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Rays prospects and minor leagues: Behind Liberatore, Princeton forces Game 3

Sunday, Princeton plays a winner-take-all game against Bluefield to determine who advances to the Appalachian League final.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I have to apologize for a mistake on Saturday. I wrote about Chih-Wei Hu’s outing in one of Durham’s game but failed to note that it was the resumption of a suspended game. He did actually start Saturday’s game, and it’s my mistake that I didn’t write clearly about Durham’s doubleheader.

Mallex Smith started his rehab assignment Saturday for Charlotte. It would obviously be significant for him to return healthy to the Rays soon.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (78-59)

Durham completed a wild comeback in a 12-9 win over Norfolk. Through 5 12 innings, the Bulls trailed 9-2, but they scored 10 unanswered runs to stun the Tides. Brandon Snyder hit a two-run homer in the four-run sixth, and they went ahead in the eighth. They scored five in that inning, including two on Nate Lowe’s triple, and another on a Joe McCarthy double. Chih-Wei Hu allowed six runs in 3 23 innings.

3B Christian Arroyo: 0-for-2, 1 K (didn’t complete game)
1B Nate Lowe: 2-for-3, 2 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 K
CF Joe McCarthy: 3-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
C Nick Ciuffo: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
SS Andrew Velazquez: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB
1B Brandon Snyder: 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K

RHP Chih-Wei Hu: 3 23 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
LHP Colin Poche: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Durham’s site offers this recap.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (40-27)

Montgomery’s game was postponed.

Class A-Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (40-28)

Charlotte continued its push to the postseason with an 8-2 win over Florida. The Stone Crabs at one point led 8-0 and held on for their third straight win. They scored two in the first, two in the third, and blew the game open with four in the fifth. Tristan Gray and Russ Olive capped the scoring that inning with back-to-back RBI doubles. Kenny Rosenberg struck out seven and allowed a run in six innings.

RF Mallex Smith: 0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K
2B Vidal Brujan: 1-for-5, 1 R, 2 K
CF Josh Lowe: 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
DH Jake Fraley: 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
1B Russ Olive: 3-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB

LHP Kenny Rosenberg: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

Charlotte’s site offers this recap.

Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (41-27)

Bowling Green fell short in a back-and-forth, 7-6 loss to Dayton. The Dragons went up 1-0 in the first, but the Hot Rods scored the next four runs. Dayton then scored five straight to go up 6-4, but Bowling Green scored two in the bottom of the eighth on Devin Davis’ two-run double. However, the Dragons scored a run without a hit in the ninth to retake the lead. Tommy Romero pitched three innings and allowed a run.

SS Taylor Walls: 1-for-6
2B Trey Hair: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
3B Zach Rutherford: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
1B Devin Davis: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB
LF Emilio Gustave: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB

RHP Tommy Romero: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades (44-29)

Zack Trageton pitched well again in Hudson Valley’s 2-0 win over Aberdeen. For the second straight start, he kept his opponent off the scoreboard, this time striking out four in five scoreless innings. In three starts with the Renegades, he’s allowed one run in 16 innings. Allen Smoot hit an RBI single in the fourth, and Bryce Brown added insurance with a home run in the seventh.

LF Bryce Brown: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI

RHP Zack Trageton: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Rookie Princeton Rays (1-1)

Princeton forced a decisive Game 3 with a 7-3 win over Bluefield. Princeton scored early and often again, but on Saturday, Matthew Liberatore was up to the task of keeping Bluefield off the scoreboard. In 4 13 scoreless innings, the first-round lefty struck out five and gave up five hits and two walks. In the fourth, Princeton extended its lead to 7-0 with five runs. In that inning, Wander Franco hit an RBI single, and Tony Pena drove in two with a single.

SS Wander Franco: 4-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
1B Carlos Vargas: 0-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
3B Connor Hollis: 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K
RF Tony Pena: 4-for-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI

LHP Matthew Liberatore: 4 13 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K


Sunday’s games (probables courtesy of

Durham vs. Norfolk 5:05 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
TBA vs. Luis Ysla (0-3, 7.27)

Montgomery @ Mobile 4:30 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream) DOUBLEHEADER
Sam McWilliams (5-7, 5.14) vs. Jesus Castillo (9-4, 4.53)
Benton Moss* (7-5, 2.90) vs. Matt Ball* (1-2, 4.80)

Both games will be seven innings.

Charlotte vs. Florida 12:35 p.m. ET (radio stream)
Brian Shaffer (2-2, 3.41) vs. Filyer Sanchez (0-1, 5.25)

Bowling Green v. Dayton 7:35 p.m. ET (radio stream)
TBA vs. Packy Naughton (5-10, 4.17)

Hudson Valley vs. Aberdeen 5:05 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream

Princeton vs. Bluefield 5 p.m. ET (radio stream)

Best-of-three semifinal (Series tied, 1-1)

*Listed as TBA on

Scouting the opposition

Norfolk Tides (Baltimore)
Offense: 578 R (5th) .700 OPS (10th)
Pitching: 3.99 ERA (10th) 1.38 WHIP (13th)
Top-30 prospects: C Chance Sisco (3), OF DJ Stewart (16), RHP Jimmy Yacabonis (23), IF Steve Wilkerson (30), C Armando Araiza, OF Joey Rickard

Mobile BayBears (Angels)
Offense: 627 R (2nd) .735 OPS (1st)
Pitching: 4.34 ERA (10th) 1.38 WHIP (9th)
Top-30 prospects: OF Jo Adell (2), 2B Jahmai Jones (3), RHP Jesus Castillo (12), OF Brennon Lund (18), RHP Joe Gatto (28), 2B Riley Unroe

Florida Fire Frogs (Atlanta)
Offense: 441 R (11th) .647 OPS (11th)
Pitching: 3.89 ERA (9th) 1.40 WHIP (12th)
Top-30 prospects: LHP Joey Wentz (11), LHP Tucker Davidson (13), OF Drew Waters (17), C William Contreras (18), RHP Huascar Ynoa (23), OF Isranel Wilson (27), OF Greyson Jenista

Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati)
Offense: 552 R (11th) .690 OPS (8th)
Pitching: 4.69 ERA (16th) 1.47 WHIP (16th)
Top-30 prospects: RHP Hunter Greene (2), SS Jeter Downs (11), SS Jose Garcia (12), OF Miles Gordon (26), LHP Packy Naughton (28), 3B Jonathan India

Aberdeen IronBirds (Baltimore)
Offense: 296 R (9th) .662 OPS (10th)
Pitching: 3.61 ERA (8th) 1.23 WHIP (4th)
Top-30 prospects: SS Adam Hall (18), RHP Gray Fenter (26), RHP Blaine Knight, pitching coach Mark Hendrickson

Bluefield Blue Jays
Offense: 395 R (3rd) .772 OPS (4th)
Pitching: 4.60 ERA (5th) 1.38 WHIP (3rd)
Top-30 prospects: RHP Eric Pardinho (6), C Hagen Danner (28), SS Jordan Groshans

Daily news and links

WRAL in Durham interviewed Bulls manager Jared Sandberg. (video)