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What might the Rays’ minor league pitching staffs look like?

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As minor league season nears, it’s time to speculate about what the rosters might look like.

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays
Anthony Banda will start the season in Durham, but he will join the Rays at some point
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I took a shot at guessing what the full-season affiliates’ everyday lineups might look like. With big league spring training over and minor league games starting next week, it’s time to do the same for the pitching staffs, although my primary focus is on the rotations, not the bullpens. The starters on each staff are in bold.

Minor league pitching

Triple-A Durham Double-A Montgomery Class A-Advanced Charlotte Class-A Bowling Green
Triple-A Durham Double-A Montgomery Class A-Advanced Charlotte Class-A Bowling Green
Anthony Banda Genesis Cabrera Blake Bivens Austin Franklin
Chih-Wei Hu Greg Harris Brock Burke Resly Linares
Jose Mujica Eduar Lopez J.D. Busfield Brendan McKay
Vidal Nuno Benton Moss Willy Ortiz Tobias Myers
Austin Pruitt Travis Ott Mikey York Jhonleider Salinas
Kyle Bird Spencer Jones Reimin Ramos Drew Strotman
Diego Castillo Dalton Moats Joe Serrapica Andrew Gist
Mike Franco Michael Santos Hunter Schryver
Ian Gibaut
Jaime Schultz
Ryne Stanek
Hunter Wood

In a parallel universe, Durham’s rotation could include Yonny Chirinos, Jose De Leon, Brent Honeywell, and Ryan Yarbrough. Chirinos and Yarbrough will likely still pitch for them at some point this season, but we do know they’re on the Rays’ Opening Day roster.

Chih-Wei Hu is reportedly being stretched out again, and Anthony Banda, Vidal Nuno, and Austin Pruitt all have big league experience. Jose Mujica earned a promotion after spending most of 2017 in Double A.

Durham’s bullpen is pretty deep with notable names, and I didn’t include a handful of players who were at big league spring training as non-roster players. Diego Castillo, Jaime Schultz, Ryne Stanek, and Hunter Wood are all on the 40-man roster.

Montgomery’s rotation should have a few returning players, led by lefty Genesis Cabrera. Eduar Lopez and Travis Ott earned promotions after solid 2017 seasons, and Michael Santos should start at least a few games for the Biscuits. Some of Durham’s bullpen excess could end up here as well.

For Charlotte, Blake Bivens and Brock Burke will be returning. It’s possible one of them gets bumped up and pushes Greg Harris to the bullpen, but for now, I think both will start the season in the Florida State League. J.D. Busfield and Willy Ortiz both pitched well for Bowling Green last season, but choosing the No. 5 starter was harder. Mikey York only made three starts in the Midwest League, but I think he’s the likeliest to move up.

Of course, it could be Brendan McKay in that spot, but since I included him on Bowling Green’s roster for the lineup guesses, I probably should do the same for the rotation. Bowling Green sometimes uses a six-man rotation anyway, and I suspect that could be the case again to help accommodate what should be a unique schedule for McKay. If the Hot Rods do use an extra starter, that opens up an opportunity for another one of the talented pitchers from Hudson Valley’s deep 2017 staff.

If any pitcher is going to skip Bowling Green and take York’s spot besides McKay, it would probably be Drew Strotman.