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Rays prospects and minor leagues: Josh Lowe, Gray homers lift Biscuits to series win

In the early going, Montgomery is the only Rays affiliate over .500, and Josh Lowe’s performance is a key factor.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The strikeout rate still needs to come down, but Josh Lowe is crushing the ball in the first week and a half of the season. Through nine games, he has seven extra-base hits. He’s always had power potential, but stretches like this where he’s shown that power in games haven’t been as common. In 2016, he homered in three straight games. In 2017, he had five doubles and a homer in a six-game span. In 2018, he doubled at least once in six straight games.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (3-6)

Durham couldn’t generate enough offense in its 3-1 loss to Columbus. The Clippers struck immediately in the first inning, but the Bulls didn’t get on the board until the eighth when Nate Lowe’s single tied the game. However, in the ninth, it took just two batters for Columbus to go up by two runs with a double and home run off Cole Sulser. Casey Sadler allowed a run in three innings, and both Mike Franco and Ryan Merritt pitched well in relief.

2B Andrew Velazquez: 1-for-4, 1 CS (.883)
1B Nate Lowe: 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB (.931)
LF Nick Solak: 1-for-4 (.862)

RHP Casey Sadler: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (2.57)
RHP Mike Franco: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (0.00)
LHP Ryan Merritt: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K (14.73)

Durham’s site offers this recap.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (5-4)

Montgomery came back for a 5-3 win over Biloxi. The Biscuits trailed 3-0 in the third, but Josh Lowe’s two-run homer got them back in the game. They tied the game in the sixth on Jesus Sanchez’s RBI single, and in the eighth, they took their first lead on Tristan Gray’s two-run home run. Ricardo Pinto allowed all three Shuckers runs in five innings, and Tyler Zombro and Phoenix Sanders each threw two scoreless frames.

CF Josh Lowe: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K (1.122)
RF Jesus Sanchez: 1-for-4, 2 K (.677)
DH Brendan McKay: 1-for-4, 2 K (.764)
SS Tristan Gray: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI (.673)

RHP Ricardo Pinto: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (9.35)

Class A-Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (3-8)

A pair of early runs weren’t enough in Charlotte’s 5-3 loss to Palm Beach. Jim Haley hit an RBI single in the first, and Carl Chester did the same in the third. However, the Stone Crabs didn’t get a runner in scoring position again until the ninth. Riley O’Brien was charged with two runs and walked five batters in 4 13 innings.

SS Tyler Frank: 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB (.431)
CF Tanner Dodson: 0-for-4 (.600 — did not finish)
2B Vidal Brujan: 0-for-1 (.832 — did not start)
RF Moises Gomez: 0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K (.293)
LF Garrett Whitley: 0-for-4, 4 K (.457)
1B Russ Olive: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB (.530)

RHP Riley O’Brien: 4 13 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K (3.38)

Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (5-6)

Bowling Green lost the completion of its suspended game with Fort Wayne, 6-0. A three-run homer in the fourth and two more runs in the fifth put the game away. Caleb Sampen allowed the home run and pitched 3 23 innings.

The Hot Rods rebounded to earn an eight-inning, 4-3 win in Game 2. Shane McClanahan was solid — allowing just a run in five innings — and exited with the game tied at one. Bowling Green took the lead in the sixth, but the TinCaps forced extra innings in the seventh. After they went back ahead in the eighth, back-to-back bunt hits from Bryce Brown and Michael Smith tied the game. Three batters later, Kaleo Johnson hit a walk-off single.

SS Wander Franco (1): 1-for-4
DH Wander Franco (2): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K (.686)

RHP Caleb Sampen (1): 3 23 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (4.15)
LHP Shane McClanahan (2): 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (3.48)

Bowling Green’s site offers this recap.

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

Durham @ Norfolk 6:35 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Jake Faria (1-0, 5.87) vs. Josh Rogers (0-1, 5.40)

Montgomery @ Mobile 7:35 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Brendan McKay* (0-0, 5.79) vs. Jose Rodriguez (0-0, 7.71)

Charlotte vs. Dunedin 6:30 p.m. ET (radio stream)
Tommy Romero* (0-0, 2.08) vs. Maximo Castillo (0-1, 3.86)

Bowling Green vs. Lake County 7:35 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
TBA v. Luis Oviedo (2-0, 0.00)

*Listed as TBA on milb.com

Scouting the opposition

Norfolk Tides (Baltimore)
3-8 (4th in IL South)
Offense: 35 R (14th) .576 OPS (14th)
Pitching: 4.95 ERA (10th) 1.46 WHIP (8th)
Top-30 prospects: 3B Ryan Mountcastle (3), OF Austin Hays (4), LHP Keegan Akin (6), RHP Luis Ortiz (13), OF DJ Stewart (15), RHP Branden Kline (22), LHP Josh Rogers (28)

Mobile BayBears (Angels)
4-5 (3rd in SL South)
Offense: 23 R (8th) .565 OPS (8th)
Pitching: 4.28 ERA (10th) 1.31 WHIP (7th)
Top-30 prospects: OF Jo Adell (1), OF Brandon Marsh (3), 2B Jahmai Jones (5), LHP Patrick Sandoval (12), C Jack Kruger (17), RHP Jeremy Beasley (20)

Dunedin Blue Jays
7-4 (1st in FSL North)
Offense: 41 R (6th) .655 OPS (5th)
Pitching: 2.71 ERA (4th) 1.09 ERA (4th)
Top-30 prospects: RHP Nate Pearson (6), OF Ryan Noda (14), OF Cal Stevenson (16), SS Logan Warmoth (25)

Lake County Captains (Cleveland)
7-3 (1st in MWL East)
Offense: 49 R (5th) .675 OPS (7th)
Pitching: 2.59 ERA (3rd) 1.26 WHIP (4th)
Top-30 prospects: SS Tyler Freeman (3), C Bo Naylor (4), RHP Luis Oviedo (8), OF Will Benson (21), OF Quentin Holmes (27)

Daily news and links

A reminder that both Triple-A leagues are using MLB baseballs this season.