The Hudson Valley Renegades, the short season Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, acted as a proving grounds for a number of the organization’s newest members.
Short season Single-A baseball is often the first professional stop for many newly drafted members of an organization. Many advanced collegiate players drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays will begin their career at this level.
The Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League finished the season with a record of 45-30. They finished first in the McNamara Division.
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In the league playoffs, they swept the Washington Nationals’ affiliate, the Auburn Doubledays in the semifinals and moved on to the league championship where they were swept by the Astros’ affiliate, the Tri-City ValleyCats.
Statistically, they finished with the 6th best ERA (3.54), the least amount of walks (191), and the most shutouts (14). As the plate, they finished with the 5th best AVG (.247), 4th best SLG% (.456), 3rd most homers (41), and the 2nd best OBP (.336).
In the field and at the plate, the Renegades were led by catching prospects Chris Betts and Erik Ostberg and shortstop Tyler Frank.
Chris Betts (2nd, 2015), the 21-year-old left-handed hitting catcher led the team with 9 homers. He began the season at Bowling Green but was demoted to Hudson Valley. He was second on the team in SLG% (.456), Jake Stone was first on the team though he played in 27 games to Betts’ 56. Betts is now in the Australian Baseball League and producing. He will be an interesting prospect to watch next year as he follows in the shadow of top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez.
The other catching prospect on the Renegades who had a good year at the plate is Erik Ostberg (13th, 2017). The 23-year-old left-handed swinging prospect made a significant improvement from his time in the GCL last year. In 51 games, he hit .287 and slugged .420.
The Rays 2nd round pick in 2018, Tyler Frank, had a great professional debut at the plate. In 51 games, he hit .288, slugged at a .412 clip, and had a .425 OBP. He walked 33 times and only struck out 28 times. With plate discipline that good, look for the 21-year-old Florida Atlantic product to rise through the ranks quickly.
On a more concerning note, Adrian Rondon was less than impressive at both Bowling Green and Hudson Valley, where he practically split time. Rondon was the first real impactful international signing by the Rays, which opened the door to more spending overseas. He hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but he is only 20 and has time to figure things out. At Hudson Valley, he hit .189. In the field he committed 29 errors between both leagues.
On the mound, four 2018 draftees performed very well. Paul Campell (21st, 2017) also performed well and earned himself a promotion to Bowling Green following 32.1 innings pitched where he posted a 1.67 ERA. His K/BB ratio was 35/5.
As for the impressive quartet of Rays pitchers drafted in during this years draft, Simon Rosenbaum-Larsen (18th, 2018) was the most impressive. Prior to a much deserved promotion to Bowling Green, the righty struck out 33 and gave up 3 runs over 21 innings, none of them earned. With a perfect ERA of 0.00 and an opponents average of .159, it was impossible to ignore the dominance.
Nick Sprengel (15th, 2018), Joe Ryan (7th, 2018), and Tanner Dodson (CBB, 2018) were the other three impressive draftees. Sprengel, a lefty out of San Diego earned a promotion to Hudson Valley after a good stint in the GCL. In 12 games as a Renegade, he threw 24.2 innings and ended with a 1.09 ERA. Ryan, the 22-year-old righty, led the team in strikeouts (51) across 36.1 innings pitched.
Possibly the most interesting prospect on the team, Tanner Dodson not only dominated on the mound but also held his own at the plate. Dodson, a two-way player, may get overshadowed by Brendan McKay, but the 71st overall pick this year has proved to be a good one.
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On the mound, the Cal product struck out 25 across 25 innings and finished with an ERA of 1.44. At the plate, he was also pretty good. He hit .273 across 148 at bats, hitting 2 bombs and driving in 19. At the plate, Dodson was more impressive than McKay was at Hudson Valley last year.
Hudson Valley was loaded with talent in 2018 and the results reflect that. Many of the players mentioned above will be playing at a higher level next season. The 2018 Renegades were good at the plate and had their fair share of dominance on the mound. It will be fun to watch the likes of Tanner Dodson and Simon Rosenbaum Larsen ascend through the Tampa Bay Rays system.