Tampa Bay Rays Arizona Fall League Update: The Other Guys

Earlier I discussed three of the Rays AFL participants. Let's cover the other three non-Talbot players.

Paul Philips is a soon-to-be 26-year-old reliever formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays system. The Rays signed him during the off-season and he started the season in Charlotte. He would spend 27 innings there, striking out 27 and allowing 27 hits - it's safe to say Philips does not suffer from symmetrophobia - before earning a promotion to Montgomery. Phillips would throw 37 innings for the Biscuits, posting a 2.71 FIP and striking out 38 in 37 innings. That's a pretty solid mark. He would wrap his season in Durham and even made a start for the Bulls down the stretch. That only gives us a sample size of seven innings and he wasn't overly impressive as he walked as many as he whiffed and only held a 6.1% whiff rate.

Throughout his minor league career, Phillips has shown an affinity towards striking out right-handed batters and causing southpaws to hit the ball on the ground. The Jays drafted Phillips in the ninth round out of Oakland University way back in 2005. Amusingly Phillips possessed a Rays connection as his father, Arnold, was a scout with the Rays. Phillips threw 90-93 with a mid-80s slider and the occasional forkball. There were questions about his arm action and fastball movement which caused him to slip out of the top five rounds.  

Pitchers don't progress on a linear path, so don't be alarmed that he only reached above A-ball last year. The bigger concern would be his fly ball rate and a potentially straight fastball. He only gave up four home runs in nearly 80 innings last season. Either he got lucky, has good command of the pitch, or there's more bite in that puppy than previously noted.

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Lewis "Heath" Rollins was the team's eleventh round pick in 2006 out of Winthrop. There was a chance he ended up in the outfield, but in the end pitching was his calling. He's a righty, so his fastball velocity in the upper-80s is a bit concerning, but he has a decent assortment of breaking pitches and a change-up that makes up for it. Rollins Has spent most of his time in the system as a starter and was fairly convincing until hitting Montgomery this season and seeing his strikeout rate plummet. The Rays eventually shifted him into relief late in the year and Rollins tore it up, which lead to a promotion to Durham. Things didn't go quite as well in a six inning tour, but there are still some things to like about Rollins' game.

During his time as a starter Rollins was able to generate around 40-45% groundball, upon moving to relief he's seen those numbers escalate to over 50% and nearly 60% in Montgomery. He has at least decent command since he only walked 38 of the 606 batters he faced last year and his K/BB ratio is generally over 2.5. His groundball rates spike against lefties which leads me to believe either his fastball has heavy sink or his change-up is pretty decent.

The strikeout totals don't conjure saliva, but when you get that many grounders and put few on base, it's hard to not succeed out of the pen. At this point, Rollins smells a lot like someone in the Sean Green/Shawn Camp mold.

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Nevin Ashley too was drafted in 2006, in the sixth round out of Indiana State. He's shown the ability to walk, but his skill set is pretty limited to back-up material at best. Frankly, it seems unlikely that Ashley will ever see more than a handful of major league plate appearances - if that - unless something unforeseen occurs.

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