Friday, February 26, 2010

MLB Network To Broadcast Four Rays Spring Training Games

The MLB Network has announced its 2010 Spring Training broadcast schedule. Four Rays games will be shown, all live:

March 5th at 1:00 p.m. - Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees

March 18th at 7:00 p.m. - Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees

March 19th at 7:00 p.m. - New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays

March 29th at 7:00 p.m. - Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 Rays MiLB Spring Training Schedule

Despite the Rays still not releasing an official spring schedule, below is an unofficial and as accurate as possible spring training schedule for the Rays minor league teams this spring. This was compiled from spring training schedules for the Red Sox, Twins, and Orioles minor league teams.

With the loss of the Reds to Arizona, there the schedule is a little more repetitive than normal. Due to Baltimore being the only team within an hours drive, they are heavily featured. I will post an official schedule when I acquire one. Pitchers and catchers report on March 5th.

Games are located at the following:
Rays home games: Charlotte Sports Park complex, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte.
Orioles: Class AAA/AA games are at Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th Street, Sarasota. Class A games are at Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota.
Red Sox: Games are at the Red Sox Development Complex, 4301 Edison Ave, Fort Myers.
Twins: Games are at the Lee County Sports Complex,
14400 6 Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.
Wednesday, March 17:
Rays AAA/AA @ Baltimore, Rays A vs. Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Thursday, March 18:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Baltimore, Rays A @ Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Friday, March 19:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Minnesota, Rays A @ Minnesota (1:00 PM)
Saturday, March 20:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Boston, Rays A @ Boston (1:00 PM)
Sunday, March 21:
Camp Day
Monday, March 22:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Baltimore, Rays A @ Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Tuesday, March 23:
Rays AAA/AA @ Baltimore, Rays A vs. Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Wednesday, March 24:
Rays AAA/AA @ Minnesota, Rays A vs. Minnesota (1:00 PM)
Thursday, March 25:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Boston, Rays A @ Boston (1:00 PM)
Friday, March 26:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Baltimore, Rays A @ Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Saturday, March 27:
Rays AAA/AA @ Baltimore, Rays A vs. Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Sunday, March 28:
Camp Day
Monday, March 29:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Minnesota, Rays A @ Minnesota (1:00 PM)
Tuesday, March 30:
Rays AAA/AA @ Boston, Rays A vs. Boston (1:00 PM)
Wednesday, March 31:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Baltimore, Rays A @ Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Thursday, April 1:
Rays AAA/AA @ Baltimore (12:00 PM) , Rays A vs. Baltimore (1:00 PM)
Friday, April 2:
Rays AAA/AA vs. Boston, Rays A @ Boston

Expect a few camp days/intrasquad games after this, and camp breaking around the 5th.

A look at the GCL Rays schedule

Below is the 2010 schedule for the Gulf Coast League Rays. The GCL Rays are a second-year rookie league affiliate of the Rays. They play their home games on field one of the Charlotte Sports Park practice complex. The team will be composed mostly of international free agents and undrafted free agents, and players drafted in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.

20 @Red Sox
22 @Twins
25 @Orioles
29 @Red Sox
1 @Twins
2 @Orioles
6 @Twins
7 @Red Sox
10 @Orioles
12 @Twins
13 @Orioles
14 @Red Sox
19 @Red Sox
21 @Twins
24 @Orioles
27 @Red Sox
29-30 @Orioles
2 @Twins
4 @Red Sox
7 @Orioles
10 @Twins
12 @Red Sox
13 @Orioles
16 @Red Sox
18 @Twins
21 @Orioles
23 @Twins
26 @Red Sox
27 @Orioles

Andy Seiler's Rays Draft Preview

Andy Seiler has posted his Rays 2010 draft preview, which includes a review of the past four drafts. Definitely worth your time to read the entire article, especially on the Rays affinity for the Pacific Northwest, and for the West in general. Here is a snipit from the preview section:
Since Rod Barajas is about to make his contract official, I can say with confidence that the Rays own picks 17, 31, 42, 66, 79, 98, 131, and every 30 picks after that. That kind of bounty could easily result in a draft budget of over $8 million, and that’s my expectation after a down year in 2009 for spending. That’s not saying that the money rolls over year-to-year. I’m simply saying that the Rays have a chance to add a large amount of talent to an already booming farm system, and I think they realize their opportunity. It’s not every day that a team has six picks in the top 100.

Connecting players to the Rays is especially difficult, since it’s hard to know how much signability will be an issue with picks 31 and 79, which are compensation picks for Washington and Diekroeger respectively. Not signing picks in those slots means they lose any sort of compensation, so a lot of the leverage slips to the player at that point, so more conservative drafting in those slots might be in order. My latest mock draft has the Rays going with Yordy Cabrera, Brandon Workman, and Robbie Aviles with their first three picks and that generally makes sense. Cabrera’s athleticism and power bat fit the traditional Harrison mold, and Workman and Aviles are bigger pitchers, Aviles with the upside that the Rays typically prefer for their development program.
He also has the final 2010 draft order, including compensation picks, here.

Montgomery Biscuits Tryouts Saturday

MONTGOMERY, AL – The Montgomery Biscuits will host National Anthem tryouts on Saturday, February 27th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium. All those interested in performing “The Star Spangled Banner” must tryout on this date to be considered for the 2010 season.

All auditions must be performed a cappella and consist of the traditional anthem beat, and may last no longer than 90 seconds. Performers will sing the anthem from the field as if it were a real game. Instrumentals are welcome.

Performers may come at any time during the two-hour window, and should enter through the main gates near the Box Office on Tallapoosa Street.

Please contact Jackie Kampf at (334) 323-0364 or for additional information.

--Team release.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Matt Moore vs. Other Lefties

Matt Moore ranked #3 on our Top 15 Pitchers list, but opinion on him from the prospect community remains split. BaseballAmerica ranked him as the #35 prospect in the game, but Frankie Piliere at AOL Fanhouse and the ProjectProspect crew had him off the their top 100 lists completely(Keith Law's list has him at #81, which I suppose is just about splitting the difference). Moore didn't make's top 50.

So here I'll compare Moore to some of the lefties who ranked above him, in terms of stats and scouting reports. Here's Moore's stats:
Year   Age           Tm   Lg Lev Aff W L W-L%  ERA  G GS    IP  H  R ER HR BB  SO  WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2007 18 Princeton APPY Rk TBD 0 0 2.66 8 3 20.1 12 6 6 1 16 29 1.377 5.3 0.4 7.1 12.8 1.81
2008 19 Princeton APPY Rk TBD 2 2 .500 1.66 12 12 54.1 30 22 10 0 19 77 0.902 5.0 0.0 3.1 12.8 4.05
2009 20 BowlingGreen SALL A TBD 8 5 .615 3.15 26 26 123.0 86 51 43 6 70 176 1.268 6.3 0.4 5.1 12.9 2.51
You can read our write-up on Moore here to get a rundown of his stuff, but basically the book on him is a solid fastball in the 90-93 range, a plus curveball, makings of a decent change-up, and control and command that need work.

There are of course some prospects that are "clearly" better than Moore in that just about everywhere has them ranked higher. Brian Matusz of the Baltimore Orioles, for example, is a lot closer to the majors(in fact, in the majors) with much more polish and control. He might lack Moore's raw stuff, but Matusz still has a very good repertoire. Moore could equal or better Matusz's ranking as he gets closer to the majors, but for now Matusz is pretty obviously the better bet, and is deservedly ranked higher.

Another is the Giants' Madison Bumgarner. His stuff may have slipped in 2009, but just take a look at Bumgarner's 2008 season in the SAL against Moore's 2009:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2008 18 Augusta SALL A SFG 15 3 .833 1.46 24 24 141.2 111 28 23 3 21 164 0.932 7.1 0.2 1.3 10.4 7.81
2009 20 BowlingGreen SALL A TBD 8 5 .615 3.15 26 26 123.0 86 51 43 6 70 176 1.268 6.3 0.4 5.1 12.9 2.51

Bumgarner was younger and was better almost entirely across the board. Moore struck out more per 9, but at 10.4 Bumgarner wasn't hurting in that department, and his advanced control/command more than make up for that. Bumgarner is less than two months younger than Moore and has had great success at much higher levels, including the minors. Even with diminished stuff, Bumgarner beats Moore rather easily.

Another prospect ranked higher than Moore across the board is Texas lefty Martin Perez. In fact, Keith Law has Perez over both Matusz and Bumgarner(Perez is ranked 7 by Law, 9 by Piliere, 17 by BA, 18 by, and 26 by ProjectProspect). Perez's raw stuff not only rivals Moore's, it might be better. Perez works in the 91-94 range with his fastball, and his curveball is one of the best in the minors. Perez's pitchability(he can add and subtract velocity to his pitches as he needs to do) and control(career BB/9 of 3.4 as opposed to Moore's 4.8) are both better, too. Perez pitched in the SAL as an 18-year old, with a season kind of similar to Bumgarner's 2008, just with a worse BB/9, before a late-season promotion to AA. Taking Perez over Moore looks like the correct move.

There's yet another lefty ranked higher by consensus: Colorado's Christian Friedrich. Ranked 12 by Piliere, 23 by, 33 by BA, 36 by Law, and 88 by ProjectProspect, Friedrich was a 2008 1st round pick out of Eastern Kentucky University. Friedrich was second in the minors in K/9 in 2009, his 12.0 trailing only Moore's 12.9. Friedrich, who's about two years older than Moore, pitched 45 innings in the SAL before being promoted, and in those 45 innings, posted a 13.1 K/9. His stuff rates out a bit below Moore's, but he's still in the low-90s with his fastball along with two solid breaking pitches and a raw change-up. Friedrich is able to hit the strike zone more consistently than Moore, but his command within it still needs work. The Rockies started him a level lower than most college 1st rounders, but he has the ability to move quickly in 2009. This debate is closer then the previous three, but I would take Friedrich at this point.

At this point I should briefly touch on two lefties who don't have any pro stats to compare to Moore's but who have been just about universally ranked higher: Colorado's Tyler Matzek and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman. Matzek was the Rockies' 2009 first rounder and was ranked above Friedrich by BaseballAmerica. He was the top prep arm in the draft, and his scouting report backs it up: Fastball in the mid-90s and two promising breaking pitches, all with clean and easy mechanics. And Chapman is of course the Cuban defector who wowed everyone at the World Baseball Classic in 2009. There's no question about his fastball, which is in the upper-90s and has flirted with 100. A year and change older than Moore, both have similar shortcomings in regard to command. Chapman's secondary pitches have a ways to go, as he relies mainly on his great fastball. Moore vs. Chapman is the first debate where I'd really consider picking Moore. He doesn't have the same fastball, but his curveball is much better, and their control/command is probably a wash, while Moore has the age advantage.

From here on out, no one is rated higher than Moore by all of the outlets. The next one we'll look at is Mike Montgomery of the Kansas City Royals. He's ranked 34 by Piliere 39(the one ranking where he's lower than Moore) by BA, 43 by, 52 by ProjectProspect, and 75 by Law. Here's Montgomery's 2009 line, between low-A and high-A, shown next to Moore's:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2009 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ KCR 6 4 .600 2.21 21 21 110.0 80 34 27 1 36 98 1.055 6.5 0.1 2.9 8.0 2.72
2009 20 BowlingGreen SALL A TBD 8 5 .615 3.15 26 26 123.0 86 51 43 6 70 176 1.268 6.3 0.4 5.1 12.9 2.51

It should be noted that despite the apparent age difference, Moore is only about two weeks older. It just so happens Montgomery was born on the cut-off date, July 1, so he's counted down to 19. The Royals selected Montgomery in the 2008 supplemental first round. He offers lively stuff, with a fastball in the lower-90s that creeps into the mid-90s. He throws two different kinds of curveballs, though Moore's presently rates better. His change-up shows real potential and may wind up becoming his best secondary pitch. In roughly equal time between his two levels, his strikeout rate was 8.1 and 8.0, though curiously his walk rate fell from 3.7 to 2.1 when he was promoted to the Carolina League.

Despite the big disparity in strikeout rates, Moore and Montgomery each posted roughly the same hit rate. Moore's BABIP was .045 higher, but both were within reason(.319 and .274 for Moore and Montgomery respectively). Given Montgomery's stuff, it's reasonable to assume that he was able to induce weaker contact. His strikeout rate would bug me more(8.0 is good, but not great for his stuff) had it not stayed virtually the same with his promotion. I don't think he has the control to continue posting 2.1 BB/9 rates, but it's fairly evident that he has the better present control than Moore, though as noted in our Moore write-up, his BB/9 after May was 3.8.

So we have the classic question of higher ceiling vs. safer bet. Of course, Montgomery's projectable body might put the "higher ceiling" part up for debate, but that's another matter. I think that each pitcher is in the "correct" organization insofar as I think the Royals would prefer Montgomery(the "safer" choice, more likely to move quickly and help the big league club) while the Rays would prefer Moore(they're stacked pitching-wise, so even if Moore isn't able to tap into his considerable potential at the higher levels, the Rays can absorb that blow thanks to their prospect depth). Taking the organizations and as much bias as possible out of the equation, I would be inclined to pick Moore by a hair. His strikeout and BAA numbers are simply so dominant that he needs only average command to become a very good starter in the majors.

Another interesting pitcher to look at is Baltimore's Zach Britton. Keith Law was most bullish on him, placing him at #25. ProjectProspect had him 51, Piliere put him 55, and BA has him at 63. Like Moore, Britton went unranked in's top 50. Posting the stat-line that I've done for other pitchers would hide Britton's biggest strength, his ability to get groundballs. Pitching as a 21-year old in the high-A Carolina League, Britton had a terrific 3.38 GO/AO. His stuff was also good enough to strike out 131 batters in 140 innings, an 8.4 per 9 rate. His control is probably a touch better than Moore's is, but he led the Carolina League in wild pitches with 21. His 3.5 BB/9 isn't too bad, and he keeps everything down in the zone, but he needs to throw more strikes. Britton doesn't have the kind of ace potential that Moore does, but in what's becoming a recurring theme, he's a safer bet to stick in a big league rotation.

This post has gone on long enough, but there's plenty of other lefties that have a case to be ranked over Moore, or vice-versa. For BaseballAmerica, the other lefties in their top 100 are: (44) Nick Hagadone, (47) Casey Crosby, (78) Chad James, and (100) Noel Arguelles. For Frankie Piliere, he had (41) Manny Banuelos(who I just don't think has the frame to remain a starter), (43) Mike Minor, (47) Andy Oliver, (78) Daniel Schlereth, (82) Casey Crosby, (93) Nick Hagadone, (94) Tyler Matzek and (98) Trevor Reckling ranked in his top 100, and thus above Moore.

ProjectProspect only had one lefty not mentioned here in their top 100, (48) Jon Niese. Keith Law had (48) Casey Crosby and (77) Trevor Reckling ahead of Moore, with (96) Manny Banuelos and (100) Nick Hagadone behind him.

In a future installment, I'll look at Moore's season in a more historical context, and take a look at what pitchers who posted seasons/careers similar to Moore's through the SAL have gone on to become.

Seven Rays on BaseballAmerica Top 100

6. Desmond Jennings, OF
18. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
34. Wade Davis, RHP
35. Matt Moore, LHP
54. Reid Brignac, SS
67. Tim Beckham, SS
68. Alex Colome, RHP

Read all about it here(if the site loads, it currently isn't). I'm surprised to see such a gap between Hellickson and Davis, and that's an aggressive rating for Moore.

Speaking of Moore, tomorrow I'll have a feature comparing him to the game's other top lefty prospects, and perhaps a comparison to some current MLBers in terms of their stats and scouting from the SAL. After that we'll finish up our top 15 lists, and then next week a combined top 30 with predicted 2010 teams and ETAs. If there's anything else you'd like to see before the season starts, just let us know in the comments.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Former Rays News

We try to post all of the Rays minor league transactions here as soon as we get them. We often notice moves involving former Rays organization players too, but they really don't merit a post here. Since many of you are like us and like to keep tabs on those guys, we have begun posting those transactions in the RP Forum. You can create your own topics in the Forum, so please be sure to post any that you see we have missed.

A few recent ex-Rays moves include Wade Townsend, Ryan Morse, Jino Gonzalez, Jae Kuk Ryu, Mike McCormick, Christian Lopez, Jeremy Owens, Joe Gaetti, and Joel Guzman (pictured).

And under former almost-Rays news, these tweets from Andy Seiler:
AndySeiler: Pierce Johnson in for Missouri State. Rays' unsigned 15th-rounder a year ago.

AndySeiler: Johnson flashes a true plus CB. Average FB.
You can follow us on Twitter too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spring Training Radio & TV

Via Roger Mooney, here are the games that will be broadcast on radio:
Wed., March 3 at Orioles,
Fri., March 5 at Yankees,
Sat., March 6 vs. Red Sox, WDAE & network
Sun., March 7 at Phillies, WDAE & network
Wed., March 10 at Red Sox,
Fri., March 12 vs. Phillies,
Sat., March 13 vs. Marlins, WDAE & network
Sun., March 14 at Tigers, WDAE & network
Tues., March 16 vs. Red Sox, WFLA & network
Thurs., March 18 at Yankees, WFLA & network
Fri., March 19 vs. Yankees, WFLA & network
Sat., March 20 vs. Twins, WDAE & network
Sun., March 21 at Twins, WDAE & network
Sun., March 21 at Pirates, WDAE & network
Tues., March 23 at Phillies,
Sat., March 27 at Astros, WDAE & network
Sun., March 28 vs. Pirates, WDAE & network
Mon., March 29 at Red Sox, WDAE & network
Fri., April 2 vs. Mets, WFLA & network
Also according to Mooney, three games will be televised. Below is a list of all Rays televised games, either on the Rays network or another(theoretically all of these would be available on, except maybe the ESPN game, not sure about national broadcasts):

March 5 at Yankees, YES Network
March 18 at Yankees, YES Network
March 19 vs. Yankees, SunSports
March 21 at Pirates, FSN-Pittsburgh
March 21 at Minnesota, WFTC29
March 23 at Phillies, Comcast Network
March 25 at Twins, SunSports
March 29 at Red Sox, NESN
March 30 vs. Red Sox, ESPN
April 1 vs. Baltimore, SunSports

This list should be accurate for all local broadcasts(plus the one ESPN), MLB Network still has not announced their TV schedule.

Top 15 Pitchers: #3 Matt Moore

Matt Moore
6'2" 205 lbs DOB: 6/18/1989
Left-Handed Pitcher
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
2009: Bowling Green Hot Rods
Acquired: 2008 Draft, 8th Round, 245th Overall

After the Rays selected him in the 8th round in 2008, all Matt Moore has done as a professional is strike batters out with remarkable consistency. In his three pro seasons, his K/9 rates are 12.8, 12.8, and 12.9. The third number really catches the eye, because he was able to slightly improve on the already outstanding number while making the jump from Princeton to Bowling Green. He led all of the minors in strikeouts and opponent batting average in 2009.

There's no question Moore has the stuff to pitch at the top of a big-league rotation. His fastball works in the 90-93 range, through he can dial it up a little higher at the expense of control. His curveball is already a plus pitch, constantly generating swings and misses. His change-up has great action, though he's still inconsistent with it. He works down in the zone with all of his pitches, and has allowed only seven home runs in nearly 200 career innings.

What Moore needs to work on is his control and command. Even during the 2009 season, though, he made strides. In 35.1 innings pitched in April and May, he walked 33 batters(roughly 8.4 per 9 innings). From June onward, he walked 37 in 87.2 innings, a much more acceptable 3.8 per 9. He also uncorked 13 wild pitches. Even when he does get it over the plate, he hasn't been able to work the corners, instead just relying on his stuff to get hitters out.

Control/command is all that's holding Moore back from being one of the minors' premier prospects. He walked only 3.1 batters per 9 in 2008, though that was his second year in the Appalachian League where he easily outmatched the rookie-level hitters. He won't develop the plus control of Andy Sonnanstine or Jeremy Hellickson, but he showed in the second half of 2009 that he can keep the walk total out of the danger zone. If he can get the BB/9 down into the 3.0-3.3 range, he should be more than okay since his stuff is good enough to limit hits.

He was able to carry his strikeout rate into full-season ball, but it's reasonable to assume it dips a little bit as he faces more advanced hitters. Still, Jake McGee(pre-surgery) was considered a big strikeout pitcher and he was punching out a batter and a half less per 9 innings than Moore, so a small drop-off is no big deal. The key for Moore in 2010 will be to throw more strikes, and to make them quality strikes, so he's able to work deeper into games. He was limited by pitch counts early in the season, but even later he often had to come out early due to throwing too many pitches. He was only able to work at least 6 innings five times out of 26 starts.

He'll pitch the 2010 season as a 20/21 year old, debuting in the Charlotte rotation. If he shows the second-half control improvements were for real, he could be in line for a mid- or late-season bump to Montgomery.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top 15 Pitchers: #4 Alex Colome

Alex Colome
6'2" 184 lbs DOB: 12/31/1988
Right-Handed Pitcher
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2009: Hudson Valley Renegades
Acquired: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007

The nephew of former Rays reliever Jesus Colome, Alex certainly got the family fastball velocity genes. With an arm as live as any in the system, Colome's stuff overpowered New York-Penn League hitters, allowing 14 earned runs over 15 starts with the Hudson Valley Renegades in 2008.

His season statline is as dominant as they come: 76 innings, 46 hits, 14 earned runs, 0 home runs, 32 walks, and 94 strikeouts. The walks were the key to the breakout season, since he showed the same kind of stuff with Princeton in 2008 but struggled to find the plate, walking over 5 batters per 9 innings. It's hard to find a bone to pick with his 2009 season, though. His control was still somewhat inconsistent, marked by three starts with four or five walks. But he also showed the ability to completely control a game, evidenced by three starts of 0 earned runs allowed and nine strikeouts.

The ball explodes out of Colome's hand, and he's been able to creep into the upper-90s with it, sitting in the 93-95 range. It has some life on it, too, which allowed him to post a GO/AO of 1.57 in 2009. His primary off-speed pitch is a hard curveball which has flashed the potential of a plus pitch. He's still refining his change-up, a weapon he didn't need very often in the NY-P league. He improved his control in 2009, but he's still part "thrower" and part "pitcher." He'll need to work on his command within the strike zone, although his velocity lets him get away with some mistakes.

He's several years away, but Colome has the makings of a potential ace. His current stuff is already electric, and his build and loose arm offer projection still. He'll look to take another step forward with his control and command in 2010 with Bowling Green, where he'll replace Matt Moore as the ace of the Hot Rods' rotation. I think there are some similarities between those two pitchers: Both had high strikeout rates(Moore's are higher) and both improved their control in their second (state-side) season(Moore from 7.1 to 3.1, Colome from 5.1 to 3.8, and on a coincidental note, each had 1.66 ERAs in their second pro seasons). Moore needed some time to adjust with Bowling Green, it'll be interesting to see if the same happens with Colome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Poll: #1 Pitcher

With only 4 pitchers left in the Top 15 countdown, who is your #1 Rays pitching prospect? Kevin hinted at who will be at #4, so I only included these three. The prospect lists seem split between Davis and Hellickson, with Moore coming on fast after leading all of the minors in strikeouts last season. Support your pick in the comments.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Top 15 Pitchers: #5 Kyle Lobstein

Kyle Lobstein
6'3" 200 lbs DOB: 8/12/1989
Left-Handed Pitcher
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
2009: Hudson Valley Renegades
Acquired: 2008 Draft, 2nd Round, 47th Overall

The Rays 2nd round pick in 2008, Lobstein received a $1,500,000 signing bonus, but didn't pitch any games for the Rays that summer. He debuted in the New York-Penn League, where he got off to a somewhat slow start before dominating in his last six starts.

The numbers from those starts: 37 ip 22 h 7 er 7 bb 48 so. For the season, he posted a 2.58 ERA over 73.1 innings, striking out 74 and walking 23. He got a healthy number of groundballs with a 1.23 GO/AO and only four home runs allowed. His fielding-independent pitching was a very good 2.95.

Lobstein was one of the hottest names in the country after his junior year of high school, but his stuff hasn't been the same since. His fastball dipped down to the mid-to-high 80's as a senior, and was in the 88-91 range with the Renegades, occasionally dipping lower. It has decent movement though, so it's at least an average offering. His curveball and change-up are both decent pitches, and he controls his entire arsenal well, making all his pitches play up.

Lobstein works very easily on the mound, with smooth mechanics and a nice delivery that makes his fastball look harder. Those mechanics, his solid frame, and his athleticism(he also played basketball in high school) offer plenty of projection, with the possibility that his fastball gets back up into the low-90s consistently.

He's no soft-tosser, but his stuff isn't as dominating as that of rotation-mate Alex Colome(coming soon to a prospect list near you!). He's able to make the most of his stuff, pitching with smarts and the ability to control his pitches to both sides of the plate. The possibility that his stuff blossoms is enough to place him this high up the list. Even without dominant stuff, he was as good at it gets down the stretch in 2009. He'll try to carry that momentum into 2010 where he'll be a part of a strong Bowling Green rotation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On The Fringe: Elliot Johnson

The next post in the series profiling the fringe players on the Rays 40-man roster. The first player I did was Justin Ruggiano, this week I take a short look at Elliot Johnson.

He was never a top prospect, reaching as high 12th ranked by Baseball America for the 2005 season. It was also the season where they ranked him in their tools portion having the best strike-zone discipline in the organization. Although Johnson has since lost his excellent, but brief, walk to strikeout ratio he posted before reaching Double-A.  His big break came in 2008 when Elliot Johnson was on the active roster to start the season as the utility player off the bench. That would be the start of his permanent transition from second baseman to utility player.

Fielding wise, Johnson is probably average at any position playing every one except first base and catcher. Minor League Splits has him mostly in the negatives during the past five seasons. CHONE projects him at about 7 runs below average total if he played 110 games in the Majors. Essentially to the Rays, he is a reserve infielder behind Reid Brignac on the depth chart.

His offense in the minors has been slightly above average over the past couple of seasons after a dismal 2007, according to linear weights. His wOBA for the past three seasons at Durham were .288, .336, and .345. Keep in mind Johnson had only 260 PAs at Durham but flashed his power posting a .450 slugging percentage, just five points below his career best in 2006 at Double-A Montgomery. A switch-hitter, Johnson has struggled hitting lefties the past two seasons although having a better OPS against them since 2005.

I’m surprised he has stayed this long with the Rays, and now without anymore options. He is infield depth and already on the 40-man roster so he’ll stick around a bit longer. Although don’t be surprised if he gets designated for assignment during the season to make room for an acquired player.

Stats from Baseball-Reference, Fan Graphs, and Minor League Splits.

More On Chavez And Furmaniak

Here is some background on the two players the Rays signed today, Angel Chavez and J.J. Furmaniak.

Chavez was born July 22, 1981 in David, Panama. On October 30, 1998, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants as an amateur, non-drafted free agent. He reached the majors with the Giants in 2005. His 19 at bats that year are his only major league experience.

On April 5, 2006, he was selected off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. From there he played in the minors for several organizations, including the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and last season with the Boston Red Sox.

Here are his minor league batting stats:
10 Seasons39625111058212237851710141221635.267.308.391.699
AAA (5 seasons)1879244524119542265259102282.279.318.415.733
A+ (5 seasons)1439201387721427183572475231.269.307.395.702
AA (2 seasons)5625712619355415741102.
Rk (2 seasons)45414012123128.311.333.489.822
A (1 season)3757202310112.189.231.405.636
Provided by View Original Table Generated 2/12/2010.

And here are his overall minor league fielding stats:
10 Seasons1071410614242518164456.9603.68
SS (10 seasons)SS5442422886145086328.9644.29
3B (8 seasons)3B43712743368667280.9432.75
2B (5 seasons)2B77330127198540.9854.22
1B (4 seasons)1B138075418.9886.08
Provided by View Original Table Generated 2/12/2010.

Furmaniak was born July 31, 1979, in Naperville, IL, and drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 22nd round of the 2000 draft. From the Padres he played in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, the Oakland A's, the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japan Central League in 2008, and for the Philadelphia Phillies at AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2009. There is a blog devoted to him too. He reached the majors twice, for the Pirates in 2005 for 26 AB's, and for the A's in 2007 for 17 AB's.

Here are his minor league batting stats:
10 Seasons3700553978183389146110551340844.264.332.408.740
AAA (5 seasons)21242865589518592676229162466.263.320.408.728
AA (2 seasons)154203781419101542.240.326.383.709
A+ (2 seasons)69011519538141697211362155.283.351.448.798
A (1 season)436579624353511655117.220.309.323.632
Fgn (1 season)5138002500216.
Rk (1 season)24572841825381034448.343.446.494.940
Provided by View Original Table Generated 2/12/2010.

And here are his overall minor league fielding stats:
9 Seasons984425014192644187485.9564.13
SS (9 seasons)SS673316110361982143375.9554.48
2B (7 seasons)2B1105182142941066.9814.62
3B (7 seasons)3B1825311323673243.9402.74
RF (1 season)RF1110001.0001.00
LF (1 season)LF173835121.9472.12
OF (1 season)OF1110001.0001.00
Provided by View Original Table Generated 2/12/2010.

Middle infield depth heading into Spring Training is a good thing. This shouldn't affect Reid Brignac or Sean Rodriguez much, but it's not good for Elliot Johnson.