Bliss, Ray named D-backs' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month

May 7th, 2023

PHOENIX -- The D-backs recently named their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month Award winners for April with infielder Ryan Bliss and right-hander Dylan Ray taking home the honors.

Bliss hit .410 (1.050 OPS) with eight doubles, two triples, two homers and eight stolen bases in 18 games for Double-A Amarillo.

It’s a big turnaround for the 23-year-old, who was selected in the second round by the D-backs in the 2021 MLB Draft. Bliss hit .214 with a .641 OPS last year for High-A Hillsboro, but he impressed the D-backs front office with how he handled that season.

Arizona farm director Josh Barfield said the team offered Bliss a chance to take a break and go back to the team’s Salt River Fields training facility to work on his swing and get a “mental reset,” but Bliss wanted to grind through the season.

“To his credit he finished the season strong,” Barfield said. “The last couple weeks of the season were positive. His overall numbers weren't impacted as much by that because he had so many at-bats at that point, but he was able to ride that momentum from the end of the season into this year. He had a great camp even when he went over to the big league side, playing well when he got his opportunities and he hasn’t missed a beat to start this year.”

Ray, who was the D-backs' fourth-round pick in in the 2022 MLB Draft, had a 3.79 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP in four starts for Hillsboro in April. The 24-year-old struck out 13.26 batters per nine innings.

Ray threw some live batting practice sessions against Major Leaguers during Spring Training and drew a lot of positive reviews from hitters.

“He was a guy we were really excited about [coming] out of the Draft,” Barfield said. “We thought the stuff [was] real. He’s got the big prototypical starter build. Coming into Spring Training, he was rested, he was strong, his stuff had ticked up. It's a power fastball and he’s got a really good slider. His striking throwing has improved from last year and he's had a really nice start to the year.”