Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Durham Bulls in 2014 — The Hitters — Part 2

In Part 1 we put up a table of all the position players who came to bat in 2014 ordered by the numbers of games they played. Then we discussed four of those players. In this post we'll sort the table by wOBA (less two rehabbers who were left out of the sort) and continue our discussion.

Bulls Player Stats Sorted by wOBA

Jerry Sands*
Kevin Kiermaier*
Jeremy Moore
Mikie Mahtook
Justin Christian
Cole Figueroa*
Vince Belnome*
Jayson Nix
Mike Fontenot
Curt Casali*
Wilson Betemit
Robby Price
Nick Franklin
Hak-Ju Lee*
Ray Olmedo
Tim Beckham*
Ali Solis
Mayo Acosta
Eddy Rodriguez
Wil Myers
Brandon Guyer
   * on the Rays 40-man roster.

Wilson Betemit (111 games) was the rare power hitter in the Bulls lineup this year. But once you crunch all the numbers together he simply did not make that much of a contribution. He played mostly first base and DH and his glove appeared above average. Without drilling too deep into the numbers, our impression is that he was not improving as the year went on. Not likely to be back next year. Stats.

Ray Olmedo (104 games) is an all-time WDBB favorite player. He brings a tremendous amount of energy to the game and the sheer quickness of his hands from catch to release is a great pleasure to watch. This year he extended his repertoire of fielding positions by 20 appearances in the outfield and even had a brief moment at first base (wonder who he borrowed a glove from?). In Ray’s case I’d say the hell with the numbers and bring him back. I just like watching him play. Stats.

Hak-Ju Lee* (93 games) messed up his knee early in the 2013 season and did not return to the Durham Bulls until 23 April of this year. For a long time he has been near the top of various prospect lists, but he was one of the least productive Durham Bulls this year. Was he ready to return? Is his knee up to the job? No fan in the stands is going to be able to tell about that. We don’t think that the Rays are going to give up on the 23 year-old, but here’s hoping that in the off-season they find a way for him to work on his hitting. Stats.

Ali Solis (73 games) is the first of a cluster of four catchers we saw this year. To be perfectly honest, none of them showed Triple A caliber stuff. I hate to say that because I love watching players at that position. Catcher is a tough job at any level, but at Triple A you’ve got pitchers who are (or who think they are) right on the edge of becoming big leaguers. For the last couple of years the Rays system does not seem to be either growing or hiring good catchers. In fact, they seem to be trading some of the good guys away. But that’s for another article. Ali Solis certainly seemed to handle the pitching crew quite well, had a decent arm, and was only charged with seven passed balls. At 26 he’s still young, but his bat needs a lot of work. He did get a callup to the Rays this year and appeared in 8 games. Stats.

Cole Figueroa* (71 games) is another WDBB favorite who had a decent year, mostly at third base. His low number of game appearances with the Bulls is the consequence of his two callups to the Rays in mid-May and six weeks in July and August. He appeared in 23 Rays games after his debut on 16 May.  [Note to self: let’s not rant about the Rays pulling good players up to sit on the bench]. For reasons that are a mystery to us, he does not seem to be part of fanblog discussions over with the Rays. He should be. Otherwise, we would be more than happy to see him back with the Bulls next year. Stats.

Robby Price (70 games) was, by far, the most jerked around player on the Bulls roster this year. It seems every year they Bulls have a player who is kind of a “ghost” player. He’s on the roster for a few days then in a paper transaction is taken off for a few days and then he comes back. Robby Price (and to a lesser extent Mayo Acosta) was that guy this year, he figured in 9 different transactions. The 26 year-old’s numbers aren’t all that great, but without any consistent playing time, how can we judge? The Bulls need a guy like Price on the roster. He even pitched in three games for 2⅓ innings. I’d assume he will be a free agent next year. Here’s hoping he gets a shot with a team that will give him some playing time. Stats. [Update: Price was released by the Rays in late October.]

Jayson Nix (55 games) was apparently brought on board as a deep backup to the Rays infield. The 31 year-old was reasonably productive during his time from mid-May to 1 August. On the other hand we worried about the other infielders available (Price, Fontenot, Olmedo, Lee) who might have lost playing time while he was with the team. Nevertheless, his stats show that he was helpful. He apparently had an opt-out contract. He will likely have some place in baseball trivia questions for his trek from the Phillies to the Bulls to the Pirates to the Kansas City Royals. Not a snowball’s chance he’ll be back with the Bulls next year. Stats.

Jeremy Moore (55 games ) was our joy of the last part of the season. We’d actually forgotten about him being on the non-roster invitee list last spring training, so when he showed up from Montgomery on 25 June we didn’t know quite what to expect. Very exciting guy to watch. Reminded us a lot of Leslie Anderson, not in style, but in the excitement he brought to the game. He started off extremely hot, cooled off a bit, but the Bulls finally had a power hitting outfielder to pair with Mikie Mahtook. With 12 homers in 55 games he was on a league-leading pace. Here’s hoping that the Rays do whatever it takes to bring him back next year. He sure seems like a guy who could do the Bulls (and the Rays) some good. Stats.

Jerry Sands* (54 games) started the season with the Bulls and was doing an extraordinary job. In fact, his stats are among best of any Bull this season. He was called to the Rays at the 1st of June to fill in for an injury down there. On 22 Jun, however, he had a season-ending injury himself. We like what we saw while he was here and we’d love to see him back. We’ve seen very little about his injury status, however. Stats.

Curt Casali* (46 games) was one of the four catchers with the Bulls this year. The 25 year-old came up from the Montgomery Biscuits in early May and was called up to the Rays in mid-July. While with the Bulls he put together some decent numbers, by far the best of any of the catchers this year. His trip to St. Petersburg was not expected to last, but in fact he stayed there for the rest of the year, appearing in 30 games. However, he left Rays’ game on 25 September with a season-ending concussion. Assuming he recovers OK, he is very likely to start next year either with the Rays or the Bulls. Stats.

Kevin Kiermaier* (34 games) was with the Bulls at the beginning of the year and we could not have been more excited. We thought that with Jerry Sands and Mikie Mahtook we were going to see one of the finest outfields in Bulls history. Unfortunately, the Rays could not keep themselves healthy and once Mr. Kiermaier got to the Rays he did everything he could to make sure he would not come back, and he didn’t. He had a terrific year with the Rays, but I sure wish he’d stuck around here a bit longer. Stats.

Mayo Acosta (32 games) started the season with the Bulls and was in the dugout all year. But, as with Robby Price, the young catcher spent much of the year in paper purgatory. We cannot fault a player with such an erratic schedule for never get his timing right. So we are not sure his numbers are actually worth anything at all. Perhaps a better measure of him as a player is to note that he was the guy that got the best relief crew in International League baseball ready to pitch. And then there were the two games where he pitched for 3 innings and got 2 K’s. Stats.

Nick Franklin* (27 games) came to the Bulls as part of the big David Price trade on 1 August. Young Mr. Franklin has a solid reputation. We’ll see. So far we aren’t impressed at all. But apparently the Rays are. He got a lot of September playing time even if he wasn’t hitting. That would imply that he’s on the short list to stay with them next year. Stats.

Tim Beckham* (15 games) returned to the Bulls after surgery and a long rehab on 12 August. We’ve seen a lot of Mr. Beckham over the last few years and we like him. His bat seemed to have a bit more pop than we recall and his speed is still up there. We look forward to seeing him at second or shortstop next year, at least at the start of the season. Next year could be his year. Stats.

Eddy Rodriguez (13 games), the fourth catcher in a Bulls uniform this year, was released in early May when Curt Casali was called up from Montgomery. To be honest, we are a bit surprised he did not catch on somewhere else, but we haven’t found him, so we guess that he’s retired from the game. Update: Thanks to Doug (see comments), we now know he caught on with the Red Sox in a coaching job. Good for him.  Stats.

Wil Myers played in 7 games and Brandon Guyer played in 5 games on rehab assignments. Both did reasonably well and both seemed to be playing hard. Not always the case with rehabbing major leaguers.


  1. After the Rays released Eddy Rodriguez in early May he took a coaching job with the Red Sox a couple of weeks later. I was surprised too. Really enjoying these recaps Chris.

    1. Thanks, Doug. I'll go back and update. I find these useful when I try to figure out what's happening in spring training, too.