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An Early Look at the 2012 Full-Season Rotations

Still over a month until pitchers and catchers report, even longer for minor leaguers, but we can already take a stab at how the rosters might shape up for the full-season affiliates. (Thanks to BurGi at RP for his post on this subject)

Durham Bulls
1. Chris Archer
2. Alex Cobb
3. Alex Torres
4. Nick Barnese

With the extension signed, it looks like Matt Moore's days of riding the bus are over, leaving the local kid Chris Archer (born in Raleigh) the keys to the Bulls' ace slot. Archer made two starts with the Bulls late in 2011, followed by one more in the playoffs. Between the three, he struck out 23 in 18.2 innings, although walks were not surprisingly an issue. Archer may be the highest-touted, but it wouldn't be a shock if he were outperformed by two faces familiar to Bulls fan in Alex Cobb and Alex Torres. Cobb posted a 1.87 ERA in 67.1 innings with Durham last year, earning a promotion to the majors. A rib injury combined with a clogged big-league rotation likely means a trip back to Durham, though he should be in the race for the #5 spot in spring training. Nick Barnese saw his rate stats collapse with Montgomery last season (just a 1.60 K/BB) and may be sent back. The final spot is up for grabs between Richard De Los Santos, Matt Torra, and Jim Paduch.

Montgomery Biscuits
1. Alex Colome
2. Jake Thompson
3. Joe Cruz
4. Kyle Lobstein
5. Shane Dyer/Frank De Los Santos

Alex Colome finished 2011 with 52 innings in Montgomery, but 31 strikeouts and 28 walks isn't likely to be enough to get him a pass to Durham, at least not yet. His strikeout rate was a career-low 7.0 per 9 last season, which is something Jake Thompson might kill for. He did manage to post an ERA under 3 for the Stone Crabs, but it came with a 56-to-37 strikeout-walk ratio in 114.2 innings. It's likely one catches up to the other this year, so let's hope for more strikeouts. Joe Cruz pitched 47 disastrous innings for Montgomery last year, allowing 44 runs on 75 hits before going on the DL with a shoulder injury. Lefty Kyle Lobstein's stuff has never gotten back to where it was in high school, and his strikeout rate fell for the second consecutive season. His best bet is to turn himself into a command/control lefty, and he did cut his walk rate by 0.9 per 9 last season. In the final spot are two guys with relief ceilings. Shane Dyer thinks that Jake Thompson has a high strikeout rate (Dyer fanned just 66 in 157 innings) while De Los Santos is a typical minor league lefty who can throw strikes.

Charlotte Stone Crabs
1. Enny Romero
2. Albert Suarez
3. Braulio Lara
4. Wilking Rodriguez
5. C.J. Riefenhauser

Enny Romero struck out 140 in 114 innings last season, though it was accompanied by 68 walks. With Princeton in 2010, he walked only 19 in 74.1 innings, so he does have at least some track record of being able to limit free passes. Albert Suarez debuted with Princeton in 2008, but has only been able to tally 133.1 innings in four seasons, so priority #1 is just getting something resembling a full season out of him. Braulio Lara is entering his age-23 season but remains raw. He struck out 111 in 120.1 innings with Bowling Green last season, but his ERA was barely under 5.00. Wilking Rodriguez was bitten by the injury bug last season, though his stuff makes him a breakout candidate. C.J. Riefenahuser is death on lefties, so the key to his development is how he fares against right-handed hitters.

Bowling Green Hot Rods
1. Parker Markel
2. Ryan Carpenter
3. Grayson Garvin
4. Felipe Rivero
5. Jason McEachern

Quick note: It's possible 2011 first-rounder Taylor Guerrieri joins this rotation, but given the Rays' conservative track record, I wouldn't bet on it. Parker Markel draws rave reviews for his stuff, but it translated to just 44 strikeouts in 57.1 innings with Hudson Valley last year. Ryan Carpenter struck out 26 and walked just 4 in 23.2 innings in his debut last year, and he should be joined by fellow 2011 college lefty Grayson Garvin. Felipe Rivero (57 strikeouts, 13 walks in 60.1 innings) was Princeton's top pitcher in 2011, with Andrew Bellatti (63-23 in 72 innings) checking in second. Bellatti might be the odd man out as McEachern gets his third crack at the Midwest League. Jeff Ames is also a possibility.