Tampa Bay’s Double-A affiliate Montgomery played tremendous baseball in the second half of the season and punched a ticket to the Southern League playoffs.
Although the postseason run for the Biscuits was short-lived — they fell in four games in the divisional round to the eventual-champion Jackson Generals — they ended the year with 76 wins, the third-most in franchise history.
Montgomery lost 64 games and was bounced from the playoffs in the opening round for the second consecutive year.
The success the Biscuits enjoyed is a credit to the talent the Tampa Bay Rays have in their system. One such talent is Kean Wong, who hit .276 in 117 games in Montgomery. Wong came through with 22 doubles and five home runs and also drove in 56 runs as he played an instrumental role in the offense.
Wong certainly thrived in his first season at the Double-A level, turning his best season as a pro, and odds are the 2013 fourth-round pick of Tampa Bay will at least be in the mix to compete for a spot on the major league club in 2017. If he happens to start the new season in Montgomery, though, the rising young Rays prospect isn’t likely to be there long.
Willy Adames also seems destined for success at the next level. He hit .274 in his first Double-A season and took pride in being one of the top defensive players in the game.
His ability to hit the ball is tough to overlook as well, with Adames crushing 11 home runs, seven more than he hit last season with High-A Charlotte. The talented 21-year-old out of the Dominican Republic also hit 31 doubles and knocked in 57 runs.
It’s hard to imagine Adames being back in Montgomery in 2017. He should start the year in Triple-A and put himself in a position to get a call-up to The Show at some point next season.
Jake Bauers is among the rising prospects as well. The California native started his career in the San Diego Padres system, taken in the seventh round of the 2013 draft, and has shown quite a bit of promise since coming over to Tampa in the Wil Myers trade.
Bauers grabbed a lot of attention a year ago in Montgomery when he played in 69 games for the Biscuits and hit .276. He hit five home runs and drove in 36 runs and carried that momentum over to this year, when he hit .276 in 135 games. Bauers finished with 14 homers and drove in 78 runs, and that success puts him in a great position to earn a spot on the Rays roster in 2017. At the very least, he starts out in Triple-A and earns a call-up at some point. He’s too good not to get that opportunity.
Pitching Points: No pitcher was better for Montgomery this season than Taylor Guerrieri. A first-round pick of the Rays in 2011, he lived up to the hype this season, winning 12 games and losing only six as he headlined the Biscuits’ pitching staff.
His 2016 campaign in Montgomery was his best year as a pro yet. He fashioned a double-digit win total for the first time and recorded a career-best 89 strikeouts while walking only 46 batters in 28 appearances.
This past season was his second where he saw time in Montgomery. Guerrieri played in eight games with the Biscuits in 2015 after getting the promotion from High-A Charlotte, and he’s made the most of his opportunities, going 15-7 in 38 Double-A appearances over the last two years, including 36 starts.
He is clearly developing well and showing the progress you want to see from a first-round pick. Anything can happen in baseball as talent comes and goes, but one would think next season would be the one in which Guerrieri finally gets his shot to show what he can do at the MLB level.