Checking in on the Rays' top 30 pitching prospects

Enny Romero's 2014 campaign is a mixed bag so far - USA TODAY Sports

One month into the season, how do the organization's top prospects stack up to previous performance?

After reviewing hitting prospects, it's time to move onto the pitchers.  There's a little less information here.  That's partly because there were only 14 pitchers in the top 30 compared to 16 hitters, but more pitchers haven't played this season because of injury, suspension, both, or just not being assigned to a full-season affiliate.

Stats for 2014 are through Monday's games.

Rank

Name

2013 level

2014 level

2013 FIP

2014 FIP

2013 WHIP

2014 WHIP

2013 K%

2014 K%

2013 BB%

2014 BB%

1

Jake Odorizzi

AAA

MLB

3.45

4.65

1.13

1.81

25.2

20.2

8.1

10.9

3

Enny Romero

AA/AAA

AAA

3.76

3.88

1.27

1.41

18.0

22.7

12.1

9.2

4

Taylor Guerrieri

A

DL

3.77

0.99

19.5

4.6

5

Alex Colome

AAA

N/A

3.49

1.31

23.8

9.6

8

Nathan Karns

AA

AAA

3.60

6.00

1.18

1.82

28.0

26.8

8.7

14.6

12

Matt Andriese

AA/AAA

AAA

2.96

4.87

1.22

1.43

18.8

19.9

5.2

9.6

13

Ryne Stanek

N/A

DL

19

Blake Snell

A

A

4.52

3.47

1.65

1.25

23.7

21.7

16.3

13.0

20

Jose Mujica

R

XST

2.59

1.09

14.8

2.2

21

Jose Castillo

R

XST

3.13

1.37

19.1

6.1

22

Jeff Ames

A

A+

4.15

6.21

1.09

1.75

18.0

17.3

8.2

12.0

25

C.J. Riefenhauser

AA/AAA

AAA

2.79

3.48

0.83

0.80

25.1

31.6

6.8

10.5

29

Grayson Garvin

A+

AA

2.52

2.70

0.72

0.86

18.8

37.8

6.3

5.4

30

Dylan Floro

A/A+

AA

2.75

2.32

1.05

1.41

18.5

13.5

3.9

2.8

Jake Odorizzi's struggles in the majors, particularly after he faces the lineup one time, have been well-documented.  I really have nothing to add here other than he needs to be less predictable and attack hitters more.  Like Jason says, it would be ideal to let him work these issues out in Durham, but they don't have that luxury right now.

For the most part, Enny Romero is performing the same way he did last year when he spent just about all of the season with Montgomery.  There are still two highlights though: his strikeout rate is above 20% for the first time since 2011, and his walk rate is in the single digits for the first time since his impressive 2010 season with Princeton.

Romero's .312 BABIP is higher than it's been in recent years, and that's contributing to his career high hit rate at one per inning.  Part of that is still concerning though and probably not just luck based; going by extra base hits, he's allowing more hard contact.  Through 32 innings, he's already allowed three home runs when his career high in a season is nine.  7.1% of batters he's faced this year have have extra base hits.  Of course this isn't Joe Saunders territory, but I think it bears watching as the season progresses.

Nathan Karns has had a tough time in his first career taste of Triple-A action.  He's always had problems throwing strikes, but this year his walk rate is an abysmal 14.6%.  That's inflated by his Opening Day walk parade when he issued seven free passes, and since then, it's been 10.3%.  Still not good, but it's more in line with the rest of his career.  He's still striking out batters at a tremendous rate of 26.8%.

Extra base hits have been a problem for Karns in the early going with 15 allowed out of 123 batters.  Although his home rate ticked up significantly last year, it was still manageable when it was previously outstanding.  His ground ball rate hasn't changed significantly, and since he's still striking batters out, I can't imagine his stuff has suddenly become more hittable.

When I originally started this, it didn't include Matt Andriese's awful start Monday, and not surprisingly, they looked quite a bit better.  Even before that start, he was still walking more batters and allowing more extra base hits than his career.  His ground ball rate is also down a few percentage points.  This is a bit troubling since his stuff isn't overwhelming, and he's going to have to rely on control and generating ground outs.

Blake Snell is still walking too many batters, but at least he's showing improvement while still striking batters out.  He only threw six or more innings in three starts last year, and he's already done it twice in 2014.  However, he's still only recording one more out per start.  As he becomes more and more experienced at the same level, the results should improve.  His extra base hit has been much better, and he's not allowing as many hits overall.

It wouldn't hurt for C.J. Riefenhauser to walk fewer batters, but it certainly hasn't stopped him from being effective in relief.  He may not be striking out over 40% of lefty batters he's seen, but so far he's been getting more strikeouts against righties than he has in the past.  If he can maintain that moving forward, it certainly increases his value as a lefty that can get everyone out rather than be stuck in a specialist role.

Before his back injury, Grayson Garvin's start had been very encouraging.  He was striking more batters out and walking fewer.  Of course, the small sample size caveat applies even more here because only seven batters have seen him more than once this season.  When he's back, he's going to have to pace himself and mix up his pitches as he goes deeper into games like before his surgery.

Moving up to Double-A is always a big test for players, especially for pitchers without great stuff, and I'm not really sure what to make of Dylan Floro's season so far.  His strikeout and walk rates are similar to when he had success in a brief stint with Charlotte last year, but he's giving up a lot more hits with a .359 BABIP.  Is that a fluke, or is he just not fooling anyone?  His extra base rate is up, but not egregiously so (5.8% to 6.4%), and he hasn't allowed a home run yet.

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