Saturday, January 1, 2011

Getting Ready For 2011 - Starting Rotation Projections

Hope everyone had a great holiday season. Now that we're officially into 2011 (barely), I'm ready for spring training to begin. Other than the draft, spring training is my favorite time of the year, especially at the end when we find out the opening day rosters.

It's still very early, but let's get started by looking at each affiliate's projected starting rotations. Obviously these will be wrong, a lot of things will happen between now and the announcement of the opening day rosters. Injuries, trades, free agent signings, and releases are bound to affect the actual rotations. But many of these will also be correct, so there's no harm in talking about who will end up where.

* = lefty

Tampa Bay Rays
David Price*
Matt Garza - unless he's traded
James Shields - unless he's traded
Wade Davis
Jeff Niemann - could move to the pen for Hellickson
Jeremy Hellickson - could make the rotation or the bullpen or Durham's rotation

Comment: Six starters for five spots, something has to give. But that's a good problem to have because pitchers get hurt. The wildcard is a trade of Garza or Shields. If that doesn't happen I would rather see Hellickson remain a starter in Durham than move to the Rays pen (injury insurance). Most likely scenario: Hellickson makes the rotation and Niemann to the pen. Of course if any of the six are injured in spring training - problem solved.

Durham Bulls
Jeremy Hellickson - see above, unlikely but possible
Alex Cobb - quietly effective year after year
Alex Torres* - my personal upper-level breakout candidate
Richard De Los Santos - already re-signed for another year in Durham
David Newmann* - struggled in AA in '10, may move to the bullpen or repeat AA
Jeremy Hall - not really a prospect but quietly had a nice year in AA in '10
Minor league free agents

Comment: Hellickson isn't really likely, but minor league free agents are. The Rays always stash some AAAA-type pitchers in Durham. Some possibilities include former Bulls such as Brian Baker, Carlos Hernandez*, Heath Phillips*, Virgil Vasquez, and Jason Cromer*.

Montgomery Biscuits
Matt Moore*
Nick Barnese - like Cobb, effective every year, although usually misses time with injuries
Joseph Cruz
Shane Dyer - great comeback in '10
Frank De Los Santos* - struggled in '10 but eats innings as a 5th starter
Chris Andujar - probably a reliever/spot starter
Minor league free agents

Comment: Looks pretty set unless a minor league free agent bumps FDLS.

Charlotte Stone Crabs
Alex Colome
Jake Thompson - back where he finished '10, if all goes well expect midseason promotion
Wilking Rodriguez - despite tough '10 should move up to Charlotte
Albert Suarez - my lower-level breakout candidate with higher pitch counts in '11
Kyle Lobstein*
Kirby Yates - probably a reliever/spot starter, one of the hardest guys to place
Jason McEachern - could move to the pen, more likely to repeat BG in '11
Aaron Dott* - another reliever/spot starter insurance-type

Comment: Looks like another solid rotation for the Crabs. A solid five plus Yates and Dott as needed.

Bowling Green Hot Rods
Jason McEachern - still very young, likely to repeat BG in '11
Merrill Kelly - 2010 8th rounder
Wilmer Almonte - interested to see how he handles full-season load
Zach Rosscup*
Nate Garcia - 2010 16th rounder
Jimmy Patterson* - 2010 18th rounder
Braulio Lara* - most likely in HV, but a possibility, older than Romero
Enny Romero* - same as Lara but with his stuff... the Rays may bump him

Comment: One of the hardest to project with possibilities of guys repeating and other guys skipping up from Princeton. They could also hold back Yates and/or Dott*, but I think it's unlikely.

Hudson Valley Renegades
Enny Romero* - see above
Braulio Lara* - see above, can't see both of them going to Bowling Green though
Eliazer Suero
Jacob Partridge*
Andrew Bellatti - assuming he's loose and still in the organization
Victor Mateo - reliever/spot starter
June draft picks who sign quickly and non-drafted free agents

Comment: Here is where next year's draft really starts muddying up the projections, especially given all of the extra high picks the Rays will have. If the Rays select pitchers and they sign quickly then Romero*/Lara* could be bumped to Bowling Green in June. Sorry Gades fans, we'll have to wait and see.

Princeton Rays
Ian Kendall - 2010 5th rounder, could jump to HV
Brandon Henderson* - 2010 15th rounder
Pedro Silvestre
Marcus Jensen - aka Marcus Proctor
Reinaldo Lopez
Eduar Quinonez
Matt Swilley - more likely reliever or GCL Rays
Kevin James*
Pitchers from the VSL and DSL Rays
June draft picks who sign quickly and non-drafted free agents

Comment: Again, the draft will affect this rotation quite a bit. But more than Hudson Valley, promotions from the VSL and DSL will figure into the P-Rays rotation.

Gulf Coast League Rays
Stepan Havlicek* - after graduating high school in the Czech Republic
Shawn Smith* - root for this kid
June draft picks who sign quickly and non-drafted free agents
Pitchers from the VSL and DSL Rays
Injury rehabs - Will Kline? Jesse Hahn?

Comment: Mostly draft picks (young ones), ndfa's, VSL/DSL guys and rehabs.


  1. I believe Jimmy Patterson is a lefty also.
    Spring Training will be here before we know it!

  2. Thanks Anon, Patterson is a lefty, I missed it when I typed it in from my handwritten draft. Fixed it.

    Let me know if you see any other typos. And yes, love the Spring Training!

  3. Doug, great list. Just missing Matt Spann, who put up great stats in the GCL (just like Brandon Henderson). I'd figure him for Princeton's rotation.

  4. Hi Doug,

    Great work ... it's 99% fitting with my list.

    @Kevin: I've Matt Spann in the Princeton pen in '11, but it's difficult to say as Doug pointed out in his post!


  5. Spann was on the list, but I just didn't see him in the rotation over the ones listed. Like BurGi I figured him for the P-Rays bullpen.

    Spann is interesting. He was our 25th round pick in 2010, turns 20 in February, and is listed at 6'7" 185 lbs. For the GCL Rays he had a 1.48 ERA in 10 games (1 start). Over 24.1 innings he had as many strikeouts (22) as hits allowed (22), and only gave up 4 walks.

    For next year I think I'll stick with projecting him as a reliever. But I could see the Rays trying him as a starter in future seasons when he's a little older and adds some bulk to his frame.

    Other than that, glad you guys liked the list. I was kind of rushed as I was typing and was afraid I might have left someone off. Guess I didn't. Any other thoughts on where Romero and Lara end up?

  6. Good list. As far as Romero and Lara, I see both of the in BG, although I am not sure how that would work out.
    Also, I am going to around 7-8 Stone Crb games this year, so I will have reports.

  7. Can you give us a list of top 10 pitchers tops in Inns/pitched,wins over the last 5 years in the Rays Minor system?

  8. The Garza trade obviously has affected this list. For Tampa, scratch off Garza and move in Hellickson. For Durham, scratch off Hellickson.

    For Montgomery, add in Archer. He split last season between A+ and AA, and had a 1.80 ERA in 13 AA starts. I think the Rays will begin him in AA again with a midseason bump to Durham. Only caveat is if they want to try him as a reliever, then I'd guess Durham, but I don't think they will turn a quality starter into a reliever, at least not next year. If Archer is in Montgomery, that would bump FDLS to the pen or back to Charlotte.

    For Bowling Green scratch off Rosscup. His loss could increase the chances for Garcia and Patterson, and most importantly gives Lara/Romero even better chances to make the BG rotation, which would also affect HV's top starters.

    I'll do a completely new projection as we get closer to Spring Training. I knew there would be some changes to this projection as we headed to ST, but never would have guessed so many teams would be impacted in just the first week of January!

  9. Packers and Movers in Mumbai @ Really impressive posts. I read it whole and going to share it with my social circules. I enjoyed your article and planning to rewrite it on my own blog @ Packers and Movers Mumbai