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Rays down on the farm August 4: O'Conner details minor league life

In this interview, the Rays catching prospect talks about life in the minors, his draft experience, and his hip injuries

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Justin O'Conner is getting it done at and behind the plate this season
Justin O'Conner is getting it done at and behind the plate this season
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I was made aware of this interview with Justin O'Conner conducted by his older brother for a class in the 2012-13 time frame.  It covers a wide range of topics, and it's worth checking out.  Two years ago, he suffered a second serious hip injury, and it probably could have sunk his career.  Instead, that's when he got on track to the point we've reached today.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (60-54)

Durham got out to an early lead and tacked on a lot late in their 9-2 win over Lehigh ValleyMikie Mahtook doubled home the first run of the game in a two run first inning, and Jeremy Moore's solo shot in the third made it a 3-1 game.  In the sixth, Robby Price's three run homer increased the lead to 6-2, and they added a run each in the final three innings.  Every Bull reached base at least twice.

Nate Karns wasn't quite as good as he was in his last four starts, but he still achieved a quality start, his fifth in a row.  He gave a run right back to the IronPigs in the first inning, and the only mistake he made after that was allowing a solo home run to former Bull Russ Canzler.  He finished with two runs allowed on seven hits and a walk in six innings with four strikeouts.  Over his last five starts, Karns has allowed five earned runs in 33.2 innings.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (22-22)

Grayson Garvin struggled with the longball in Montgomery's 12-3 loss to Jackson.  Garvin allowed a pair of solo homers in the first inning, and immediately after the Biscuits tied the game in the third inning, he allowed a three run home run half an inning later to put the Generals back on top.  Garvin exited after five innings, having allowed five runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.  Unfortunately, Jackson's bats did not exit with him.  They scored seven more runs against Parker Markel, Braulio Lara and Matt Lollis.

Willie Argo scored Montgomery's first run of the game in the third inning, and he drove in their third an inning later.  The Biscuits ended up with nine hits, but seven of them were singles.  Argo had two hits, and Cameron Seitzer had three.

Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (21-21)

Charlotte was suspended.

Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods (18-24)

Bowling Green copy and pasted Saturday's win in their 7-0 win over Lake County.  It took until the third inning this time, but Kean Wong homered for the second straight game after not having any in his career prior to Saturday's.  That gave the Hot Rods a 3-0 lead after the first two runs were scored in the second inning.  They added two more later in that inning, and the rout was on.  Wong, Willy Adames and Elias Torres had two hit games, and Ty Young scored three runs.

He wasn't quite as good as Jake Faria was on Saturday, but Bruedlin Suero delivered a very good start.  He struck out six in six scoreless innings, only allowing two hits and two walks.  Stone Speer wrapped up the game with one strikeout in three innings to earn a save.

Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades (35-15)

Hudson Valley got another solid effort from Nolan Gannon in their 2-0 win over State College.  After only facing six batters over the first two innings, Gannon got himself into trouble in the following three, highlighted by Bralin Jackson throwing out a runner trying to score i the third.  He finished with six hits and a walk allowed in five scoreless innings with three strikeouts.  Trevor Dunlap and Kyle McKenzie completed the shutout with two scoreless innings each.

With two outs in the fifth and runners on the corners, a passed ball with Braxton Lee at the plate put the Renegades up 1-0.  In the eighth, they got an insurance run with more help from the Spikes.  Casey Gillaspie was on first with two outs, and on Jace Conrad's bunt single, Danny Diekroeger committed a throwing error that allowed Gillaspie to score.  Conrad had three hits, and Hunter Lockwood had two.

Rookie Princeton Rays (22-20)

Someone finally got to Brent Honeywell in Princeton's 8-2 loss to Danville.  After getting through the first two innings unscathed, the Braves tallied four runs in a third inning that included a three run homer.  Two of the runs were unearned due to a pair of errors.  Honeywell would exit after that inning with the four runs (two earned) allowed on five hits and two walks in three innings with five strikeouts.  Yonny Chirinos allowed four runs in three innings.

The Rays scored both of their runs in the ninth, long after the game was competitive.  After a Cristian Toribio bunt single and Manny Sanchez double, Angel Moreno doubled home both to make it an 8-2 game.  Moreno hit two doubles, and Thomas Milone had two hits.

Rookie Gulf Coast League Rays (24-14)

The GCL Rays were off.


Star of the day- Where did Wong's power come from?

Goat of the day- At least Garvin squeezed five innings in.

Today's games (probables courtesy of

Durham v. Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Merrill Kelly (6-3, 3.23) v. Greg Smith (7-8, 4.60)

Montgomery @ Jackson 8:05 PM (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Victor Mateo (10-7, 3.63) v. Tyler Pike (2-2, 7.14)

Charlotte v. Daytona 6:30 PM (Radio stream) DOUBLEHEADER
Jared Mortensen (0-0, 2.57) v. Rob Zastryzny (2-6, 5.10)

First game will be the resumption of yesterday's suspended game, second game will be seven innings

Bowling Green v. South Bend 8:05 PM (Radio stream)
Isaac Gil (0-0, 1.86) v. Blake Perry* (5-4, 4.77)

Hudson Valley @ State College 7:05 PM (Radio stream)
Oscar Armenta* (3-1, 3.79) v. Ian McKinney (1-1, 6.17)

Princeton @ Danville 7 PM (Radio stream)
Cameron Varga (0-0, 19.29) v. Andry Ubiera (3-1, 2.87)

GCL Rays v. GCL Red Sox 12 PM

*Listed as TBA on

Scouting the opposition

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia)
53-63 (6th in IL North)
Offense: 459 R (14th) .687 OPS (14th)
Pitching: 4.55 ERA (11th) 1.43 WHIP (9th)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B Maikel Franco (1), RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6), RHP Ethan Martin (10), OF Cameron Perkins (11), C Cameron Rupp (13), RHP Ken Giles (18)

Jackson Generals (Seattle)
19-24 (4th in SL North)
Offense: 489 R (6th) .720 OPS (3rd)
Pitching: 4.12 ERA (8th) 1.35 WHIP (6th)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B D.J. Peterson (2), RHP Victor Sanchez (7), 3B Patrick Kivlehan (12), LHP Tyler Pike (16), SS Ketel Marte (20)

Daytona Cubs
25-16 (1st in FSL North)
Offense: 480 R (5th) .700 OPS (7th)
Pitching: 4.40 ERA (11th) 1.44 WHIP (11th)
Top 30 Prospects: 1B Dan Vogelbach (9), OF Jacob Hannemann (17), LHP Rob Zastryzny (20), OF Billy McKinney, LF Kyle Schwarber

Lake County Captains (Cleveland)
19-22 (5th in MWL East)
Offense: 455 R (13th) .686 OPS (11th)
Pitching: 4.39 ERA (14th) 1.37 WHIP (11th)
Top 30 Prospects: OF Clint Frazier (2), OF Dorssys Paulino (6), RHP Dace Kime (16), OF Anthony Santander (20), LHP Luis Lugo (21), RHP Mitch Brown (24), 1B Nellie Rodriguez (27), 1B Mike Papi

State College Spikes (St. Louis)
32-18 (1st in Pinckney)
Offense: 267 R (1st) .747 OPS (2nd)
Pitching: 3.16 ERA (3rd) 1.21 WHIP (3rd)
Top 30 Prospects: OF Kenny Peoples-Walls (18), 3B Danny Diekroeger

Danville Braves
26-16 (1st in APP East)
Offense: 215 R (2nd) .734 OPS (1st)
Pitching: 3.30 ERA (3rd) 1.19 WHIP (2nd)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Carlos Salazar (17), C Tanner Murphy (21)

GCL Red Sox
22-16 (2nd in GCL South)
Offense: 188 R (4th) .654 OPS (12th)
Pitching: 2.64 ERA (3rd) 1.18 WHIP (2nd)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B Rafael Devers (20), SS Javier Guerra (27), RHP Michael Kopech, RHP Jake Cosart