Monday, March 28, 2011

RaysProspects 2011 Predictions: Wildcard Prediction

And here's our final prediction of the year. Today's question is: What will the Rays top 10 prospects list look like heading into 2012 (not counting potential 2012 draftees for the most part)?

R.J. Anderson: Alex Cobb moves up boards as he shows an improved changeup.
@r_j_anderson The Process Report Bloomberg Sports BaseballProspectus

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.
@jasoncollette Dock Of The Rays

FreeZorilla: Aneury Rodriguez is returned from the Astros who snaked him in the Rule 5 draft. Rodriguez has a solid year in Durham and seems poised for a 2012 relief role with the club. David Newmann converts to relief and becomes an intriguing lefty bullpen option.
@FreeZorilla DRaysBay

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. With the Rays trading Matt Garza and inserting Jeremy Hellickson, there is suddenly a little bit of a question about who is next. Obviously Andy Sonnanstine is the backup starting pitcher. But who is after him in case of injury? Are any of the above three ready to step in now? And if not, how long until they are ready to go. Hopefully they won't be needed, but we need see one or two of them step up and become "next."
@RaysIndex Rays Index

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.
@KevinGengler RaysProspects

Erik Hahmann: Alex Torres gets more than a September call up and has success in the Rays bullpen in 2011.
@ehahmann DRaysBay

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.
@SandyKazmir Dock Of The Rays

Jake Larsen: Rays will go college-heavy with first 5 picks of their 11 draft picks, but end up with a very balanced draft. Will overcome KC as top farm system due to draft and trading of a SP.

Mike Lortz: This is going to my 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.
@JordiScrubbings Bus Leagues Baseball

Doug Milhoan: Two more lower-level breakouts, keep an eye on our last two 3rd round picks, Ryan Brett and Todd Glaesmann. Expect both in our 2012 top 10 prospects as Glaesmann turns tools into skills and Brett keeps producing with more power than expected to go along with speed and defense.
@DougMilhoan RaysProspects

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. The Rays are looking for young arms to build a bullpen around and Bush's mid 90's fastball and sharp breaking ball has all the potential to be one of those building blocks.
@TRancel The Process Report ESPN 1040

Steve Slowinski: Desmond Jennings doesn't see any time in the majors this season until September call-ups. Maybe that's not the most groundbreaking prediction, but I think it has a pretty significant likelihood of happening unless Jennings really starts mashing down in Triple-A.
@steveslow DRaysBay FanGraphs

Thanks again to all those who took the time to participate!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

LHP Jake Sullivan retires

Note from minor league camp, where left handed pitcher Jake Sullivan retired from baseball this week. Sullivan, 24, pitched in 39 games for Bowling Green in 2010, going 3-3 with a 4.31 ERA, and 53 K's. The lefty would have likely pitched out of the bullpen for the Charlotte Stone Crabs for this season.

The retirement was not due to injury.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rays Send Seven to MiLB Camp

The Tampa Bay Rays assigned seven players to minor league camp on Saturday, reducing the roster to 28. Those reassigned include:
  • Craig Albernaz
  • Chris Carter
  • Joe Inglett
  • Casey Kotchman
  • Felipe Lopez
  • Ray Olmedo
  • Justin Ruggiano

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Open Thread: Affiliate Twitter Leaders

As always, you pick the topic. In about a week we should have the full-season affiliates' opening day rosters, so there should be lots of transactions news in the next few days.

I'll start the OT: Speaking of the affiliates, which Rays minor league affiliate is the most popular on Twitter?

Here they are, ranked by number of followers:

1. Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls): 4,122 followers.

2. Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades): 1,747 followers.

3. Bowling Green Hot Rods (@BGHotRods): 1,073 followers.

4. Charlotte Stone Crabs (@StoneCrabs): 752 followers.

5. Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball): 731 followers.

6. Princeton Rays (@PrincetonRays): 191 followers.

Come on everyone, help out the P-Rays! And don't feel bad Princeton, we (@RaysProspects) only have 596 followers ourselves.

Even if you aren't into "tweeting" your deepest thoughts in 140 characters or less, you can create a free Twitter account and follow all of the affiliates. It's the easiest way to receive all of the latest team news, game stories, info on game promotions, links to pictures and videos, and contests to win free tickets and merchandise.

RaysProspects 2011 Predictions: Next Year's List

For our predictions series this year we'll be running one question each weekday through Monday, with answers coming from across the Rays blogosphere. You can find a complete list of the panelist's various blogs and websites in this post.

Today's question is: What will the Rays top 10 prospects list look like heading into 2012 (not counting potential 2012 draftees for the most part)?

R.J. Anderson
: The top 10 who are within the org at this point, in no particular order: Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Josh Sale (even if he struggles, I think there’s enough graduating that he’ll get a two-year honeymoon period), Alex Torres, Brandon Guyer, Enny Romero, Tim Beckham, Drew Vettleson, and Alex Cobb.

Jason Collette:
1. Matt Moore
2. Desmond Jennings
3. Chris Archer
4. Alex Colome
5. Alex Torres
6. Josh Sale
7. Tim Beckham
8. Jake Thompson
9. Hak-Ju Lee
10. Braulio Lara

1. Matt Moore
2. Desmond Jennings
3. Chris Archer
4. Josh Sale
5. Alex Torres
6. Ty Morrison
7. Hak Ju Lee
8. Tim Beckham
9. Alex Colome
10. Brandon Guyer

Cork Gaines:
1. Matt Moore
2. Chris Archer
3. Alex Torres
4. Alex Colome
5. Hak-Ju Lee
6. Tim Beckham
7. Jake Thompso
8. Enny Romero
9. Nick Barnese
10. Josh Sale

Kevin Gengler:
1. Matt Moore, LHP
2. Josh Sale, OF
3. Alex Torres, LHP
4. Chris Archer, RHP
5. Ty Morrison, OF
6. Alex Colome, RHP
7. Drew Vettleson, OF
8. Enny Romero, LHP
9. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
10. Luke Bailey, C

Erik Hahmann: Barring injury I don't see how Matt Moore isn't on the top of the list. He's simply too powerful. Current number two prospect Desmond Jennings may spend the entire season in AAA, leaving him eligible for prospect status once again. Even if he has a healthy season I don't think he'll be able to overtake Moore. The players received from the Cubs (Archer, Le, Guyer, Chirinos) will all likely move up a spot or two with the graduation of Jeremy Hellickson and Jake McGee. I'm hopeful another of the 2010 draft class will be able to join Josh Sale on the list as well.

Jason Hanselman: I see this year's darlings continuing to look out for number one without stepping in number two. With that in mind, here's my 2011 Ridiculously Early Top Ten Rays Prospects: 1) Matt Moore, 2) Desmond Jennings, 3) Chris Archer, 4) Justin O'Conner, 5) Alex Colome, 6) Alex Torres, 7) Josh Sale, 8) Tim Beckham, 9) Jake Thompson, 10) Hak Ju Lee

Jake Larsen:
1. Matt Moore
2. Josh Sale
3. Enny Romero
4. Draft pick
5. Chris Archer
6. Hak-Ju Lee
7. Jake Thompson
8. Draft Pick
9. Ryan Brett
10. Drew Vettleson

Mike Lortz:
1. Matt Moore
2. Chris Archer
3. Josh Sale
4. Nick Barnese
5. Drew Vettleson
6. Alex Torres
7. Tim Beckham
8. Hak-Ju Lee
9. Alex Colome
10. Ty Morrison

Doug Milhoan:
1. Matt Moore
2. Desmond Jennings
3. Jake Thompson
4. Alex Colome
5. Alex Cobb
6. Josh Sale
7. Enny Romero
8. Todd Glaesmann
9. Justin O'Conner
10. Ryan Brett

Tommy Rancel: With the addition of Robinson Chirnos, Brandon Guyer, and 2010 draft picks Josh Sale, Drew Vettleson, Justin O'Conner, and more, I think the top 10 will have a bit more balance to it than it has in recent seasons. Of course, the top will still be dominated by pitchers like Matt Moore and Chris Archer, but I do like the potential for some of the position players to creep up the list.

Steve Slowinski: I think Moore takes over at number one, while Jennings falls to number three behind Chris Archer. I'm not sure what I think of last year's draft picks, but I do think the Alex Trio (Torres, Colome, and Cobb) continues to climb. Also, I could easily see this list being dominated with 2011 draft picks. Those 10 first round picks are looking mighty impressive, and I've got this feeling that the Rays are planning to spend big to make the most of this opportunity.

Check back Monday for the final prediction, where they could predict anything they wanted about the upcoming season!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Game Pictures from 3/24: Stone Crabs at Keys

Click on the photo below to view pictures from today's spring training game between the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Frederick Keys (Orioles).

Ex-Rays In The Independent Leagues

Quite a few former Rays organization players are now in the independent leagues. I'll try to update this list periodically, so let me know in the comments if there is anyone I've missed. Last Rays team is in parentheses.

NORTH AMERICAN BASEBALL LEAGUE (opening day is May 25th)

Lake County Fielders:
LHP Jino Gonzalez (2008 Montgomery Biscuits)
INF Cesar Suarez (2009 Montgomery Biscuits)

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION (opening day is May 11th)

Kansas City T-Bones:
IF/OF Ray Sadler (2009 Durham Bulls)

Lincoln Saltdogs:
RHP Angel Castro (2009 Montgomery Biscuits)

Amarillo Sox:
RHP Justin Garcia (2010 Durham Bulls)

St. Paul Saints:
LHP Aaron Dott (2010 Bowling Green Hot Rods)

ATLANTIC LEAGUE (opening day is April 29th)

Lancaster Barnstormers:
C Alvin Colina (2010 Durham Bulls)

Long Island Ducks:
OF John Rodriguez (2008 Durham Bulls)
LHP Heath Phillips (2010 Durham Bulls)
RHP Ruddy Lugo (2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Durham Bulls)

York Revolution:
RHP Matt DeSalvo (2009 Durham Bulls)
INF Vince Harrison (2004 Montgomery Biscuits)

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs:
C Christian Lopez (2009 Charlotte Stone Crabs)
OF Shaun Cumberland (2007 Montgomery Biscuits)
OF Jeremy Owens (2008 Durham Bulls)
RHP Eduardo Morlan (2010 Montgomery Biscuits)

Somerset Patriots:
LHP Jason Cromer (2010 Durham Bulls)
DH/1B Josh Pressley (2002 Durham Bulls and Orlando Rays)

Camden Riversharks:
RHP Chris Mason (2009 Durham Bulls)
C Toby Hall (2006 Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
RHP Jason Johnson (1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays)

Bridgeport Bluefish:
1B Wes Bankston (2007 Durham Bulls)
IF Angel Chavez (2010 Durham Bulls)
1B Eric Munson (2005 Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Durham Bulls)

CAN-AM LEAGUE (opening day is May 26th)

Brockton Rox:
LHP Mike Wlodarczyk (2009 Durham Bulls)
IF Shawn Williams (2010 Charlotte Stone Crabs)

New Jersey Jackals:
OF Ryan Royster (2010 Montgomery Biscuits)

Quebec Les Capitales:
RHP Rayner Oliveros (2010 Montgomery Biscuits)

Newark Bears:
OF Burt Reynolds (2010 Bowling Green Hot Rods and Hudson Valley Renegades)

FRONTIER LEAGUE (opening day is May 19th)

Joliet Slammers:
IF Matt Fields (2010 Montgomery Biscuits)

Lake Erie Crushers:
RHP Jeff Cinadr (2009 Hudson Valley Renegades)
RHP Travis Risser (2008 Columbus Catfish)
IF Chase Fontaine (2008 Vero Beach Devil Rays)

Traverse City Beach Bums:
RHP Peter Woodworth (2010 GCL Rays)
RHP Devin Fuller (2010 Hudson Valley Renegades)
RHP Kyle Ayers (2010 Hudson Valley Renegades)
OF J.T. Hall (2009 Montgomery Biscuits)

Gateway Grizzlies:
OF Jason Patton (2009 Princeton Rays)

River City Rascals:
IF Brian Harris (2010 Princeton Rays)
OF Bryan Fogle (2010 Princeton Rays)


Hanhwa Eagles:
RHP Julio DePaula (2009 Durham Bulls)

SK Wyverns:
RHP Gary Glover (2008 Tampa Bay Rays)
RHP Jim Magrane (2006 Durham Bulls)

[Update]: On March 25th INF Chase Fontaine was traded to the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier Leauge from the Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League.

I also added players in the Korea Baseball Organization. Still to go: Japan and Taiwan (need English websites), and after spring training I'll start through the other 29 organizations in affiliated ball.

The last one will take a while, 29 x 5 = 145 rosters to check just for MLB, AAA, AA, A+ and A ball. If anyone has news from Japan (I'm using NPB Tracker) or Taiwan, please post with a link. Thanks.

RaysProspects 2011 Predictions: Over-Hyped Prospect

For our predictions series this year we'll be running one question each weekday through Monday, with answers coming from across the Rays blogosphere. You can find a complete list of the panelist's various blogs and websites in this post.

Today's question is: Which prospect is the most over-hyped (who's getting too much love heading into 2011)?

R.J. Anderson: Jake Thompson’s scouting report sounds nice –plus fastball with mid-90s velo, good curve, averageish change—and his prospect status has its merits, but at the same time, I cannot help but wonder whether his short season ERA is inflating his stock.

Jason Collette: Justin O'Conner. I keep reading/hearing about those who have doubts about his bat playing at the big league level yet he's continually ranked in the Rays' top 12 spots. I am not big on ranking high school catchers that high after closely watching Max Sapp from this area flame out with the Astros.

FreeZorilla: Justin O'Conner seems to be pretty high on most prospect lists. He may someday prove it justified, but I can't help but feel the learning curve will force a move down the rankings next season before he puts it together and moves back up.

Cork Gaines: Josh Sale. Baseball America and have Sale as the sixth best prospect in a very strong Rays farm system. Baseball Prospectus has him seventh and Keith Law ranked him ninth. That seems like a lot of love for a high schooler that is yet to play a single pro game. I hope they're right, but history has shown that even if he does eventually succeed, we should expect some growing pains first.

Kevin Gengler: Chris Archer. There are a lot of reasons to like him (and I do), but I think he'll have some trouble living up to the hype this year. A big reason for that is that his 2010 season was so good, it's a tall task to ask him to repeat it. He had a 1.80 ERA in 80 Southern League innings, but his control was much closer to his career average than his Florida State League showing. His stuff will still be fine, but we'll realize he's a little more raw than we thought.

Erik Hahmann: I'm in the front seat of the Robinson Chirinos bandwagon, and feel like he'll be a nice major league catcher when the time comes. I'm just worried that the Rays faithful are putting TOO much faith into him after only one season's worth of data.

Jason Hanselman: All due respect to Alex Cobb, but I'm not sure if he'll be able to have quite as solid of a season going forward as he did in 2010. I love that he gets ground balls by the dozen, but I'm not sold on his ability to throw in punch outs as well which could manifest itself as he continues to climb the ladder. Here's to one instance where I hope I'm way off-base.

Jake Larsen: Luke Bailey. Love the kid's upside, but I gotta think that Chaim Bloom must've seen something worrisome to draft Justin O'Conner and Jake DePew in 2010.

Mike Lortz: Hak-Ju Lee. I’m not completely sold yet. He is incredibly young, fast, and has a great arm. But the lack of power is disturbing. As well, as RP writes, he his trouble with good fastballs. I know this is going to seem wrong or a lazy ethnic comparison, but I see him as more Kaz Matsui than Rafael Furcal. Matsui was good at times, but never a star. I hope to see a lot of Lee this year in Port Charlotte.

Doug Milhoan: LHSP Alex Torres (over Matt &%#*@ Bush). The walk rate hasn't improved and he's hittable. Expect AAA hitters to take advantage of all those baserunners this season at Durham. Will move to the bullpen this season or next.

Tommy Rancel: As much as I like Hak-Ju Lee, I feel that he pretty far away from being considered a can't miss major leaguer. At his age, that's not a knock on him; however, all the talk about him being the Rays shortstop of the future seems premature at this point.

Steve Slowinski: I hate saying this, but I think Matt Bush has been getting a bit too much lovin' recently. He's an incredible story and I thought he looked really good in Spring Training (from my limited time), but a lot of people were hoping he'd break the season in the Rays bullpen... myself included. He only pitched 8 innings last season in Advanced-A, though, so I think he's farther away from the majors than many of us were hoping in Spring Training.

2- Hak-Ju Lee
2- Justin O'Conner
1- Jake Thompson
1- Matt Bush
1- Alex Torres
1- Alex Cobb
1- Luke Bailey
1- Robinson Chirinos
1- Chris Archer
1- Josh Sale

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rays Minor Leaguers Jefferies and Hall Create Website to Teach Fundamentals of Baseball

A duo of Rays 2008 draft picks have teamed up once again, this time its not on the playing field but on the internet. Catcher Jake Jefferies and Infielder Matt Hall have joined forced to create a website called Jakes Dugout. The site is geared towards players, coaches, parents as well as baseball fans and provides helpful tips and drills designed to help players improve their game.

The site debuted on Friday and the first featured series is called "Having a Plan." The four part segment breaks down the importance of having a plan at the plate and keeping with the plan no matter how good or bad it may be going. In addition to the features, the pair will answer individual questions from readers and post the answers for everyone to learn from their experiences.

Jefferies was drafted by the Rays in the Rays third round draft pick in the 2008 draft out of UC Davis where he was the Co-Player of the Year in the Big West Conference. He made his debut as a catcher in the organization that year with Hudson Valley and has advanced as high as Advanced-A Charlotte in 2010.

Hall, an infielder, was selected in the tenth round of the draft out of Auburn. He also debuted with Hudson Valley in 2008. He spent much of his career in Advanced-A in 2008 with Vero Beach and 2009/2010 with Charlotte. He played one game in AA Montgomery in 2009 and was called up to AAA Durham in the same season.

Visit the site at and follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep informed on site updates.

RaysProspects 2011 Predictions: Lower-Level Breakout

For our predictions series this year we'll be running one question each weekday through Monday, with answers coming from across the Rays blogosphere. You can find a complete list of the panelist's various blogs and websites in this post.

Today's question is: Who among the lower levels will have a breakout year in 2011? For this question, players with less than a half season at full-season affiliates were considered.

R.J. Anderson: If he counts, Luke Bailey. He’ll now be two years removed from surgery, which should lead to better production, although, I suppose if the team is aggressive, it could be evened out by tougher competition along with the difficulties involved in learning how to handle his defensive position.

Jason Collette: I think Enny Romero is too obvious here as I would consider his work last year as a breakout so I'm going with his teammate in Princeton last year, Braulio Lara. More than twice as many strikeouts than walks, an opponents' batting average of just .200, and only 74 baserunners in 66 innings pitched. If his other offerings can come around, he could be one of the best pitchers in the Sally this season.

FreeZorilla: Enny Romero seems too safe since he already broke onto the radar. I'm going with Andrew Bellatti who was been released from jail. He's quietly put up solid numbers with a horrible distraction and burden he had to bear for his poor decision. Hopefully he takes advantage of his second chance and emerges as a good pitcher, but more importantly a better person.

Cork Gaines: Jake Thompson. The first thing I always want to see from a young pitcher is a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio. And Thompson showed that in his limited play in 2010. His 5.3 strikeout-to-walk ration with Hudson Valley was a sign of good things to come. And if he can just add a little bit more command of those pitches, he should continue to dominate this season and see his name added to the Rays top pitching prospects.

Kevin Gengler: Hector Guevara. He just missed our top 15 hitters and had a disappointing year with Princeton, but there's still a lot I like. He proved he could hit as the MVP of the Venezuelan Summer League Rays in 2009 when he posted a .330/.374/.534 line. His batting average fell to .251 and he didn't hit for much power, but he was still making enough contact as an 18-year-old in the Appalachian League. He has a knack for getting the bat on the ball – he only struck out 31 times in 64 games for the P-Rays – and has the quick, strong wrists to hit for some power as well. His low-ish walk total hid a solid approach. He's not a free swinger, instead working the count to get a pitch he can hit. He showed soft hands in the field and will be able to stick at second base. Guevara should spend the year with Bowling Green, where he'll emerge as possibly the Rays' best infield (non-catching) prospect.

Erik Hahmann: Josh Sale. He was a first round pick in 2010 and has the tools to be an above average corner outfielder. First round picks should do well against the lower minor league levels, especially ones with the power of Sale.

Jason Hanselman: Justin O'Conner brought a lot of praise to go with his big bat when he was selected as a supplemental pick in 2010. There are a lot of bright minds wondering if he's ever going to be able to make enough contact to fully utilize his plus power, but I think a larger concern is how he would take to catching after a relatively late move to the position. As he hones his defensive craft it will allow him to focus more on what he does in the box. I think he'll show a lot more positives in that respect in 2011.

Jake Larsen: Ryan Brett. If there's any prospect in the Rays' system that I'm going to keep an eye on all season, it'll be our spark-plug-to-be Ryan Brett.

Mike Lortz: Josh Sale. I’m toeing the line of conformity here. The man hasn’t yet had a professional at-bat yet. But I think he will live up to the hype. Of course, he will probably initially struggle with plate discipline, but I think he will greatly improve by season’s end.

Doug Milhoan: RHSP Jake Thompson (over Ryan Brett and Todd Glaesmann). Rays 2010 2nd rounder had a great debut in Hudson Valley (plus 2 starts for Charlotte), expect him to move more quickly than we are used to with Rays pitching prospects. Should begin the season with in Charlotte with a possible mid-season promotion to Montgomery. Only 21 years old this season.

Tommy Rancel: Derek Dietrich is a guy who I really like. His defensive position is unknown, but has shown good power for his position. With some work on plate discipline, he could become an even more potent offensive player.

Steve Slowinski: I'm going to go out on a complete limb here and say Phil Wünderlich, mostly because he's got a truly awesome name (I threw an umlaut in for good measure). He did have an impressive season in Hudson Valley and his power is pretty intense, though, so I'll bite.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

RaysProspects 2011 Predictions: Upper-Level Breakout

For our predictions series this year we'll be running one question each weekday through Monday, with answers coming from across the Rays blogosphere. This year's panel:

*Jason Collette of Dock Of The Rays
*FreeZorilla of DRaysBay
*Cork Gaines of Rays Index
*Kevin Gengler of RaysProspects
*Erik Hahmann of DRaysBay
*Jason Hanselman of Dock Of The Rays
*Jake Larsen of RaysProspects
*Mike Lortz (AKA Jordi Scrubbings) of Bus Leagues Baseball, Rays Index, and
*Doug Milhoan of RaysProspects
*Steve Slowinski of DRaysBay and FanGraphs

Today's question is: Who among the upper levels will have a breakout year in 2011? This is taking into account players with full-season experience.

R.J. Anderson: I’ll go out on the proverbial limb and say Tim Beckham. It’s a predictable and boring selection, but I’ll gamble that his supposed hard work and flashing of tools will be greeted with much-needed success backed by improved plate discipline. The guy still had the pedigree to be the top overall pick not even three calendar years ago. Everyone needed to be able to stomach a four-to-five-to-six-year developmental curve and while the light is dimming, I don’t think the bulb is blown yet.

Jason Collette: Joe Cruz. Not many 30th round draft picks ever get consideration to be a major league starting pitcher but Cruz is laying the groundwork for that kind of future. Statcorner has his GB% at 48 and 46 percent the past two season and his G/F rate last season was 1.7. He actually induced more swinging strikeouts in High A last season than he did in Low A the previous season. 16 home runs in 303 professional inning is an impressive ratio but the true test of his ability to keep it in the yard comes next season in Montgomery.

FreeZorilla: Ty Morrison got off to a dreadful start in 2010, but made serious strides as the year progressed. I think the tools will continue to come together for the 20-year-old in Charlotte. RP had him as the #5 hitter, but that was more aggressive than most. He could really catch national attention this year.

Cork Gaines: Tim Beckham. This is kind of a make-or-break season for Tim Beckham. If he doesn't start to show some signs of being a top prospect, he will start to be spoken of in the same breath as Matt Bush (the hitter). That being said, the Rays consistently put their best players in situations where they are most likely to succeed. I liked how much playing time Beckham got with the big boys this spring. I think it will go a long ways to giving him the confidence he needs to step up. 2011 may not be a great year. But I think we will see enough offensively and defensively to once again believe he can be the Rays shortstop of the future.

Kevin Gengler: Ty Morrison. The 2008 fourth rounder was able to salvage his season after a brutal April last year and is primed for a big year with Charlotte. He improved his walk total each month throughout the year, and even with a .324 OBP, stole 58 bases with the Hot Rods. He only hit .250 for the season, but if you cut out April and June, it was over .290 (arbitrary, yes, but it shows the ability is there). His average and OBP should both go up significantly, and he could eclipse 60 steals if he's on base more. He's got plus speed and swiped bases at an 85% clip last year, a terrific number considering he attempted 68. With Desmond Jennings likely to graduate at some point this season, Morrison will take over as the top center field prospect in the system, and I think one of the top three hitters overall.

Erik Hahmann: Is Chris Archer too easy of an answer? Even though he was the centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade I don't feel like most Rays fans have a grasp of how good he is. A fastball that touches 96mph accompanied with a power slider? Yes, please. He needs to work on his control a bit, but he should make easy work of AAA hitters.

Jason Hanselman: Matt Sweeney. Since Sweeney came over from the Angels he has been a walking Red Cross tent, but the one thing he has by the gallon is power. The Rays are hungry for this attribute (see: Sale, Josh) so I think he will be afforded every opportunity to get healthy and get playing time. Keep in mind he'll turn 23 on April 4th, so he's young, but should be viewing this as a make or break season. It's in his best interest to get focused, healthy, and put together a real strong season.

Jake Larsen: Robinson Chirinos. Can't help it. I love this guy's upside and considering the organizations bottom-heavy depth and the current catchers on the Rays' 25-man roster(Shoppach and Jaso), can't see why he won't be up soon. Good-to-great power and good plate discipline, for the most part.

Mike Lortz: Tim Beckham. I’m either going to look like a fool or a genius here. I think this is year Beckham puts it together offensively. I think he will be an all-star at Montgomery, and among the leaders in walks and OBP. He’ll also probably hit around .300. I also think this is year he breaks double digits in homeruns (12-15?). Although certain Rays fans will still wish they drafted a certain catcher, Beckham will prove he has legit big league potential offensively. My concern however will remain on his defense. Although it will get better, I don’t think he stays at SS the whole season. With Hak-Ju Lee breathing down his positional neck, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beckham finally see some time in the outfield.

Doug Milhoan: RHSP Albert Suarez. After undergoing TJS in June of 2009, Suarez came back to pitch well for Bowling Green in 2010 despite limitations on his pitch counts and breaking balls. Fully recovered and without those restraints, I expect him to have a great year in Charlotte as a 21 year-old with 95 mph fastball and plus curve.

Tommy Rancel: Lost behind Chris Archer and Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Torres could make more of a name for himself at the Triple-A level this season. Torres throws a really good breaking ball and has enough velocity coming from his left arm. If he can show more control, I would expect him to pass Andy Sonnanstine as the team's unofficial sixth starter soon.

Steve Slowinski: As a stats guy, I'm really flying by the seat of my pants here. I'm tempted to say Tim Beckham just to be difficult (and because I do think he's still got a chance to surprise people), but I'm going to go with Chris Archer here. He's already a pretty highly rated prospect, but I really like what I hear about him and the Rays have a good track record with helping pitchers improve their control. I'm hoping for big things from him this season.

Tim Beckham: We want to believe

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Game Pictures from 3/19: Stone Crabs vs Keys

Click on the photo below for pictures from today's spring training game between the Stone Crabs and the Keys (Orioles) at Charlotte Sports Complex. The three photos at the end of Betts-Robinson, Hubbard and Johnson were from the bullpen and Hot Rods game as we were walking back to the truck. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Game Pictures from 3/17: Stone Crabs at Keys

Click on the photo below to view the photo gallery from today's spring training game between the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Frederick Keys (Orioles).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fourteen Players Reassigned to Minor League Camp

The Rays made their second round of cuts today, moving fourteen players to minor league camp. These players include:

  • Leslie Anderson
  • Chris Archer
  • Nevin Ashley
  • Tim Beckham
  • Russ Canzler
  • Robinson Chirinos
  • Alex Cobb
  • Dane De La Rosa
  • JJ Furmaniak
  • Brandon Gomes
  • Dirk Hayhurst
  • Desmond Jennings
  • Daniel Mayora
  • Stephen Vogt

Are There Biases In Top Prospects Lists?

Two of the most common criticisms of baseball top prospects lists are that they are biased both towards high draft picks and recent signings who haven't played much professionally. These complaints seem to apply to all of the major prospecting sites: BA, BP, John Sickels, etc. (And even our lists.) Let's see if the biases exist, and if so, why.

To address the first question I took BA's 2011 Top 10 Prospects for each team (30 x 10 = 300 prospects) and divided them up by where (draft round and international signs) and when (by signing year) each player was acquired. I used the BA rankings for two reasons, they were readily available and BA lists overlap with BP and others a great deal, over 80% most years.

Here are how the 300 players were acquired, broken down by draft round and international signings:

How Acquired               #         %
1st round                 75      25.0
1st - supplemental        33      11.0
2nd round                 35      11.7
3rd round                 23       7.7
4th round                 11       3.7
5th round                 10       3.3
6th-10th round            20       6.7
11th - 20th round         12       4.0
21st - 50th round         11       3.7
Non-drafted free agent     1      0.03
International sign        69        23
TOTALS                   300       100

Nearly half (47.7%) of the 300 top prospects were picked in the first two rounds of the draft, and nearly two-thirds (62.4%) in the first five rounds. If you remove international signings who aren't eligible for the draft, those percentages rise to 61.9% of top prospects coming from the first two rounds and 81.0% from the first five rounds. There is no set definition of 'high draft picks', but I think we can agree that players chosen in rounds one through five certainly qualify. When over 62% of all prospects and 81% of draft-eligible prospects are acquired via 'high draft picks', it seems fair to say there is a significant bias towards high draft picks in top prospects rankings.

Next up is 'recent signings', here are the 300 prospects by the year they were signed:

Year          #         %
2010         62      20.7
2009         69        23
2008         54        18
2007         51        17
2006         37      12.3
2005         15         5
2004         12         4
TOTALS      300       100

As with 'high draft picks', there is no set definition of 'recent signings'. Again, I think we can agree that players signed in the past two years should qualify, which includes 43.7% of the top prospects. If we extend 'recent signings' to the past three years it increases to 61.7%. While the percentages aren't as high as with 'high draft picks', there is certainly a tendency towards 'recent signings' when nearly two-thirds of the prospects were acquired in the past 3 years. One other thing to remember, this data includes not only drafted players but also international signs, many of whom were only 16 or 17 at the time and are still teenagers even two or three years later, or about the age they would be drafted out of high school in the U.S.

As an aside, since I have the data available, here are the international signings broken down by country of origin and year signed:

Country               #        %
Dominican Republic   37     53.6
Venezuela            19     27.5
Cuba                  3      4.3
Curacao               3      4.3
Mexico                3      4.3
Korea                 1      1.4
Columbia              1      1.4
Panama                1      1.4
Australia             1      1.4
TOTALS               69      100

Year          #         %
2010          4       5.8
2009          6       8.7
2008         10      14.5
2007         17      24.6
2006         17      24.6
2005          7      10.1
2004          8      11.6
TOTALS       69       100

One last note from the BA lists that applies to both 'high draft picks' and 'recent signings', 24 of the 300 top prospects, or 8%, had yet to play a single professional game. The ultimate in potential over performance in prospect ranking.

I originally asked: if there is a bias, why? The data does show biases towards high draft picks and recently acquired players, but much of that can be explained by real world considerations in putting together top prospects lists. Looking at high draft picks, it just makes sense that if a team drafts Player A in the first round and pays them a huge signing bonus, their scouts believe that they are a better prospect than Player B who they drafted in the 15th round and paid a small bonus. The folks making the prospect lists don't have nearly the information available about each player that the team does, so it makes sense to rely on the team's evaluation to some degree.

Turning to the rankings for recent picks who have played little or no pro ball, there are several reasons for this to occur. First, there is some overlap with the first bias, top picks, since top picks tend to sign late and not play much that season. Second, the nature of creating prospect lists is to identify players earlier than the competition. If for example BA waited until a player reached AA before listing them as a prospect, they would lose their readership to list makers who identify prospects years earlier. And third, players signed in 2004 or 2005  generally are no longer prospects. Either they have reached the majors or flamed out after five or six minor league seasons (high school picks who miss a year or two with injuries and young international signs are the exception). If we wait several seasons to see a consistent record of professional performance, top prospects lists would be very short.

Bottom line: The biases do exist, but the complaints about them aren't as valid when you take into consideration the real-world factors affecting top prospects rankings. Agree, disagree, anything I've overlooked?

Rays Minor League Spring Training Video: D.J. Jones

Nice story by Jeff Shearer (WSFA-12 in Montgomery) from minor league spring training featuring outfielder D.J. Jones (and family). Unfortunately, at the end of the video he suffers a grade-one sprain of his left ankle and is expected to miss a few days.

TPR 11 - Coming Soon

We don't touch much on the major-league action here, but Rays fans are no doubt familiar with the blogs that do. Contributors from three of them, DRaysBay, The Process Report, and Dock Of The Rays along with a few others from around the internet have joined forces to create TPR 11.

It's not fair to think of it as a season preview, though with an AL East preview and player profiles of all those on the 40-man roster, it's certainly got that base covered. The chapters written cover the organization past, present, and future, on the field and off, from Manny Ramirez and David Price to Andrew Friedman and ESPN, which a little bit of everything in between.

The writing is consistently strong throughout, and the entire work has a crisp, clean look and feel (unlike a certain guide done in Open Office). You can read reviews by FreeZo at DRaysBay and Jason Hanselman at Dock Of The Rays, and over at The Process Report you'll find free excerpts so you can sample the range of writing up to its release next week.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Minor Moves: Cabral

Cesar Cabral pitches against Baltimore in a spring training game on March 1.  Photo by Jim Donten.LHP Cesar Cabral has been claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cabral appeared in three games for the Rays this spring, he pitched 3.2 innings and had a 4.91 ERA with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. He was the Rays pick in the Rule 5 Draft from the Red Sox.

Minor Moves: Gonzalez, Ortiz

Matt Edy with Baseball America reports the following transactions made by the Rays during the week of March 1 to March 8.

  • Signed RHP Edgar Gonzalez
  • Released RHP Ramon Ortiz

Gonzalez was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000. He spent his career at various levels in the Diamondbacks, Athletics and Dodger organization. He spent seven years at the major league level and his last assignment was Triple-A Albuquerque in 2010.

Also former RHP Tyree Hayes has been signed by the Cincinnati Reds organization.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eight Players Sent to Minor League Camp in First Round of Cuts

The Tampa Bay Rays have announced the first roster cuts of the spring. Eight players were sent to minor league camp including:

  • Brian Baker
  • Jonah Bayliss
  • Matt Bush
  • Dane De La Rosa
  • Brandon Guyer
  • Ricky Orta
  • Albert Suarez
  • Alex Torres

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2011 Stone Crabs Individual Tickets on Sale Monday, March 14

Press Release provided by Stone Crabs Marketing Manager Regina Van Henkelum.

The 2011 Individual tickets for the Charlotte Stone Crabs 2011 season will go on sale to the general public starting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 14, at the Charlotte Sports Park box office or by calling 941-206-HITS(4487)

While purchasing the tickets the fans will be able to listen to and participate in the live remote broadcast by Kix Country 92.9. The Stone Crabs are also offering extra incentives for fans that arrive at the event early with Metro PCS and Stone Crabs giveaways. There will also be an opportunity for the fans to take pictures and get autographs from the team’s mascot Stoney.

Tickets for all 2011 home games range anywhere from just $6-11 and are currently available for all home games. Reserved seats for Opening Night (April 7) are limited and tickets for that game sold out in record time last year.

The team will host their Opening Day on Thursday, April 7, against the Bradenton Marauders at Charlotte Sports Park with Cal Ripken Jr. scheduled to make an appearance. The only way to guarantee a seat for the game is to purchase a Season Seat package. Call 941-206-HITS (4487) or visit for more information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Minor Moves: Three Assigned To VSL Rays

Per the milb Venezuelan Summer League transactions page, three players have been assigned to the VSL Rays roster: catcher Gianfranco Aldazoro and pitchers Brohiglyn Rivero and Johan Marval.

Aldazoro, who will turn 17 in April, is a 6'1" 205 lb. righthanded hitter from La Victoria, Venezuela. He batted .213/.288/.298 in 47 ABs for the Rays team in the Liga Paralela last fall/winter.

Rivero is a 6'3" 185 lb. righthander from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. He turns 18 in May. Rivero started one game in the Liga Paralela, only lasting 1.0 IP and allowing 1 earned run on a hit and 3 walks with a strikeout.

Marval, who won't be 18 until November, is another righthander out of Valencia, Venezuela. He is listed at 6'1" 195 lbs. Marval also pitched in the Liga Paralela, putting up a 6.41 ERA in 10 relief appearances. Over 19.2 innings he allowed 29 hits (including 5 homeruns) and 12 walks while striking out 15 batters.

[Update]: Make that four, as pitcher Kevin Cazorla has also been added to the VSL Rays roster. A 6'2" 190 lb. righthander from La Victoria, Venezuela, Cazorla will turn 18 next October. In the Liga Paralela he had an 8.59 ERA in 5 relief appearances. Over a total of 7.1 IP he allowed 12 hits, 9 walks, and struck out 3.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Earn Extra Inning Win Against Toronto Blue Jays

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays rallied in the late innings to secure a 3-2 extra innings victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park. The Blue Jays took the lead early and it wasn't until the inning before the Rays could tie the game. They pushed across a run in the bottom of the tenth to earn the walk-off win and extend the winning streak to two games.

The Blue Jays took the lead in the first inning with a solo home run by Rajai Davis to lead off the game. Then in the second inning, David Cooper scored on a ground ball by Adeiny Hechavarria to put the Jays ahead 2-0.

The Rays cut the lead in half with a solo home run by Dan Johnson in the seventh inning.

The Rays then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Nevin Ashley led off the inning with a line drive single to right field. He would later score on an RBI triple by Robinson Chirinos to tie the game 2-2.

The tied did not last long as the Rays pushed the winning run across the plate in the tenth inning. Chris Carter doubled to left to lead of the inning. Justin Ruggiano then delivered a two out single that scored Carter to win the game 3-2.

James Shields started the game and allowed both runs in 3 1/3 innings. From that point on, the bullpen finished the game without allowing another run and only two hits. RJ Swindle, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Cesar Cabral and Brandon Gomes all pitched no-hit innings while Adam Russell was the only reliever to allow a hit. Gomes picked up the victory.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Tim Beckham: 0 for 2.
Robinson Chirinos:2 for 2 and knocked home the tying run with an RBI triple.
Desmond Jennings: 0 for 3.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (3-7-1) will split squad on Wednesday. Half of the squad will remain in Port Charlotte to rematch the Blue Jays (4-6). Jeff Niemann is scheduled to start for the Rays with Cory Wade, Dane De La Rosa, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos and Chris Archer also scheduled to pitch.

The other squad will travel to St. Pete for a game at the old spring training home of the Rays, Progress Energy Park where they will play the Netherlands National team. Chris Bootcheck will start for the Rays with Jonah Bayliss, Richard De Los Santos, Dirk Hayhurst and Brian Baker scheduled to pitch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The RaysProspects 2011 Prospect Guide

Well, here it is. You can download it (for free, of course!) here, here, or here. If any of those download links don't work, please let me know in the comments.

In the 155 pages, here's some of what you'll find:
*Write-ups of roughly 200 Rays minor-leaguers, including full pages on the top 15 hitters & pitchers
*Affiliate previews for the four full-season teams
*Predictions for the 2011 season
*An in-depth look at the best tools in the organization
*A special feature on just how good Matt Moore has been

I'd really appreciate it if you stopped by the comments section to let me know what you think of it. What you liked, what you didn't like, what we could do better next time (oh yeah, I'm already thinking about next time), pretty much anything. I love to hear from the readers.

We'll bump this to the top of the page every so often for now, and pretty soon we'll have a permanent link on the sidebar.

Organizational Roster

After Doug’s post on Sunday and the feedback looking for spring training camp rosters, I went searching. I could not find anything and when the question was asked, the answer was there is no formal minor league camp roster for publication. I was directed to the media guide for a list of players in the system.

So I took the information in the guide and put together an organization roster. The roster below includes all levels within the organization from Foreign Rookie League through the Majors. The players listed below are current with the latest printing of the media guide.

I then put the players that are currently in Major League Camp in capital letters. These players were still in major league camp as of 3/5.

While it is not a true account that every one has reported and still with the organization, but it is the best account we have. Hopefully it will answer some of those questions about the free agents that re-signed with the organization.

Pitchers (147)
Wilmer Almonte, Yomelbin Almonte, Jose Alonzo. Freddy Alvarez, Chris Andujar, CHRIS ARCHER, Oscar Armenta, Junior Astacio, BRIAN BAKER, Nick Barnese, JONAH BAYLISS, Andrew Bellatti, Omar Bencomo, JR Betts-Robinson, CHRIS BOOTCHECK, MATT BUSH, CESAR CABRAL, Luis Cabrera, Orlando Cabrera, Joselito Cano, Miguel Canturiano, Kevin Cazorla, Carlos Cedeno, Henry Centeno, ALEX COBB, Alex Colome, Roque Colon, Joe Cruz, JUAN CRUZ, WADE DAVIS, ROB DELANEY, Giesel De La Cruz, DANE DE LA ROSA, Jairo De La Rosa, Frank De Los Santos, RICHARD DE LOS SANTOS, Robert Dickmann, Aaron Dott, Hugo Duarte, Shane Dyer, Ely Echarry, MIKE EKSTROM, Sergio Espinosa, KYLE FARNSWORTH, Jose Fermin, Mario Fernandez, Ryan Fleckenstein, Marquis Fleming, Feliz Fuentes, Justin Garcia, Nate Garcia, Matt Gilson, BRANDON GOMES, Roberto Gomez, Jose Gonzalez, Joyned Gonzalez, Joan Guerrero, Jesse Hahn, Jeremy Hall, Stephan Havlicek, DIRK HAYHURST, JEREMY HELLICKSON, Brandon Henderson, Wilmer Hernandez, Hunter Hill, Steve Hiscock, JP HOWELL, Austin Hubbard, Jhefferson Hurtado, Kevin James, Mickey Jannis, Michael Jarman, George Jenson, Marcus Jensen, Daniel Johnson, Merrill Kelly, Ian Kendall, Will Kline, Alex Koronis, Braulio Lara, Andrew Leary, Adam Liberatore, Kyle Lobstein, Reinaldo Lopez, Parker Markel, Johan Marval, Victor Mateo, Deivis Mavarez, Jason McEachern, JAKE MCGEE, Luis Mercedes, Shane Minks, Jose Molina, Matt Moore, David Newmann, JEFF NIEMANN, Carlos Orasma, RICKY ORTA, Jacob Partridge, Jimmy Paterson, JOEL PERALTA, Paul Phillips, DAVID PRICE, Zach Quate, Eduar Quinonez, CESAR RAMOS, Chris Rearick, Ryan Reid, CJ Riefenhauser, Brohiglyn Rivero, Felipe Rivero, Jorge Rodriguez, Wilking Rodriguez, Enny Romero, Gregory Rosal, ADAM RUSSELL, Luis Ruiz, Wilmer Sabala, Danmar Salazar, Yerwin Sanchez, Josh Satow, Neil Schenk, Ronald Serrano, JAMES SHIELDS, Trevor Shull, Scott Shuman, Pedro Silvestre, ANDY SONNANSTINE, Dauris Soriano, Matt Spann, Matt Stabelfeld, ALBERT SUAREZ, Bruedlin Suero, Jake Sullivan, RJ SWINDLE, Matt Swilley, Jake Thompson, ALEX TORRES, Jose Torres, Phillips Valdez, Christian Vasquez, Francis Vizaino, CORY WADE, Luis Wilches, Justin Woodall, Kirby Yates, Luis Yendis

Catchers (27)
Mayobanex Acosta , CRAIG ALBERNAZ, Gianfranco Aldazoro , Jesus Araiza, NEVIN ASHLEY, Luke Bailey, ROBINSON CHIRINOS, Jake DePew, Wilmer Dominguez, Tomas Francisco, Jhonatan Gomez, Kyle Holloway, Jhancarlos Infante, JOHN JASO, Jake Jefferies, JOSE LOBATON, Omar Narvaez, Justin O’Conner, Gerardo Olivares, Hector Rodriguez, Francisco Rosario, Alejando Segovia, KELLY SHOPPACH, Mark Thomas, Alejando Torres, STEPHEN VOGT, David Wendt

Infielders (64)
Ron Acosta , Ismael Aguero , LESLIE ANDERSON, TIM BECKHAM, Jose Bellorin, Tanner Biagini, Tyler Bortnick, Ryan Brett, REID BRIGNAC, RUSS CANZLER, Julio Cedeno, Cody Cipriano, Leopoldo Correa, Bennett Davis, Raynil De Castro, Derek Dietrich, Douglas Duran, Federico Eder, Erick Epifano, Robu Estrada, Cole Figeroa, Travis Flores, JJ FURMANIAK, Darryl George, Felix Gonzalez, Hector Guevara, Matt Hall, Seth Henry, DAN JOHNSON, ELLIOT JOHNSON, CASEY KOTCHMAN, Scott Lawson, Hak-Ju Lee, EVAN LONGORIA, FELIPE LOPEZ, Diogenes Luis, Omar Luna, Jeff Malm, DANIEL MAYORA, Julio Medina, Lucas Montero, Julian Morillo, RAY OLMEDO, Shawn O’Malley, Emmanuel Paulino, Cesar Perez, Robby Price, Juniel Querecuto, Leonardo Reginatto, Keiverson Reyes, Junior Rodriguez, SEAN RODRIGUEZ, Adderly Rosa, Anthony Scelfo, Nick Schwaner, Greg Sexon, Michael Sheridan, Alexander Simon, Kyle Spraker, Matt Sweeney, Juan Tapia, Steven Tinoco, Henry Wrigley, Phil Wunderlich

Outfielders (49)
Franklin Alcala, Islmel Antunez, Yoel Araujo, Dustin Biell, Brian Bryles, Joel Caminero, CHRIS CARTER, Gabe Cohen, JOHNNY DAMON, Alex Diaz, Deshun Dixon, Edward Dorville, Bryan Fogle, Reid Fronk, SAM FULD, Todd Glaesmann, Cesar Guillen, BRANDON GUYER, Nahum Hernandez, JOE INGLETT, DESMOND JENNINGS, MATT JOYCE, Kyeong Kang, Kevin Kiermaier, Kyle Lusson, Craige Lyerly, Darwin, Maldonado, Luis Marte, John Matulia, Ty Morrison, Chris Murrill, Jiminon Natera, Brett Nommensen, Jose Paez, Franklin Paz, Jonathan Quinonez, MANNY RAMIREZ, Wester Ramos, Cody Rogers, Waldo Rosario, JUSTIN RUGGUANO, Josh Sale, Emeel Salem, BJ UPTON, Erick Vasquez, Isaias Velasquez, Drew Vettleson, Chris Winder, BEN ZOBRIST

Tampa Bay Rays Snap Losing Streak with Win Over Pittsburgh Pirates

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays snapped their losing trend by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Monday afternoon at McKechnie Field. Desmond Jennings helped secure the win by driving in the go ahead run in the top of the eighth inning.

The Rays took the lead first by scoring in the second inning. With Matt Joyce on first, BJ Upton doubled to center field, scoring Joyce and giving the Rays a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. A two run home run by Matt Diaz sailed over the right field wall and gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

But the Rays bounced back an inning later by posting another run on the scoreboard. BJ Upton and Dan Johnson led off the inning with back to back walks. Upton stole third and then later scored on an RBI single by Tim Beckham to tie the game 2-2.

The game remained tied until the top of the seventh inning. Joe Lobaton drew a walk with one out to put a runner on the bases. Casey Kotchman then singled to right, moving Lobaton to third. With runners on the corners, Jennings knocked home the go ahead run with a sac fly to score Lobaton. Felipe Lopez then drew a walk followed by a single by Sam Fuld to load the bases for the Rays. Justin Rugginao drew a bases loaded walk to score Kotchman and give the Rays an insurance run.

That was all they needed as they kept the Pirates off the board in the final two innings and secure the 4-2 win and break the losing streak.

David Price made the start and pitched 4 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits with 2 strikeouts and a walk in the no decision. Rob Delaney picked up his second win of the spring by pitching a scoreless frame. Alex Cobb and Matt Bush each pitched a no-hit inning with Cobb earning a hold and Bush the save.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Alex Cobb: earned the hold with 1 no-hit inning with 2 strikeouts.
Desmond Jennings: drove in the go ahead run in his only plate appearance.
Tim Beckham: 1 for 3 with an RBI.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (2-7-1) return home to Charlotte Sports Park on Tuesday for the first of back to back home games against the Toronto Blue Jays (4-5). James Shields will start for the Rays against Brandon Morrow for the Blue Jays. Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz, Joel Peralta, Adam Russell and Cesar Cabral are also scheduled to pitch.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Game Pictures from 3/5: Rays vs Twins

Click on the photo below to view the photo gallery from Saturday's Rays spring training game against the Twins.

Desmond Jennings makes a diving catch

Tampa Bay Rays Victim of Bottom of the Ninth Rally by Philadelphia Phillies

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays battled back from three runs down but a late game surge by the Philadelphia Philles led to the Rays losing their seventh game of the spring. The Rays could not hold on in the last two innings of the game and lost 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Brighthouse Networks Field in Clearwater.

The Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Ryan Howard went deep off Wade Davis to lead off the inning and give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

The Phillies extended their lead in the third inning. They lead off the inning once again with a home run, this time it was Brian Schneider taking the offering from Cesar Ramos over the right field wall. The second run came later in the inning when Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard delivered back to back singles. Placido Polanco then singled home Ibanez to increase the lead to 3-0.

The Rays battled back to tie the game with a three run fifth inning. Casey Kotchman led off the inning with a double to center. Kotchman then moved to third on a single by Joe Inglett. Ray Olmedo then laid down a bunt, scoring Kotchman but losing Inglett at second on the force. Desmond Jennings then drew a walk. A double by Sean Rodriguez would score Olmedo and Jennings to give tie the game 3-3.

The Rays took the lead in the top of the seventh inning. Inglett singled to center. Inglett then stole second and later scored on an RBI single by Chris Carter to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

The Phillies bounced back to tie the game in the eighth inning. Matt Rizzotti delivered a solo home run off Cory Wade to tie the game 4-4.

The home team Phillies used the bottom of the ninth inning to take down the Rays. Roass Gload singled to right to lead off the inning. Delwyn Young then laid down a sac bunt to advance the runner, but a throwing error by JJ Furmaniak led to Young reach base and Gload moving to second. Pete Orr then laid down a sac bunt, moving both runners into scoring position. Joel Naughton singled home the winning run with a single to right, scoring Gload and handing the Rays a 5-4 loss.

Brian Baker was charged with the loss. Wade Davis started the game, pitched 2 inning and allowed 1 run on 2 hits with 2 strikeouts. Juan Cruz, Jake McGee, Jonah Bayliss and Brandon Gomes each provided a no-hit inning of relief. Cesar Ramos surrendered 2 runs on 4 hits and Cory Wade allowed 1 run on 1 hit.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Tim Beckham: 1 for 1 with a single.
Robinson Chirinos: 0 for 3 with 3 K's.
Desmond Jennings: 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored.
Jake McGee: pitched a no-hit inning, striking out 2 of the 3 hitters he faced.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (1-7-1) travel to McKechnie Field to play the Pittsburgh Pirates (5-5) on Monday. David Price will start for the Rays facing Ross Ohlendorf for the Pirates. Mike Ekstrom, Rob Delaney, Matt Bush and Alex Cobb are also expected to pitch.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Fall to Minnesota Twins

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays spring training struggles continue as they fell to the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park. Andy Sonnanstine gave up four runs early and the offense was unable to recover, leading to their sixth loss in seven days.

The Twins wasted no time reaching the scoreboard, posting two runs in the first inning. Ben Revere drew a walk to lead of the game. Revere stole second and then later scored an RBI single by Jason Kubel. Kubel would then score on a double by Danny Valencia to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

The Twins added two more runs in the second inning. Trevor Plouffe singled to get things started. He then stole second bad. Drew Butera followed with a fly ball to left that Johnny Damon lost in the sun, the ball fell to the ground and allowed Plouffe to score. Ben Revere then singled home Butera to increase the lead to 4-0.

The Twins added yet another run in the third inning. Chris Parmelee homered to left to give the Twins a 5-0 lead.

Minnesota posted another run to the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning. Back to back singles to Butera and Rene Tosoni followed by a walk to Brian Dozier loaded the bases for the Twins. Matt Brown drew a bases loaded walk to score Butera and increase the lead to 6-0.

The Rays picked up their first hit of the ballgame and only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sean Rodriguez doubled past the diving left fielder Brian Dinkleman to record the Rays first hit of the game to lead off the inning. Rodriguez moved to third on a fly out by Desmond Kennings. John Jaso picked up the RBI and gave the Rays their only run of the game.

Andy Sonnanstine was charged with the loss. Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Chris Bootcheck, Chris Archer and Richard De Los Santos each provided a shut-out inning.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Chris Archer: pitch a shut-out inning with 1 hit, a strikeout and a walk.
Robinson Chirinos: 0 for 1.
Brandon Guyer: 0 for 1.
Desmond Jennings: 1 for 3.

A Look Ahead: The Rays travel to Clearwater to face the Phillies on Sunday. Wade Davis will start for the Rays against Cliff Lee for the Phillies. Cesar Ramos, Jake McGee and Jonah Bayliss are also scheduled to pitch.

Weekend Open Thread: With Extra Crab

I was hoping we could have posted the minor league spring training roster by now, since pitchers and catchers already reported yesterday. It's fun every year to look over the roster and try to spot which guys aren't listed, sort of a game to see who can find the most missing players. But no such luck so far.

Maybe I'm just crabby from no baseball and the long winter, but I'm getting a little tired of the Rays keeping everything a national secret. If Jim hadn't reverse-engineered the minor league spring training game schedule (over two weeks ago!) we still wouldn't have it. Not exactly helpful for family and friends of the players (and fans too) who want to schedule trips to see minor league spring training.

Okay, so I am a little crabby. But still, I'm not asking for an exclusive or anything, post it on MiLB or give it to DRaysBay or RaysIndex or Stacy Long... or anybody. Just get the information out there for the folks who care about it, the fans of the teams. Enough of my whining.

I'm looking forward to reading Kevin's RaysProspects 2011 Prospect Guide, which is scheduled to be available for free download on Monday. The Guide is by far the biggest project ever undertaken at RP, and all of the credit goes to Kevin.

I did start a new site for non-Rays-related baseball posts called Triple Play Depth. Everything about the Rays will still be posted here, but I wanted somewhere to write about baseball topics that really didn't fit at RP. I'm just getting started, but let me know what you think of it so far. And as always, have a great weekend!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Can't Hold Off Late Inning Rally, Fall to Minnesota Twins

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays dropped a close game to the Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Friday afternoon at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. The Rays battled from three runs down to take the lead in the seventh inning but a late inning surge by the Twins led to the Rays losing their fifth game of the spring.

The Twins scored the first run of the game in the third inning. Tsuyoshi Nishioka reached on a force out to get things going. Nishioka stole second and then scored on an RBI single by Jason Kubel to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.

The Twins increased their lead in the fifth inning. Denard Span and Nishioka delivered back to back singles. Both runners were driven home on an RBI double by Kubel to increase the lead to 3-0.

The Rays battled back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. They led off the inning with four consecutive singles to get things going. Reid Brignac, BJ Upton, John Jaso and Evan Longoria all recorded hits with Jaso and Longoria getting an RBI each. Jaso would later score on a ground ball by Casey Kotchman to tie the game 3-3.

The Rays took the lead the next inning. Russ Canzler hit a sac fly to center that scored Robinson Chirinos to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

But they did not hold the lead long as the Twins rallied in the eighth inning. Matt Brown singled to center followed by a walk to Steve Holm. Brown would then score on a single by Ben Revere to tie the game. Chase Lambin drove home the game winning run with a sac fly to score Tolbert and hand the Rays a 5-4 loss.

Alex Cobb was charged with a blown save and the loss for the Rays. Alex Torres pitched 2 shut-out innings allowing just 1 hits and a walk while striking out 2 in the start. Matt Bush pitched a no-hit inning while Rob Delaney and Brian Baker each added a shut-out inning on the mound.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Robinson Chirinos: 0 for 1 with a walk and a run scored.
Alex Cobb: 2 runs on 2 hits with 2 strikeouts and a walk in an inning pitched.
Alex Torres: 2 shut-out innings allowing 1 hit with 2 strikeouts and a walk.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (1-5-1) host the Twins (4-2) for a rematch on Saturday at Charlotte Sports Park. Andy Sonnanstine will start for the Rays facing Nick Blackburn for the Twins. Adam Russell, Chris Bootcheck and Chris Archer are also scheduled to pitch for the Rays.

Looking Back: 2007 Opening Day Rosters

I was looking through some old notes last night and came across the opening day rosters from 2007 for the Rays full-season teams.

As the Rays minor league pitchers and catchers report to spring training today, let's take a look back at where the organization stood just over four years ago.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Pitchers: Shawn Camp, Casey Fossum, Gary Glover, Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Ruddy Lugo, Al Reyes, Jae Kuk Ryu, Juan Salas, Jae Seo, James Shields, Brian Stokes, Jon Switzer (DL)

Catchers: Dioner Navarro, Josh Paul

Infielders: Brendan Harris, Akinori Iwamura, Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, Ty Wigginton, Ben Zobrist

Outfielders: Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Elijah Dukes, Jonny Gomes, Greg Norton (DL), Delmon Young

Durham Bulls

Pitchers: Steve Andrade, Tim Corcoran, Scott Dohmann, Jason Hammel, J.P. Howell, Seth McClung, Jeff Niemann, Chad Orvella, Tony Peguero, Jeff Ridgway, Andrew Sonnanstine, Mitch Talbot

Catchers: Raul Casanova, Shawn Riggans

Infielders: Wes Bankston, Jorge Cantu, Joel Guzman, Elliot Johnson, Matthew Maniscalco, Jorge Velandia

Outfielders: Dustin Mohr, Jeremy Owens, Chris Richard, Justin Ruggiano

Montgomery Biscuits

Pitchers: Nick DeBarr, Richard De Los Santos, Derek Feldkamp, Jeremy Flanagan, Brian Henderson, James Houser, Chris Mason, Evan Meek, Mike Prochaska, Chris Seddon, Dale Thayer, Brett Wayne

Catchers: Josh Arhart, John Jaso

Infielders: Josh Asanovich, Reid Brignac, Brooks Badeaux, Evan Longoria, Gabriel Martinez, Chris Nowak

Outfielders: Patrick Breen, Shaun Cumberland, Fernando Perez, Jason Pridie

Vero Beach Devil Rays

Pitchers: Jonathan Beltre, Drew Bigda, Wade Davis, Eddie De La Cruz, Greg Dupas, Jino Gonzalez, Jeff Kamrath, Kevin Lynn, Jacob McGee, Paul Moviel, Aaron Walker, Matt Walker, Michael Wlodarczyk

Catchers: Alex Jamieson, Christian Lopez, Sergio Pedroza

Infielders: Patrick Cottrell, Matthew Devins, Rhyne Hughes, Jason St. Clair, Hunter Vick, Neil Walton

Outfielders: Erold Andrus, Garrett Groce, J.T. Hall

Columbus Catfish

Pitchers: Brian Baker, Joshua Butler, Matt Falk, Woods Fines, Neal Frontz, Jeremy Hellickson (DL), Chris Kelly, Ryan Morse, Wilton Noel, Ryan Owen, Ryan Reid, Heath Rollins, Wade Townsend

Catchers: Craig Albernaz, Nevin Ashley, Matt Spring

Infielders: Joey Callender, Jairo De La Rosa, Seth Dhaenens (DL), Matthew Fields, Brett Grandstrand, Brandon Rousseve (DL), Cesar Suarez

Outfielders: Desmond Jennings, Maiko Loyola, John Matulia, Ryan Royster, Quinn Stewart

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees Battle to a 1-1 Tie

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays put an end to their losing skid by playing to a 1-1 tie against the New York Yankess on Thursday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park. Great pitching combined with a 21 mile per hour wind blowing in from centerfield led to six and a half scoreless innings before the first run crossed the plate.

They Rays broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh inning. Casey Kotchman doubled to left with two outs to put a runner in scoring position. Then back to back walks by Sean Rodriguez and Robinson Chirinos loaded the bases for the Rays. Tim Beckham drew a bases loaded walk to push Kotchman across the plate and give them a 1-0 lead.

The Yankees battled back to tie the game in the top of the eighth inning. Gustavo Molina and Kevin Russo both singled to put two runners on the bases. Molino then scored on a ground ball off the bat of Brad Suttle what was misplayed by shortstop Ray Olmedo to score the tying run.

The game remained tied through the tenth inning when the game was declared a tie.

James Shields started for the Rays and allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk in 3 scoreless innings on the mound. RJ Swindle and Cory Wade each pitched 2 no-hit innings while Juan Cruz pitched 1 no-hit inning. Jake McGee was charged with a blown save as the lone run came while he was on the mound.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Tim Beckham: 1 for 2 with a double, walk and an RBI.
Robinson Chirinos: 0 for 1 with a walk.
Brandon Guyer: 0 for 1.
Desmond Jennings: 0 for 3.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (1-4-1) travel to Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers to play two games against the Twins (3-2) on Friday. The "A" game features Alex Torres starting for the Rays against Kevin Slowey for the Twins. The "B" game will showcase Jeff Niemann versus Francisco Liriano. Also available to pitch for the Rays are Mike Ekstrom, Dane De La Rosa, Rob Delaney, Dirk Hayhurst and Cesar Cabral.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Unable to Stop Rally by Toronto Blue Jays, Lose Fourth Straight

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays rallied back from a three run deficit to take the lead, but could not contain a late game rally by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays gave up two runs in the ninth to lose the game 5-4, dropping their fourth game in a row. Dan Johnson made his case for the starting first base slot by going 2 for 3 with a double, triple, 2 RBI's and 2 runs scored.

The Blue Jays jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the second inning. Juan Rivera doubled to left with one out to put a runner in scoring position. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a two run homer to clear the bases. The next batter, JP Arencibia, drew a walk. He then advanced to second on an errant pick-off throw by David Price. Price issued another walk to Anthony Gose and ball four was wild, allowing Arencibia to advance to third. A ground ball by Mike McCoy scored Arencibia to give the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.

The Rays got a run back in the top of the fourth. Johnson tripled to right with two outs to put a runner on base. Felipe Lopez drove home the run with an RBI single to short, pulling the Rays to within two runs of the lead.

The Rays then posted a three run inning in the top of the sixth to take the lead. Reid Brignac singled to left to lead off the inning. Ben Zobrist followed with a ground-rule double to but two runners in scoring position. Then Johnson knocked home two runs with a double to right, scoring Brignac and Zobrist. Johnson would later score on a single by Joe Inglett to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

The Rays held onto the lead until the home half of the ninth inning. Darin Mastroianni led off the inning with a single to center. Mastroianni then stole second and Ryan Budde drew a walk to put another runner on the bases. Jacob Marisnick moved the runners closer to home with a sac bunt, advancing all runners one base. Then it was a single to left by Jonathan Diaz to score both Mastroianni and Budde to give the Rays the 5-4 loss.

Richard De Los Santos was charged with the loss and a blown save. David Price made the start and allowed 3 runs on 2 hits with a strikeout and 2 walks in 2 innings pitched. Wade Davis made his spring debut, pitching a no-hit inning. Jonah Bayliss and Brandon Gomes also pitched no-hit innings while Adam Russell and Chris Bootcheck pitched shut-out innings.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Tim Beckham: 0 for 1.
Brandon Guyer: 0 for 1.
Desmond Jennings: 0 for 3 with a strikeout.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (1-4) return home to Charlotte Sports Park to host the division rival New York Yankees (2-3). James Shields (0-0, 9.00) will start for the Rays against Freddy Garcia (0-0, 0.00) for the Yankees.

Game Pictures from 3/1: Rays at Orioles

Here are pictures from Tuesday's game against the Orioles. Click on the photo below to view the gallery.

Cesar Cabral on the mound for the Rays

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Give Up Five Homers, Lose to Baltimore Orioles

The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles 12-6 on Tuesday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium. The Rays gave up five runs off four home runs in the first inning and never recovered, leading them to their third consecutive loss of the spring.

The Orioles rocked Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine for four home runs in the first inning. A two run homer by Nick Markakis and solo shots by Luke Scott, Vladimir Guerrero and Adam Jones gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead.

The Orioles added two more long balls in the bottom of the second to increase their lead. A solo shot by Jake Fox and then Markakis's second home run of the game gave them a 6-0 lead.

The Rays struck for their first run in the top of the fourth inning. Sean Rodriguez singled to center. S-Rod would then steal second and later score on an RBI double by Evan Longoria to drop the deficit to five, 6-1.

But the hard charging Orioles offense struck for four more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Matt Wieters knocked in a run with an RBI double and then later scored on an RBI since by Jake Fox. Fox would later scored on an RBI single by Markakis. The final run of the inning would come on a sac fly by Guerrero to increase the lead to 10-1.

The Rays delivered some long balls of their own in the fifth and sixth innings. It started with a solo home run by Kelly Shoppach in the fifth inning. Then Manny Ramirez and BJ Upton hit back to back jacks in the sixth to pull within six runs, 10-4.

The Rays added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning. Brandon Guyer drew a walk to lead off the inning. Desmond Jennings followed with a single to left. Then Justin Ruggiano drove home a run with an RBI double to right, scoring Guyer. Jennings later scored on a sac fly by Chris Carter to pull within four runs of the lead, 10-6.

But the Orioles matched runs in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs on a double by Brandon Snyder to increase the lead. The Rays could not generate anymore offense as they fell 12-6.

The Rays pitching staff was a tale of two stories. The good was really good; Cesar Cabral pitched 1 1/3 no-hit innings striking out 2 of the 4 hitters he faced, Chris Archer pitched a no-hit inning with striking out the side and RJ Swindle struck out 2 for the 3 hitters he faced in a no-hit inning. But when it was bad, it was really bad; Andy Sonnanstine was rocked for 6 runs on 6 hits with 5 of them being homers as he was charged with the loss, Ron Delaney allowed 4 runs on 5 hits and Matt Bush gave up 2 runs on 2 hits with 2 walks.

RP Top Prospect Watch:
Chris Archer: pitched a no-hit inning, striking out all three hitters he faced.
Tim Beckham: 0 for 2.
Brandon Guyer: 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored.
Desmond Jennings: 1 for 2 with a run scored.

A Look Ahead: The Rays (1-3) travel to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin to face the Toronto Blue Jays (0-4) on Wednesday. David Price (0-0, 0.00) will be making the start for the Rays against Brandon Morrow (0-0, 0.00) for the Blue Jays. Wade Davis, Brian Baker, Chris Bootcheck and Richard De Los Santos are also available to pitch.