Thirty-three ballplayers pitched in a Durham Bulls uniform in 2011, six more than in 2010. We'll take three of those off the list since they were position players thrown to the wolves in losing games (Craig Albernaz, Omar Luna, and J.J. Furmaniak). That leaves 30 to talk about. For those who were with the Bulls at the end of the season, we've charted their performance. Turmoil in July is mentioned several times. See the post from July 22 for more about what that was like.
Players listed in order of number of innings pitched.
Players listed in order of number of innings pitched.
Alexander Torres (23), LHP, 27 games, all starts, 146⅓ innings, 9-7, ERA-3.08, 6th year in pro ball, 1st in AAA.
- Alex Torres was the only Bulls starter who was with the team the entire year (how's that for trivia?). He had a few innings with the Bulls in last year's playoffs, but otherwise he's had two years with the Biscuits and now a year with the Bulls. He led the International League in strikeouts with 156. Unfortunately, he also lead the league in walks with 83. That pretty much tells you what kind a pitcher he is. Nevertheless, he seemed to be getting a little bit better as the season progressed. He was called up to the Rays at the end of the Bulls' season but at this writing has pitched only 1 inning in relief. Very likely to be back with the Bulls next season to be part of a very strong starting rotation.
Brian Baker (28), RHP, 25 games, 20 starts, 104⅔ innings, 7-9, ERA-6.62, 7th year in pro ball, 2nd year in AAA.
- Brian Baker was supposed to be the Bulls' long reliever this season. Instead he ended up spending most of the year in the starting rotation. He appeared to run out of steam at the end of August and his numbers really soared in his last few games. Not sure that he is physically up to the task of pitching in AAA.
Dane De La Rosa (28), RHP, 52 games, all in relief, 70⅓ innings, 6-5, 6 saves, ERA-3.20, 8 seasons, 1st in AAA.
- A break-through year for Mr. De La Rosa after a long time working his way up. First came to my attention with his 1-pitch appearance at the DAP in early May. He was ejected and had a four-game suspension. Before and after that event, he did a terrific job for the Bulls, a real stalwart in the bullpen in a year where starting pitching was in confusion. Had a one-inning, mid-season call-up in July and is back up for September with the Rays (three brief appearances so far). One of the good guys. Hope the Bulls get him back next year, if he doesn't stick with the Rays.
Mike Ekstrom (27), RHP, 46 games, 1 start, 68⅓ innings, 6-4, 5 saves, ERA-4.35, 8 seasons, 3rd with AAA time.
- Mike Ekstrom did a pretty good job for the Bulls this year, if not nearly as good as last year (ERA-2.79 over 58 innings in 2010). Last year he had a lot of back-and-forth with the Rays. This year he pretty much stuck with the Bulls. At the end of the season there was some roster shuffling going on with the end result that he was off the 40-man of the Rays. He was not claimed, but hard to tell if he will be back for 2012.
Rob Delaney (26), RHP, 51 games, all in relief, 67⅔ innings, 4-2, 13 saves, ERA-1.86, 6 seasons, 3rd in AAA (1st w/Bulls).
- A terrific ball-player that really helped the Bulls this year. He had a brief visit with the Rays, but was taken off the 40-man in September. Hard to tell if he will be back next year. I hope so. Sort of this year's Winston Abreu, and that's a compliment to Mr. Delaney.
Alex Cobb (23), RHP, 12 games, all starts, 67⅓ innings, 5-1, ERA-1.87, 6 seasons, 1st in AAA.
- Cobb is a brilliant young pitcher. He was called up to the Rays in mid-April for one game, in late May as a substitute for the injured Jeff Niemann, and finally in July until he went on the Rays DL in early August. All reports are that surgery was successful and he will be back in form for 2012. That's good news because, unless the Rays do some trading in the off-season, he could start with the Bulls.
Matt Torra (27), RHP, 11 games, all starts, 61⅓ innings, 5-1, ERA-3.67, 7 seasons, 3 in AAA, 1st w/Bulls.
- In some ways, Matt Torra was the complement to Alex Cobb for the second half of the season. Signed out of the Diamondbacks system, his first start was in early July. He began slow, but finished very strong with his numbers improving game by game. Not particularly flashy, he looks very competent and durable. He'd be an asset to the 2012 Bulls.
Dirk Hayhurst (30), RHP, 11 games, all starts, 59 innings, 4-2, ERA-4.12, 8 seasons, 3 in AAA, 1 w/Bulls, missed 2010 while recovering from surgery.
- Dirk had a decent start to his season but an elbow problem cropped up in April. He was back in June for 7 starts before going back on the DL. In a bit of what sounded like contractual finagling, he was pronounced fit to play and then released at the end of August. As a fellow blogger (albeit Dirk is much more famous and certainly much better), I can only wish him the best. His new book is due out sometime "soon".
Chris Bootcheck (32), RHP, 16 games, 7 starts, 58 innings, 3-2, 1 save, ERA-3.57. 10 pro seasons, parts of 8 seasons in AAA, 1 w/Bulls.
- It probably isn't fair to blame the players for opt-out contracts, but Bootcheck was yet another who opted out this year, at the end of June. I've heard, but haven't confirmed, that he is pitching in Korea. He was helpful while here.
Andy Sonnanstine (28), RHP, 10 games, 9 starts, 56 innings, 3-6, ERA-4.82. 7 pro seasons, parts of 3 seasons in AAA, all with Durham. Much of five seasons with the Rays (stats).
- It seemed odd for Sonnanstine to be sent down to the Bulls in mid-July, but that was a confusing month for everyone in Rays baseball. As a practical matter, the Rays don't seem to know what they want from Mr. Sonnanstine (ML Stats). He had a couple of good moments for the Bulls and filled in when they needed a starter. But is he a starter, long reliever, or what? Doubt that he will be sticking in the Rays system next year.
Ryan Reid (26), RHP, 26 games, 5 starts, 55⅓ innings, 1-1, ERA-4.55, 6 pro seasons, 1st in AAA.
- Ryan Reid did a decent job for the Bulls this year in his first AAA season. He came up from Montgomery in the beginning of May, went back for a couple of weeks in early July, and didn't pitch at all after August 15. Since the Bulls are not particularly forthcoming about their ballplayers we don't know if there was an issue or if he was just the victim of minor league roster shuffling. I'd worry some about his fitness, but he did put in 16 more innings at Montgomery. Next year? Probably. But on the disabled list at the end of the season.
Edgar Gonzalez (28), RHP, 11 games, 11 starts, 53⅓ innings, 3-3, ERA-4.56, 8 pro seasons, parts of 7 in AAA, parts of all seasons in ML.
- Veteran Gonzalez started the season with the Bulls and did OK at first. However, he rarely went more than five innings and seemed to have persistent back problems. He was released in June and caught on with the Rockies system. He put in another 80 innings with their AAA team in Colorado Springs.