Friday, April 8, 2016

Singing in the Rain — Nice Start

Game 1
Durham Bulls (Rays) - 7
Charlotte Knights (White Sox) - 3
Season: 1-0; Home Stand: 1-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun (paywall), N&O, WRAL

The weather was ugly. Cold mist swept across the field as the National Anthem was sung (quite well, by the way, by a Duke a cappella group). Blake Snell kept things on track for the Bulls. Charlotte’s Scott Carroll only lasted an inning and a third. After the rain stopped, the temperature dropped like a stone, but it was baseball! And the Bulls won!

Here begins my look at this year’s team. Starting with last night’s lineup.

The Lineup

(note: “slash line” is Batting Average/On Base Percentage/On Base Percentage+Slugging;(OPS) “*” indicates player in on 40-man roster)
Also note that former Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz has interviewed a bunch of these players. All of the interviews worth a listen. See the links below.

RF Mikie Mahtook*: 2 for 5, scored 2 runs. Season — .200/.200/.400
Mahtook spent much of last year with the Bulls playing in 98 games with .209/.304/.670. And he really looked good in his 41 games with the Rays (.295/.351/.970). So why is he back? Hard to tell. Perhaps to get playing time? The Rays really like the outfielders they have. Stats. Interview.
CF Jaff Decker: 3 for 5, stole 3B in 1st inning. Season — .600/.600/1.400
First game as a Bull. Decker signed with the Rays as a minor league free agent. Had some major league time with the Pirates last year and 69 games with the Indianapolis Indians (.214/.371/.693). Stats. Pre-season interview with Neil Solondz.
SS Taylor Motter*: 2 for 5, stole 2B. Season — .400/.400/.400
Motter was a star for the Bulls last year. He played in 127 games with a slash line of .292/.366/.837 with 26 stolen bases. He apparently impressed Rays in spring training, so there’s a good chance he will spend some time with them this year. Stats. Solondz interview.
DH Richie Shaffer*: 2 for 3, 1 BB, 3 RBI. Season — .667/.750/.1.417
Shaffer had a busy 2015 playing for the AA Montgomery Biscuits (39 games), the Durham Bulls, (69 games — .270/.355/.937), and 31 games with the Rays at the end of the season. Stats.
2B Nick Franklin*: 1 for 4. Season — .250/.250/.500.
Franklin played in 57 games for the Bulls last year (.266/.353/.853) and 44 games with the Rays. Stats. This will be his 8th year in baseball, but he’s still just 25 years old. Maybe this year?
3B Daniel Robertson: 0 for 3, 1 BB, scored 1 run. Season — .000/.250/.250
Young (22) Mr. Robertson came out of the Oakland system and played in 78 games in Montgomery last year. This was his first game at AAA. Stats. Interview. A player to watch this year.
1B Cameron Seitzer: 1 for 3, 1 BB, scored 1 run, 1 RBI. Season — .333/.500/.1.167
Seitzer came up from Montgomery at the end of 2015. He did fine in his 7 games as a Bull. Another player to watch this year. Stats.
LF Patrick Leonard: 2 for 4, scored 2 runs, 1 RBI. Season — .500/.500/1.250
Leonard (also a youngster at 22) also made his AAA debut last night. At Montgomery in 2015 he was mostly an infielder, splitting time at 3B and 1B. Last night was his first game at AAA. Seems like the Bulls have a lot of third basemen this year. Stats. Interview.
C Luke Maile*: 2 for 4, scored 1 run, 2 RBI.  Season — .500/.500/1.250
Luke Maile had 84 games with the Bulls last year (.207/.298/.594) and 15 games with the Rays. We like him a lot. Stats. Interview.

The Pitchers

LHP Blake Snell*: 5 innings, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K’s
Snell is much written-about, so I won’t add anything here except to say that he’s the Rays hottest pitching prospect and the Bulls will be lucky to keep him for a couple of months. He helped the Bulls a lot at the end of last year. Stats.
RHP Dylan Floro*: 3 innings, 1 ER, O BB, 5 K’s
Mr. Floro, on the other hand, was not our favorite Bulls pitcher last year. He’s back, this time as a reliever, and things are looking up. He certainly did a good job last night. So perhaps the 25 year-old is back on track to the majors. Stats.
RHP Andrew Bellatti*: 1 inning, 1 BB, 1 K
Bellatti probably should not be in Durham, but the Rays are pretty deep, so they can afford to leave a young (24) player here. Expect him to be rotating back and forth, much as he did last year (46 innings as a Bull, 23 innings as a Ray). Stats.

Outside the Game —
  • Think I’m going to get used to the netting. Here’s some TV of the netting going up.
  • Unlike most years the Bulls have a bunch of position players on the 40-man (7) and only 3 pitchers.
  • Also, the Bulls don’t appear to have any left-handed relief pitchers.

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