Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Durham Bulls in 2011 — The Hitters: Part II

The new guys, the rehabbers, and the visitors

John Matulia (24) has been playing professional baseball since he was 18 years old. When he came to the Bulls in July, it was his first time in AAA. He was up and down a couple of times in July as the Bulls' roster seemed to turn over almost every day. Eventually he stuck in Durham by early August.
  • Played in 36 games (134 PA). Mostly he took over for Desmond Jennings/Brandon Guyer/Justin Ruggiano in center field (29 starts there). Not strong numbers — .238/.278/.429, wOBA .290, and they were about the same as he was showing in Montgomery. He hit 5 home runs and got 16 RBI. His speed got him 2 triples.
  • At the end of the season John was one of the few Durham Bulls showing any speed in the field or on the bases, so he was needed. But even as a youngster, he needs a really good year to keep moving up. Not sure he will be back next year.
  • Stats
Nevin Ashley (26) also came up from Montgomery in mid-July after Bulls catcher Jose Lobaton got called up, got hurt, then Bulls catcher Robinson Chirinos got called up to St. Pete. This was his sixth year as a pro. He had a couple of games with the Bulls in 2010 and is on the Rays 40-man.
  • Played in 32 games (112 PA) mostly as a catcher (1 DH appearance). One of six different catchers who played for Durham this year, he had almost as many games as Jose Lobaton (38) by end of the season. Not very good offensive stats — .218/.273/.307, wOBA .256. However, 10 of the 21 guys who tried to steal on him got caught.
  • A fan really can't judge a catcher's game-calling skills from the stands, but it looks like Ashley has a home in the Rays' system if he can get his hitting stats up.
  • Stats
Stephen Vogt (26) came up from the Biscuits at the end of July and a more versatile player I haven't seen in a very long while. This was his fifth year in pro ball and first time in AAA.
  • Played in 31 games (131 PA) at catcher (5 games), 1B (5 games), outfield (10), and DH (11). Good, strong, left handed bat — .290/.305/.516, wOBA .351.
  • Seems like the Bulls have always had at least one strong left-handed bat in the line-up. Vogt may be that guy for 2012.
  • Stats
Tim Beckham (21) joined the Bulls in early August, the last of the Biscuit call-ups on the year. In his fourth year as a pro. It was his first time at AAA.
  • Played in 24 games (111 PA) all at shortstop and, I think, all as the leadoff batter in the lineup. Stats were OK — .255/.282/.462, wOBA .310, but they will need to improve as he moves up.
  • Does he look like a superstar? No. Does he look like a good, solid middle infielder? Yes.
  • Stats
Matt Carson (29) was signed out of the Oakland system at the beginning of August to fill in some big holes in the Bulls' outfield. Although he was briefly injured he helped keep the Bulls on track to win the South Division title.
  • Played in 22 games (95 PA) all in the outfield. Good power — .250/.337/.512, wOBA .354.
  • A long-time AAA ballplayer, hard to tell if he will be back. At a guess, probably more a matter of clubhouse "fit" than anything else. Heck of an arm.
  • Stats
* * * * * 

The Bulls had a few players down from the Rays on rehab assignments. Shortstop Reid Brignac was in town for 11 games, catcher John Jaso for 6 games, Elliot Johnson was back for just 2 (both on the road), and Justin Ruggiano put in 6 of his games while on rehab.

* * * * *

Lastly, three players that don't really fit into any category.

Craig Albernaz (28) was present with the Bulls almost the entire season, not going down to the Montgomery Biscuits until the end of July when Nevin Ashley came up. But he rarely got into a game as he was mostly confined to a bullpen role. From the stands he appeared to be a vital part of the team, his good spirits infectious even at a distance.
  • Played in 8 games (25 PA). Pitched in 4 innings in 3 games. Back in Montgomery at the end of the season he got in 29 games catching, an inning pitching, and a game at 2B (!).
  • Obviously, we like Craig. Would be happy to see him in a Bulls uniform again.
  • Stats
Casey Kotchman (28), the Tampa Bay Rays' first baseman, actually started the year on a minor league contract with the Durham Bulls. That's going to be a trivia question some day. However, the Bulls' season started a week after the Rays' season, which allowed enough time for the Manny Ramirez fiasco to start playing out. Played in 1 game (5 PA), single and a walk, and was called up to the Rays.

John Shelby (25), got in one game (3 PA) with the Bulls in late July and then went back to the Biscuits. We might see him next year.


  1. I don't really know anything about his personally, but I have to wonder if Craig Albernaz has a future in coaching in him. I just can't imagine a guy being happy with the role he has unless he really enjoys being around the game and working with other players.

  2. Agree with the comments on Craig and hope to see his career develop, one way or another.