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Rays prospects and minor leagues: Varona socks walkoff grand slam

A pair of Rays affiliates won games with grand slams Wednesday

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the August wrap-up, I chose one good performer from each affiliate. All stats are through Tuesday's games, so hopefully no one batted 10-for-10 or allowed 20 runs without recording an out to significantly alter the monthly stats.

Jake Bauers isn't going to reach the majors if he bats .244 every month like he did in August, but even when he has a low average, he shows he helps in other ways. He had 22 walks and just 14 strikeouts in 115 plate appearances, good for a .409 on-base percentage.  His 10 extra-base hits were second most in a month this season for him.

A player Bauers will probably always be compared to is Casey Gillaspie. Gillaspie wrapped up his first full month in Triple A, and it was very good. He batted .298/.376/.500 with four home runs in 117 PA. His 28 strikeouts were a little more than usual for him, but that's still not an out-of-control rate. He should be playing every day for the Rays some time next season.

Greg Harris is one of seven Rays prospects who will be headed to the Arizona Fall League in October. He's not Brent Honeywell or Chih-Wei Hu, but he is one of a number of lesser-known pitching prospects the Rays have that are pretty interesting. Despite walking 10 percent of batters in August, he limited batters to an absurd .494 OPS in 37 2/3 innings.

It's taken a while to come together for Jose Mujica, who was signed by the Rays for $1 million in 2012, but it may be happening now. All four of his August starts have been quality starts, and he has 23 strikeouts and no walks in 26 innings. He's still just 20 years old, but he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter, leaving the team with a tough decision to make.

Jesus Sanchez is a rising outfielder in the short-season leagues. In August, he was promoted from the Gulf Coast League to the Appalachian League, and that has not slowed him down. In 118 PA between the two affiliates, he batted .345/.376/.555 with 12 XBH, including five home runs. He'll be 19 next season, and I wonder if the Rays might challenge him with an assignment to Bowling Green.

All eight players the Rays took on Day 2 of the 2016 draft were pitchers, and that included Zack Trageton in the sixth round. He already works with an above-average fastball and average breaking ball, and the results have been there for him in pro ball already. In 24 innings for the GCL Rays, he struck out 20 batters and walked just three in August.

The much-maligned Garrett Whitley certainly didn't get off to a great start in his professional career, but the Rays hope his August is a sign of things to come. The toolsy, athletic outfielder showed a little bit of everything in 109 PA. He batted .327 with a much more manageable strikeout rate, got on base at a .394 clip, slugged .500 with eight doubles, three triples and a home run, and he stole eight bases in 10 tries.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (61-78)

Ryan Garton blew a save, but he was bailed out by Dayron Varona's walkoff grand slam in Durham's 7-3 win over Columbus. After J.P. Arencibia singled, Jaff Decker and Richie Shaffer drew walks to set up Varona's big blast. Durham held a lead for most of the games thanks to a home run and three runs driven in by Casey GIllaspie. Starter Austin Pruitt allowed two runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but the star on the mound was Ryne Stanek, who struck out all four batters he faced.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (38-27)

For some reason, Mobile is the only Southern League team that can figure out Brent Honeywell in Montgomery's 5-3 loss to the BayBears. In two of his 10 starts with the Biscuits, Honeywell has allowed four runs. Both came at the hands of Mobile. RBI singles by Willy Adames, Braxton Lee and Kean Wong gave him a 3-1 lead, but a three-run home run for the BayBears in the sixth sunk the Biscuits.

Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (31-32)

Charlotte's doubleheader was canceled, and it was eliminated from postseason contention.

Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (43-22)

Bowling Green fell behind early and could not catch up in its 3-1 loss to Lansing. Genesis Cabrera allowed all three runs over the first two innings, and he went on to strike out nine in six innings. The Hot Rods scored in the third on Kevin Padlo's sacrifice fly, but they couldn't take advantage of any other opportunities, including getting the potential tying run on base in the seventh with just one out.

Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades (45-24)

Hudson Valley hammered Lowell for 14 hits in its 10-5 win over the Spinners. The Renegades got off to a fast start with a four-run first that included RBI hits from Garrett Whitley and Chris Betts. Lowell answered with three in the second, but Hudson Valley scored six of the next seven runs for a comfortable lead. Nathaniel Lowe's fourth homer of the season led off a two-run sixth. The Spinners shocked the world by knocking around Travis Ott, who allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings. Brandon Lawson followed with one run allowed in 3 1/3 innings of relief.

Rookie Princeton Rays (38-28)

Princeton bashed three more home runs in its 5-3 win over Bluefield. Eleardo Cabrera led off the game with his seventh dinger of the season, and Emilio Gustave's two-run shot an inning later gave Princeton an early 3-0 lead. Bluefield pulled within 3-2 in the third, but Jesus Sanchez's two-run home run added the insurance Princeton needed. Starter Hector Lopez struck out eight and allowed three runs in five innings, and Alex Estrella followed with five punchouts over the final four innings.

Princeton clinched a playoff berth.

Rookie Gulf Coast League Rays (28-30)

Jonathan Arrowood's 10th-inning grand slam gave the GCL Rays a 5-1 win over the GCL Twins Wednesday. After the GCL Twins conceded a run on a groundout in the second, it took eight more innings for the GCL Rays to get on the board again. The GCL Twins opted to walk Michael Brosseau to set up an inning-ending double play chance, but Arrowood made them pay. Jhonleider Salinas, over from Cleveland in the Brandon Guyer trade, tied a career-high with six innings pitched and struck out five batters.

The preceding stories were not generated by the Associated Press computer using data from and in cooperation with MLBAM.


Notable Performances


OF Mikie Mahtook: 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 K
SS Daniel Robertson: 0-for-2, 1 R, 2 BB
1B Casey Gillaspie: 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
UT Taylor Motter: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K
C J.P. Arencibia: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
3B Richie Shaffer: 0-for-3, 1 R, 2 BB
OF Dayron Varona: 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
2B Jake Hager: 0-for-2, 1 BB

RHP Austin Pruitt: 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
RHP Ryne Stanek: 1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
RHP Ryan Garton: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K


SS Willy Adames: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
1B Jake Bauers: 0-for-4, 3 K
OF Justin Williams: 0-for-4
C Justin O'Conner: 0-for-3, 1 K

RHP Brent Honeywell: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K


3B Kevin Padlo: 0-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 K

LHP Genesis Cabrera: 6 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K


OF Jake Fraley: 0-for-0, 1 BB, 1 SB
OF Garrett Whitley: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
1B Nathaniel Lowe: 1-for-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
C Jose Rojas: 4-for-5, 3 R, 2 RBI
C Chris Betts: 2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K

LHP Travis Ott: 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
RHP Brandon Lawson: 3 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Rookie (Princeton)

OF Eleardo Cabrera: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
OF Jesus Sanchez: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
SS Adrian Rondon: 0-for-4, 1 K
3B Joshua Lowe: 0-for-2, 2 BB, 2 K
OF Emilio Gustave: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K

RHP Hector Lopez: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

LHP Alex Estrella: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Rookie (GCL Rays)

1B Jonathan Arrowood: 3-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K

RHP Jhonleider Salinas: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 5 K
LHP Tyler House: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Today's games (All probables courtesy

Durham @ Gwinnett 7:05 PM ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)

Montgomery v. Tennessee 8:05 PM ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Chris Kirsch (6-7, 3.38) v. Zach Hedges
(3-2, 2.23)

Charlotte v. Palm Beach 6:35 PM ET (radio stream)
Benton Moss (7-9, 3.79) v. Jack Flaherty (4-9, 3.69)

Bowling Green @ Lansing 7:05 PM ET (radio stream)
Jose Mujica (8-3, 3.40) v. Ryan Borucki (9-4, 2.44)

Hudson Valley v. Vermont 7:05 PM ET (radio stream)
TBA v. A.J. Puk (0-3, 3.14)

Princeton v. Bluefield 7 PM ET (radio stream)

GCL Rays v. GCL Twins 12 PM

*Listed as TBA on

Scouting the opposition

Gwinnett Braves
63-75, 1st in IL South
Offense: 553 R (7th) .700 OPS (7th)
Pitching: 4.02 ERA (13th) 1.48 WHIP (14th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Aaron Blair (2), RHP Chris Ellis (13), RHP Tyrell Jenkins (14), 3B Rio Ruiz (17), RHP Jason Hursh (21), RHP Shae Simmons (22), RHP Steve Janas (30), SS Daniel Castro (31), IF Reid Brignac

Tennessee Smokies (Cubs)
Offense: 548 R (4th) .699 OPS (4th)
Pitching: 4.00 ERA (8th) 1.40 WHIP (9th)
Top 30 Prospects: 2B Ian Happ (3), RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (20), RHP Brad Markey (23), C Victor Caratini (24), OF Jacob Hannemann (26), RHP Andury Acevedo (29), RHP David Berg (30)

Palm Beach Cardinals
Offense: 439 R (11th) .619 OPS (11th)
Pitching: 3.51 ERA (6th) 1.31 WHIP (7th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Jack Flaherty (3), SS Edmundo Sosa (7), RHP Junior Fernandez (9), RHP Sandy Alcantara (19), SS Oscar Mercado (26), RHP Derian Gonzalez (27), RHP Dakota Hudson

Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto)
Offense: 555 R (T-8th) .660 OPS (11th)
Pitching: 3.83 ERA (14th) 1.34 WHIP (15th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Justin Maese (9), LHP Ryan Borucki (14), RHP Tom Robson (21), 3B Carl Wise (25), LHP Angel Perdomo (26), RHP T.J. Zeuch, OF J.B. Woodman

Vermont Lake Monsters (Oakland)
Offense: 245 R (11th) .630 OPS (10th)
Pitching: 4.00 ERA (12th) 1.35 WHIP (12th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Dakota Chalmers (16), LHP A.J. Puk, RHP Logan Shore, C Sean Murphy

Bluefield Blue Jays
Offense: 363 R (2nd) .752 OPS (4th)
Pitching: 4.17 ERA (6th) 1.36 WHIP (4th)
Top 30 Prospects: OF Reggie Pruitt (11), RHP Jose Espada (15), RHP Yennsy Diaz (19), 3B/OF Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

GCL Twins
31-28, 2nd in GCL South
Offense: 198 R (16th) .613 OPS (13th)
Pitching: 2.74 ERA (3rd) 1.13 WHIP (2nd)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Huascar Ynoa (25), SS Jose Miranda, OF Akil Baddoo