Friday, March 30, 2012

Open Thread: Roster Talk

We don't know when affiliate rosters will be announced, but they will be posted as soon as they are received. The final minor league Spring Training games are tomorrow against Baltimore, with the A/A+ squads at home and AA/AAA on the road. Opening day for all four full-season affiliates is Thursday.

The last official roster moves were the releases of OF John Shelby (Montgomery in 2011) on Tuesday and 3B Julio Cedeno (Bowling Green in 2010-11) on Wednesday. Oh, and RHRP Matt Bush has been placed on the restricted list and removed him from the 40-man roster, which is now at 39.

Updates will be added here or in the comments.

UPDATE: Here are the career minor league stats for OF Kyle Hudson, acquired Saturday evening from the Rangers for future considerations. He was drafted by the Orioles in the 4th round in 2008 and signed with the Rangers this January. He also had 28 major league at-bats for the Orioles last September. Note his SB and HR numbers:
Year Age      Team   Level(s)  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
2008  21  Aberdeen        A-   37   5   8  1  0  0   5   4  3   8  12 .216 .356 .243 .599
2009  22  Delmarva         A  398  61 113  8  2  0  21  31 16  49  85 .284 .365 .314 .679
2009  22 Frederick        A+   20   4   5  0  0  0   0   3  0   4   6 .250 .400 .250 .650
2009  22 '09 TOTAL      A/A+  418  65 118  8  2  0  21  34 16  53  91 .282 .367 .311 .678
2010  23 Frederick        A+  516  83 134 17  3  0  28  40 15  62 129 .260 .348 .304 .652
2011  24 Frederick        A+   86  12  24  3  0  0   2   8  6  10  16 .279 .354 .314 .668
2011  24     Bowie        AA   91   9  28  3  1  0  10   7  2  10  24 .308 .376 .363 .739
2011  24   Norfolk       AAA  246  39  73  7  1  0  11  26  8  33  55 .297 .382 .333 .715
2011  24 '11 TOTAL AAA/AA/A+  423  60 125 13  2  0  23  41 16  53  95 .296 .375 .336 .711
TOTALS OVER 4 SEASONS        1394 213 385 39  7  0  77 119 50 176 327 .276 .362 .314 .676

2012 Rays Prospect Predictions: Predict Anything

Every year here at RP, we send a survey around to Rays bloggers around the net to get their predictions on the upcoming season. This year's panel: Steve Slowinski, Jason Collette, rglass44, and mr. maniac from DRaysBay, John Gregg from Rays Digest, Tommy Rancel from ESPN Florida, Sandy Kazmir from OTTOTD, and Doug, BurGi, Scott, and myself from RaysProspects.

Today's question: Wildcard prediction! Predict... just about anything. Another breakout, a surprise MLB contributor, it can be anything you want.

Steve Slowinski: By the end of the 2012 season, Tim Beckham will have started 20 or more games for the Rays at shortstop. Although to be entirely honest, this will probably have more to do with the Rays' lack of shortstop depth at the major league level, and with the continued success of Hak-Ju Lee. I'm curious about if Beckham will bring his strikeout rate down this season; a 20% strikeout rate in the high minors is not necessarily a good sign for a middle infielder.

Jason Collette: Lenny Linksy finishes the year in Durham helping them win their 7th straight southern division title.

mr. maniac: I think the Rays will indisputably have the #1 farm system at the end of next year. Josh Sale will hit 17 homeruns, Oscar Hernandez will have an up and down year, Matt Bush will record a save at the MLB level, and Chirinos will hit a critical walk off homerun for the Rays late in the year.

Ryan Glass: 2011 draftees have good success. We don't need all of them to exceed expectations, but if half have success and show good tools it could go a long way in getting this system to the front of the league. Looking at the top 30 it is littered with talent from that draft (and even outside of it), and they'll play a huge role in the franchise going forward. 2 guys in particular I see surprising are Carter and Garvin.

Sandy Kazmir: The Princeton Rays go down as the most exciting team to watch in theentire minor league organization.

John Gregg: After Mikie Mahtook answered some questions about his bat during the Arizona Fall League, I am more convinced than ever that his rise through the Rays system will be meteoric. I fully expect him to be added to the 40 Man roster at some point this season and to be playing at Tropicana Field no later than September. Whether it is due to injuries, a trade of B J Upton or a September call-up, I think that Mahtook will be showing Rays fans his nice all-around game this season and potentially be in the Rays starting outfield in 2013.

Tommy Rancel: I'm not sure he will have an impact on the Rays' big league roster, but I'll go out on a limb and project that Matt Mangini follows in the footsteps of Dan Johnson and Russ Canzler to complete the three-peat of Durham Bulls winning the  International League MVP; maybe even earning a #freemangini campaign in September.

BurGi: Luke Bailey will finally find his stride and look solid on the plate. He'll bat .260 - .346 - .420 and reduce his K-rate to about one per inning. He'll be between #10 and #15 on the consensus prospect lists in '13.

Doug Milhoan: In the 2012 draft the Rays will pick and sign a player who they have previously drafted.

Scott Grauer: The Rays will select Washington prep catcher Clint Coulter 25th overall in the 2012 MLB draft.

Kevin Gengler: Cameron Seitzer will lead the system in OPS. Jason McEachern finally breaks out. Shawn O'Malley hits .320 and OBPs .400. Todd Glaesmann hits 15 home runs and shows improvement in his K/BB. Jeff Ames' K/BB ratio is above 4.50.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2012 Rays Prospect Predictions: Next Year's Top 10 List

Every year here at RP, we send a survey around to Rays bloggers around the net to get their predictions on the upcoming season. This year's panel: Steve Slowinski, Jason Collette, rglass44, and mr. maniac from DRaysBay, John Gregg from Rays Digest, Tommy Rancel from ESPN Florida, Sandy Kazmir from OTTOTD, and Doug, BurGi, Scott, and myself from RaysProspects.

Today's question: What will next year's top 10 prospect list look like?

Steve Slowinski:
1. Hak-Ju Lee
2. Enny Romero
3. Taylor Guerrieri
4. Alex Torres
5. Mikie Mahtook
6. Drew Vettleson
7. Alex Colome
8. Chris Archer
9. Josh Sale
10. Tyler Goeddel

Jason Collette:
1 - Hak-Ju Lee
2 - Mikie Mahtook
3 - Taylor Guerierri
4 - Alex Torres
5 - Alex Colome
6 - Chris Archer
7 - Enny Romero
8 - Drew Vettleson
9  - Jake Hager
10 -  Blake Snell

mr. maniac:
(1) Hak-Ju Lee
(2) Enny Romero
(3) Mikie Mahtook
(4) Tim Beckham
(5) Josh Sale
(6) Taylor Guerrieri
(7) Drew Vettleson
(8) Luke Bailey
(9) Chris Archer
(10) Jake Hager
(11) Alex Colome
(HM) Tyler Goeddel

Ryan Glass:
1. Hak-Ju Lee
2. Tim Beckham
3. Enny Romero
4. Mikie Mahtook
5. Taylor Guerrieri
6. Drew Vettleson
7. Chris Archer
8. Alex Colome
9. Jake Hager
10. Granden Goetzman

John Gregg:
1) SS Hak-Ju Lee
2) LHP Enny Romero
3) RHP Taylor Guerreri
4) OF Mikie Mahtook
5) OF Drew Vettleson
6) 2B Ryan Brett
7) RHP Alex Colome
8) 3B Tyler Goeddel
9) 2B Tyler Bortnick
10) 1B Jeff Malm

Tommy Rancel: I expect Hak-Ju Lee to take over as the top overall prospect followed by these names in some order: Chris Archer, Taylor Guerrieri, Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Wilking Rodriguez, Enny Romero, Mikie Mahtook, Tim Beckham, Drew Vettleson

Sandy Kazmir:
1) Taylor Guerrieri (Really think he'll shine in short season ball)
2) Tim Beckham (First chance to repeat a level he shows that he's
ready for prime time)
3) Alex Torres (If he can lop a walk per nine off then he's ready to
be Rays #5, #3 anywhere else)
4) Hak Ju-Lee (He can't hit any worse, right?  Right?)
5) Ryan Brett (Continues to do his thang by taking his talents to full
season ball)
6) Drew Vettleson (Helps Brett lead the league in excitement with his
blend of power and speed)
7) Enny Romero (Tantalizing lefty can look like good Kazmir on Monday
and bad Kazmir by Saturday)
8) Mikie Mahtook (Should advance quickly if his stick can play in a corner)
9) Derek Dietrich (Should move to 3B soon where the bat still plays nicely)
10) Tyler Goeddel (Good chance he hits for both power and average,
just need to see it)
+1) Matt Rice (Josh Thole-type Catcher signed quick and immediately hit)

1. Hak-Ju Lee (He will be MLB ready in '13)
2. Enny Romero (one of the best LHP-prospects in baseball after '12)
3. Mikie Mahtook (an OPS of .850 in A+)
4. Taylor Guerrieri (will show his talent while being inconsistent)
5. Chris Archer (will continue to improve upon his 2nd half in '11)
6. Tim Beckham (will improve in the field and on the mound)
7. Drew Vettleson (after struggling initially he shows his advanced approach and power in A-ball)
8. Alex Colome (Continues to be solid)
9. Derek Dietrich (Continues to show power and improves his plate discipline)
10. Felipe Rivero (my breakout candidate has to be on the list)
11. Tyler Goeddel (will struggle initially but show his potential in the 2nd half)
Matt Moore, Alex Torres, Brandon Guyer not eligible any more.

Doug Milhoan:
1. Hak-Ju Lee
2. Mikie Mahtook
3. Jake Hager
4. Taylor Guerrieri
5. Drew Vettleson
6. Brandon Martin
7. Alex Colome
8. Ryan Carpenter
9. Enny Romero
10. Albert Suarez
Matt Moore, Alex Torres, and Brandon Guyer aren't listed because they will use up their eligibility in 2012.

Scott Grauer:
1. Hak-Ju Lee
2. Mikie Mahtook
3. Enny Romero
4. Taylor Guerrieri
5. Parker Markel
6. Drew Vettleson
7. Tim Beckham
8. Brandon Martin
9. Alex Colome
10. Tyler Goeddel

Kevin Gengler:
1. Enny Romero - I'm really hitching myself to his bandwagon, but I see him dominating the FSL.
2. Hak-Ju Lee - I'd expect a similar season line as 2011.
3. Mikie Mahtook - Should hit well wherever he goes, but his tools aren't quite elite.
4. Tyler Goeddel - Big season, may even play with Bowling Green.
5. Drew Vettleson - Another solid year, not dominant.
6. Taylor Guerrieri - He'll flash good stuff but his numbers might not be where they should.
7. Ryan Brett - Same deal as Vettleson, a nice season in Bowling Green.
8. Tim Beckham - Another similar season, won't definitively answer any questions.
9. Chris Archer - Still struggles with control.
10. Ryan Carpenter - Top pitcher in Bowling Green.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 Rays Prospect Predictions: Most Over-Hyped Prospect

Every year here at RP, we send a survey around to Rays bloggers around the net to get their predictions on the upcoming season. This year's panel: Steve Slowinski, Jason Collette, rglass44, and mr. maniac from DRaysBay, John Gregg from Rays Digest, Tommy Rancel from ESPN Florida, Sandy Kazmir from OTTOTD, and Doug, BurGi, Scott, and myself from RaysProspects.

Today's question: Who is the most over-hyped prospect in the system?

Steve Slowinski: This might come off as a bit strange, but I'm beginning to grow skeptical of Chris Archer. While he certainly has the potential to become a front of the rotation starter, I'm not sure I see him ever reaching that potential. His fastball and slider are both plus pitches, but he still struggles with his command and he doesn't have a reliable third offering. Especially with the depth of pitching in the Rays' system, I could easily see him ending up in the bullpen if he doesn't show much improvement this season in his control, or if his change-up continues to lag behind his other pitches. And considering Archer is rated by Baseball America as the #3 prospect in the Rays' system...yes, I'd consider him overrated.

Jason Collette: I have my concerns about Derek Dietrich. Yes, he hits for good power, but he should as a guy with his collegiate pedigree while playing a full season of baseball in Low A ball. That said, there are holes in his swing. He made 11% less contact when swinging at strikes in the zones than the league average and made 12% less contact that the rest of the league when swinging at pitches. Now, he makes the jump to the FSL where the parks are bigger and pitchers have better stuff. He's not going to stick at shortstop so he'll have to hit with power to stick at a corner infield or outfield spot. I have a hunch he will struggle to get out of AA ball in his career.

mr. maniac: I believe Alex Torres is the most overhyped prospect in the Rays minor league system. His pure stuff probably ranks only behind Matt Moore's in the system. However, his lack of command will force him into relief, where is stuff will play well, but not exceptionally. I tend to prefer relievers with a dominant fastball over those with several good offspeed pitches.

Ryan Glass: Oscar Hernandez by a mile, but he doesn't really count because no one knows anything about him. This is a tough one for me because I'm a big optimist on prospects knowing that even the best ones don't live up to expectations, but I think Alex Torres is a bit overrated right now. Some people think he could step in to a big league rotation and be a good middle of the rotation starter. I do think he could have success immediately in the bigs, but his stuff will never fully translate because of command/control issues (see Garza as a better version).

John Gregg: Oscar Hernandez --- No one is more guilty of hyping Hernandez than I am, but the fact remains that until he shows something in the States against better competition, that his numbers in the VSL are relatively meaningless. The power potential and catch-and-throw ability seem legit, but the results  may not match the expectations initially until he gets adjusted to better quality pitching in the US.

Tommy Rancel: For the most part I think expectations for this current group are tempered. That said, I think people may be expecting too much too soon from Matt Moore. I still believe he is the best and most advanced pitching prospect in team history and will be a dominant starter at some point, but it seems as if some expect him to be that right off the bat in 2012.

Sandy Kazmir: Hak-Ju Lee seems to be getting a ton of love after an absolutely scorching start in Charlotte in 2011. His defense at shortstop elevates his floor to a likely useful player in MLB someday, but the biggest questions revolving around his bat are which was the mirage in 2011, his:

A: .318/.389/.443 with 16% strikeout rate in 454 PAs in A+ ball


B: .190/.272/.310 with 19% strikeout rate in 114 PAs in AA Montgomery

Some like to make excuses that he was tired due to a bout of chicken pox prior to the season, but it's more likely that he is neither as good as he was in A+ nor as bad as he was in AA.  That leaves a lot of mystery about who he actually is at the plate and that's enough for me to question whether he's truly the second best prospect in all of the Rays farm system.  Doubly so when looking at all that raw talent just bubbling and brewing in the lowest levels of the minors.

BurGi: Tough question. I'll answer with two names here: Firstly, I do have Jake Hager much lower on my board (29th; behind fellow '11 draftees Goeddel, Goetzman, Linsky and Eierman) than the industry consensus (13th) and my colleagues here at RaysProspects (between 13 and 17). Secondly, regarding the fan base, I think Henry Wrigley. I don't have anything against him, but he seems a bit overhyped in the fan base.

Doug Milhoan: RHP Chris Archer, who BA ranks as the Rays #3 prospect entering this season. He walked 5.3 batters per nine between Montgomery and Durham last year, which was only a tenth higher than his career 5.2/9 over six seasons. Because of baserunners (he allowed 9.0 hits/9 last year too) he'll end up a reliever, probably not in 2012 but eventually, and will not be a top 10 prospect entering 2013.

Scott Grauer: Chris Archer.  Not that he doesn’t have the stuff, but in his career he’s had more bad innings than good, and it’s time for him to show why he’s held in high regard. In a very, very brief stint with Durham to finish 2011, his walk rate was down at a slightly more manageable 4.2 per 9, but with the organizational depth at pitcher, he’ll be headed to the bullpen soon if he doesn’t improve quickly.

Kevin Gengler: Chris Archer, although there's definitely less shine on him now than at this point last year. In his minor-league career, he's only had two stops where he posted a BB/9 under 4.0: Repeating the GCL in 2007 and repeating the Florida State League in 2010. He's only 23 and he's athletic so there's hope there, but he needs to throw more strikes in 2012 to remain a future rotation candidate.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Rays Prospect Predictions: Lower-Level Breakout

Every year here at RP, we send a survey around to Rays bloggers around the net to get their predictions on the upcoming season. This year's panel: Steve Slowinski, Jason Collette, rglass44, and mr. maniac from DRaysBay, John Gregg from Rays Digest, Tommy Rancel from ESPN Florida, Sandy Kazmir from OTTOTD, and Doug, BurGi, Scott, and myself from RaysProspects.

Today's question: Who among the lower levels will have a breakout year in 2012? For this question, consider any player with very little or no full-season experience.

Steve Slowinski: We've given up on Josh Sale way too quickly. He was the Rays' first round draft pick in 2010, and despite his struggles last season in Rookie ball, I feel like we need to give him more time before entirely writing him off. Most prospect lists have dropped him down to around #15 (or lower) in the Rays' system, and Baseball Prospectus didn't include him at all in their Rays top 30 prospects list. He's still young and came from high school, so we should expect him to have some growing to do. Coming out of the draft, we knew that Sale had a number of different things to work on before he became a polished product; his swing had some "glitches", and his power was expected to improve even more as he got older. He obviously struggled last season, but much like Tim Beckham, I believe we should still have faith in his overall skills and expect his bat to shine through over time.

Jason Collette: Lenny Linsky - has the power arsenal to be a shut down type reliever in late innings and he could move quickly through the system in what is the path of least resistance in the organization.  He was a power reliever in college that generates groundballs and swings and misses in bunches.

mr. maniac: There are so many potential breakout players in the low minors due to the incredible depth of the Ray's, but I'm going with two players, Luke Bailey and Jeff Malm. I think Malm will have a very nice year, finally showing the powerful bat the Rays saw when they drafted him and maintaining that performance for a full year. Interestingly enough, Luke Bailey hits from the right side, yet only managed a weak .125/.171/.181 line against southpaws. Against RHP? .263/.342/.469. If he hits even solidly against LHP while continuing to hit righties, he will emerge as a top 10 prospect. With good years from these two players, the 2009 draft should look much better.

Ryan Glass: I really like the 2011 draftees for this question in general. Assuming Jake Hager has "broken out" I like Granden Goetzman here. He's already well regarded in the community, but I think he's the one that's most poised to pull a "Vettleson" if you will. He gets rave reviews on his tools, and I'd bet he's the best hitter of the draftees not named "Mikie." Depending on where Yoel Araujo ends up I might put him in this category as well.

John Gregg: Jeff Malm --- By his own admission, he was tired and poorly conditioned for the final month last season. He showed what he can do at the plate with a very hot July in 2011 and with improved conditioning and another season under his belt, 2012 should be the year that he finally capitalizes on his potential as an impact-type bat.

Tommy Rancel: Drew Vettleson - while we wait for his buddy - Josh Sale - to show signs of development, Vettleton already shows a good eye, nice speed, decent pop, and solid defense. He shows a platoon split, but at age 20 has time to improve versus lefties. Aside from the splits, his endurance will be tested over the course of full season, but I think he has the tools to take the leap in level and prospect lists.

Sandy Kazmir: Though I'm a huge fan of Drew Vettleson, today, I want to write about Ryan Brett. Ryan Brett was a 20 year old 2B that spent 2011 running around the bases at warp speed for the Princeton Rays.  Maybe I'm a sucker for rooting for the little guy, and they don't come much smaller than the 5'9 in heels Brett, but the second sacker has a contact-driven approach (9% of PAs ended in a strikeout) that still saw him walk to first around 10% of the time.  Don't get the idea that this is some Punch and Judy hitter, either, as 42% of his hits resulted in extra bases led by 22 doubles in only 270 plate appearances.  In an ideal world, Ryan Brett turns into Dustin Pedroia, but it's much more likely that he falls short of that (no pun intended).  Still, it's pretty rare to see a skillset where a guy doesn't whiff much, walks quite a bit, and still has some alley power. A breakout this year would see him turning some of those doubles into more homers while not losing the plate discipline that allowed him to rip so many good hitter's pitchers a year ago.

BurGi: If Mikie Mahtook is too obvious (I hope John Sickels was right about him when he mentioned his name as a next possible Mike Trout) I'll go with Felipe Rivero. He will be promoted to full season ball and (along with Ryan Carpenter and Parker Markel) form a strong top 3 of the rotation in Bowling Green.

Doug Milhoan: LHP Ryan Carpenter only pitched 23.2 innings for Hudson Valley after signing as a 7th round pick out of Gonzaga. With the Rays staff now overseeing his development expect his long lost velocity to return in Bowling Green and a mid-summer promotion to Charlotte.

Scott Grauer: Parker Markel. He looks good in a uniform and has the stuff, and he’ll jump to Bowling Green in 2012 and rise up everyone’s lists. All the reports on him are great, but he didn’t strike out as many batters as one would expect in Hudson Valley last year. His junior college and short-season experience should make him more advanced than his low-A competition.

Kevin Gengler: Okay, I'll be bold (you call it crazy, I call it bold): Justin O'Conner. Okay, so he struck out 78 times in 48 games last year, but when he did happen to make contact, he hit for good power (eight doubles and nine home runs). While I don't think he'll suddenly morph into a .300 hitter in 2012, I can see him cutting his strikeouts down closer to once per game while retaining the power.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Rays Prospect Predictions: Upper-Level Breakout

Every year here at RP, we send a survey around to Rays bloggers around the net to get their predictions on the upcoming season. This year's panel: Steve Slowinski, Jason Collette, rglass44, and mr. maniac from DRaysBay, John Gregg from Rays Digest, Tommy Rancel from ESPN Florida, Sandy Kazmir from OTTOTD, and Doug, BurGi, Scott, and myself from RaysProspects.

Today's question: Who among the upper levels will have a breakout year in 2012? For this question, consider any player with full-season experience.

Steve Slowinski: I'm very excited about watching Enny Romero's progress this season. Scouting reports give him glowing reviews, and he certainly has the upside of being one of the Rays' top three prospects as early as next year. His fastball is already dominant (92-97mph), and his main struggle to this point has been with consistency with his rotation -- much like Matt Moore's early struggles in the minors. While Romero is certainly no Matt Moore, and he will likely take a few more season before reaching the majors, Romero could jump up prospect lists this season after flashing his dominant stuff in Double-A. And if he gains consistency this year with his rotation -- thereby improving his command and the effectiveness of his off-speed pitches -- he could immediately become the Rays' next top prospect.

Jason ColletteWilking Rodriguez. I still love the arm even if it has taken some time for him to the point where he is at now.  His strikeout rate was nearly a full strikeout per nine above league average and while Midwest League hitters made contact with 59 percent of the pitches they swung at, they only connected with 52 percent of the ones that Rodriguez threw. The Rays see enough there to add him to the 40 man roster which gives me faith Rodriguez is heading in the right direction.

mr. maniac: Rays' fans have been waiting for Tim Beckham to break out for several years now. I think the year is finally coming (99% chance I am wrong). The bat speed and power have been there this spring. Hopefully he can fix his contact issues and continue to get more aggressive, which will lead him to a .280/.340/.430 line with improved defense.

rglass44Tim Beckham. This will be the first year he'll be starting a level where he ended the year before. Throw in the favorable hitting conditions for right-handers in Durham, and I think he'll be getting quite a bit of love come next prospecting season.

John GreggEnny Romero --- All the signs are there for a 2012 breakout. He has arguably the best stuff in the system, improved his K/9 rate for the third straight season and will be pitching in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. If he can make strides towards improving his command this season, then he has a chance to be the system's top pitcher going into 2013. 

Tommy RancelChris Archer - Obviously the results were not favorable, but Archer's stuff and makeup are still intact. I think he has the tools to remain as a starter; however, even if the command and changeup do not come along as quickly, his fastball and dominating slider could make him an impact arm in the bullpen as soon as September 2012. 

Sandy KazmirAlex Torres is like a girl at a party that looks fine from 20 feet away, but as you get closer she turns her head and you see that she has a giant pimple on the other side of her face.  Still, your eyes gravitate to southern locales and you quickly forget about the eyesore perched on her cheek.  You realize that in a week that pimple will be gone, but the rest of the package will still be mint so you put in the work and hope that you're catching her at a moment of vulnerability when you swoop in.  The pimple in Alex's case is his utter inability to control his fastball due to the insane amount of movement he generates out of his violent motion, but he's got ass for days when it comes to what he can do with his change up, breaking ball, and wild heater.  The hope is that this is the year that his pimples heal and he can turn a tantalizing skillset into Gio Gonzalez or Jon Sanchez.

BurGiEnny Romero. He will finally make strides in controlling his pitches which makes him more consistent and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball along with his excellent stuff.

Doug Milhoan: RHP Albert Suarez has only pitched 89.2 innings the past three seasons due to injuries and rehabbing. Expect a strong start in Charlotte with a promotion to Montgomery and a top 10 ranking entering 2013.

Scott GrauerMikie Mahtook. Sure, he hasn’t actually officially played in a full-season league yet, but he had a nice month in the AFL in November. He’ll start with Charlotte this year, and it won’t be long before he shows he’s deserving of a promotion to Montgomery. The Rays won’t need to worry about who their third outfielder will be once Upton leaves next season because Mahtook’s ETA is very soon.

Kevin Gengler: I'll hop aboard the Enny Romero bandwagon. He struck out 140 in 114 innings for the Hot Rods last season and should be able to take over the organization strikeout crown with Matt Moore graduating. Romero has struggled with control and command, but he did have eleven starts with 2 or fewer walks (though he wasn't exactly working deep into games). He had periods where he spotted the ball well, and his 2010 BB/9 with Princeton of 2.3 points to an ability to get it over consistently. As Steve mentioned, comparisons to Matt Moore would be unfair, but Moore had a 3.1 BB/9 in 2008 with Princeton and a 5.1 mark the next year with Bowling Green. Moore's control and change-up both developed far better than most, so expecting Romero to follow his path would be foolish, but Romero does have potentially dominant stuff.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Training Moves: Five Sent To Minors

The Rays announced the following roster moves on Sunday:

Optioned to minor league camp (players on 40-man roster): none.

Reassigned to the minor leagues (not on 40-man): RHRP Jhonny Nunez, RHRP Romulo Sanchez, 3B Matt Mangini, C Craig Albernaz, and OF Brad Coon.

Also, based on general manager Andrew Friedman's comments today I moved RHRP Matt Bush off the Bulls active roster and into a restricted spot on our Depth Chart. While the Rays have not yet made an official move there is no reason for us to pretend he will play for Durham this year. I slid RHRP Marquis Fleming up from Montgomery into Bush's vacated spot.

Future Considerations Podcast (Episode 17: Matt Bush. National League Preview)

This week, Kevin and Scott lead off with discussion about the Matt Bush situation (and how there really isn't much to say at this point). On the baseball side, with precious little to talk about from Spring Training, they preview the National League for the upcoming season.

Questions or comments? E-mail

Music is from Isle of Q

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stone Crabs Release 2012 Promotional Schedule

Via press release from Stone Crabs Marketing Manager Regina Van Henkelum.

The Stone Crabs look to have another great season with the help of their 2012 promotional schedule, which features more of their popular fireworks shows and entertainment acts as well as dozens of special theme nights that are sure to get fans in the mood for Minor League Baseball.

The Stone Crabs jump start the 2012 season against the Ft. Myers Miracle on April 5 at 6:30 p.m.. Then return home again on April 12 for a six game homestand against the Jupiter Hammerheads and the St. Lucie Mets.

Promotional highlights include: eight fireworks dates; the loveable nerd, Myron Noodleman, making his return to Charlotte Sports Park; popular theme nights like Christmas in July and Military Appreciation Night; and new theme nights like Half-Way to New Years and Emergency Awareness Weekend.

Also added to the promotional schedule for the 2012 season is Look my Hotdog is Green night, where lucky hot dog coinsures will have the opportunity to win cash just by eating a frank. While prepping the Hot Dogs for the game on Thursday, April 26, Stoney and the Stone Crab staff will be adding a little green into the hot dogs, wrapping a total of $1,000 dollars in randomly selected hot dogs.

Another new promotion in the 2012 season will be Win Matt Moore’s Money. The first 1,000 fans through the gate will receive a Matt Moore Bobblehead and 20 lucky fans will have an invitation in the bobblehead box to dash and win $1,000 of Matt Moore’s cash on the field following the game.

The Stone Crabs weekday promotions will include Claws for a Cause Monday, where the Stone Crabs will partner with a local non-profit organization to generate exposure and funds for their cause, Seniors Eat Free Tuesday, Budweiser Two-for-Tuesday, Heritage Night on Wednesdays, which will celebrate a different cultures on each of the 11 Wednesday night games and Thursty Thursday presented by Joe Cracker. These promotions provide fans with wallet-friendly promotions in addition to the affordable ticket prices offered by the Stone Crabs, which range from just $7-12.

One promotion not making its return is Dollar Dog Mondays, however, this season the Stone Crabs plan to offer $2 hot dogs, courtesy of Kayem, at all 70 regular season home games. “We are always looking to find new ways to provide the folks of Charlotte County with affordable, family entertainment. Thanks to our hot dog provider, Kayem, we’ll be able to offer $2 hot dogs every night of the season,” said Stone Crabs General Manager Jim Pfander.

In addition to all these fabulous promotional days the Stone Crabs will have five giveaway nights in which the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive items such as: Magnetic Schedules, Cal Ripken, Jr. Bobbleheads, Backpacks and Rally Towels.

Individual tickets for 2012 Stone Crabs baseball season are on sale now. For a complete listing of the Stone Crabs 2012 promotional schedule, please see below or visit Season Seat packages are currently on sale and start at just $72 for a 10-Game Mini Plan Seat Package, which include seats to the best promotional nights. For more information, please call (941) 206-HITS (4487) or visit

Friday, March 23, 2012

Moves: Ramos and Lueke Optioned

The Rays have optioned LHRP Cesar Ramos and RHRP Josh Lueke to the minors. Both players remain on the Rays 40-man roster and are expected to open the season in Durham's bullpen.

There has been no announcement regarding the status of RHRP Matt Bush. As of now he remains on the Rays 40-man roster. He was optioned to the minors on March 18th and was expected to anchor the Durham bullpen.

Spring Training probable pitchers:

Saturday, March 24th at Minnesota
- Rays - RH Jeremy Hellickson will start, followed by LH Matt Moore, RH Brandon Gomes, and LH Jake McGee.
- Twins - RH Jason Marquis will start, followed by RH Matt Capps, LH Glen Perkins, LH Matt Maloney, RH Jeff Gray, and RH Brendan Wise.

Sunday, March 25th vs. Miami
- Rays - RH Wade Davis will start, followed by LH J.P. Howell and RH Burke Badenhop.
- Marlins - RH Josh Johnson will start, followed by RH Jose Ceda, RH Edward Mujica, and former Rays RH Rob Delaney.

Bush Arrested Following DUI Crash

WFLA-8 Tampa is reporting this morning that Rays minor league pitcher Matt Bush was arrested yesterday on several charges stemming from a DUI accident in Port Charlotte. Bush is accused of striking a motorcycle on US-41 in Port Charlotte and then leaving the scene of the accident. The motorcyclist was flown to Lee Memorial where he is in serious condition. Bush was later captured in North Port and charged with leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries, driving with a suspended license, DUI with serious injury and DUI with property damage.

Added by Doug:

He has been charged with seven counts:

6. DUI/DAMAGE TO PERSON OR PROPERTY OF ANOTHER (316.193 3C1) - misdemeanor
7. DUI/DAMAGE TO PERSON OR PROPERTY OF ANOTHER (316.193 3C1) - misdemeanor

These are the initial charges which are subject to change as additional evidence is obtained. They could be reduced, enhanced, dismissed, or new charges could be filed after further investigation. The condition of the victim is the most obvious factor which could lead to additional charges.

The initial appearance to determine who will represent him and other preliminary matters was scheduled for this morning but has been continued to Saturday, March 24th, at 8:30 am. His arraignment is scheduled for May 21st at 9:00 am.

He will remain in jail without bond at least until the initial appearance tomorrow morning. A bond amount could be set at that hearing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Game Photos: Stone Crabs/Hot Rods at Keys/Shorebirds

Yesterday I took my lunch at Twin Lakes Park to catch a few innings of the Rays/Orioles minor league exhibition games. It was the Stone Crabs and Hot Rods who traveled to Sarasota to face the Frederick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds.

I first watched a bit of the Stone Crabs game. Albert Suarez was on the hill for the Stone Crabs. Here was the lineup for the game while I was there:
  • C - Jake Depew 
  • 1B - Jeff Malm 
  • 2B - Hector Guevara 
  • SS - Derek Dietrich 
  • 3B - Riccio Torrez 
  • LF - Mikie Mahtook 
  • CF - Todd Glaesmann 
  • RF - Drew Vettleson 

I arrived to the game already in progress with Guevara on first with two outs. Torrez doubled up the right field line. Guevara was waved home but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Suarez came out and worked a perfect inning recording a strikeout and two fly outs to end the inning.

Then in the next inning the Stone Crabs pushed a run across the plate. Glaesmann struck out to start the inning. Bailey doubled to left. Bailey advanced to third on a single by Vettleson to give the Stone Crabs runners on the corners. Vettleson advanced to second on a stolen base. Then Malm drove home a run with a sac fly. The final out of the inning came on a ground out by Motter to end the inning.

Suarez started out in a hole in the second by giving up back to back singles to lead off the inning. But a double play and a flyout got him out of the inning without any damage.

The Stone Crabs led off the third with a walk by Depew. But he was quickly erased from the basepath when Mahtook hit into a double play. Guevara then drew the second walk of the inning. Guevara advanced to second on a wild pitch but Dietrich ended the inning with a fly ball to center.

Suarez breezed through the bottom of the third with two strikeouts and fly out to end the inning.

Since I made it through the lineup in the Stone Crabs game, I moved over to the Hot Rods game for the remainder of the inning. Parker Markel was on the mound finishing up his final inning of work when I joined the game, he was followed by Roberto Gomez. The position players for the Hot Rods were:
  • C - Justin O' Conner 
  • 1B - Cameron Seitzer 
  • 2B - Juniel Querecuto 
  • SS - Jake Hager 
  • 3B - Tyler Goeddel 
  • LF - Josh Sale 
  • CF - Kes Carter 
  • RF - Craige Lyerly 

As I joined the game, Markel just finished his final inning on the mound by getting a ground ball out to end the inning.

The Hot Rods went down in order in the inning with three well hit fly balls. Tyler Goeddel flied out to right, Seitzer to center and Sale to left to end the inning. 

Gomez took over the mound in the bottom of the inning. He struck out the first batter he faced and then got back to back ground ball outs to end the inning. 

The Hot Rods put a runner on the bases the next inning. Rice struck out to lead off the inning. O'Conner followed with a hard hit single up the middle. Goetzman popped up to second for the second out of the inning. Then with Querecuto batting, O'Conner was caught off the base at first on a pick of through and was out to end the inning. I left following that play and did not catch any more of the game.

Here are photos from the game.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Minor Moves: Releases

The Rays are expected to release some players from minor league camp today. Let's use this thread to discuss those moves.

Based on past years I wouldn't expect any major surprises, but we'll have to wait and see. Updates will be added as they become available.

Added by Kevin:

- Raymond Church
- Robert Dickmann
- Sergio Espinosa
- Steve Hiscock
- Luke Irvine
- Junior Rodriguez
- Nick Schwaner
- Matt Stabelfeld
- Drew Leary (requested)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rays Send Five More To Minor League Camp

The Rays narrowed their roster by five more positions on Sunday afternoon following the game against the Red Sox. The Rays sent the following players to minor league camp.

  • Tim Beckham 
  • Matt Bush 
  • Dane De La Rosa 
  • Brandon Guyer 
  • Stephen Vogt

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rays Exhibition Game In St. Pete

Today while the Rays hosted the Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park, a bus load of minor leaguers headed to Progress Energy Park for an exhibition game against the Netherlands National Baseball Team. I have not seen a box score for the game but I did hear that Henry Wrigley hit a two run homer. I will post more information about the game if and when a box score or more information becomes available. Here is a list of who played for the Rays:

  • C - Mark Thomas, Mayo Acosta 
  • 1B - Henry Wrigley 
  • 2B - Omar Luna, Cole Figeroa 
  • SS - Shawn O'Malley, Robbi Estrada 
  • 3B - Greg Sexton 
  • LF - Emeel Salem, Anthony Scelfo 
  • CF - Isaias Velasquez 
  • RF - Kyeong Kang, John Shelby 
  • DH - Tyler Bortnick 
  • P - Kyle Lobstein, Jim Paduch, Adam Liberatore, Scott Shuman, Matt Spann, Alex Koronis, Dan Bream 

The game was part of a series of international games hosted by St. Petersburg International Baseball. They posted photos from today's game. You can view the photos here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Game Photos: Spring Training Hot Rods vs Shorebirds

This afternoon I headed over to Charlotte Sports Park to work a few innings of MiLB spring training into my schedule. Today the Rays A hosted the Orioles A squad. My goal was to try and catch one time through the lineup for each game, however I got called off after about a half-hour at the park.

During the short time I was there, Fernando Rodney got his work in during the Advanced-A game while Joel Peralta and Burke Badenhop worked the A game.

I was able to catch 2 innings of the Hot Rods/Shorebirds game. Peralta made the start for the Hot Rods. He pitched just one inning and struck out the side in the first inning.

Then in the Hot Rods were retired in order in the bottom half of the first. Craige Lyerly flied out to right, Kes Carter flied out to center and Tyler Goeddel flied out to left to end the inning.

Burke Badenhop then took over the mound to start the second inning. He worked a 1-2-3 inning, recording 2 ground-outs and a strikeout.

The Hot Rods collected the first hit of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Travis Flores popped out to first to lead off the inning. Then James Harris singled up the middle for the first hit of the game. But the hit was quickly erased as Tyler Goeddel hit into a double play to end the inning.

Badenhop went out on the mound to start the third inning but that's when I got the call to leave. I would have loved to see a little more of the games as I was interested in seeing Oscar Hernandez hit and Taylor Guerrieri was warming in the bullpen as I was walking out to the truck.

A couple brief observations from my perspective:

  • Peralta pitched a very strong inning. He commanded the inning and breezed through the hitters. Its not a good measure seeing these were Class-A hitters but he seemed to be in control. 
  • On the opposite end, Badenhop seemed to struggle in his inning. He worked most of the counts deep and didn't seem to be in command of his pitches. 
  • Harris hit was a hard hit ground ball right over second base into center. I was impressed with Harris last year in the GCL and look forward to seeing what he can do at the higher levels. 

Below are photos from today's game between the Hot Rods and Shorebirds.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hot Rods to Host Annual Fan Fest on Saturday, March 17

The Bowling Green Hot Rods, Class A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, will host their annual Fan Fest this Saturday, March 17. The free event will take place from 10 AM to 2 PM at Bowling Green Ballpark and will be highlighted by the launch of 2012 single-game ticket sales. Fans that attend can also enjoy behind-the-scenes ballpark tours, food, prizes, inflatables for the kids, and more.

“With the warmer weather in the area, a lot of our fans have been thinking about the baseball season for weeks,” said Hot Rods President Brad Taylor. “Our annual Fan Fest is not only the official start of baseball season, but it’s another way to reward all of our great fans. Last season was one for the record books and we are ready to make 2012 even better.”

Fan Fest begins at 10 AM with the start of single-game ticket sales at the Hot Rods Ticket Office. Single-game tickets will be available for purchase for any game of the 2012 season, including Citizens First Opening Night on April 5, 15 post-game fireworks extravaganzas, five day games during the week, including Labor Day, and more. Plus those fans in attendance will receive the first look at the 2012 promotional schedule. Tickets will be available at the Hot Rods Ticket Office, by calling (270) 901-2121, or by visiting the Hot Rods website,

Due to an increased demand in ticket packages and large group outings this off-season, availability for select dates is limited and fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early. Fan Fest will also serve as the first opportunity for season ticket and Mini Plan holders to pick up their 2012 packages.

The Hot Rods begin their fourth season with Citizens First Opening Night on Thursday, April 5, 2012, at 6:35 PM against the South Bend Silver Hawks (Arizona Diamondbacks). Secure a free ticket to Citizens First Opening Night by purchasing a 2012 Mini-Plan, which come in 6-Game, 10-Game, and 17-Game options and offer a free hot dog at every game plus other great incentives. For more information, visit or call the Hot Rods at 270.901.2121.

Via Press Release from Hot Rods Manager of Broadcast./Media Relations Hank Fuerst.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rays Make Second Round Of Cuts

The Rays trimmed their roster another six positions this afternoon. Bryan Augenstein, Alex Colome, Hak-Ju Lee, Wilking Rodriguez, Albert Suarez and Matt Torra were sent to minor league camp.

This recent round of cuts puts the Rays roster at 45 as they work closer to their opening day roster.

Game Photos: Spring Training Stone Crabs vs Keys (3/14/2012)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rays Come From Behind To Tie Orioles

The Rays fought back from an early hole to finish with a 7-7 tie against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium. Tuesday's game marked the spring debut for Matt Moore who struck out three in 1 2/3 innings worked.

The Rays took early lead in the second inning. Matt Joyce went deep to right for a solo homer and a 1-0 Rays lead.

But then the Orioles struck big, tagging David Price for 4 earned runs in the home half of the inning. Ronny Paulino singled home JJ Hardy to tie the game. Then Jai Miller hit a three run blast to put the Orioles ahead 4-1.

The Rays battled back to cut the lead in half in the seventh inning. Brandon Guyer singled home Sean Rodriguez to bring the score to 4-2.

The Orioles wasted no time in making up that run by Jai Miller scoring on a sac fly to put them back ahead by three 5-2.

Then came the big four run inning by the Rays in the top of the ninth. Jesus Feliciano got the runs started by hitting a two run double to left, scoring Will Rhymes and Stephen Vogt to pull the Rays within one. Then Hak Ju Lee pushed across two more runs to take the lead after hitting a triple to right. Lee later scored on a line drive by Chris Gimenez to give the Rays a 7-5 lead.

But the Orioles fought back again in the home half of the ninth when Ryan Flaherty delivered a two run homer to tie the game and force extra innings.

The game remained tied through the tenth inning and ended in a 7-7 tie.

Notable Performances

  • Jesus Feliciano drove home two runs. 
  • Brandon Guyer was 2 for 3 with an RBI. 
  • Matt Joyce was 2 for 3 with a home run. 
  • Hak-Ju Lee was 2 for 2 with a triple, 2 RBI's and a run scored. 
  • Matt Moore pitched 1 2/3 no-hit innings with 3 strikeouts and a walk. 

A Look Ahead: The Rays return home to Charlotte Sports Park to face the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Jeremy Hellickson will get the start followed by Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, Brandon Gomes, Bryan Augenstein and JP Howell. Anibal Sanchez will start for the Marlins.

Rays Lose In Extra Innings

The Rays continue to struggle against the Minnesota Twins as they fell 2-1 in ten innings on Monday afternoon. With the loss, the Rays have now lost 4 out of 5 games against the Twins this spring.

The Rays struck first by scoring in the third inning. Desmond Jennings singled home Jose Lobaton to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.

The Twins tied the game in the fifth. Ben Revere single back to the mound and an errant throw by Kyle Farnsworth allowed Luke Hughes to score.

Then in the tenth inning, Hughes scored again to win the game for the Twins. This time he took an offering from Albert Suarez over the left field wall for a solo home run. The Rays could not counter in the home half of the tenth as they fell 2-1.

James Shields showed he is in opening day form as he pitched 4 shut-out innings, increasing his scoreless service to 10 innings this spring.

Suarez was charged with the loss for the Rays and is now 0-2 on the spring.

Notable Performances

  • Bryan Augenstein pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • Matt Bush pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • Desmond Jennings was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a stolen base. 
  • Jose Lobaton had a double. 
  • Cesar Ramos pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • James Shields pitched 4 scoreless innings. 
  • Matt Torra struck out 2 of 3 hitters faced in a no-hit inning. 
  •  Henry Wrigley was 1 for 1 in his MLB spring debut. 

A Look Ahead: The Rays travel north to Ed Smith Stadium for a game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday afternoon. David Price is scheduled to start followed by Matt Moore, Burke Badenhop, Wilking Rodriguez and Ryan Reid. This will be Moore's first game of the spring after being sidelined with a pulled abdominal muscle.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rays Make First Round Of Cuts

The Rays made their first round of cuts from big league camp today. Chris Archer, Nevin Ashley, Alex Cobb, Ricky Orta, Mark Thomas and Alex Torres were sent to minor league camp.

Archer appeared in two games this spring with a 0.00 ERA in 3 innings pitched.

Ashley was a non-roster invite to spring training and was played in two games, going 0 for 4 at the plate. 

Cobb was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 4 strikeouts in 2 games this spring.

Orta pitched just one inning this spring, allowing no runs but walking two in the inning.

Thomas appeared in two games this spring and was 0 for 2 at the plate.

Torres appeared in two games and collected a 3.00 ERA with 3 strikeouts and 3 walks in 3 innings pitched.

Archer, Cobb and Torres were optioned to minor league camp while the remaining players were just transferred to minor league camp. With the cuts, the Rays have trimmed their spring training roster to 53 52 players.

Rays Victorious Over Pirates

The Rays finished closed out the weekend on a winning note following a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park. After exchanging runs throughout the game, the Rays struck in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win. The Rays pitching core was extremely successful with four of the seven pitchers throwing no-hit innings. The game also marked the return of Evan Longoria who was injured on opening day as well as the spring debut for Luke Scott. 

The Pirates were the first to reach the scoreboard in the fourth inning. Andrew McCutchen singled to third but an errant throw by Longoria allowed Alex Presley to score and gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

The Rays bounced back in the home half of the fourth. Reid Brignac drove home Longoria with a bunt single to tie the game 1-1.

The Pirates then regained the lead in the fifth on a solo home run by Pedro Alvarez to take a 2-1 lead.

Then the Rays tied the game once again in the bottom of the fifth. Sam Fuld scored on a sac fly by Longoria to tie the game 2-2.

The Pirates used a long ball to grab the lead in the ninth when Jake Fox homered to left to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Then in the bottom of the ninth, the Rays mounted a game winning rally. It was Chris Gimenez playing the hero role as he singled home John Shelby and Matt Mangini to give the Rays a 4-3 walk-off win.

Josh Lueke was the winner as he evened his spring record to 1-1.

Notable Performances

  • Reid Brignac was 2 for 3 with an RBI. 
  • Chris Gimenez drove home 2 runs to win the game. 
  • Brandon Gomes pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • JP Howell pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • Matt Mangini was 2 for 2 with a double and a run scored. 
  • Jake McGee pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • Jose Molina was 2 for 3. 
  • Jeff Niemann pitched 3 no-hit innings with 2 strikeouts. 

A Look Ahead: The Rays host the Minnesota Twins on Monday at Charlotte Sports Park. James Shields is scheduled to start followed by Kyle Farnsworth, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Matt Bush and Matt Torra. Carl Pavano is the scheduled starter for the Twins.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rays Blanked By Red Sox

The Rays offense struggled to get on the scoreboard on Saturday night as they were shut-out by the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park. The Rays recorded 7 hits on the night but could not make anything out of those hits, stranding 11 hitters and going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Four of the five runs in the game came in the first three innings off starter Wade Davis. Davis issued a bases loaded walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to score Nick Punto giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

The Red Sox scored two more in the second when Darnell McDonald and Alex Hassan scored on an BJ Upton error, increasing the lead to 3-0.

Then in the third, Kevin Youkilis struck an RBI double to center, scoring Adrian Gonzalaz to put them ahead 4-0.

The fifth and final run came in the eighth inning on a ground-rule double by Josh Kroeger that scored Will Middlebrooks. The Rays could not push across a run as they were shut-out 5-0.

Davis was charged with the loss and is now 0-1 in the spring. Daniel Bard was the winning pitcher for the Red Sox.

Notable Performances

  • Burke Badenhop pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. 
  • Alex Colome pitched 2 shut-out innings. 
  • Dane De La Rosa pitched a shut-out inning with 2 K's. 
  • Elliot Johnson was 2 for 3. 
  • Jeff Keppinger was 2 for 3. 
  • Romulo Sanchez struck out 3. 
  • Stephen Vogt has a double. 

A Look Ahead: The Rays return home for a Sunday afternoon games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jeff Niemann will get the start followed by Brandon Gomes, Joel Peralta, Fernando Rodney and JP Howell. Kevin Corriea is scheduled to start for the Pirates. It is also rumored that Evan Longoria will return to the Rays lineup on Sunday after being hit by a pitch on opening day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rays/Orioles Play Ten Innings But Finish Tied

The Rays and Orioles played neck and neck on Friday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park but the end result was a 3-3 tie.

The Orioles struck first after Alex Torres worked himself into a jam in the fourth inning. Torres loaded the bases with a hit batter and two walk. He then issued a bases loaded pass to give the Orioles the first run of the game and 1-0 lead.

The Rays matched the run and added another in the home half for the fourth. The Rays loaded the bases and then Matt Mangini singled home Will Rhymes and Jose Molina to take a 2-1 lead.

The Orioles tied the game in the sixth on an RBI single by Xavier Avery.

The Orioles then took the lead in the seventh as Scott Beerer scored on a wild pitch by Marquis Fleming to put the Orioles ahead 3-2.

Brad Coon then went deep for the Rays in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game 3-3.

Neither club could push across another run and the game was called a tie at the conclusion of the tenth inning.

The Rays pitching staff combined for 11 strikeouts on the afternoon. Alex Cobb made the start and pitched 3 shut-out inning before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Notable Performances 

  • Alex Cobb pitched 3 scoreless innings with 2 strikeouts. 
  • Brad Coon had a solo home run. 
  • Hak-Ju Lee was 2 for 4. 
  • Matt Mangini had 2 RBI's.  
  • Ryan Reid struck out 3 in 2 scoreless innings. 
  • Wilking Rodriguez pitched a no-hit inning with 2 strikeouts.

A Look Ahead:
The Rays travel to JetBlue Park on Saturday to face the Boston Red Sox. Wade Davis will make the start for the Rays followed by Burke Badenhop, Josh Lueke, Albert Suarez, Romulo Sanchez and Dane De La Rosa. The game will air live on MLB Network with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET.

Flashback Friday: 2007 Opening Day Rosters

With about three weeks to go in Spring Training we should start to some transactions soon. Players in major league camp will be sent to the minor league teams, trades may happen, and towards the end several players will be released.

When we look at transactions on a day-by-day basis throughout the year I think we sometimes fail to see how much overall turnover there is in the organization.

Below are the opening day rosters from 2007 for the Rays full-season teams, with current players in bold. As of today, only 18 of the 128 players who made a roster just over five years ago remain. That's just 14% of the players from the five highest levels of the Rays organization after only five years.

Will any more be gone by the time 2012 rosters are released?

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 8, 2012

Rays Earn A Split In Thursday's Split-Squad Action

 In a tale of polar opposites, the Rays earned a split during Thursday's spring training games. One half of the Rays suffered a major blow by the Detroit Tigers as they gave up 8 runs on 15 hits in the loss. Then on the other end of the spectrum, the traveling Rays squad threw nine shut-out innings to defeat the Minnesota Twins on the road.

At Charlotte Sports Park, the Rays could not handle the red-hot bats of the Tigers as they lost 8-1.

The Tigers jumped out to an early lead in the third inning when Delmon Young went deep with a three run blast to put the Tigers ahead 3-0.

The Rays scored their lone run in the fourth inning. Matt Mangini singled home Jeff Keppinger to bring the Rays within two runs of the lead 3-1. 

Then the Tigers offense struck for three more runs in the sixth inning. This time it was James McCann, Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera doing the damage by each driving home a run to increase their lead to 6-1.

The Tigers pushed across two more runs in the eighth inning on two run single by Audy Ciriaco to hand the Rays a 8-1 loss.

Cesar Ramos was charged with the loss for the Rays.

David Price made the start for the Rays but was pulled following two scoreless innings with neck spasms. 

Meanwhile just under an hour south of Charlotte Sports Park, the second Rays squad was locked into a pitchers duel with the Twins at Hammond Stadium.

The games lone run came in the top of the ninth inning when Tim Beckham reached on an error, allowing Hak-Ju Lee to score and gave the Rays the hard-fought 1-0 victory.

Matt Torra recording the victory for the Rays and improved to 1-0 on the spring.

Notable Performances 

  • Chris Archer pitched 2 scoreless innings. 
  • Bryan Augenstein pitched 3 shut-out innings. 
  • Matt Bush pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. 
  • Desmond Jennings was 2 for 3. 
  • Jeff Keppinger had a double. 
  • Jake McGee pitched a no-hit inning with 2 K's. 
  • David Price pitched 2 scoreless innings. 
  • Fernando Rodney pitched a shut-out inning. 
  • Albert Suarez pitched a no-hit inning. 
  • Matt Torra pitched 1 1/3 no-hit innings to record the win. 

A Look Ahead: The Rays host the Baltimore Orioles on Friday at Charlotte Sports Park. Alex Cobb will make the start followed by Alex Torres, JP Howell, Jhonny Nunez and Ryan Reid. Jake Arrieta will start for the Orioles.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rays Injury Report

Tampa Bay Rays
3B Evan Longoria - Bruised hand after HBP on March 1st. Day to day.

OF Sam Fuld - Right wrist. Expected to play in Spring Training games by the end of this week.

DH Luke Scott - Recovering from right shoulder surgery. Expected to play in Spring Training games by the end of this week.

LHSP Matt Moore - Strained abdominal. Expected to throw batting practice this week and make Spring Training debut next week.

RHRP Brandon Gomes - Recovering from back surgery. Expected to throw batting practice this week.

Durham Bulls
RHP Jay Buente - Rehabbing from surgery on right shoulder. Out majority or all of 2012 season.

Princeton Rays
RHP Garret Smith - Tommy John surgery on March 7th. Out for 2012 season.

RHP Matt Ramsey - Tommy John surgery on right elbow (August, 2011) after signing from 2011 draft. Out majority or all of 2012 season.

Below are players who were injured at the end of 2011. They may be ready to play now, but are worth keeping an eye on. Will update when/if they play in minor league Spring Training:

Durham Bulls
RHP Richard De Los Santos - Placed on DL April 13th, missed rest of 2011 season.

Montgomery Biscuits
OF Emeel Salem - Missed the entire 2011 season rehabbing from right knee surgery.

Charlotte Stone Crabs
RHP Chris Andujar - Placed on DL May 7th, missed rest of 2011 season.

OF Chris Murrill - Placed on DL May 30th, missed rest of 2011 season.

Bowling Green Hot Rods
RHP Jairo De La Rosa - Missed the entire 2011 season rehabbing from right shoulder surgery.

RHP Jason McEachern - Placed on DL August 19th with shoulder injury, missed rest of 2011 season.

2B Hector Guevara - Placed on DL July 23rd with shoulder injury, missed rest of 2011 season.

Hudson Valley Renegades
RHP Wilmer Almonte - Missed the entire 2011 season due to right shoulder injury.

RHP Jesse Hahn - Missed entire 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery on right elbow (August, 2010). Has not yet played pro ball.

OF Kes Carter - Didn't play after June 20th with leg injury.

RHP Drew Leary - Didn't play after June 28th.

VSL Rays
LHP Luis Wilches - Missed entire 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery on left elbow (May 23, 2011).

DSL Rays
RHP Jose Fermin - Missed entire 2010 and 2011 seasons rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on right elbow (November, 2010).

Note: Until 2012 rosters are released players are listed under their most recent team.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Aggregated Industry Rays Top Prospect List

UPDATE: Now with BA-Top 30 (via Marc Topkin and DRaysBay) instead of Top 10.

After Marc Hulet (of FanGraphs) and Kevin Goldstein (of Baseball Prospectus) have also published their Rays Top Prospect Lists, I'm going to post the final Aggregated Industry Rays Top Prospect List. I'm also comparing this industry list with our own Rays Top Prospects-list.

I aggregate the Rays Top Prospect Lists of 9 acknowledged industry sources into an aggregated list. The sources are: Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein), Keith Law (ESPN), John Sickels (, Jonathan Mayo (, Baseball-Intellect (Source: Prospect Spreadsheet by ... excellent source by the way), FanGraphs (Marc Hulet probably), Bullpen Banter (2 lists: Jeff Reese and Al Skorupa).

In the following table you can see all the players listed who either cracked at least one of those 9 lists or who are on our Rays Top 30 Prospect List. Overall, that makes 34 players listed (including Russ Canzler who is no longer with the organization). Players who were not listed on a single prospect list got the value of the last ranked player times 1.5. (e.g.: on BA's Top 10 Prospect List every unranked player got a "ranking" of 10*1.5 = 15). Each of the Bullpen Banter lists was weighed with 0.5.

So, here is the list:

(Click at the table for a larger view)

Comparing this list to ours:
  • We much more believe in Enny Romero's potential as a starter than the industry sources do (RP: 3rd, Industry: 8th). He is as much a controversial player as Alex Torres, Chris Archer and Alex Colome. Either you project them as starters or as relievers.
  • On the other side, they like Alex Colome more than we do (RP: 11th, Industry: 7th).
  • Nevertheless, both aggregated lists have the same top 11 prospects. The biggest differences are with Taylor Guerrieri (RP: 6th, Industry: 3rd), Alex Colome and Enny Romero.
  • After that, both lists have the same players in the range from 12 to 16.
  • Blake Snell (17 overall), Wilking Rodriguez (20) and Luke Bailey (21) are the highest ranked players according to the industry lists, not on our RaysProspects - list.
  • The other way around, Ryan Carpenter (21st on our list) and Grayson Garvin (25) are not mentioned on ANY of the industry lists.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hellickson Strong In Rays Loss

Jeremy Hellickson made a strong debut, throwing two scoreless innings in the Rays 5-3 loss against the Minnesota Twins in Sunday's home opener at Charlotte Sports Park. The games momentum swung back and forth but in the end, the Twins long balls put the Rays in the loss column for the second straight game.

The Twins took the first lead of the game in the top of the third inning. Trevor Plouffe struck an RBI single to right, scoring Alexi Casilla to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.

The Rays bounced back to tie the game in the home half of the third. Matt Joyce drove home Sean Rodriguez with an RBI single to center to even the game at 1-1.

The Rays took their first lead of the afternoon on a solo home run by Jeff Salazar, putting the Rays in front 2-1.

The lead held until the top of the sixth when Chris Parmelee went deep on Burke Badenhop, giving the Twins a 3-2 advantage.

The Rays pushed across their third and final run of the afternoon in the seventh inning. Robinson Chirinos singled home Jesus Feliciano to tie the game 3-3.

The Twins blasted another two run homer in the ninth, this time it was Josh Lueke surrendering the long ball to JR Towles. The Rays could not mount a comeback as they suffered back to back losses to start the spring.

Josh Lueke suffered the loss in his Rays debut.

Notable Performances

  • Robinson Chirinos was 1 for 1 with an RBI. 
  •  Jeremy Hellickson pitched 2 scoreless innings allowing just one hit. 
  • JP Howell pitched a no-hit inning with a strikeout. 
  • Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless inning. 
  • Sean Rodriguez was 2 for 2 with a run scored. 
  • Jeff Salazar had a solo home run. 
  • Romulo Sanchez struck out 4 in 2 scoreless innings. 

A Look Ahead:
The Rays (0-2) host the Baltimore Orioles split-squad on Monday at Charlotte Sports Park. Wade Davis is scheduled to make his first start of the spring with Alex Cobb, Bryan Augenstein, Cesar Ramos, Matt Bush and Matt Torra expected to follow. Alfredo Simon is the probable starter for Baltimore. Monday's game is the first of three discounted game days at Charlotte Sports Park with ticket prices $2 lower then normal.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rays Drop Spring Opener

Despite jumping out to an early lead, the Rays could not hold off the Twins as they fell 7-3 on Saturday afternoon at Hammond Stadium.

The Rays took the lead in the first inning. BJ Upton set the stage by getting on base with a double. Then Matt Joyce took an offering from Twins starter Carl Pavano deep over the right field wall to put the Rays ahead 2-0.

The Twins cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third inning. Rays reliever Jhonny Nunez got into a jam early in the inning by walking Alexi Casilla and giving up a single to Denard span to lead off the inning. Joe Mauer drove home a run with an RBI single that scored Casilla to cut the lead in half 2-1.

The Twins tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Justin Morneau hit an RBI single off Alex Colome that allowed Joe Benson to score and tie the game 2-2.

Albert Suarez got roughed up in the bottom of the sixth inning, surrendering three runs and committing an error that allowed the Twins to get their first lead of the afternoon.

The Twins strung together back to back one run inning in the seventh and eighth innings to increase their lead to 7-2.

The Rays pushed across a lone run in the top of the ninth. Chris Gimenez doubled to left to lead off the inning. Tim Beckham picked up the RBI with a ground ball to short that scored Gimenez. But the Rays could not overcome the large deficit as they fell to the Twins 7-3.

Suarez suffered the loss for the Rays, allowing 3 runs on 2 hits with 2 walks in an inning pitched.

Notable Performances

  • Chris Archer pitched a no-hit inning with a walk. 
  • Tim Beckham was 1 for 1 with an RBI. 
  • Dane De La Rosa struck out the side in the fourth while allowing just one hit in the inning. 
  • Matt Joyce was 2 for 2 with a two run homer. 
  • David Price pitched a no-hit inning, striking out 2 of 3 hitters faced. 
  • BJ Upton was 2 for 2 with a double, triple and a run scored. 

A Look Ahead: The Rays return home to Charlotte Sport Park for their spring home opener against a split squad from the Twins. Jeremy Hellickson will start the opener followed by Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, JP Howell, Jake McGee, Josh Lueke, Burke Badenhop and Romulo Sanchez . Terry Doyle is the probable starter for the Twins.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Flashback Friday: 2006 Rays Top Prospects

Looking through my old BA Prospect Handbook from before the 2006 season and thought I would share some of the more interesting comments.

1. OF Delmon Young - With virtually no chinks in his armor, it's easy to see why managers tabbed him the Southern League's best batting prospect, best power hitter, best outfield arm and most exciting player... Young has all the tools to be an all-star for years to come.

2. RHP Jeff Niemann - Niemann might have gone No. 1 in the 2004 draft had he not been coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery and a groin strain... His slider has sharp, cutting action and was deemed the best breaking pitch in the 2004 draft... The Rays envision Niemann joining Scott Kazmir as a potent 1-2 punch.

3. RHP Jason Hammel - He has the best command in the system.

4. SS Reid Brignac - Balls jump off his bat and he has natural loft in his stroke. He could produce 25-plus homers annually down the road. Brignac uses the entire field and has a plan at the plate.

5. OF Elijah Dukes - Dukes is an incredible athlete with all-star ability. He makes solid contact, has at least 20-homer power and plays with all-out aggression.

6. RHP Wade Davis - He drives his fastball low in the zone at 92-98 mph. His hard curveball became more consistent last year, and his slider is a solid-average pitch.

7. 1B Wes Bankston - Bankston shows as much raw power as anyone in the organization... His lower body has gotten thicker in the past two years, reducing his speed and overall athleticism.

8. RHP Chad Orvella - Mainly a shortstop in college, Orvella made it to the majors as a pitcher less than two years after he turned pro... When he was a shortstop, Orvella's best tool was his arm, which now delivers consistent 92-94 mph fastballs with late life.

9. RHP Matt Walker - His fastball ranges from 89-96 mph with good life. His overhand power curveball has a sharp break and is the best in the system.

10. RHP Chris Mason - Though he's just 6 feet tall, Mason generates 91-95 mph velocity and plus movement on his fastball thanks to a lightning-quick arm.

11. C Shawn Riggans - A more disciplined approach could mean the difference between being a platoon player and a starter in the major leagues.

12. RHP Jamie Shields - Though not overpowering for a righthander, Shields showed he has the overall package to be a solid fourth starter in the big leagues.

13. OF Fernando Perez - Perez has struggled at times making contact, though he gave switch-hitting a try during instructional league and had success.

14. RHP Wade Townsend - The Devil Rays' former upper-management team overruled the scouting department and mandated that the club take Townsend with the eighth overall pick in the 2005 draft... At his best at Rice, he pitched at 90-92 mph with his fastball and dominated hitters with a spike curveball.

15. C/DH John Jaso - An excellent contact hitter with a good approach from the left side, Jaso could produce 25-plus homers annually at higher levels.

16. LHP Jacob McGee - McGee has one of the best curveballs in the minors, an overhand bender that can be unhittable. He adds and subtracts from his curve, varying its velocity from 69-77 mph. His only problem with the pitch is that it breaks so much that lower-level umpires don't always call it for strikes.

17. OF Shaun Cumberland - Scouts drool over his picture-perfect swing from the left side of the plate.

18. 2B Elliot Johnson - In addition to his plus speed, he should develop consistent extra-base power once his body fills out more completely and adds some strength. Though he's not a big home run threat, he's one of just two players in professional baseball history to hit three homers in the first three innings of a game.

19. RHP Jeremy Hellickson - Projected to go in the first two rounds of the 2005 draft, Hellickson dropped to the fourth because clubs worried about his bonus demands and his commitment to Louisiana State... He missed his junior season in high school because of a fractured growth plate in his right shoulder.

20. RHP Andy Sonnanstine - Sonnanstine won the system's pitching triple crown in 2005, leading all Tampa Bay farmhands in wins, strikeouts and ERA. His most eye-popping number was his 178-18 K-BB ratio, and managers rated him as having the best control in the Midwest League.

21. RHP Jose de la Cruz - Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing in excess of 240 pounds, the righthander physically resembles Antonio Alfonseca, only larger, and is nicknamed "The Aircraft Carrier."

22. LHP James Houser - He dropped to the second round of the 2003 draft mainly because he has a heart murmur that scared teams off.

23. OF Andrew Lopez - Not only did he hit .325 in his pro debut, but he also raked against older pitchers during instructional league, where he reminded veteran scouts of Magglio Ordonez.

24. LHP Chris Seddon - Five years into his pro career, Seddon reached Triple-A at the age of 21.

25. RHP Carlos Hines - Hines has a fast arm that produces a powerful 92-97 mph fastball.

26. RHP Brian Stokes - Stokes' best pitch is a mid-70s curveball, and his 89-92 mph fastball can feature heavy sink when he keeps it down in the zone.

27. RHP Juan Salas - He consistently showed an 80 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale at the hot corner, but his power never developed as expected.

28. OF John Matulia - One Devil Rays coach describes Matulia as "tougher than a one-dollar steak."

29. RHP Derek Feldkamp - Feldkamp's stuff plays very well when he's used in relief, a role in which he shows a 91-95 mph fastball and an 82-84 mph slider.

30. OF Francisco Leandro - Managers rated his strike-zone judgment the best in the Midwest League last year, and he didn't miss a beat after a midseason promotion to high Class A, where he quickly put together a 24-game hitting streak.

Some future Rays:

Arizona Diamondbacks #8 RHP Matt Torra - He became a supplemental first round-pick who signed for $1.025 million after leading NCAA Division I with a 1.14 ERA for a 16-33 Massachusetts team.

Colorado Rockies #17 OF Jeff Salazar - Salazar needs to learn to stay back on pitches and use the opposite field if he wants to reach his potential.

Detroit Tigers #27 OF Matt Joyce - Joyce has average tools across the board to go with a quiet approach that lets him make consistent contact while using the whole field. His arm might be a tick above average.

Houston Astros #15 OF Luke Scott - He's an incredibly streaky hitter, and he'll sometimes get himself out when he's going good, needlessly making adjustments because he fears pitchers will do the same.

Houston Astros #16 SS Ben Zobrist - A switch-hitter who excels at handling the bat, Zobrist has solid-average tools across the board, with the exception of power.

Los Angeles Angels #23 SS Sean Rodriguez - His best tool is his plus arm, but between the organization's depth at shortstop and Rodriguez' lack of pure shortstop actions, he won't play there much longer.

New York Mets #13 2B Jeff Keppinger - Though he homered twice off Southern California ace Mark Prior in a 2001 College World Series game, Keppinger's contact approach means he'll never hit for much power.

San Diego Padres #11 LHP Cesar Ramos - Ramos was drafted in the sixth round by the Devil Rays out of high school, but decided to attend Long Beach State, where he became the winningest lefty in school history... He'll need to keep an eye on his weight and work habits. He doesn't offer much projection, but his feel for pitching should carry him.

San Diego Padres #13 SS Matt Bush - He's a potential Gold Glove shortstop with plus range to both sides, an excellent double-play pivot and a powerful arm that ranks as a pure 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.