Baseball will return to the Summer Olympics for the first time since 2008, and a current Tampa Bay Rays prospect will be there.
Joe Ryan, the 12th ranked prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, was a member of the qualifying roster for the United States of America. Ryan helped the team go 4-0 in the qualifying games last week in south Florida.
However, Ryan isn’t the only Rays connection to Team USA. Former Rays Logan Forsythe and Edwin Jackson were a part of the qualifying team as well as former first-round pick Matthew Liberatore. Liberatore was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, but was traded to the Cardinals in the Randy Arozarena trade in 2020. It broke down like this:
Joe Ryan’s 10-strikeout performance for Team USA
Joe Ryan got the ball in game two for the United States, against a Dominican Republic team filled with former Major Leaguers. Some of those players include Joey Bats, Melky Cabrera, Juan Francisco, and former Rays minor-leaguer Emilio Bonifacio.
Ryan worked a 1-2-3 top of the first, striking out Bonifacio, and started the second with a K of Joey Bats. However, Juan Francisco got ahead in the count and hit a 3-1 pitch out of the park. Ryan K’d the next two Dominican hitters, to limit the damage.
Ryan was on cruise control through the fourth inning, picking up another strikeout of Bautista, but things got a bit interesting in the 5th.
On a 2-2 pitch, Dominican leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio ripped a triple, scoring both Liberato and Nunez, cutting the American lead to 4-3. That would be it for Ryan, who was replaced by former Ray Edwin Jackson, who got Melky Cabrera to ground out, and wiggle out of the jam.
Joe Ryan’s final line
After it was all said and done, Ryan went 4.2 innings, allowing three runs, all earned, on four hits. Ryan walked one and struck out 10, including Jose Bautista twice, and Emilio Bonifacio twice.
A big sixth inning from the United States was able to propel them to an 8-6 victory over the Dominican Republic. In that sixth inning, Logan Forsythe had a pinch-hit RBI single, driving in the first of four in the inning.
Joe Ryan and Team USA heading to Tokyo
Although it is a year after it was planned, the United States baseball team will head to Tokyo for the 2021 Summer Olympics. The United States joins Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Israel that have already punched their ticket to Tokyo. One more team will join the group of five, and we will find out who that will be at the end of June.
Not only will the Tampa Bay Rays be well represented in Tokyo by team USA, but by Team Israel as well. Simon Rosenbaum, the Rays Assistant Director of Minor League Operations and Baseball Development will suit up for Israel in Tokyo. Pretty cool.
The opening ceremony for the 2021 Olympics is set for July 23rd, 2021.