The Durham Bulls today announced 2008 Bulls Pitcher of the Year Mitch Talbot will be the team's opening day starter as Durham hosts the Norfolk Tides on Thursday, April 9th at 7:05 p.m.. Talbot will be followed by LHP David Price on Friday, RHP Wade Davis on Saturday, LHP Carlos Hernandez on Sunday and LHP Jason Cromer on Monday.
Talbot has back-to-back, 13-win seasons for the Bulls but will be starting his first opening day for Durham this season. The right-hander was 13-9 in both of the last two seasons for Durham, but saw his ERA drop from 4.53 in 2007 to 3.86 in 2008. In 161 innings last season, he allowed only 35 walks against 141 strikeouts.
Price, USA Today's 2008 Minor League Player of the Year, will make his first appearance in Durham on Friday only five and a half months after getting the final outs to send Tampa Bay to their first World Series. Baseball America ranks him the #2 prospect in the country behind Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who is expected to be with the Norfolk Tides in Durham to open the season.
Davis, the third-ranked prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization by Baseball America, is hoping to build on a successful finish with the Bulls in 2008 when he went 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA after being assigned to Durham last July. He struck out 55 hitters in only 53 innings with the Bulls last season.
Hernandez is continuing his comeback this season after making six starts for Vero Beach (High-A) last season. The lefty, who didn't play at all in 2007, hasn't played as high as the Triple-A level since 2005 when he was 5-8 with a 5.56 ERA for Round Rock in the Houston Astros organization. In parts of three seasons with the Astros (2001-02, 2004), Hernandez compiled a 9-8 record with a 4.54 ERA.
Cromer is the third left-handed starter in the Bulls rotation and will take the mound on Monday when the Gwinnett Braves come to Durham. Cromer appeared in 12 games for the Bulls in 2006, posting a record of 0-1 with a 4.74 ERA. Last season, he was 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 29 games (8 starts) with Montgomery (AA).