The Rays organization is packed full of quality pitching. Let's take a look at each farm team's individual pitching stars of the first half of the season. First up, the A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Darin Downs Age 25 LHP
Downs is a former fifth round pick of the Cubs from the 2003 draft out of Santaluces High School in Florida. Downs moved his way through the Cubs organization where he stumbled last year at AA coming out of the bullpen. He was traded to the Rays for a Player to Be Named Later. I'm unclear on who that player became. The Rays moved him down to A+ ball where he struck out a career best 10.29/9 while walking 3.86/9.
For 2009, the Stone Crabs converted Downs to a full-time starter for the first time in the minors and the move has paid dividends. His BB/9 are a career low 1.61/9 while striking out 8.43. His FIP of 3.12 is good for 6th in the Florida State League. He has also induced an impressive 56.6% ground balls.
More After the Jump
Alex Cobb Age 21 RHP
Cobb was the Rays 4th round pick in 2006 out of Vero Beach High School. Cobb has moved through the Rays system a year at a time and has really put things together this year at Charlotte. He has a K/9 of 8.12 with a BB/9 of 1.83. His FIP of 3.02 is good for 5th amongst qualified pitchers in the Florida State League. Like Downs, Cobb is also inducing 56% ground balls.
Per RaysProspects, Cobb features a low 90s fastball along with a curve and a change. Prior to the season Raysprospects listed Cobb as the #10 pitching prospect in the organization, citing a need to stabilize K's which had declined to 6.3 in A ball. Cobb has been up to the challenge as he has increased his K rate by 1.8 K's. It was noted that while his curve was his best pitch, it was not a true strike out pitch. I'm curious as to whether he has developed that strikeout pitch given his sharp increase. Youth is certainly on Cobb's side. Cobb features the 4th best K/BB ratio in the FSL at 4.44, exceptional for his age.
David Newmann Age 24 LHP
Newmann's career was briefly profiled in Behind the Prospects. He currently leads the FSL in K/9 rate at 8.88. He's struggled with control a bit allowing 3.95 BB/9 and is FIPing 3.46, 11th in the league. He is inducing 57.3% ground balls on the year. He is striking out an impressive 22.2% of right handed batters.
Matt Gorgen Age 22 RHP
Gorgen was profiled in Minor League Profile: Matt Gorgen. He has continued to dominate out of the pen striking out 57 batters in 45.2 innings across 27 games with an ERA of 0.59. His FIP is an awesome 2.21.