It's that time again (after a brief break for jury duty last week); that time to look back and laugh at how bad all of our pre-season predictions were. Today we'll look back at the predictions of... anything. Panelists were invited to make a prediction about anything to do with the upcoming season. How'd we do (original post with full explanations here)?
R.J. Anderson: Alex Cobb moves up boards as he shows an improved changeup.
Verdict: I'd say this one panned out. Cobb posted a 1.87 ERA in 67.1 innings in Durham and held his own in the majors over nine starts (3.42 ERA, 37-21 K-BB in 52.2 innings) before an injury ended his season. He just barely used up his eligibility so he won't be on prospect lists this off-season.
Jason Collette: Brian Barnes struck out 213 batters in 1990 to set the current record for the Southern League; Matt Moore breaks that in 2011.
Verdict: Moore's whiffed over 200 again (210 this year), but his rate ticked up with Durham and he wasn't on pace to break the SL record with Montgomery.
FreeZorilla: Aneury Rodriguez is returned from the Astros who snaked him in the Rule 5 draft.
Verdict: Rodriguez stayed with the Astros all year, where he struggled to an ERA north of 5.00 in a swingman role. His strikeout-to-walk rate of 62-29 in 80 innings wasn't terrible, but his flyball tendencies hurt him as he allowed 13 home runs.
Cork Gaines: To me, the key to the Rays farm system in 2011 is the continued development of Alex Torres, Alex Cobb and newly acquired Chris Archer. Hopefully they won't be needed, but we need see one or two of them step up and become "next."
Verdict: Torres and Archer struggled with command but Cobb did excel in triple-A and was needed due to injuries and Andy Sonnanstine.
Kevin Gengler: Scott Shuman will start out in the Charlotte (or Montgomery) bullpen, but he'll finish the year with Durham and be in serious contention for a bullpen spot with Tampa Bay in 2012.
Verdict: Whoops. Shuman struck out 86 in 51.2 innings, but also issued 59 free passes.
Erik Hahmann: Alex Torres gets more than a September call up and has success in the Rays bullpen in 2011.
Verdict: Torres made a spot-relief appearance in July when the Rays were calling a new pitcher up from Durham every day, but stayed in the minors otherwise until September.
Jason Hanselman: As the Rays did with Wade Davis and Jake McGee I could see the team keeping Chris Archer and Matt Moore attached at the hip in their ascent to the Show and the superstardom that is sure to follow. They'll both start out in Montgomery before moving on to Durham and absolutely demolishing the league at both stops.
Verdict: Check for Moore, not for Archer. The two did each start at Montgomery and finish in Durham, but clearly Moore had the much more successful season.
Jake Larsen: Rays will go college-heavy with first 5 picks of their 11 draft picks, but end up with a very balanced draft.
Verdict: Of the first 12 picks, four were college (Mahtook, Carter, Garvin, Linsky) and one junior college (Ames).
Mike Lortz: This is going to my BusLeaguesBaseball.com leanings, where we celebrate the minor league experience: On Monday, July 4th a young father with take his son or daughter to their first ever baseball game at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery. They’ll see Matt Moore strike out 10 Tennessee Smokies; Tim Beckham go 1 for 3, with a double, a walk, and a run scored; and the Biscuits win 5-2. The kid will be given a foul ball caught by a nearby fan, stay for the fireworks, and become a fan for life.
Verdict: The Biscuits won 10-1 on July 4 thanks to a strong start from Jim Paduch, who fanned 9. Tim Beckham was 0-3 though he did walk and score. No word on foul balls.
Doug Milhoan: Two more lower-level breakouts, keep an eye on our last two 3rd round picks, Ryan Brett and Todd Glaesmann.
Verdict: Ryan Brett hit .300 for the second straight year with a .300/.370/.471 line along with 21 steals. Todd Glaesmann battled injuries and struggled to a .227/.295/.328 year.
Tommy Rancel: Not sure he can be considered a prospect, but I think Matt Bush - if healthy - is a guy who can make an impact in 2011.
Verdict: The Rays took it slow with Bush, who struck out 77 and walked 24 in 50.1 innings. The Rays are likely to take the reins off in 2012 (for example, he didn't work on back-to-back days in 2011 and often got two days off between appearances.
Steve Slowinski: Desmond Jennings doesn't see any time in the majors this season until September call-ups.
Verdict: Thankfully, Jennings was called up in late July. I think there might've been riots if Jennings stayed down until September.