The Pedigree of the Rays' Current Bullpen and Bowling Green Prospects

Last week, I took a look the pedigree of the top 50 relievers in baseball over a three-year period. This week, we will take a look at the makeup of the current pen in terms of draft and conversion status, followed by a look at prospective bullpen arms in Class A Bowling Green. My aim is to follow that up with Charlotte and Montgomery next week, and to conclude with Durham after that.

The Current Relief Options on the 40-Man Roster:

Level refers to level converted to relief, age of conversion, and how the player turned professional.

Player

Level

Age

Round

HS/Coll

Rafael Soriano

MLB

23

Int'l

-

Dan Wheeler

MLB

25

34

Coll

Joaquin Benoit

MLB

27

Int'l

-

JP Howell

MLB

25

1

Coll

Grant Balfour

A

22

Int'l

-

Andy Sonnanstine

MLB

27

13

Coll

Mike Ekstrom

AA

24

12

Coll

Dale Thayer

College

-

UFA

Coll

Randy Choate

A

23

5

Coll

Lance Cormier

MLB

27

4

Coll

 

Every pitcher outside of Dale Thayer was converted from a starter at some point during his professional career, while six of the ten have major league starting experience. Thayer went undrafted out of college but was signed by the Cubs as a reliever. None of the current relievers were drafted out of high school.

So, who are some of the top bullpen arms in the system currently that may be worth keeping an eye on? Let's take a look level-by-level.

Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods

Player

T

Age

IP

HR

K/9

BB/9

GB%

Rd

School

Kirby Yates

R

22

19

0

14.7

3.3

44.1%

UFA

 

Scott Shuman

R

23

17.3

0

9.9

4.7

47.7%

19

Auburn


Kirby Yates:

Yates is a nice story of a kid who blew out his elbow in college and misses two seasons. He went undrafted but was quickly picked up the Rays as an undrafted free agent. Yates earned his keep by striking out a comical 49 in 26.1 innings for Princeton in 2009. Obviously, Yates is handling the transition to Bowling Green quite well. While I was unable to track down a scouting report, I did find this nice story by Michael Compton of the Bowling Green Daily News that is well worth the read. Yates has struck out north of 40% of the batters he has faced this year.

Scott Shuman:

Scott Shuman primarily works off his power sinker and plus-slider.

Let's take a look at the past few seasons as a benchmark for the top Rays' pitcher at the Class A Level and where those players are now.

 

 

Age

IP

HR

K/9

BB/9

Year

Now

Austin Hinkle

22

46.2

2

12.9

3.7

2008

Released Prior to 2010

Ryan Reid

22

72.2

2

11.5

3

2007

AA Middle Relief

Marquis Fleming

22

63

2

9.7

4.3

2009

A+ In the Mix

Justin Garcia

21

72.1

4

9.7

2.5

2008

AA Middle Relief

Josh Satow

23

63

2

9.3

2.1

2009

A+ In the Mix

Neil Frontz

23

75.1

4

8.4

1.9

2007

Released Prior to 2010

Lesson learned: It's easy to get by in A ball with deceptive stuff that more advanced hitters will feast on. Nonetheless, it's worth keeping an eye on these guys.

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