Top Rays Prospects On Display In Durham for 2014
Triple-A is a place the online prospect-watching community ignores. It’s either a finishing school for top prospects or a wasteland for Quad-A players. Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings and David Price highlight the list of Rays prospects held in Durham due to service-time considerations. Tampa Bay is forced to utilize its Triple-A affiliate more than the average team due to financial restrictions. The result is a Durham team full of big league prospects. 2014 is no exception.
Nate Karns, Jake Odorizzi, and Erik Bedard began the spring vying for a rotation spot in Tampa. Karns was optioned is a lock to be in the Durham rotation. Acquired in a deal which sent Jose Lobaton (among others) to the Nationals, Karns is a physical pitcher with two plus offerings. In Triple-A fantasy baseball owners and scouts will have a chance to see if the 26-year old is a prospect, or suspect.
Karns is physically imposing, standing 6’5” and checking in around 230 pounds. He uses his height to generate a good angle to the plate, making his sinking fastball even more difficult to barrel consistently. Karns’ 93-95 mph velocity gives his heater better than plus grades, allowing him to miss bats and induce weak contact low in the zone. He compliments his primary pitch with a classic overhand hammer curveball that has earned plus-plus grades on occasion.
Karns heads to Durham to work on his changeup, which will be crucial if he wants to remain a starter. The Rays’ organization is known for its emphasis on the changeup, meaning Durham and Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen could be just what Karns needs to full develop apitch to keep hitters off-balance.
Got Pitching? More Rays Prospects In Durham
Jake Odorizzi won the battle for 5th starter in Tampa, defeating the aforementioned Karns. And while the loss of a top-100 prospect hurts the prospect power of any team, Enny Romero and Alex Colome are a pair of electric arms and top Rays prospects capable of making prospect followers forget about Odorizzi quickly. Unfortunately, Colome was suspended 50-games for PED, so his debut will be pushed into the summer.
Romero is a 6-foot-3 left-hander who flashes two potentially plus-plus pitches. After posting a 110/73 K/BB ratio in 140 1/3 innings for Durham in 2013, the 23 year old will have to find his changeup (the unintentional thesis of this article), and consistency in order to leapfrog Odorizzi and Karns on the depth chart.
Romero is joined by 25-year old right-hander Alex Colome, a pitcher who flashed an electric fastball, but little command in his MLB debut. But while he has flashed brilliance, inconsistency has left many wondering if his future is in the bullpen as a closer. In actuality, the future Rays closer will end up being Romero or Colome at some point. They will spend the summer battling for a place in Tampa Bay’s future.
On offense, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee. Acquired in the Matt Garza deal, offers athleticism and a chance at being the everyday shortstop in Tampa next season. Unfortunately, Lee injured his knee and missed the rest of the 2013 season after a torrid start. Since accepting his limitations and becoming more of a slap hitter, his hitting has taken off. Lee has been impressive in Rays camp this year, catching the attention of manager Joe Maddon before yet another injury which will rob him of a month. For Lee to prove himself as MLB ready, he’ll need to spend more time on the field than off of it..
Other former early round draft picks include Mike Montgomery, Brad Boxberger and Mikie Mahtook. After an excellent career at LSU, the Rays pushed Mahtook to Double-A where he struggled. Mahtook will need to spend 2014 working to regain the helium he once had. As for Montgomery and Boxberger, both pitchers dominated in the lower minor leagues in other organizations and are working to benefit from fresh starts. All three players have the opportunity to solidify themselves are Rays prospects going forward.
1 Apr 2014 / ROTOscouting Staff /
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