Wednesday, April 4, 2012

First Impressions — Part 2 — Pitchers

The starting rotation for any AAA team is frequently in flux. This year won’t be any different. But it sure looks good for the opening round of games.

We saw, and wrote about, four of the five starting pitchers last year (see here and here). Of the four, Alex Cobb, Alex Torres, and Matt Torra are very solid guys. We only saw Chris Archer a couple of times so we neither agree nor disagree with the hype around him. Alex Cobb, on the other hand, is for sure the real deal and if Alex Torres ever gets a handle on his control, he is sure to see some big league time this year. Cobb, Torres, and Archer are on the Rays 40-man.

New guy Bryan Augenstein has some major league time and has bounced around a bit, most recently in the Cardinals system. His stats show him as spending almost all his time as a reliever, but it appears that the Rays want to look at him as a starter. I think he’s going to be a very interesting ballplayer to watch.

As with the starters, most of the relievers have spent some time in a Bulls uniform. Five of the seven on the roster have been with the team. (However, in Marquis Fleming’s case it was only for 2 innings last July. He was the winner of the 2011 Moonlight Graham Award.) Cesar Ramos only had 4 innings, but Ryan Reid had 55, Dane De La Rosa had 70, and Brandon Gomes had 25 before he was called to the Rays. So the only relievers who are complete strangers are Jhonny Nuñez and Romulo Sanchez. We saw Nunez in a Charlotte Knights uniform last year. Sanchez played in Japan last year and has a good bit of AAA time (and a few innings with the Pirates and Yankees). Gomes, De La Rosa, and Ramos are on the Rays 40-man roster.

That leaves reliever Josh Leuke, who comes to the Rays system from the Mariners. We assume that he’s to start the season with the Rays, but we don’t know that for sure. Nor do we know if there could be a ripple effect down through the system. He is on the 40-man, has decent stats, and obviously ready to play in the big leagues.

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