Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rays Spring Training Probable Pitchers

Thursday Intrasquad Game: The Rays will hold a workout on the back fields from 9:00 to 10:45 am that will be open to the public. Following that there will be a four-inning intrasquad game held in the main stadium at 11:00 am, which will be closed to the public. LHRP Cesar Ramos and RHRP Josh Lueke are scheduled to start the intrasquad game, followed by RHSP Alex Cobb, RHSP Matt Torra, RHRP Marquis Fleming, LHSP Alex Torres, and RHRP Matt Bush.

Saturday Spring Training Opening Game: March 3rd at Minnesota, Hammond Stadium at 1:05 pm (radio WDAE 620 AM). LHSP David Price is scheduled to start, followed by RHSP Chris Archer, RHSP Alex Colome, RHRP Dane De La Rosa, RHRP Jhonny Nunez, RHRP Ricky Orta, RHSP Ryan Reid, RHSP Wilking Rodriguez, and RHSP Albert Suarez.

Sunday Spring Training Home Opener: March 4th vs. Minnesota, Charlotte Sports Park at 1:05 pm (radio WDAE 620 AM). RHSP Jeremy Hellickson is scheduled to start, followed by RHRP Fernando Rodney, RHRP Joel Peralta, LHRP J.P. Howell, LHRP Jake McGee, RHRP Josh Lueke, RHRP Burke Badenhop, and RHRP Romulo Sanchez. The pregame schedule will be: 10:20 - Rays batting practice, 11:20 Twins batting practice, 12:20 Rays infield, 12:30 Twins infield.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Rays Minor League Spring Training Schedule and Travel Guide

Here is the Rays minor league spring training schedule and travel guide for 2012.

Report Dates
3/3: Minor League Pitchers and Catchers Report
3/7: Minor League Position Players Report

3/14: Baltimore Orioles (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/15: Minnesota Twins (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/16: Minnesota Twins (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/17: Baltimore Orioles (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/18: Camp Day
3/19: Boston Red Sox (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/20: Boston Red Sox (Bulls/Biscuitsat home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/21: Baltimore Orioles (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/22: Minnesota Twins (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/23: Minnesota Twins (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/24: Baltimore Orioles (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/25: Camp Day
3/26: Baltimore Orioles (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/27: Boston Red Sox (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/28: Boston Red Sox (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/29: Baltimore Orioles (Bulls/Biscuits at home, Stone Crabs/Hot Rods on road)
3/30: Minnesota Twins (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)
3/31: Baltimore Orioles (Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at home, Bulls/Biscuits on road)

Travel Guide
Rays MiLB: The Rays minor league games are held on the backfields of Charlotte Sports Park at 2300 El Jobean Road in Port Charlotte. When the major league club is on the road or off, plenty of parking is available in the parking lot to the stadium. If there is a game in the stadium, you can either deal with the crowd and pay to park in the stadium or limited streetside parking is available along Ester Avenue to the north side of the training complex. You can reach Ester Avenue from the side street by the Harley Davidson dealership on El Jobean Rd east of the stadium.

Orioles MiLB: The Orioles affiliates play their spring games at the Buck O’Neil Complex at Twin Lakes Park located at 6700 Clark Road in Sarasota, Florida. The complex is approximately 35 miles from Charlotte Sports Park and will take about 45 minutes to get there on a normal day. From Charlotte Sports Park head east on El Jobean Road until Toledo Blade Blvd. Turn left on Toledo Blade Blvd towards I-75. Once you reach I-75, head north until Exit 205 (Clark Road). After exiting at Clark Road, head east on Clark Road and Twin Lakes Park is located about a half mile from the interstate.

Twins MiLB: The Twins affiliates hold their spring training games at the Lee County Sports Complex located at 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway in Fort Myers. It is a 55 mile trip that will take a little over an hour. From Charlotte Sports Park head east on El Jobean Road until Toledo Blade Blvd. Turn left on Toledo Blade Blvd towards I-75. Once you reach I-75, head south until you reach Exit 131 (SW Florida International Airport/Cape Coral). Head west on Daniels Parkway until you reach Six Mile Cypress. Make a left onto Six Mile Cypress and the complex will be about a mile away from the intersection.

Red Sox MiLB: The Red Sox have moved their minor league operations to their new complex at Fenway South.  The complex is located behind JetBlue Park at 11500 Daniels Parkway near Southwest Florida International Airport.  It is 50 miles from Charlotte Sports Park or about an hour drive.  From Charlotte Sports Park, head east on El Jobean Road until you reach Toledo Blade Blvd.  Turn left on Toledo Blade and follow it north until you reach I-75.  Head south on I-75 until you reach Exit 131 (Daniels Parkway).  Head east on Daniels Parkway until you reach the ballpark.


Rays Brazil Academy Aborted?

My understanding of this interview with President Jorge Otsuka of the Brazilian Baseball and Softball Confederation (the CBBS) is that the joint venture between the city of Marilia and the Rays to build a Rays baseball academy has been 'aborted' by the city.

The interview was posted by the Baseball Brasil site. Can anyone who speaks Portuguese please correct/clarify?

The Brazil academy was announced in December of 2008 and described as follows:
The Tampa Bay Rays and the city of Marília, Brazil, have announced a partnership that will include construction of a training facility beginning in the first quarter of 2009. It will be the first baseball academy run by a Major League organization in Brazil.

The academy will be constructed jointly by the local and federal governments, and will consist of two full playing fields, two diamonds for youth teams, and dormitories, which will accommodate up to 40 players. Adriano de Souza, who was hired in 2008 to scout Brazil for the Rays, will coordinate the academy.

As part of the partnership between the municipal government of Marília and the Tampa Bay organization, the Rays will be scouting for baseball talent in Brazil, a country of 200 million. The Rays will also introduce baseball to groups between 7 and 14 years of age in the Marília area. The city of Marília has a population of 250,000 and is located 230 miles northwest of São Paulo.

Rays International Signings In 2011

The international signing period begins July 2nd each year for players 16 and over who live outside the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. High profile players with large signing bonuses usually catch the attention of Baseball America and are known to everyone. However, the great majority of newly signed international players sign for small bonuses and, at least with the Rays, are not announced. The first time the new players are publicly revealed is when the new media guide comes out during Spring Training each year.

The Rays media guide was released yesterday, so here are the 23 players the Rays signed from July 2nd through the end of 2011:

Pos  Name                  DOB       Ht/Wt     Signed
C    Kevin Barrios         08/28/95  6'1/190   August 28th out of Venezuela
RHP  Alberto Casanas       11/27/93  6'2/160   August 5th out of Venezuela
LHP  Eddy Castillo         01/02/94  6'1/155   July 2nd out of the Dominican Republic
RHP  Erodis Castillo       11/29/93  6'1/173   November 17th out of the Dominican Republic
RHP  Oscar Collado         08/30/93  6'1/180   October 13th out of the Dominican Republic
RHP  Rafael Cordova        11/16/94  6'2/175   November 3rd out of Mexico (born in AZ)
LHP  Cristopher Crisostomo 03/08/94  6'2/175   July 2nd out of the Dominican Republic
RHP  Jorman Duarte         11/16/94  6'2/190   July 2nd out of Venezuela
RHP  Danilo Gutierrez      06/02/91  6'5/156   December 13th out of the Dominican Republic
OF   Cesar Hernandez       04/24/95  6'0/175   July 2nd out of Venezuela
C    Julio Herrera         10/09/92  6'0/184   November 11th out of the Dominican Republic
RHP  Hector Lopez          06/10/95  6'0/192   December 12th out of Venezuela
OF   Roni Maestre          04/22/95  6'3/170   August 3rd out of Venezuela
RHP  German Marquez        02/22/95  6'1/185   July 2nd out of Venezuela
RHP  Leonardo Mateo        11/06/92  6'0/215   August 31st out of the Dominican Republic
IF   Anthony Mojica        07/12/92  5'9/158   December 13th out of the Dominican Republic
LHP  Benjamin Molina       11/18/94  6'0/145   July 2nd out of Venezuela
RHP  Ruben Paredes         09/21/93  6'1/180   September 15th out of Venezuela
OF   Rolman Ramirez        01/09/92  6'0/174   December 13th out of the Dominican Republic
RHP  Abrahan Rodriguez     04/20/95  6'2/180   July 7th out of Venezuela
SS   Jhonnathan Teran      12/13/94  5'10/160  October 17th out of Venezuela
OF   Elias Torres          02/22/92  6'1/174   December 13th out of the Dominican Republic
OF   Carlos Vaamonde       11/21/94  6'1/195   August 3rd out of Venezuela

The new players are being added to our Depth Chart under the VSL and DSL teams.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Aggregated Industry Top 100 Prospect Lists: Rays‘ Rankings!

After posting the industry Top Rays Prospect lists here (this list will be updated as soon as Marc Hulet looks at the Rays) I’m going to look at the ranking of the top 10 Rays’ prospects on the Top 100 Prospect lists. I aggregate the rankings of the Rays players on 10 Industry Top 100 Prospect Lists. The sources are: Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein), Keith Law (ESPN), John Sickels (, Jonathan Mayo (, The Hardball Times, Bullpen Banter, Baseball-Intellect (Source: Prospect Spreadsheet by ... excellent source by the way), Project Prospect, Frank Piliere (

Overall 11 different Rays prospects are mentioned on at least one of the 10 lists. Those 11 are the Top 10 according to the aggregated Industry Top Rays Prospect list, plus 2010 1st round pick Josh Sale. On average exactly 4 Rays players are ranked in the Top 100 (the average for an MLB team would be 3.33). Keith Law and Jonathan Mayo (MLB) have 6 Rays on their list while Baseball Prospectus only has 2.

Unsurprisingly, Matt Moore is the highest ranked player on every list. He is ranked by all of them and he nowhere is ranked lower than 3rd overall. Fellow top prospects Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and himself top every one of those lists.

The only other player ranked on every Top 100 list is Hak-Yu Lee. He was unanoumously voted as the 2nd best Rays prospect on the Rays Top Prospect Rankings. On the aggregated Top 100 lists, however, Baseball Intellect (not consistent to their top 10 which has Lee 2nd and Guerrieri 3rd) and ProjectProspect have Taylor Guerrieri ranked higher than him. Overall, Lee is ranked much higher than Guerrieri, though. With three rankings in the top 20 (!!) and no ranking lower than 70 he is one of the top SS prospects in baseball.

Like on the Rays Top Prospect lists, Taylor Guerrieri is clearly ahead of the Torres/Mahtook/Colome/Archer/Romero pack. He is ranked 7 times (and additionally he is 107th on John Sickels’ Top 120 Prospect list).

The talent evaluators don’t like Alex Torres much and Alex Colome at all for their overall top prospect lists. While being ranked as the 4th best Rays prospect according to the Rays prospect lists, only Frank Pilliere has him on his Top 100 list. Alex Colome (6th best prospect according to the Rays prospect rankings) is not mentioned at all.

(Click at the table for a larger view)

Some further impressions:

  • John Sickels ranks Mikie Mahtook as the 3rd best Rays prospect on his Top 120 list while he has him 6th on his Rays Top 25 Prospect list (reversely he has Colome 4th in the Top 25 and 6th best Ray on the Top 120 list). When publishing the latter, he acknowledged that grades and rankings could change with time. In this case, Alex Colome, Taylor Guerrieri, Mikie Mahtook and Alex Torres all have a B grade in his book and thus might be pretty much interchangeable.
  • Keith Law weighs a players’ upside much more than for example John Sickels does. That’s a philosophical discussion which is similar to the discussion about whether you like WAR (wins above replacement) more than WAA (wins above average … I think I just invented this one). Would you rather have two players with 3 WAR (which e.g. is 0 WAA each) or a player with 6 WAR (= 3 WAA) plus a player with 0 WAR (= -3 WAA). I know what I’d prefer.
  • Baseball Intellect and ProjectProspect always bring a fresh approach to prospect evaluation. They often differ to the opinions of others. E.g.: Both have Taylor Guerrieri ahead of Hak-Yu Lee.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Future Considerations Podcast (Episode 16: Kevin Goldstein on the Rays System & Baseball Fandom, Top 100 List Talk)

With Kevin Goldstein's Rays Top 11 list out, the BaseballProspectus prospect guru comes on the podcast to talk about the state of the system and sticks around to cover a ton of other stuff: why he hates every single team in baseball (or not), why fans react to some moves the way they do, the coolness of being "the prospect guy," and more. After the break, Kevin and Scott take a look at where some Rays ranked in the major top 100 lists (BaseballAmerica, ESPN's Keith Law, and Goldstein's) and which prospects they thought were too high or too low on each list.

Questions or comments? E-mail

Music is from Isle of Q

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Rays Spring Training - Weekend Wrap

- All 59 players who were invited to Spring Training have arrived. The final player to report was non-roster invite 1B Juan Miranda, who reported Sunday.

- Sunday was the first full-squad workout of camp. Position players took live batting practice against pitchers including RHSP Jeff Niemann, RHSP Jeremy Hellickson, RHRP Burke Badenhop, and LHRP Jake McGee.

- On Monday the full-squad workout will be from 9:30 am until approximately 12:45 pm. Pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice are RHSP James Shields, LHSP David Price, RHSP Wade Davis, and LHSP Matt Moore.

- Some videos of 3B Evan Longoria from this weekend provided by the Rays:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rays Spring Training - Day 4

From today's camp notes:

Not much news today from Port Charlotte on day four of Rays Spring Training. There are nine days left until the Grapefruit League opener against the Twins and 43 days until the regular season opener against the Yankees at the Trop.

First baseman Carlos Pena reported and worked out today, becoming the 54th player in camp ahead of the Saturday deadline. Five players have yet to report: 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Hak-Ju Lee, OF Brad Coon, OF Jesus Feliciano and 1B Juan Miranda.

Pitchers who threw bullpen sessions today included RHSP Jeremy Hellickson, RHSP Jeff Niemann, RHRP Kyle Farnsworth and LHRP Jake McGee.

The MLB Network announced today that it will broadcast five games televised by the Rays opponents: March 6th vs. Minnesota, March 7th at the Yankees, March 10th at Boston, March 26th at Minnesota, and April 1st at Baltimore. Those games are in addition to the six games previously scheduled to be shown on Sun Sports and ESPN. The Sun Sports games are March 15th vs. Philadelphia, March 18th vs. Boston, March 25th vs. the Miami Marlins, and March 31st vs. Boston. The two games on ESPN are March 21st vs. the Yankees and March 29th at Philadelphia. So in total 11 of the Rays 32 Grapefruit League games will be televised.

Friday's workout will again run from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Some videos of Manager Joe Maddon and RHRP Kyle Farnsworth from today provided by the Rays:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rays Spring Training - Day 3

Today's camp notes:

Wednesday was day three of Rays Spring Training. That leaves 10 days until the Grapefruit League opener against the Twins and 44 days until the regular season opener against the Yankees.

Outfielder Jeff Salazar reported today, becoming the 53rd player in camp ahead of the Saturday deadline. The remaining six players who haven't reported are 1B Carlos Pena, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Hak-Ju Lee, OF Brad Coon, OF Jesus Feliciano and 1B Juan Miranda.

Several pitchers threw their first bullpens today, including James Shields, David Price, Matt Moore, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell Wade Davis, and Fernando Rodney.

Manager Joe Maddon thinks lefty reliever J.P. Howell's confidence is returning after his struggles last fall. "Whatever was on the back of his mind last year regarding throwing a baseball, I’m sure it’s not there anymore," Maddon said. "When you are away from the game as long as he was, there are adjustments to be had when you come back. I think he’s very happy to get this all in the rearview mirror."

Maddon was impressed with new catcher Jose Molina and his impact on the pitchers and younger catchers. "Are you talking about the Reverend Molina? The one they are starting to flock to over there?" he asked. "J-Mo isn’t going to run away from that, which I like. It’s great that the other catchers and the pitchers want to talk to him." Maddon added that "the thing about him is that he works at it, he’s willing to share it. Not only what he does, I think he is going to impart that information on some of the young catchers, too."

Starter James Shields also sounded confident in Molina after their bullpen session. "I felt good. It was nice and easy. This is the time of the year where you just take it easy and get your mechanics down and try to build a nice little rapport with [Jose Molina]. He’s a veteran catcher; he’s going to get it quickly. He’s a good dude." Shields added that Molina "knows exactly what I got, it’s just a matter of getting on the same page and working with him."

The Rays 2011 ace feels the competition to make the starting rotation this season will benefit the team. "That’s a good problem to have," Shields said. "We are going to have some tough decisions to make. We can just go out there and compete. The good news is that that is the kind of environment we want to be in. I think we are at the point now in this organization where it’s hard to crack our rotation. That’s a good thing."

Thursday's workout will run from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Some videos of Manager Joe Maddon and RHSP James Shields from today provided by the Rays:

Catching Up - Part 2

Two people with ties to the Rays organization have been named members of the International League Hall of Fame Class of 2012:
Former International League Most Valuable Pitcher Dave Eiland was arguably the most accomplished hurler in the League during the 1990's, leading the circuit in wins, strikeouts, and complete games. A member of three Governors' Cup champion clubs, Eiland posted a career mark of 82-42 with a 3.44 ERA with Columbus, Charlotte, and Durham. In 2007 Eiland was the pitching coach for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees before serving in the same capacity for the New York Yankees from 2008 to 2010. He is currently the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals.

During one of Eiland's seasons in Columbus and all three years he played in Durham, his manager was fellow inductee Bill Evers. Evers is the winningest manager in Durham Bulls history. His clubs made six playoff appearances between 1998 and 2004, sweeping their way to a pair of Governors' Cup championships along the way. A two-time member of the International League All-Star coaching staff, Evers left the Bulls in 2006 to join the Tampa Bay Rays field staff. He is currently the field coordinator for the organization.

Rocco Baldelli, the Rays Special Assistant, Baseball Operations, still gets asked about a comeback:
Baldelli said the ailment never has been diagnosed. "I've gotten to see a lot of doctors, especially when I was playing still, or trying to play," he said. "Never came to an exact diagnosis. But I feel pretty good right now and I'm going to continue to maybe try and do what I can to find out what it is that is actually going on in my body and hopefully some day find that answer."

If that answer should come fast, could that mean a comeback from the Woonsocket Rocket? "I don't think so," he said with a smile. "I'm pretty comfortable where I'm at."

Some details on the Princeton Rays annual trip to Pittsburgh:
The Princeton Rays are inviting fans to register now for the team's 8th Annual Major League Bus Trip to Pittsburgh. This year, the trip will be conducted on May 5, 2012 to Pittsburgh's PNC Park to see the Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds in a 7:05 p.m. game.

Cost of the trip is $95.00 per person and includes all transportation fees and game ticket while all participants on the trip will also receive a Pittsburgh Pirates replica "21" jersey of Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and view a fireworks show following the game.

An update on Tanner English, the Rays 13th rounder last June who turned down six figures to attend South Carolina:
"Tanner English is going to be in there quite a bit as a true freshmen," [USC Associate Head Coach Chad] Holbrook said. "He is a tremendous athlete. He has a great throwing arm and can run like no kid I've ever seen before."
English was rated the third-best high school prospect in the Palmetto State by Baseball America after hitting .412 in his senior season with seven HRs, 23 RBI and 28 stolen bases.

"He can really throw," Holbrook said. "I don't know if there is a difference between the arm strength of Jackie (Bradley Jr.) and Tanner. When Tanner throws the ball, people will ooh and aah. It's like watching Ichiro throw. He can really throw even though he's not a big kid and he can really run." His incredible speed (a major-league scouting report reported English ran the 60-yard dash in 6.37 seconds) was a major reason he was taken in the top 15 rounds by Tampa Bay.

Marc David interviewed Ian Tomkins, the Rays 50th round pick last June out of Abilene Christian who played in four games for the GCL Rays:
But a torn quadriceps muscle is not conducive to catching with all the kneeling and squatting involved. So Tomkins sat on the bench and observed while at the same time picking the brain of coaches when the opportunity presented itself.

"I wasn't happy with the injury," said Tomkins, who caught for two years at ACU after one stellar season at Wake Forest. "It was good to see what the team was doing, to learn things before I had to go out there and do it. I talked a lot to the pitching coach and the roving catching instructor."
The right-handed swinging Tomkins got nine at bats last season and collected four hits, a .444 batting average. The only hit he remembers, though, was the one off the right-field fence. As he rounded first base and headed for second, he tore his quad muscle. He tried to come back early and ended up missing significant time.

Former Rays RHP Brian Baker has been named a member of the 2012 induction class to the Columbus State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Baker signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a minor league free agent this offseason after seven years in the Rays organization. Details:
Baker, a Columbus native, was both a starting pitcher and closer for the CSU baseball team during his career. He was named an All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association during his junior and senior campaigns in 2004 and 2005. As a freshman, in 2002, the right-hander was named MVP of the NCAA Division II College World Series as he led the Cougars to a National Championship that season. He was a three-time All-Peach Belt Conference player (2002, 2004 & 2005) and also guided his team to another World Series appearance in 2004. Baker is the school’s all-time leader in appearances (98), strikeouts (308), and saves (22) while ranking fifth in wins (27) and complete games (12). He is also sixth in innings pitched (310.1) and ERA (2.58). All those marks rank in the top-10 all-time in the PBC record book except his win total which is tied for the 11th best tally.
The induction ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 12, 2012, at the Lumpkin Center.

Former Rays outfielder Jason Patton (47th round, 2009) was recently signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played for the Princeton Rays in 2009 and then for two seasons in the Frontier League before making it back to affiliated ball with the D-Backs.

Former Rays RHP Mickey Jannis (44th round, 2010) was recently traded in indy ball:
Jannis, who pitched two seasons in the Rays organization, was released by the team in October. The 6-foot right-hander was dealt by the Frontier League's Washington Wild Things to the Abilene (Tex.) Prairie Dogs of the North American League. He was 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 34 combined games with the Rays' rookie league team, and Class-A affilitates in Hudson Valley (N.Y.) and Charlotte the past two seasons.

It looks like former Rays RHP Greg Reinhard (6th round, 2005) may be retiring. He didn't pitch in 2011 and hasn't signed on with a team yet in 2012. You may remember back in February of 2007 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with OF Andrew Lopez (8th round, 2005) for RHP Jae Kuk Ryu. Here is the latest on Reinhard:
Reinhard, 28, is busy operating his baseball academy and recently opened a year-round training facility in Madison. He also runs camps and clinics and will team up with XL Athletic Performance of Bellin Health on Feb. 25 for a camp at Green Bay East High School.
He's not exactly retired, but he no longer holds tightly to the dream of making the big leagues. Reinhard could still pitch in an independent league, like he did with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in 2010. He also said he's been in the running for scouting jobs with major league teams.

Congratulations to Princeton Rays GM Jim Holland:
Several local residents and a local business were honored for their contributions to the Mercer County community Tuesday night at the 2012 Annual Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Dinner.
The 2012 Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Jim Holland, general manager of the Princeton Rays, for his contributions to the community through the baseball club.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Catching Up - Part 1

Time to catch up on some things from my inbox from the past few weeks. Newer items are towards the end.

Our Draft History section has been updated to include the Rays 2012 draft pick order. Unless Derrek Lee signs a major league deal the order is final. If Lee does get a major league deal (not likely) then the picks in rounds 2-40 will each drop one slot (2/89 will become 2/90, 3/119 will become 3/120, etc.).

Speaking of the draft, here are a few of the changes for 2012:

- The draft will be June 4th-6th (Monday-Wednesday).

- The signing deadline will be Friday, July 13th at 5:00 pm eastern time.

- There will only be 40 rounds in 2012, down from 50 in past years.

- Instead of slots for the first five rounds, there will now be a Bonus Pool for the first 10 rounds. The Bonus Pool is kind of complicated, but here is a good summary from Jim Callis:
Every pick in the first 10 rounds is assigned a value, which ranges from $7.2 million for the No. 1 overall choice to $125,000 for the final pick in the 10th round. Those values are totaled to determine each team's draft pool. If a club exceeds its draft pool, it will receive penalties ranging from a 75-percent tax on the overage (for a 0-5 percent overage) to the loss of two first-round picks and a 100-percent tax on the overage (for an overage of 15 percent or more). After the 10th round, teams can sign players for up to $100,000 without it affecting their draft pool. Any bonus money over $100,000 will count against the draft pool.
The Rays Bonus Pool amount for the first ten rounds is $3,871,000 (again assuming Derrek Lee doesn't sign a major league contract).

The Durham Bulls will host Fan Fest 2012 on Friday, March 2nd and Saturday, March 3rd from 11:00am to 2:00pm at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. This will be the first chance fans have to purchase individual game tickets.

Dan Szymborski's 2012 ZIPS projections for the Rays are available. He projects Matt Moore at 10-7 with a 3.72 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 145.0 innings.

One area that the Rays lack upper-level depth is left-handed relievers. After Cesar Ramos, Jake McGee and J.P. Howell the only real option is starter Alex Torres, who will begin the year in the Durham rotation. After Torres the next group of in-house options get a little scary: Frank De Los Santos, Neil Schenk, and Sergio Espinosa. Let's hope none of the southpaws get hurt in Spring Training.

Remember Christian Lopez, the Rays 6th round pick in the 2003 draft? After six seasons in the organization he was released in 2009 and has played indy ball the past couple of years. He's also pursuing a dream to become a Spanish soap opera star by appearing on a reality show called Sweet Home Alabama:
The third season of the dating reality series kicked off last Friday with a special two-hour premiere that introduced the 27-year-old Lopez as one of 22 suitors vying for the love of southern belle Paige Duke, the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spokesmodel from South Carolina.
“I’m pretty much not worried how they’re going to portray me,” he added. “The whole time I was up there, I was just myself. I’m a cool guy. I get along with everybody so I’m really not afraid of how I’m portrayed. It’s hard to make me look bad.”
What was completely real was Lopez’s brief on-one-one time with Duke during last Friday’s season premiere. The show called them speed dates for each of the suitors. He cracked a joke with Duke when she said her experience dating athletes is they are players. He retorted by saying he’s a “baseball player.” He then added that it’s important to pick the right athlete that’s not a player with the women and that his previous three girlfriends were Cuban.
Shockingly, he did not win.

Home town media sometimes exaggerate the likelihood a player will become a major league star or their exploits from the past. I may be wrong, but I think this quote might fall into the latter category:
Brandon Guyer played baseball at the University of Virginia from 2005 to 2007, and started 171 of the 172 games he played in. After leading the Cavaliers in hits, home runs, and total bases his sophomore and junior seasons, the Chicago Cubs selected the outfielder in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Brian O'Conner, UVA's head baseball coach says, "Brandon was such a competitor when he played on this field. I remember many times that he would run through that wall in left field to make a catch."

Ex-Ray Josh Pressley (4th round, 1998 draft) was the first pick in the recent Atlantic League expansion draft, becoming the first player in Sugar Land Skeeters franchise history:
The first baseman and designated hitter spent that last five years in the Atlantic League with the Somerset (N.J.) Patriots. With the five-time champions, Pressley has amassed a .308 batting average, scored 310 runs, had 594 hits, 121 doubles, 96 home runs and 378 RBIs in 545 games played from 2007-2011. Drafted by Tampa Bay out of Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1998, the 31-year-old right-hander said he is looking forward to playing with the Skeeters this spring.

LHP Brandon Henderson (15th round, 2010 draft) on his 2011 pitching coach:
Like many other pitchers that have taken the mound for the P-Rays over the past five seasons, Henderson can give you a two-word answer as the reason he showed progression during his time here: Marty DeMerritt.

"I enjoyed him a lot and talking with him about a lot of things. He changed some things with my windup and some other minor mechanical flaws. I just had to build repetition with these new techniques. By becoming able to recognize my mistakes and why they happened, it got to the point that I could correct myself immediately when a ball didn't go the way it should have," shared Henderson about DeMerritt's impact on his abilities on the mound.
"I have spent the winter so far trying to get a little stronger as I got a little tired toward the end of last season. I have just started [late January] consistently throwing to get my arm strength ready. It doesn't matter where they send me in 2012. I'm just planning to have a good year wherever it is," Henderson concluded.

RHRP Brooks Belter (25th round, 2011) has signed with the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League. He had a 3.58 ERA over 32.2 IP with 29 strikeouts for Hudson Valley last season.

In other Beach Bums news, OF J.T. Hall (41st round, 2004) has retired. He last played for the Rays in Montgomery in 2009, and was with Traverse City the past two seasons. The 27 year-old hit 23 home runs and stole 21 bases in 96 games for the Beach Bums in 2011, both career highs.

Over at FanGraphs our friend Steve Slowinski tried to project Matt Moore's 2012 season by comparing him to past top-rated pitching prospects:
Second, almost without exception, the pitchers selected as the top pitching prospect for the year have performed exceptionally upon reaching the majors — well, except for the Rays’ David Price and Jeremy Hellickson. Is there some sort of Rays-related conspiracy going on here? To be fair, Matt Moore is a more refined pitcher right now than David Price was in 2009, and he has more dominating stuff than Jeremy Hellickson. Instead of going the way of the Rays other top picks, I could see Moore challenging Scott Kazmir (3.8 WAR, 2005) for the title of best rookie starter in Rays history.

There were several Rays items in today's Baseball America Top 100 Prospects chat, here is one:
cy (western Mass.): Fabulous work, gentlemen. Thank you. Always looking to the future, did Enny Romero receive consideration for this list? Does he have the potential to be a fast riser? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Thanks, Cy. Romero received one Top 150 vote. I don't think he's going to move quickly, but he's a nice sleeper with a high upside. Just what the Rays need—another potential dominating lefty.

All 38 pitchers and catchers invited to major league Spring Training reported and worked out by Tuesday. Several pitchers threw their first bullpen sessions, including: Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Kyle Farnsworth, Jake McGee, Burke Badenhop, Josh Lueke, and Brandon Gomes, who is recovering from a back procedure.

Only seven position players have not reported: Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Hak-Ju Lee, Brad Coon, Jesus Feliciano, Juan Miranda and Jeff Salazar. The have until Saturday to make their official appearance.

And finally, Stacy Long has the Rays minor league spring training game schedule.

I'll post more notes in Part 2 tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

BaseballProspectus Rays Top 20 Prospects

As spring training opens, prospect-ranking season comes to a close. Here's the last major Rays list to come out, courtesy of Kevin Goldstein at BaseballProspectus:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Matt Moore, LHP
Four-Star Prospects
2. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
Three-Star Prospects
3. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP
4. Alex Torres, LHP
5. Alex Colome, RHP
6. Mikie Mahtook, OF
7. Enny Romero, LHP
8. Chris Archer, RHP
9. Tim Beckham, SS
10. Drew Vettleson, OF
11. Ryan Brett, 2B

Nine More:
12. Tyler Goeddel, 3B
13. Jake Hager, SS
14. Brandon Guyer, OF
15. Blake Snell, LHP
16. Wilking Rodriguez, RHP
17. Derek Dietrich, SS
18. Josh Sale, OF
19. Brandon Martin,
20. Luke Bailey, C

Subscribers can get reports on the top 11. Thoughts on this list as compared to others?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kevin Goldstein's Top 101 Prospects

Over at BaseballProspectus, Kevin Goldstein has published his top 101 prospects rankings. In contrast to Keith Law, who ranked six Rays on his list, Goldstein had only Matt Moore at #1 and Hak-Ju Lee at #65. Goldstein's Rays top 11 list should be coming out soon.

So which list do you guys think is better? Do the Rays have six top-100 guys or just two, or somewhere in between?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Keith Law's Prospect Rankings

Keith Law of ESPN has released his system rankings, his top 100, and top 10 by organization. The links (with reports) are insider, but here are the rankings:

- He ranked the Rays as the 2nd-best system
- 6 Rays appeared in his top 100 (Cork Gaines has Law's short writeups on those six here): Matt Moore (3); Hak-Ju Lee (12); Chris Archer (63); Enny Romero (84); Mikie Mahtook (87); Taylor Guerrieri (88)
- His Rays top 10:
1. Matt Moore
2. Hak-Ju Lee
3. Chris Archer
4. Enny Romero
5. Mikie Mahtook
6. Taylor Guerrieri
7. Alex Torres
8. Tim Beckham
9. Alex Colome
10. Drew Vettleson

Friday, February 3, 2012

Some Tidbits from John Sickels' last "All Questions Answered"

Q: Alex Cobb - Where do you see his ceiling and his floor?

John: I think what he did in the majors last year is exactly what he should be expected to do, given good health.

Q: I recall a couple years ago, before Trout blew up, you saying you “just had a feeling” about him, or something like that, even though it wasn’t empirical. Are there any prospects that you’ve just got a hunch about these days?

John: Well…yeah, I talk about some in the book. This is also a good idea for an article..“hunch” players. I have a hunch that Mikie Mahtook is going to make people wonder why he lasted so long in the draft.

Q: Jake Hager - What do you see for his ceiling?

John: Hager is a “hunch” guy. I think he can turn into a .280 hitter with doubles, some walks, and solid D. I’m higher on him than most people though.

Q: Have you heard anything about Jesse Hahn? I’m surprised he didn’t play at all last year. His recory must have been slow.

John: I haven’t heard anything.

Me: Well, I hope his "hunch" is right on Mahtook and Hager! And ... nobody has heard anything of Jesse Hahn. Can't wait to hear the first reports about him coming back.