What does one great start truly tell us? The answer is usually “probably very little.” At Rookie ball, though, the equation is a little bit different. Nearly every young pitcher is inconsistent, unproven, and possesses projectable (as opposed to present) stuff. With that in mind, at the very least, a great outing helps us sort through the noise and figure out who is worth watching a little bit more. Jose Disla looked great on Thursday, finally putting him in the eyes of Tampa Bay Rays fans for the right reasons.
With a GCL Rays player in the headline, let’s do the ordering of the games backwards for once.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 7, GCL Twins 3
Jose Disla is having a rough season, but now he has something to smile about. He started this game for the GCL Rays and retired all 15 batters he faced, striking out 2 and forcing 8 more outs on the ground. Disla entered the year having been mentioned in the public eye for exactly one thing: a 2013 drug suspension while in the Dominican Summer League. The 19 year old’s overall 2015 numbers aren’t raising any eyebrows either–he has a 5.44 ERA and a 26-21 strikeout to walk ratio in 41.1 innings pitched. But at least for today, let’s be positive about him.
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Baseball Prospectus has Disla’s groundball rate at 47%, and while bodes well for his future, it could be hurting him in the short-term in the Gulf Coast League. Groundballs simply don’t get converted into outs at the same frequency this low in the minors, even though he isn’t allowing a lot of hard contact extra-base hits. Also interesting is that Disla has actually been great in his 8 starts, pitching to a 3.44 ERA and a 22-9 strikeout to walk ratio. Maybe it just so happens that his 4 relief appearances ranked among his worst games of the year, but there is some possibility that he could break out if he starts pitching exclusively as a starter.
Sam Triece followed by getting past a hit in a scoreless inning before Junior Feliz recorded the most bizarre save I’ve seen in a while. He entered a 5-0 game, allowed the Twins to pull within 5-3, and got the save for his efforts. What? In case you were wondering, a relief pitcher gets a save for tossing the last 3 innings of a win as long as he isn’t the pitcher of record no matter what the score is. At least Feliz struck out 5 while walking none in his 3 frames.
On the offensive side, nobody was spectacular but several players were solid. Oscar Rojas went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and a run while Devin Davis went 2 for 3 with 2 hit-by-pitches and a run. The Grays’ two best hitters, both just 18, delivered again. Blake Grant-Parks also went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored and Juan Carlos Arias went 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 7, Johnson City Cardinals 4
Jose Rojas‘ first-inning grand slam gave the P-Rays the lead, and though the Cardinals got within 5-4 at one point, Princeton never trailed in the game. The catcher Rojas now has 3 homers, tripling his 2014 output in 45 fewer plate appearances. Angel Perez and Bill Pujols also delivered nice games, each going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Pujols’ .222/.320/.311 line isn’t exactly reminiscent of Albert Pujols, but Perez has been Princeton’s best hitter, managing a .299/.343/.438 line in 208 plate appearances.
Blake Bivens put up a decent line after getting staked to those early runs, giving up 3 runs, 1 earned, on 6 hits in 5 innings. He struck out 2 while walking 1 and forcing an 8-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Deivy Mendez then had an amusing outing behind him, recording all 6 of his outs via the strikeout but also allowing 1 run on 2 hits. A pair of wild pitches also helped out the opposition. Alberto Casanas then got past 2 hits and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts in the last 2 innings to record the save.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Staten Island Yankees 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 2
Roel Ramirez‘s outing ending in annoying fashion as he allowed a pair of runs in the sixth inning. He finished with 4 runs, 3 earned, given up on 6 hits in 6 innings, although his 6-0 strikeout to walk ratio was quite nice. It took 34 professional appearances for Ramirez to strike out 6 batters, but now he has done so in consecutive starts. Tomas Michelson finished the game with 3 shutout frames, working around 2 hits with a pair of K’s.
Offensively, Joe McCarthy had a game to remember out of the leadoff spot, going 3 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, and an RBI. It is dumbfounding that he didn’t score a single run, but obviously that isn’t his fault and he is continuing to show off his speed and plate discipline while adding his power in recent games. Matt Dacey also went 2 for 5 with 2 doubles while Oscar Sanay went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. Finally, Angel Moreno had a 1-for-2 game with an RBI before being replaced by Garrett Whitley, who went 0 for 1 with a walk in his Short Season-A debut.
Low-A Midwest League: Dayton Dragons (CIN) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 4
This was a pretty rough game for Bowling Green as they blew a 4-1 lead after the top of the fifth. Chris Pike gave up 4 runs, 3 earned, on 7 hits in 6.1 innings, providing length but getting hit hard in the fifth and seventh innings. Edgar Gomez then retired 2 runs while retiring just 2 batters before Diego Castillo got past a hit and a hit batsman in his scoreless frame. At the plate, Mac James went 2 for 3 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored while Thomas Milone went 2 for 4. Riley Unroe, Grant Kay, and Cristian Toribio all went 1 for 3, with Toribio scoring a run.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 1
Before we get to the Stone Crabs’ performances, a pitcher named Jose Jose pitched the ninth inning for Jupiter and struck out all 3 batters that he saw. I’m assuming that his name threw the Charlotte hitters off.
In any event, Brent Honeywell started for the Stone Crabs and dominated again. He allowed just 1 run on 4 hits in 7 innings, striking out 6 without a walk. After surrendering 11 runs in 8.1 innings in his first 2 High-A starts, Honeywell has pitched to a 5-0 record with a 2.05 ERA and a 46-8 strikeout to walk ratio in 52.2 innings. That’s pretty good. Josh Kimborowicz then pitched the last 2 innings in hitless fashion, striking out 1 while walking 1.
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The run support came from a pair of surprisingly hot bats that continue to shine. Hector Guevara went 2 for 5 with a triple, a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored while Mike Marjama went 3 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run. Guevara has looked good since being demoted to Charlotte from Montgomery, hitting to a .278/.366/.361 line. He isn’t exactly a prospect, but the Stone Crabs will take the production. Marjama also can’t be described as a prospect, but his .306/.333/.484 line on the year is nice and he has gotten that up to .324/.358/.559 in his last 218 PA’s. Jace Conrad and Braxton Lee also each went 1 for 3 with a walk, with Lee swiping a bag and scoring 2 runs.
Double-A Southern League: Jackson Generals (SEA) 11, Montgomery Biscuits 3
Chris Kirsch had an incredibly tough outing, giving up 8 runs, 6 earned, on 8 hits in 3.1 innings. He has gotten lit up thus far at Double-A, pitching to just a 5.89 ERA. Jared Mortensen then allowed 3 more runs in 3.2 innings before Kyle McPherson looked good for the second straight game after struggling for quite a while. He got past 2 hits with 3 strikeouts in 2 innings of work.
At the plate, it was 9-1-2 in the Biscuits’ order doing all of heavy lifting, although Daniel Robertson did go 1 for 3 with a walk. Thomas Coyle went 2 for 4 with a double, a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored, Tyler Goeddel went 3 for 4 with a run, and Patrick Leonard went 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI. Goeddel has exploded at the plate since July 23rd, hitting to a .358/.421/.599 line with 8 doubles, 7 homers, 24 RBI, and 9 stolen bases in 152 plate appearances. The Rays’ Rule 5 decision with him keeps getting more interesting.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 4
Big 2-run hits by Mikie Mahtook and Luke Maile helped the Bulls to a come-from-behind victory. Those were the only times on base for each of them, but Corey Brown went 2 for 3 with 2 runs, Ryan Brett went 2 for 4, and Joey Rickard went 1 for 2 with a walk and a run. Rickard has really cooled off of late with the Bulls, managing a .243/.349/.324 line in his last 44 plate appearances, but you see a game like this and hope that he can get hot again. Richie Shaffer went 0 for 2 in this one, but it’s always nice to see him walk twice with a strikeout.
Scott Diamond was about as iffy as Drew Smyly was, allowing 4 runs, 2 earned, on 9 hits in 5 innings, striking out 4 while walking 3. Just like in the Tampa Bay Rays game, the Bulls’ relief corps did the rest, although C.J. Riefenhauser needed to strand a pair of baserunners that he inherited from Parker Markel. Riefenhauser and Jim Miller combined for 2.1 perfect innings, striking out 3.