Righty Starters (Part 1)
The Rays have been stacked with starting pitchers over the past several years, and this past year is no exception. The Rays benefited from major league contributions from several of their right handed starting pitching prospects, including rookie of the year candidate Chris Archer, Alex Colome, and Jake Odorizzi.
Right handed starting pitchers usually throw harder than lefties, with the best fastballs routinely sitting in the mid-90s. After that, there is a large variety of differences among these pitchers. Some are power arms while others are finesse pitchers. A usable change-up is normally key, as it helps neutralize left handed hitters.
2. Chris Archer (24 Y.O. in Triple-A and MLB)
178.2 IP, 3.43 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 48.9 GB%.
When the Rays signed Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer lost his shot of making the rotation during spring training. The Rays wanted to keep him in Triple-A for him to continue his progression and to give the Rays depth in case of injuries. Archer got off to a poor start with Durham, seemingly lacking sharpness and causing some to wonder if frustration in not making the Rays out of spring training was bothering him.
When several injuries cleared a path to the major leagues, the Rays promoted their struggling right handed pitcher for a start in Cleveland, one which went poorly, which came as no surprise to those watching him in Durham. However, Archer made tremendous strides later in the season in the major leagues, significantly reducing his walk rate and posting a total 3.22 ERA. His performance netted him third place in the rookie of the year voting. Having cemented his spot in the rotation, Chris Archer's days of playing in the minor leagues should be coming to a close.
7. Alex Colome (24 Y.O. in Triple-A and MLB)
86.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 8.75 K/9, 3.96 BB/9, 40.0 GB%.
At the onset of the season, it seemed unlikely that Alex Colome would make any starts in the major leagues as Jeff Niemann, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi all were in front of him in the pecking order. However, thanks to his excellent performance in the minors and a rash of injuries to the rotation, Alex Colome made three major league starts, and would have possibly had more if not for an injury himself.
While in the major leagues, Colome held the opposition to low hit and run totals but struggled to work deep into games and posted mediocre peripherals. He relied on his fastball, change-up, and cutter/slider, with the fastball showing good velocity and the change-up flashing plus in his first start. However, it appears Colome would benefit from bringing back his curveball, offering hitters the look of a true breaking ball. Should his health be fully restored, Colome should start next year in Triple-A and be ready to slide into the rotation of even bullpen in case of any injuries.
23. Jeff Ames (22 Y.O. in Class-A)
114.2 IP, 2.98 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 32.2 GB%.
In 2013, Jeff Ames got some quality innings under his belt, missing no time due to injuries and helping anchor Bowling Green's rotation. However, his 2.98 ERA masks several concerns. First of all, Ames was relatively old for his level. He could advance quickly if the Rays move him to relief, but for now, he will continue starting. While his ERA was very healthy, his strikeout rate dropped and his groundball rate was very low. Most likely, Ames will reach the major leagues as a reliever with a plus fastball, but it makes sense for the Rays to see if they can develop him into a middle of the rotation starter.
Jose Alonzo (20 Y.O. in Rookie League)
56.2 IP, 2.22 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 5.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 41.7 GB%.
After struggling in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, Jose Alonzo received a somewhat surprising promotion to the GCL Rays this year. After Alonzo held the opponents to a 2.22 ERA, it appears the Rays optimism was warranted. He is on the older side for a prospect, and his strikeout rate was fairly mediocre, so it will be interesting to see how the Rays utilize him next season.
Matt Buschmann (29 Y.O. in Double-A and Triple-A)
160.2 IP, 2.86 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 38.5 GB%.
After a solid first season in the Rays organization in 2012, Matt Buschmann excelled for the Biscuits and Bulls in 2013. Despite posting pedestrian strikeout rates for much of his career, Buschmann struck out over a batter per inning while maintaining a manageable walk rate. He doesn't get many groundballs, but he could find some major league time this year. He is a minor league free agent, and though I'm sure the Rays would love for him to return and shore up the rotations in the upper minors, it makes sense for him to pursue other options where he has a better shot of making the majors.
Damion Carroll (19 Y.O. in Rookie League)
2.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 5.77 FIP, 11.6 K/9, 7.7 BB/9, 100 GB%.
When the Rays drafted Damion Carroll in the 2012 draft, he was advertised as a power arm who needed lots of refinement but offered plenty of upside. The Rays held Carroll back in the GCL this year, but he didn't pitch late until the year due to an injury, of which I cannot find details. Carroll is going to move slowly, and the injury doesn't help, but he still has significant upside.
Mike Colla (26 Y.O. in AA)
75.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 5.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 45.2 GB%.
After previously pitching in the Pirates organization until his release, Mike Colla found himself playing in the Atlantic League (Indy Leagues) to start off 2013. After pitching well in 51.2 innings for Bridgeport, he was signed by the Rays and sent to Montgomery, where he performed reasonably well. He falls into the grouping of starters in the upper minors who will eat innings but likely lacks a major league future.
Jake Faria (19 Y.O. in Rookie League)
62.1 IP, 2.02 ERA, 1.87 FIP, 10.3 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 43.4 GB%.
Few pitchers in the low minors did more to boost their prospect standing this season than Jacob Faria. A 10th round pick in the 2011 draft, Faria had several interesting attributes but was more of a guy to keep an eye on than a good prospect. Repeating Princeton this season (not a big deal because he was 19), he was absolutely dominant, allowing few runs and posting spectacular peripherals. He works with a fastball that sits in the low-90s and will occasionally touch higher than that, and he features the typical good Rays change-up. Though his cutter/slider is a decent pitch, he needs to work on developing a quality breaking ball.
John Farrell (22 Y.O. in Short Season Class-A)
5.1 IP, 8.44 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 47.4 GB%.
The Rays drafted Farrell in the 21st round of the 2013 draft and sent him to Hudson Valley, where he pitched 5.1 innings. He profiles more as an organizational arm than a top prospect.
Jake Floethe (24 Y.O. in Advanced Class-A and Double-A)
93.2 IP, 4.80 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 5.7 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 49.1 GB%.
A 6th round pick in the 2011 draft, Jake Floethe was very solid for Bowling Green in 2012. Promoted to Port Charlotte, he continued to perform okay, though his strikeout rate was mediocre. Once promoted to Montgomery partway through the season, Floethe ran into his first major rode-bump, getting smacked around to the tune of a 5.86 ERA in 50.2 innings. Reports from 2012 minor league spring training indicate his fastball sits in the low-90s and he spins a decent breaking ball. Floethe was released from the organization, and is now a minor league free agent (h/t AndrewTorrez).
Dylan Floro (22 Y.O. in Class-A and Advanced Class-A)
137.1 IP, 1.77 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 6.5 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 61.6 GB%.
When Dylan Floro pitched well in a small sample size in 2012, a lack of hype of attention was understandable. After all, he pitched against younger players, wasn't a high pick (13th round), and his stuff was mediocre. However, with his dominant, masterful performance this year, Floro is sure to appear on the radar. From a scouting perspective, Floro won't wow people with his stuff. However, with his command and extremely high ground ball rate, Floro has a legitimate shot at being a #4 starter.
Nolan Gannon (19 Y.O. in Rookie League)
40.0 IP, 7.42 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 34.6 GB%.
Like Damion Carroll, Nolan Gannon was a high school pitcher selected in the first several rounds of the 2012 draft. A very solid debut in the GCL in 2012 led to his promotion to the Appalachian League this year. Unfortunately, Gannon could not replicate his success. Although his peripherals were solid, he allowed 45 hits in 40 innings, which led to a miserable 7.42 ERA. There is still hope for Gannon to emerge as a top pitching prospect in the organization, but he certainly needs to improve from this past season.
Roberto Gomez (23 Y.O. in Advanced Class-A)
111.1 IP, 4.69 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 5.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 30.9 GB%.
After posting a 2.48 ERA in 120 innings for Bowling Green in 2012, Gomez was a surprise inclusion in Baseball America's top prospects list, ranking #33. However, despite the shiny ERA, his mediocre walk, strikeout, and ground ball rates suggested that regression was in his future. That regression came in 2013, when his ERA ballooned to 4.69. His groundball rate also weakened, dropping to 30.9%. Gomez's future is most likely in the bullpen, where his pitches will hopefully play up.