Tampa, FL- The Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays is inching closer to a Southern League playoffs spot. No surprise, when they’ve been consistent up and down the board. The Double-A test is a jump considered by many to be the hardest in the minor leagues. And they’re passing that test as a team in several key areas.
Here’s a review of the season’s best, as well as a flashback to seasons past with a few and what they did to get here.
OFFENSE: Bauers Power
Jake Bauers- In his first full season in Double-A, rightfielder Bauers has exhibited his mix of skills, with consistent contact and solid power numbers. While his .278 average is third on the team, he’s leading the club with 13 home runs and 72 RBI. His 130 hits are good for 2nd on the team, and 7TH overall in the league. He finished 2015 hitting .271/.368/.413 between Montgomery and High-A Charlotte.
What he said in 2015: “I’m working on approach this year. Sometimes I get a little too aggressive…I’m definitely one hundred percent now. It just takes some time.”Bauers also leads the league in walks with 71.
Willy Adames – Leading the team in just about every category, Adames is living up to the ROUND status. The shortstop’s .279 average is the highest on the team, as are his 132 hits. He leads the league in runs scored (87), and he’s second in walks (70) to Bauers in the league.
Granden Goetzman- The leftfielder leads the team with 23 stolen bases. RF Cade Gotta is 2nd on the team with 19.
PITCHING: Hu and Kirsch K the Competition
Chris Kirsch- After spinning a 7-inning 5-hit shutout gem, lefty Kirsch now leads the team with 114 strikeouts, good for 5th overall in the league. That also stretches his scoreless run to 13 innings. His 3.38 ERA through 25 GG is the league’s 4th best. He’s the only pitcher on the team with a complete game shutout, and Thursday’s outing was his 2nd 7 inning game in five starts. True to past form, he’s eating innings, leading the league in innings pitched (138). He’s proven a lot at every level he’s pitched.
What he said in 2015: “I think what’s been the biggest key to my success has been the mental part of the game. I’ve been able to clear my head and not worry about other stuff. I used to have trouble with that. But now I’m able to focus from pitch to pitch, and it’s been huge for me. “
Chih-Wei Hu – Through a league-leading 24 games, 2.59 ERA is lowest in the league. He is second on the team in K’s with 107. His 1.15 WHIP is 2nd overall in the league.
Jaye Chapman’s 19 saves are 3rd in the league.
Taylor Guerrieri – His 12 wins is tied for first in the league, and his 1.22 WHIP is 4th overall.
What he said in 2015: “The consistency is really just coming from being healthy.” He continued that thought, saying the goal was to, “Make every start. Stay healthy.” Guerrieri was tough on himself the last time I saw him pitch for High-A Charlotte, but he wasn’t overly down about one difficult start. He’s a more disciplined person and pitcher than when I covered him in 2012 in Short-A Hudson Valley. And his devotion to learning and growing has helped him every step of the way.