Rays down on the farm July 2: Guerrieri is back

Taylor Guerrieri went almost one full year without appearing in a box score - Jim Donten

The former first round pick's suspension is long over, and his elbow is also strong enough to get into real games

If anyone has seen any Rays affiliate in action lately, your experiences are more than welcome in the comments section.

Taylor Guerrieri's return caught me by surprise a bit.  Maybe I just wasn't paying very close attention, but at the time, if I remember correctly, it was expected that he would just rest this season and come back for 2015.  Since it's now about 12 months since his surgery, he's on a pretty standard timeline.

The international free agent signing period starts today, and the Rays are expected to be busy... kind of.  They're expected to sign shortstop Adrian Rondon, widely considered one of the top prospects on the market.  He already has a track record of in-game performance with five potential average or better tools.  He's expected to stick at shortstop and offer quite a bit of offense.  However, he doesn't turn 16 until the seventh, so the Rays will have to wait five days.

It's expected that the Rays will have to blow by their bonus pool of just under $2 million to sign Rondon.  They've done that before; two years ago, they made a splash signing pitchers Jose Mujica and Jose Castillo along with catcher David Rodriguez.

Teams pay a price for doing that though.  If it costs the Rays say $3 million to sign Rondon, they'll have exceeded their pool by over 50%, unless they acquire more room in a trade.  The penalty for that is not being able to sign any player for over $300,000 the next two signing periods and pay a 100% tax on every dollar they went over.

Is that worth the risk?  Maybe.  As Ben Badler, Baseball America's international expert, has pointed out, that essentially means forfeiting a lot of money for next year if the Rays were to remain where they are in the standings.

The Yankees apparently absolutely believe it's worth the risk.  Projections indicate they could sign 11 of Badler's top 30 prospects, costing them around $15 million.  That's just a little bit higher than their bonus pool that's just over $2 million.  Obviously for a team like them, the penalties aren't a deterrent, especially the luxury tax.

Now onto the results.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (46-41)

Durham's fast start held up in their 5-3 win over Pawtucket.  Two batters into the game, Hak-Ju Lee scored on a Mike Fontenot single, and they would go on to score three more runs to go up 4-0 before even taking the field.  Matt Andriese allowed a leadoff home run when they did take the field, but he would settle in for a few innings after that.  In the fifth, Lee's solo home run made it a 5-1 game.  Lee and Fontenot each had three hits at the top of the lineup.

After the first, Andriese had only allowed three more runners to reach base through the fifth inning.  In the sixth, Andriese would allow his second home run of the game to Corey Brown, and they conceded a second run to make it 5-3.  Andriese got two more outs the next inning to finish with three runs allowed on seven hits in 6.2 innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (6-7)

Montgomery failed to hold two separate leads in their 6-5 loss to Tennessee.  Down 1-0 in the sixth, the Biscuit offense finally came through with a pair of runs.  Richie Shaffer led off the inning with a double and eventually came home to score, and Jake DePew followed that with a solo home run to make it a 2-1 game.  After the Smokes responded immediately with two runs, Alejandro Segovia's two out double in the seventh cleared the bases, but an inning later, Braulio Lara was charged with three runs without recording an out to lose the lead again.

After Angel Sanchez was designated for assignment Monday, the Biscuits needed a spot starter yesterday.  That honor was given to Jim Patterson, and he worked through a lot of trouble in four innings.  He only allowed one run, but he did so on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.  Bryce Stowell was charged with a pair of unearned runs in three innings of work, but he did strike out four.  Shaffer reached base three times.

Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (3-10)

Charlotte's bullpen melted down late in their 6-4 loss to St. Lucie.  Holding a 4-1 lead in his second inning of work, Parker Markel allowed two runs, but they still led.  Ryan Garton got the first two outs of the ninth inning, and that's when things went south.  After a single and walk prolonged the inning, another single tied the game, and that was followed by a two run double that put the Mets in front.  The Stone Crabs got two men on with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but they couldn't score.

This all wasted a solid start from Reinaldo Lopez.  He allowed just an unearned run on four hits and two walks in six innings with two strikeouts, but the bullpen couldn't hold the 2-1 lead he exited with.  Maxx Tissenbaum's two run double an inning later added some insurance.  Tissenbaum also hit a triple as his second half surge continued.  He was one of five Stone Crabs with multi-hit games, including Patrick Leonard.  Leonard had three hits and was a home run shy of the cycle.

Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods (4-8)

Bowling Green jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their way to a 10-2 win over Lake CountyJuniel Querecuto and James Harris greeted Captains starter Luis Lugo with back to back home runs to start the game, and the Hot Rods didn't look back.  Querecuto drove in another run in the second, and back to back singles by Alexander Simon and Sean Smedley made it 5-0 an inning later.  In the sixth, Armando Araiza added a two run home run for good measure in a three run inning that made it 10-1 at the time.  Simon had four hits and was a home run shy of the cycle, and Pat Blair reached base four times.

Jake Faria rebounded from his last start which was also against Lake County.  He had to deal with some early trouble, some of which was self-inflicted, but he settled in and would only allow one run, a solo home run to lead off the fifth.  He finished with that run allowed on four hits and a walk in five innings with four strikeouts.

Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades (13-5)

Enderson Franco got hit hard, but Hudson Valley brought their bats too in their 8-6 win over Brooklyn.  Casey Gillaspie's two run homer in the bottom of the first got the game off to a good start, but Franco allowed a home run of his own, a three run shot, a half inning later to give the Cyclones the lead.  He wasn't done there though, and he allowed four more runs over the next three innings, finishing with six runs allowed on 10 hits in 4.2 innings with two walks and no strikeouts.

The Renegades kept adding on though, and they trailed only briefly.  Down 4-2 in the third, Bralin Jackson doubled home Alec Sole, and Jace Conrad's triple right after that tied the game.  The Cyclones conceded a third run, and the Renegades added two more in the fourth.  After Franco departed, Isaac Gil settled the game down with five strikeouts in 3.1 hitless innings of relief.  Conrad and Gillaspie each had two hit games, and Gillaspie reached base three times.

Rookie Princeton Rays (7-6)

Princeton piled up seven runs in one inning, but it wasn't enough in their 13-9 loss to Bluefield.  Down 7-2 in the seventh, the Rays used seven hits and a hit batter to storm past the Blue Jays.  Cristian Toribio started the comeback with a bases loaded single that scored two, and Thomas Milone did the same a couple batters later.  After Milone's hit, Hec Montes hit a three run homer to put Princeton ahead for the first time.  Unfortunately after that, Rafael Cordova and Yonny Chirinos each coughed up three run innings that gave Bluefield the lead again.

Bluefield chased Hyrum Formo pretty early as they jumped out to their big lead.  He allowed five runs in the first two innings, and he would finish with seven runs (six earned) allowed on nine hits in four innings with three strikeouts and no walks.  Mario Fernandez relieved him, and despite walking four in 1.2 innings, he was the only Princeton pitcher to not be charged with any runs.  Nic Wilson was the offensive star with four hits, including a two run homer and two doubles.  Toribio had three hits.

Rookie Gulf Coast League Rays (7-3)

Taylor Guerrieri was back, briefly, in the 8-7 GCL Rays win over the GCL Twins.  In his first appearance since July 15th of last year, he had a quick 1-2-3 first inning before exiting.  It was expected that he would just wait until 2015 to return, but he's going to be able to get in quite a few more innings before this season is over.  2014 second rounder Cameron Varga allowed three runs on five hits in two innings, and Trevor Dunlap allowed a trio of inherited runners to score in his pro debut.

Fortunately, the offense was able to back up the pitching.  Down 3-2 in the sixth, Isias Alcantar's two run home run, the first of his career, put the Rays ahead in a three run inning, and they would get another in the eighth.  After the Twins put up a four run eighth, the Rays loaded the bases and were prepared to take advantage of Twins mistakes.  An error allowed two runs to score, and the Twins conceded what proved to be the winning run on a Josh Rapacz groundout.  Jose Rojas had three hits, and Jaime Ayende had a hit in his pro debut.

CLICK HERE FOR ALL BOX SCORES

Star of the day- Alcantar's first pro home run is a nice moment.

Goat of the day- The hole Formo put Princeton is apparently wasn't too big to get out of, but it was still a bad outing.

Today's games (probables courtesy of milb.com)

Durham v. Gwinnett 7:05 PM (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Alex Colome (3-1, 3.54) v. Yunesky Maya (3-1, 2.17)

Montgomery @ Tennessee 7:15 PM (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
TBA v. Eduardo Figueroa* (0-0, 5.51)

Charlotte v. St. Lucie 6:30 PM (Radio stream)
Leonel Santiago (2-6, 6.13) v. Matt Koch (7-2, 3.33)

Bowling Green @ Lake County 7 PM (Radio stream)
Ryne Stanek (3-3, 3.26) v. Mitch Brown (1-6, 3.77)

Hudson Valley @ Brooklyn 7 PM (Radio stream)
Nolan Gannon (2-1, 0.56) v. TBA

Princeton is off

GCL Rays @ GCL Twins 12 PM
TBA v. TBA

*Listed as TBA on milb.com

Scouting the opposition

Gwinnett Braves
40-45 (2nd in IL South)
Offense: 359 R (11th) .715 OPS (9th)
Pitching: 4.15 ERA (9th) 1.43 WHIP (10th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Cody Martin (11), 3B Edward Salcedo (12), OF Joey Terdoslavich (15), OF Todd Cunningham (23), RHP Aaron Northcraft (25), RHP Juan Jaime (27), RHP James Hoyt (30)

Tennessee Smokies (Cubs)
9-4 (1st in SL North)
Offense: 361 R (5th) .700 OPS (9th)
Pitching: 3.60 ERA (3rd) 1.34 WHIP (5th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP C.J. Edwards (3), OF Jorge Soler (5), 3B Christian Villanueva (13), RHP Corey Black (15), RHP Ivan Pineyro (21), RHP Zach Cates (27), OF Rubi Silva (29)

St. Lucie Mets
8-3 (1st in FSL South)
Offense: 401 R (2nd) .752 OPS (1st)
Pitching: 3.91 ERA (8th) 1.38 WHIP (8th)
Top 30 Prospects: SS Gavin Cecchini (9), RHP Michael Fulmer (14), RHP Gabriel Ynoa (15), RHP Cory Mazzoni (16), RHP Domingo Tapia (19), RHP Matt Koch (24)

Lake County Captains (Cleveland)
8-4 (T-1st in MWL East)
Offense: 327 R (15th) .677 OPS (14th)
Pitching: 4.19 ERA (11th) 1.32 WHIP (10th)
Top 30 Prospects: OF Clint Frazier (2), SS Dorssys Paulino (6), RHP Dace Kime (16), OF Anthony Santander (20), LHP Luis Lugo (21), RHP Mitch Brown (24), 1B Nellie Rodriguez (27)

Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets)
11-7 (2nd in McNamara)
Offense: 70 R (12th) .636 OPS (12th)
Pitching: 2.74 ERA (3rd) 1.15 WHIP (3rd)
Top 30 Prospects: SS Amed Rosario (7)

GCL Twins
4-6 (3rd in GCL South)
Offense: 51 R (5th) .681 OPS (10th)
Pitching: 3.93 ERA (9th) 1.44 WHIP (9th)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B Amaurys Minier (24)

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