when he keeps his sinker down and flashes plus with his curveball and changeup more consistently.
Cristopher Crisostomo then gave up a pair of unearned runs in his inning, but after the offense roared back, John Williams tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout before Brandon Koch had another one of his signature outings. He allowed a lone hit in 2 innings, striking out 4 while walking none. His 13.7 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 are just bonkers. Williams, meanwhile, is an interesting story as a non-drafted free agent who got the bump from the GCL to Hudson Valley and has looked good in his first 2 appearances.
Offensively, Jake Cronenworth went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and 2 runs scored, Oscar Sanay went 1 for 3 with an RBI, Manny Sanchez had a 1-for-4 game but stole a base and drove in a run, and Matt Dacey went 1 for 3 with a walk.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Burlington Royals 9, Princeton Rays 1
This game wasn’t particularly fun. Ethan Clark (6 R, 4 ER, in 2 IP) had a horrible start before Ty Jackson gave up another run in 3 innings pitched. Then Alberto Casanas let up 2 runs in 2 innings before Ruben Paredes finished the contest with 2 perfect innings, striking out 1 and forcing 4 groundouts. At the plate, Zac Law continued his impressive season by going 2 for 4 with his 7th homer while Angel Perez went 1 for 2 with a walk and David Rodriguez went 1 for 3 with a walk.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 2, GCL Twins 0 (7 innings)
Luckily we get to finish on a high note. Garrett Whitley led the GCL Rays’ offense by going 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, and an RBI while Cody Semler went 1 for 2 with the other RBI, Rafelin Lorenzo went 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, and a run, and Joseph Astacio went 1 for 3 with a double and a run. Yes, Whitley is hitting .194, but please don’t complain given that his impressive plate discipline and power have led him to a well above-average OPS in the league nonetheless.
Reign Letkeman started for the Grays and delivered the best outing of his young career, working past a hit and 2 walks in 5 shutout innings, striking out 4. Sounds like his excellent curveball and solid fastball were working quite well. Sam Triece then recorded the save by working around 2 walks and a hit in his 2 frames. 5 strikeouts certainly helped him in that pursuit. Triece’s 8.4 K/9 to start his pro career has been a pleasant surprise.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Bullpen Experiment Yields Mixed Results