Today we check in with the Rays' minor league affiliates and see what they’ve done to this point in the season. After only 10 games, we've seen one player called up from Durham (catcher John Jaso) and there already seems to be at least one other player that could play his way onto the big league team. We'll take a look at each affiliate and focus on the highlights and lowlights of the early-going.
Durham Bulls (AAA)
Who’s Hot: Joaquin Benoit . The veteran reliever was none too pleased about not making the team out of spring training, saying “What am I supposed to do, prove I can pitch in the minors?” He proceeded to strike out all six hitters in a two-inning scoreless stint. Overall he’s thrown 5 1/3 innings, given up one run and struck out 12. With the Rays bullpen struggling, it shouldn’t be long before he finds himself in Tampa Bay.
Through the first nine games, Dan Johnson has hit four home runs. Top pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson has been dominant in his first three starts of the year, going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Who’s Not: Pitchers Jeff Bennett and Richard De Los Santos have been lit up for eight runs in six innings each. Matt Joyce began the year 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts in his “rehab assignment” and has been taken off the Bulls' roster and sent back to Tampa Bay to be monitored.
Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
Who’s Hot: Starting pitcher David Newmann has an 0.82 ERA in 11 innings, throwing seven shutout frames in his first start. After 10 games, first baseman Matt Fields is hitting .350 with three home runs, getting a hit in all but one game. Lefty starter Alex Torres gave up just one hit in five innings in his last start, striking out eight.
Who’s Not: Outfielder Ryan Royster has started the year 2-for-27 and shortstop Shawn O’Malley is hitting .172 in the early-going.
Charlotte Stone Crabs (A+)
Who’s Hot: Nick Barnese , one of the better pitching prospects in the system, is showing no ill-effects from injuries that bothered him last year. He’s won both his starts and has a 1.35 ERA. He gave up just three hits in seven scoreless innings on Thursday. Third baseman Matt Sweeney has led the Stone Crabs’ offense, hitting three homers and three doubles in the first eight games to go with a .320 average. Starter Joseph Cruz is also off to a hot start, posting a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings.
Who’s Not: Former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham began the year on the DL and has gone 1-for-10 in three games played.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (A)
Who’s Hot: Starting pitcher Shane Dyer has worked five strong innings in each of his two starts, giving him a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings. Top prospect Alex Colome was hit hard in his first start, but has rebounded to give up just one earned run in his last 10 2/3 innings pitched, striking out eight in that span.
Who’s Not: Outfield prospect Ty Morrison is hitting .094 in the first 10 games. The 19-year-old has struck out 10 times in 32 at-bats.