Monday, October 3, 2016

Former Durham Bulls in the Playoffs

At least 13 former Durham Bulls are on the rosters of this year's playoff teams. Two of them are on the 60-day disabled list, so unlikely that we will see them in action. It's a bit of a commentary on the Rays that three of them (Gimenez, Navarro, and Lobaton) are catchers.

Congrats to them all. Good luck to them all.

Who did I miss?

Boston Red Sox
  • David Price, Durham Bull 2008, 2009 [stats]
Baltimore Orioles
  • Joey Rickard (DL, thumb injury), Durham Bull in 2015 [stats]
Toronto Blue Jays
  • Melvin Upton, Jr., Durham Bull 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 [stats]
  • Dioner Navarro, Durham Bull in 2010 [stats]
Cleveland Indians
  • Chris Gimenez, Durham Bull 2013, 2014 [stats]
  • Brandon Guyer, Durham Bull 2011, 12, 13, 14 [stats]
Washington Nationals
  • José Lobaton, Durham Bull 2010, 2011, 2012 [stats]
Chicago Cubs
  • Jason Hammel, Durham Bull 2005, 2006, 2007 [stats]
  • Ben Zobrist, Durham Bull 2006, 2007, 2008 [stats]
LA Dodgers
  • Scott Kazmir, Durham Bull 2008 and 2009 (rehab) [stats]
  • J.P. Howell, Durham Bull 2006, 2007, 2011 (rehab) [stats]
NY Mets
  • Justin Ruggiano (DL, shoulder surgery), Bull 2007-2011 [stats]
San Francisco Giants
  • Matt Moore, Durham Bull 2011, 2013 (rehab), 2015 (rehab) [stats]

We missed two former Bulls, but thanks to the Hit Bull Win Blog, we stand corrected.
  • Mike Montgomery, now with the Cubs, was a Bull back in 2013 and 2014.
  • Adam Liberatore, now with the LA Dodgers, was a Bull in 2012 thru 2014. He won't be pitching this post-season since he's out for elbow surgery.

Lots of interesting trivia at HBWB.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

What Happened to the Rays on June 16th?

June 16th was the beginning of a long, long, long slide for the Tampa Bay Rays.

click on chart for larger image

The Seattle Mariners were playing the Rays inside the Bandbox-By-The-Sea Bay. The day before (the 15th) the Rays had won a 13 inning affair when the Mariners pitcher gave up a triple to Logan Forsyth, hit Tim Beckham, walked Taylor Motter, and walked Logan Forsyth for the winning run. Matt Andriese, who had been sent to the bullpen after winning five games as a starter, got the win in relief. The game lasted 4½ hours. Box. Wrap. That was to be the last game that the Rays had even a sniff at competing in the American League East.

Although no one noticed, the next day was the beginning of the end. June 16th was a Thursday and the last of the three-game set against the Mariners. It was a day game starting at 1 o'clock after Wednesday's long game. The Trop had 11,331 fans in paid attendance. Blake Snell was having his debut appearance at Tropicana Field. He'd had a spot start back on April 23, but with this start he was going into the rotation to stay for the rest of the season.

Seattle Mariners: 6
Tampa Bay Rays: 4
Box, Wrap

Snell's first inning didn't go well when the Mariners scored three runs, two of them on a Tim Beckham error. Nor did his 4th inning when the bases were loaded, partially due to yet another Tim Beckham error. Snell left the game with the bases loaded and Ryan Garton gave up a two-run double. Snell took the loss, but was only charged with one earned run of the five scored on his watch.

Meanwhile, the lineup for that day included four players hitting below .200 and a couple just barely over that line. Nevertheless, they did put together 12 hits and 4 runs. They were just one run back until Tyler Sturdevant gave up a home run in the 9th.

Manager Kevin Cash and Steven Souza were quoted in the Tampa Bay Times the next day:
   "We found some ways to win this series; obviously we didn't today," manager Kevin Cash said. "I think there's still enough to be a lot positive about. We continue to battle, put guys in scoring position. The big hit kind of eluded us. Loved the way our bullpen, Garty and Sturdy (that's Ryan Garton and Tyler Sturdevant in nonbaseball nomenclature) kept us in the ballgame and gave us plenty of opportunity. The at-bats were tremendous. We just couldn't quite find that one separating hit. Really, really liked the way the guys competed.
   "These," [Steven Souza Jr.] said, "are really important games."'s Sam Blum was a bit harsher (video at link):
   The excitement that came with Blake Snell's arrival to Tampa Bay was erased quickly due in part to both his lack of command and the poor defense around around him.
Nevertheless, who would have thought that June 16th was the beginning of an 11-game losing streak and a subsequent slide that continues to this very day?

Monday, September 26, 2016

2016 Moonlight Graham Awards

Each year Watching Durham Bulls Baseball recognizes the hitter and pitcher who have spent the least amount of time in a Durham Bulls uniform. The award is named in honor of North Carolinian Archibald “Moonlight” Graham who famously played only two innings for the New York Giants in 1905, never coming to bat.

We have just a few criteria for selection, all negative. Not considered are players who come through on a rehab assignment, played only in post-season (did not apply this year, obviously), or (for the pitcher) a position player thrown to the wolves at the end of a game.

The 2016 Winners

Alec Sole

Left-hand hitting infielder Alec Sole came up from the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs to play in three games, all at third base, and all against the Gwinnett Braves, on August 5, 6, and 7. He did not manage to get a hit in 8 plate appearances, but he did draw a walk. He went from Durham to Double-A Montgomery. In Montgomery, he only played in 8 games before going on the disabled list. Just 23 years old, he will likely be back in the Rays system next year. By the way, Sole had a similar short visit with the Bulls in 2015. He came up from the Bowling Green Hot Rods for two games in September. [stats] [background]

Kyle Winkler

Right-Handed Reliever Kyle Winkler came up from the Montgomery Biscuits to appear in one game on July 9th against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He pitched 1⅓ innings in relief, giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks. However, he did get the win. In Montgomery, he had a 2.59 ERA in 29 appearances and 31 innings. Very likely the highlight of his year came when he struck out the side to wrap up a 4-pitcher, 7-inning no-hitter against the Jackson Generals on July 11. [box] Winkler was involved in a trade in 2015 that sent him from the Rays system to the LA Angels system. He was released early this year and went to independent ball. He came back into the Rays system in June. [stats]

Congratulations to Alec and Kyle! Good luck in 2017!  

About Moonlight Graham

Archibald “Moonlight” Graham achieved lasting fame as a character in the W.P. Kinsella novel, Shoeless Joe, and then became even more famous when he was played by Burt Lancaster (and Frank Whaley) in the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. As a ballplayer, Graham played two innings in the major leagues as a right fielder for the New York Giants in 1905. He never came to bat. You can look it up. He went on to a career as a well-loved physician in Chisholm, Minnesota.

Of interest to us is that he was a North Carolina native (born in Fayetteville, grew up in Charlotte); graduated from UNC (where he played baseball); and was the older brother to UNC President and US Senator Frank Porter Graham. If you find him an intriguing character, the Wikipedia article is a good start. There’s a nice NBC piece done on him a few years ago. And then there’s a terrific book by Fayetteville writer (and Bulls fan) Brett Friedlander and Robert Reisling, Chasing Moonlight. Copies of the book are in the Wake and Durham County Library systems and Amazon.

Canadian author W.P. Kinsella recently died and was remembered at his website and elsewhere.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Durham Bulls in 2016: Part 5 - The Durham Bulls Athletic Park

This is Part 5 of our 2016 wrap-up. Part 1- The Team is here; Part 2 - The Pitchers is here; Part 3 - the Hitters is here, and Part 4 - the Tampa Bay Rays is here.

As usual, the Durham Bulls staff and management did a terrific job this year. Please jump in with your comments.


The most visible change this year was the extension of netting from just behind home plate out to the edges of the dugouts. We sit on the front row of the terrace view section behind the first base dugout, so netting did change our view of the game. At first, it bothered me. However, I have to say that for years what bothered me much, much more were inattentive parents among us. I've seen children sitting on top of the dugout with their back to the game! And that was even more distracting to me than the netting has been this year. Plus, our seats are pretty far back, unlike the netting in the old Durham Athletic Park, which feels like a cage.


Not a high point this year. After the extreme efforts of a couple of years ago, we expected better. Hasn't happened yet, although the field certainly drains better. A key problem was probably overuse of the field, first by Trinity College (sometimes referred to as Duke University) and then by the ACC tournament. It did seem to play well, but here's hoping they find the right mixture of grass species and usage so that appearances are better next year.

Food and Beverages

I am no expert on beers, but the variety available, including a microbrewery right in the ballpark, seems to be superb. Similarly, when you go to as many games as we do, you can't eat too much ballpark food without turning into a blimp. However, the loss of Rise Donuts pained me. I know they had a poor location and who (other than I) goes to the ballpark for a donut? On the other hand, my other favorite, Durham Coop Market, is still there. I hope they made money and will be back. Overall I'd say there's a tick upwards since Bull City Hospitality took over food operations.

Co-op Market 


I have grown to really like Patrick Kinas as the Bulls broadcaster and am very impressed with the growth of Scott Pose as the color commentator for most of the home games. They make a very good team. Kinas went off to work the Rio Olympics for a couple of weeks and Pose did a very credible job backing up a stream of stand-ins.

And then there's the Post 50 TV crew, who set a very high bar for everyone in Triple-A baseball. I often check in on the Bulls when they are on the road via MiLB-TV. There I see what the home team is streaming and listen to their broadcast team is up to. Some are awful, some are OK, none of their TV operations come close to what  Post 50 does.

Just a few more watts of transmitting power would be nice for my little radio in the park and for those useless embedded antennas in modern automobiles.

Plus, Kinas did a daily interview of Bulls manager Jared Sandberg that was aired in the pre-game show. We were not able to listen every day and it sure would have been nice to have those interviews available as podcasts. In particular, the Rays are obsessively secretive about player injury status, but they will answer questions ... if asked. And Kinas often does ask. But if you're not listening in that moment, you simply don't know what's up. I get more information about Bulls players status from the Tampa Bay Times than I do from either the Bulls front office or the local paper, the Durham Herald-Sun.

The Bulls communications crew

Does a very good job, particularly on stats, little essays for the programs, and this year's set of "Arrival" videos. This year's fan appreciation video was well done.

All the between innings promotions get a bit old for folks who come to a lot of games.

We are going to miss Bill Law. See the tributes here.

A few nits to pick
  • For several years there was a pre-season "Meet the Team" luncheon for season ticket holders and sponsors. That's gone away. Too bad.
  • Although we've solved the cupholder problem for the front row seats of Terrace View, even I would admit that it looks awfully ratty. 

Lastly, the ACC has pulled its tournament from Durham for 2017. Here's the Bulls' response.
   DURHAM, NC – Our partners at the Atlantic Coast Conference had a difficult decision to make regarding the location of neutral site championships throughout the state of North Carolina. We understand the conference’s position, and support our partner’s decision to remove those championships from North Carolina. We look forward to a resolution of this issue, so that we can welcome the tournament back to Durham in future years.
    We have opposed House Bill 2 from the beginning, and continue to share that sentiment.

Good for the Bulls! We too share that sentiment.

Next Home Game: 200 Days

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Durham Bulls in 2016: Part 4 - The Tampa Bay Rays

This is Part 4 of our 2016 wrap-up. Here are the links to Part 1, 23.  and Part 5, The DBAP.

The Tampa Bay Rays are the Bulls' parent club.

We sometimes forget that all of the players, all the coaches, and almost everyone else in the dugout, work for Tampa Bay. Consequently, it's fair to say that what happens in Durham doesn't stay in Durham. How responsible are the Rays for this year's Bulls' performance? 100%

So, what about them Rays?

They are not a very good baseball team, not this year, not most years since they were formed. At the moment they are 21 games below .500 and in last place in the American League East. Their team OPS of .739 is 10th in the 15-team league; the team ERA of 4.18 is 13th. Most years, the Ray's rep is built around pitching, not so much this year. The most notable statistical oddity about the team is that the Pythagorean Expectation number says that they "should" be at just 5 games below .500. That difference between actual (-21) and expected (-5) is usually attributed to a combination of bad luck and pitching. We'd agree. The hitting is OK. Plus, their defense is OK. The "Defensive Difference Index" of 6.88% is actually better than the league average of 6.95%

But we are interested in the Durham Bulls.

Our view is that there are some systemic problems with the Rays and that those problems are having an effect on both teams. The issues show up in 1) player development, 2) selecting and managing/coaching veteran players, and 3) overall managing/coaching.

For example, so far this season, up in Tampa Bay, if you look at games played by position players [BaseballRef], of the top 7 players only two (Evan Longoria and Kevin Kiermaier) came up through the Rays system and played in Durham. Of the next seven, 3 players (Desmond Jennings, Tim Beckham, and Mikie Mahtook) came up through the Rays system and two others from outside the Rays system (Nick Franklin and Brandon Guyer) spent some time with the Bulls.

For pitchers, the picture is slightly better. Of the 24 (so far) pitchers in Rays' games, seven (the traded-off Matt Moore, late-season call-up Blake Snell, returned from rehab Alex Cobb, and relievers Alex Colome, Ryan Garton, Dylan Floro, and Enny Romero) came through the Rays system. Plus almost all of the rest we've seen in Durham one time or another.

Does the fact that not many ex-Bulls are playing for the Rays help explain why the Bulls have not been very good these last few years? Well, maybe. But that's certainly not all of the picture. As important is probably that they are not doing a very good job of spotting or managing veteran talent. Back in 2013 (with a lot of help) we put together some stats on "greatest" Durham Bulls. (here, here, and here). Unless you happen to be a thorough-going baseball fanatic, you may not recognize many of those names. But Bulls fans do. Our concern is that, without diving into the data too deeply, it doesn't look like any names could be added in the three years since we made up the list. What does that mean? It means that the Rays are not seeking out and finding quality ballplayers to fill out the Bulls' roster. Just exactly what did Kyle Roller, Jake Goebbert, Eury Perez and Carlos Corporan bring to the 2016 Bulls? About as much as 2015's Eugenio Valez, Bobby Wilson, Grady Sizemore, Jose Constanza, and Alexi Casilla. Only Casilla's OPS of .827 is particularly respectable among that bunch, and he got dumped in mid-season.

Then there was the using playing for the Bulls as a "punishment" at the end of the season. Two players on the 40-man were sent down and not recalled after the Bulls season ended, reportedly because the Rays didn't want them around. What does that say about being a Durham Bull?

Management? The record speaks for itself. How much difference does a management crew make? We have witnessed three of the Bulls losing seasons and if there's a thread it's that the "veterans" didn't contribute as much as they could/should. We fans expect the youngsters to have growing pains. But we also expect the veterans to come up with the timely double play, home run, accurate throw from the field, and smart base-running moment that wins games. And a competent job of pitching. However, even veterans need solid coaching and managing. Is coaching/managing another thread that's running throughout the Rays system as an issue? Begins to look like it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Governors' Cup Update

The final best-of-five began Tuesday in Pennsylvania, then moved to Georgia yesterday. The Braves are on the edge. They are behind 2-1 to the Yankee's franchise.

Game 1, September 13, PNC Field, Moosic, Pennsylvania
Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta): 7
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRider (NYY): 4

Game 2, September 14, PNC Field, Moosic, Pennsylvania
Gwinnett Braves: 1
Scranton/WB RailRiders: 2
A quirky, minor league playoff typical loss for the Braves. Their pitching crew walked in the tieing and winning runs (after putting all of the runners on based with hit-by-pitch or walk).

Game 3, September 15, Coolray Field, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Scranton/WB Railriders: 3
Gwinnett Braves: 0
Box, Gwinnett Daily Post, Scranton Times-Tribune

The Durham Bulls in 2016: Part 3 - The Hitters

As we pointed out in Part 1 of this series, the Bulls hitting was pretty dismal this year. In fact, taken in the aggregate, it was the lack of hitting, more than any other factor, that  made this the worst season in Bulls' history. We discussed the pitching at Part 2. See also Part 4 - The Tampa Bay Rays, and Part 5 - The DBAP.

The Bulls saw 28 different batters come to the plate this year. Two of those were pitchers, Dana Eveland and Eddie Gamboa, only had one plate appearance. Two were short-term rehab assignments, infielders Matt Duffy for 3 games and Logan Forsyth for 2 games. A young minor leaguer, Alec Sole was in three games. We do need to point out that in his one at-bat pitcher Eddie Gamboa got a hit and scored a run ending up with the team-best batting average of 1.000 and OPS of 2.000!

Looking at this chart of OPS numbers we see that we that we have to reach down to the 4th player in the rank-ordering before we find a player above the "average" line and who who had any significant amount of playing time (Jaff Decker).

There was, however, a cluster of promising young players that we'd hope to see again next year: Casey Gillaspie, Johhny Field, Daniel Robertson, and "veteran" 26 year-old Jaff Decker.

Click on chart for larger image

This table is sorted by a more "advanced" stat, Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) and includes another stat, Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA) that gives us a hint of the player's contribution to the team this year.

Casey Gillaspie
Mikie Mahtook
Nick Franklin
Jaff Decker
Johnny Field
Daniel Robertson
J.P. Arencibia
Curt Casali
Richie Shaffer
Kyle Roller
Taylor Motter
Dayron Varona
Jake Goebbert
Luke Maile
Eury Perez
Juniel Querecuto
Jake Hager
Carlos Corporan
Patrick Leonard
Hank Conger
Cameron Seitzer

The Hitters

Players are discussed in order of games played. "Slash Line" is Batting Average/On Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage. The Bulls played a 144 game season that ended September 5, 2016.

Richie Shaffer (119 games, 496 plate appearances,.227/.329/.367, OPS .695, wOBA .321) did not deliver on his promise from 2015 where he had stellar seasons at Montgomery and with the Bulls. He played in several positions and seems to have a decent arm. Longoria is, of course, in his way at Tampa Bay. Nevertheless, his 27 doubles were in second place on the team (and 14th in the IL), as were his 48 RBI. He also led the team in strikeouts with 135 and drew the most walks at 65. He was up with the Rays a couple of times and went back for September. [stats]

Daniel Robertson (118 games, 511 plate appearances, .259/.358/.356, OPS .713, wOBA .331) was the most promising young (22) player we saw this year. It says something about the Rays that they did not call him up for a "taste" this September. But that does mean that Bulls fans will get to watch him mature next year. In a perfect world, it would be nice if he were a bit quicker  (just 2 stolen bases). And the 100 K's are worrisome. He led the team for being hit by pitches (11). [stats]

Dayron Varona (117 games (118 on FanGraphs site), 463 plate appearances, .232/.274/.407, OPS .681, wOBA .306) provided some of the rare excitement this year. His numbers are not all that great, but he did lead the team in doubles with 32 (5th in the IL) and RBI with 59. Mid-season he seemed to slow down, but picked up at the end. He has a terrific arm and covers right or left field quite well. Not quite as explosive a player as his fellow Cuban defector Leslie Anderson. We wanted to see a bit more plate discipline. Tied with Jaff Decker for most outfield assists (12). [stats]

Jaff Decker (99 games, 349 plate appearances, .255/.366/.421, OPS .787, wOBA .357) meant a lot to the Bulls this year. He was one of the few exciting players on the team, exciting to watch, that is. And was a rare left-handed bat.  As he has several in the last three years (with Pittsburg and San Diego), he managed some major league time, but did not stick. He was #2 in stolen bases with 18, but led the team in getting caught with 7. He tied with Dayron Varona for most outfield assists (12). We'd like to see him back with the Bulls next year. [stats]
Update: Decker put on 40-man and called up to Rays mid-September.

Jake Goebbert (93 games, 321 plate appearances, .218/.299/.361, OPS .661, wOBA .303) added a left-handed outfielder's bat to the line-up, but, unfortunately, not much else. It is true that several of 10 home runs seemed to come at critical moments. Nevertheless, his OPS was almost 200 points below his 2015 numbers in El Paso (San Diego AAA) and he barely got above the Mendoza Line all year. [stats]

Taylor Motter (88 games, 387 plate appearances, .229/.297/.389, OPS .686, wOBA .311) seemed to be more of a Rays' super-utility man in training than a Durham Bull, this year. He had 33 games with the Rays but did not hit very well. His 2016 numbers are well below his 2015 Bulls numbers of .292/.366/.471. Not sure, but think he might be up for his first shot at free-agency this year. From a fan's perspective, if he can regain 2015 form, we'd like to see him back. [stats]

J.P. Arencibia (78 games, 324 plate appearances, .252/.284/.443 OPS .727, wOBA .326) joined the Bulls after 12 games with Lehigh Valley (AAA team of the Phillies). To be honest, after his superb September with the Rays in 2015, we didn't expect him back. At bat, he led the Bulls in home runs with 15, but overall his hitting was off. As a catcher, however, our guess is that he provided quite a bit of added value to the team because, once Luke Maile went up to the Rays, there was not much left to work with the pitching crew. J.P. announced his retirement at the end of the season. We wish him well. [stats]

Jake Hager (71 games, 293 PA, .228/.269/.324, OPS .592, wOBA .266) came to the Bulls in June after 43 games with Montgomery. This was his first time at AAA. He alternated between second base and shortstop with a couple of games at third. He had a piece of 41 double plays, and made a decent partner for Daniel Robertson at short. His bat needs some work, but he's young. Likely to be back next year. [stats]

Johnny Field (69 games, 285 PA, .275/.338/.455, OPS .793, wOBA .353) came up to the Bulls at the end of May for his AAA debut after 45 games with the Biscuits. The young (24) outfielder has had a good year and is one of the few Bulls with a decent OPS. Not particularly quick afoot (3 steals, 6 caught stealings), he was quick enough to lead the team in triples (4) and he ranked third in doubles with 23. Very likely to return next year. [stats]

Nick Franklin (64 games, 270 PA, .254/.322/.392, OPS .714, wOBA .322) was never expected to be a full-time Durham Bull when he came to the Rays system back in 2014. Maybe, maybe this year was the charm. At least he is now playing regularly with the Rays even if he did put in a substantial number of games with the Bulls this year. He did not have a great year at bat as a Bull, he actually has much better stats with the Rays (OPS .836). We don't expect him back. [stats]

Luke Maile (58 games, 214 PA, .242/.310/.340, OPS .650, wOBA .300) began the season with the Bulls, moved up to the Rays in mid-July, and never came back. Catchers are very difficult to evaluate from the stands. We certainly thought that Maile was ready to go as his stats improved throughout June. Just 25 years old, we expect that he's got a solid career ahead of him. As we will discuss later, however, the Rays are notorious for mishandling/misjudging catchers. We are not confident that he will be finding a place with the Rays as a major leaguer. We liked watching him play, though. [stats]

Kyle Roller (50 games, 187 PA, .216/.316/.377, OPS .692, wOBA .318) never quite delivered on the promise he showed in 2014 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (OPS .875), although after leaving the Bulls in mid-June he did just fine in independent ball. Overall, the Bulls would have been better served if the Rays had found better ballplayers than Roller, Jake Goebbert, Eury Perez, and Carlos Corporan to fill out the roster at the beginning of the year. [stats]

Casey Gillaspie (47 games, 203 plate appearances, .307/.389/.520, OPS .909. wOBA .407) was a rare breath of fresh air after he came up from the Montgomery Biscuits in mid-July and stayed for the rest of the year. He appears to be a pure hitting first-baseman (switch-hitter, better as a lefty against righties). At 23 he's young and very likely to be back next year. We hope so. We like watching him play baseball. Note that he only made one error at first base as a Bull. [stats]

Patrick Leonard (42 games, 145 plate appearances, .198/.276/.252, OPS .528, wOBA .250) was much less successful in his AAA debut. However, after starting with the Bulls in April, he went to Montgomery at the beginning of June and had a decent year there. Just 23, you have to think he'll get another shot next year. [stats]

Cameron Seitzer (40 games, 144 plate appearances, .178/.229/.200, OPS .429, wOBA .204) appears to have been thoroughly mistreated by the Rays, although we're willing to stand corrected. As far as we can tell he was a backup infielder-in-waiting who filled a roster hole when it was convenient and then transferred (on paper) elsewhere when it wasn't. He was essentially with the Bulls all year, but only played in 40 games. Unfortunately, when he got his rare opportunities, he did not do very well. [stats]

Juniel Querecuto (36 games, 229 PA, .242/.289/.308, OPS .597, wOBA .272) does not have very good numbers for his visits with the Bulls. He started with the Biscuits, came to the Bulls in mid-May and stayed to mid-June. He went back to the Biscuits for a week or so, came back to the Bulls for late June and early July, back to the Biscuits, up to the Bulls, and ended the season with the Biscuits. That's three promotions to the Bulls this year. Not good numbers, even for an infielder. Young at 23, likely playing winter ball. We'll have to see about next year. [stats]
Update (9/12/2016): Added to 40-man roster and called up.

Hank Conger (30 games, 116 plate appearances, .165/.200/.303, OPS .503, wOBA .227) had a few good moments as a Bull after he was sent down by the Rays in mid-July for the last month and a half, but not many. As we mentioned, we have a hard time judging catchers from the stands, but his hitting numbers were not good at all. Unlikely to return next year. [stats]

Mikie Mahtook (27 games, 120 PA, .305/.383/.438, OPS .821. wOBA .371) spent the first six weeks with the Bulls and then went up to the Rays to spend almost all of the season with the Rays or on the DL (he did come back for 7 games at the end of the Bulls season). Mahtook is a major leaguer (even if his season has not gone well), although it sure would have helped to have at least one or two players of his rising talent with the Bulls this year. [stats]

Eury Perez (27 games, 99 PA, .239/.295/.307, OPS .602, wOBA .278) started the system in the Pacific Coast League with Houston's Fresno Grizzlies. Even at 26, he's been with a lot of teams and systems, coming up with the Nationals, then with the Yankees, Atlanta, and Houston before the Rays. He arrived in June and was on and off the roster a good bit. His last at bat was August 17. He had his moments. He was third in stolen bases, even with his reduced playing time. We have no way of knowing if he has any health issues, so hard to predict if he will be coming back. [stats]

Curt Casali (20 games, 81 PA, .254/.407/.365, OPS .772, wOBA .364) began the season with the Rays and stayed there until early August, when he was sent down, apparently to work on his hitting. He went back to the Rays at the end of the Bulls' season. Hitting was always a bit of a weak point with Casali, and this year did not seem to be that much different. With the Bulls, he was sharing time with two other catchers (Arencibia and Conger) and he did just fine with his limited plate appearances. Hard to tell if he's going to stick with the Rays next year. [stats]

Carlos Corporan (20 games, 70 PA, .200/.246/.308, OPS .554. wOBA .255) started the season with the Bulls, but was released in mid-May. He spent the next couple of months with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Miami's AAA team. Yet another example of the Rays having a hard time picking/developing catchers. [stats]

The Rest
  • Mayo Acosta is essentially the Bulls bullpen catcher. He has been on and off the roster for the last four years, essentially succeeding Craig Albernaz in that role (Albernaz, by the way, is with the Rays' Hudson Valley Renegades as their hitting coach).
  • Tim Beckham got in 5 games and 12 plate appearances at the end of the season.
  • Matt Duffy, an infielder, had 12 plate appearances on a rehab assignment.
  • Alec Sole visited for three games in August while he was enroute from the Charlotte Stone Crabs to end the season with 6 games with the Montgomery Biscuits.
  • Logan Forsyth had two games on a rehab assignment.