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Rays prospects and minor leagues: Hu returns to rotation

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After pitching out of the bullpen for most of the 2017 season, Chih-Wei Hu took the ball as Durham’s Opening Day starter Thursday.

Obviously one game is not going to signify how players will be used all season, but here are some notable positions/roles from minor league’s Opening Day.

As expected, Jake Bauers was Durham’s first baseman. Johnny Field got the nod in center field, and Joe McCarthy and Justin Williams were in the corners. Jason Coats was the designated hitter. Christian Arroyo played third base, and Kean Wong was at second.

Montgomery’s entire defensive alignment was interesting. Ryan Boldt was pushed out of center field by ... Andrew Velazquez, who played 124 innings there last season. He hadn’t played outfield in his professional career prior to that. Nick Solak made his professional debut in the outfield. Jermaine Palacios played shortstop, and Jake Cronenworth played third base for just the fourth time in his professional career.

Travis Ott pitched in relief of Genesis Cabrera for the Biscuits.

Josh Lowe was Charlotte’s center fielder, but after playing left field for most of 2017, Jesus Sanchez was in right field. That may be as a result of Garrett Whitley’s injury. Tristan Gray played second base, which was his primary position last season.

In Bowling Green, Ronaldo Hernandez was the DH while Zacrey Law was behind the plate. Emilio Gustave, the Hot Rods’ No. 9 hitter, hit one of two home runs in the organization.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (0-1)

The results of Chih-Wei Hu’s return to the rotation were mixed in Durham’s 6-2 loss to Charlotte. In his longest minor league appearance since April 18, 2017, Hu struck out six in four innings, but he was tagged for three runs on eight hits. Durham was burned by former Bulls Casey Gillaspie and Patrick Leonard, who combined to reach base five times and drive in four runs.

Durham’s website offers this recap.

3B Christian Arroyo: 0-for-4, 1 K
1B Jake Bauers: 2-for-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 K
SS Willy Adames: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 K
OF Joe McCarthy: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
OF Justin Williams: 0-for-4, 1 K

RHP Chih-Wei Hu: 4 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (1-0)

Montgomery edged Biloxi for a 3-2 win on Opening Day. For the second straight season, lefty Genesis Cabrera earned an Opening Day nod, this time with the Biscuits. This time, the results were much better. He received a no decision but struck out eight and allowed two runs in five innings. In the seventh, Jake Cronenworth scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error.

3B Jake Cronenworth: 0-for-4
2B Brandon Lowe: 1-for-4, 1 R
LF Nick Solak: 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
RF Ryan Boldt: 1-for-4, 1 R
SS Jermaine Palacios: 1-for-2, 1 2B, 1 BB
CF Andrew Velazquez: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI

LHP Genesis Cabrera: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K

Class A-Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (0-1)

Charlotte outhit Fort Myers 12-9, but it came up short in a 4-3 loss to the Miracle. The top eight hitters in the Stone Crabs’ lineup all had at least one hit, including four doubles, but the team was just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Matched up against the rehabbing Phil Hughes, Brock Burke struck out five and allowed all four Fort Myers runs in five innings.

SS Lucius Fox: 2-for-5, 1 2B, 1 K
CF Josh Lowe: 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 K, 1 SB
RF Jesus Sanchez: 1-for-4, 1 K
OF Carl Chester: 0-for-4, 2 K

LHP Brock Burke: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (1-0)

Bowling Green made a late comeback to avoid the extra-innings rules and earn a 5-4 win over Dayton. Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, the Hot Rods tied the game in the eighth on a two-run double by Adrian Rondon. An inning later, Ronaldo Hernandez’s walk-off single sent Bowling Green’s fans home happy. Starter Drew Strotman ran into some trouble in the fifth and was charged with three runs in 4 23 innings.

2B Vidal Brujan: 2-for-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB
1B Brendan McKay: 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K
C Ronaldo Hernandez: 1-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
OF Emilio Gustave: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K

RHP Drew Strotman: 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

CLICK HERE FOR ALL BOX SCORES

Friday’s games (probables courtesy of milb.com)

Durham v. Charlotte 7:05 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Anthony Banda (0-0, -.--) v. Chris Volstad (0-0, -.--)

Montgomery v. Biloxi 7:35 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
TBA v. Zack Brown (0-0, -.--)

Charlotte @ Fort Myers 7 p.m. ET (radio stream)
Brandon Lawson (0-0, -.--) v. Tyler Wells (0-0, -.--)

Bowling Green v. Dayton 7:35 p.m. ET (radio stream)
TBA v. Mac Sceroler (0-0, -.--)

*Listed as TBA on milb.com

Scouting the opposition

Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
1-0 (1st in IL South)
Offense: Will update after first series
Pitching: Will update after first series
Top-30 Prospects: Will update after first series

Biloxi Shuckers (Milwaukee)
0-1 (T-3rd in SL South)
Offense: Will update after first series
Pitching: Will update after first series
Top-30 Prospects: RHP Luis Ortiz (6), 3B Lucas Ecreg (8), OF Corey Ray (10), 1B Jake Gatewood (14), OF Trent Grisham (15), RHP Cody Ponce (18), RHP Adrian Houser (31), C Nick Franklin, SS Jake Hager

Fort Myers Miracle (Minnesota)
1-0 (T-1st in FSL South)
Offense: Will update after first series
Pitching: Will update after first series
Top-30 Prospects: OF Aaron Whitefield (19), 1B Lewin Diaz (26), 2B Travis Blankenhorn (29)

Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati)
0-1 (T-5th in MWL East)
Offense: Will update after first series
Pitching: Will update after first series
Top-30 Prospects: RHP Hunter Greene (2), SS Jeter Downs (11), SS Jose Garcia (12), OF Stuart Fairchild (16), OF Miles Gordon (26), LHP Packy Naughton (28)

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