On December 9, 2012 the baseball world was rocked when the Tampa Bay Rays traded RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis and a Player to be Named Later (INF Elliot Johnson) to the Kansas City Royals for four prospects in OF Wil Myers, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery and INF Patrick Leonard. With two full seasons since the trade, let’s take a look at how each player has performed since being dealt.
OF Wil Myers: At the time of the trade, Myers was ranked the No. 3 prospect in the Minors by MLB.com, coming off a season in which he hit 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. He began the 2013 season with Durham before a mid-June promotion to Tampa Bay, and he went on to win the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year award despite playing just 88 games. In 2014 he was slowed by injuries, appearing in just 87 contests for Tampa Bay while making seven rehab appearances for the Bulls.
RHP Jake Odorizzi: Like Myers, Odorizzi was a big piece of the deal as he finished the 2012 season as the No. 30 prospect in the Minors on MLB.com’s list. The 2013 season saw Odorizzi post a solid 9-6 season with a 3.33 ERA with the Bulls, and this year he spent all of 2014 with the Rays after winning the battle for the team’s 5th starter out of Spring Training. In his first full season in the Majors, the 24-year-old went 11-13 with a 4.13 ERA while striking out 174 batters in 168.0 innings.
LHP Mike Montgomery: After a 2013 season that saw him go 7-8 with a 4.72 ERA for the Bulls, Montgomery rebounded with a 10-5 campaign in 2014. The southpaw opened the season on a tear, going 9-1 over his first 17 starts en route to being named an International League Midseason All-Star. He’s currently on Tampa Bay’s 40-Man Roster but is still looking to make his Major League debut.
INF Patrick Leonard: This season Leonard enjoyed a breakout year hitting .284-13-58 en route to being named Advanced-A Charlotte’s Team MVP. Just 21, his .448 slugging percentage was third-best in the Florida State League while going a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts in just his third professional season.
RHP James Shields: “Big Game James” was already a household name when the deal was completed, racking up an 87-73 mark over seven seasons in Tampa Bay. The right-hander has gone 27-17 in his first two seasons with the Royals, helping them to their first postseason and World Series berths since 1985.
RHP Wade Davis: Davis spent parts of three seasons with the Rays as a starter before converting to a reliever in 2012. He moved back into the rotation in 2013 and struggled in his first season in Kansas City, going 8-11 with a 5.32 ERA. This year he reverted back to the bullpen though and was one of the best relievers in baseball, going 9-2 while posting an ERA of 1.00 in 71 appearances, anchoring the eighth inning for the American League champs.
INF Elliot Johnson: Though the initial trade was completed in December of 2012, Johnson didn’t join the Royals organization until February 2013 as the Player to be Named Later. After appearing in 79 games with Kansas City that season, Atlanta picked him up off waivers in August for the remainder of the season. Prior to the 2014 season Johnson signed a deal with Cleveland and spent the majority of the season for Triple-A Columbus, and was granted his release at the end of September.
At the end of every season the good folks over at MiLB.com roll out their nominations for the “MiLBYs,” honoring the best plays, top moments, and promotions in Minor League Baseball. We’re particularly stoked to have our Merge Records Night nominated for 2014’s Promo of the Year.
First things first- you can vote an unlimited amount of times (UNLIMITED!) for Merge Records Night to take home the MiLBY. Get to voting HERE. Remember, a vote for Merge Records Night is a vote for good baseball, good music and the magical union of two of the most beautiful things in the universe.
Now, a little recap on said Merge Records Night, held this season on June 5. It was our second event working with the venerable indie giant, who also calls Downtown Durham home. Label co-founder and Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan threw out the first pitch (bounced it, but whatevs, the dude wrote “Driveway to Driveway” so he gets a pass). Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah sang the National Anthem. The event got some great write-ups in Spin Magazine and the venerable Ben’s Biz Blog (a hat tip to our man Ben Hill for being the driving force in nominating Merge Records Night).
Best of all, the Bulls starting lineup that night received new walk-up music courtesy of Merge bands. The team at Merge provided a list of songs they thought would work well…tracks that were either up tempo, had a great beat, or just made too much sense not to use. Our marketing team then paired those songs with players, some because they seemed to go well together (“Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” for Mikie Mahtook) and others because they loosely resembled songs that guys normally used (very loosely).
Here’s what we ended up with:
We’re already looking forward to a bigger and better Merge Records Night in 2015. If you’re a Merge/Bulls fan and have suggestions for us, shoot us a tweet or leave a comment below. We leave you with a Spotify playlist of the tracks used for walk-up music this season. Now crank that Neutral Milk Hotel and vote for Merge Records Night as MiLB Promo of the Year!
Every fall, Major League teams must send at least six minor league players to the Arizona Fall League, a league designed for the development of young players. This season the Rays have sent seven players to the AFL, which began on Tuesday, who are playing for the Peoria Javelinas. Here we break down those seven prospects (none of whom played for the Bulls this season), and take a look at some of the other big names from around the AFL.
OF Kes Carter – The 56th overall pick in 2011 out of Western Kentucky University, Carter split 2014 between Advanced-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, combining to hit .235-5-44 with 24 doubles and 13 steals in 20 attempts.
RHP Zach Cooper – The 24-year-old spent his first season in the Rays system with Advanced-A Charlotte, going 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA out of the bullpen. Of his 22 appearances, 15 were scoreless, but he allowed two earned runs or more in six of his outings.
INF Patrick Leonard – Advanced-A Charlotte’s Team MVP in 2014, Leonard had a solid season, hitting .284-13-58. His .448 slugging percentage was the third-best in the Florida State League, while his career-high 79 runs scored was good for fourth-best on the circuit. He was a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts, while also setting a career-high with 126 hits, 49 walks, a .359 OBP and tying a career-high with 26 doubles. Leonard joined the organization in the trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.
RHP Matt Lollis – Traded to the Rays from the Padres before the 2014 season in the Alex Torres deal, Lollis was 6-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 49 relief outings for Double-A Montgomery this season. Standing at 6’9″ and 250 pounds, the 24-year-old struck out 70 batters in 73.2 frames this season.
C Justin O’Conner – The Rays Minor League Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, O’Conner spent the majority of the season with Advanced-A Charlotte (80 games) before a late-season promotion to Double-A Montgomery (21 games). Between the two levels the 2014 Futures Game selection was fantastic behind the plate, throwing out 33-of-60 runners, good for a 55% clip. Offensively he combined to hit a career-best .278 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs.
RHP Colton Reavis – In just his second year of pro ball, and first full season, Reavis was sharp out of the bullpen for both Single-A Bowling Green (27 games) and Advanced-A Charlotte (15 games). He combined to go 3-3 with a 2.15 ERA, including a 1.02 ERA with the Stone Crabs. He saved 14 games on the season, finished 38 of the 42 games he appeared in, and struck out 68 in 62.2 frames while walking 26.
RHP Jaime Schultz – The lone starting pitcher the Rays are sending to the AFL, Schultz started 14 games between Single-A Bowling Green (9) and Advanced-A Charlotte (5). He began the season on the DL and was limited to just 60.0 innings between the two levels, but struck out 79, good for a K/9 ratio of 11.8.
Additionally, C Luke Maile will serve as a “Taxi Squad” player for the Surprise Saguaros. Maile spent the entire 2014 regular season with Double-A Montgomery, hitting .268-5-37 for the Biscuits, before joining the Bulls for the postseason. In the IL Playoffs Maile caught five games, hitting .176-0-2 in his first five career Triple-A contests. As a Taxi Squad player, Maile will only be allowed to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Other Top Prospects
The AFL is known for featuring some of the game’s top prospects each fall, so here’s a list of some of the top prospects featured on each team. The number in parentheses indicates their rank on MLB.com’s Top 100 Propsect List.
Glendale: Cory Seager (13), Tim Anderson (82)
Mesa: Addison Russell (5), Daniel Robertson (85), Dalton Pompey (88)
Peoria: Franciso Lindor (4), Raul Mondesi (38)
Salt River: Byron Buxton (1), Archie Bradley (9), Mark Appel (41)
Scottsdale: Josh Bell (29), Nick Kingham (58), Brandon Nimmo (60)
Surprise: D.J. Peterson (49), Hunter Renfroe (71), Trea Turner (96)
As you know, baseball is a numbers-driven game. Fans and sports media alike love talking about averages, ERAs, WARs and the like. Frankly, it’s rare a player is talked about – whether good or bad – without a slew of numbers being thrown out there. So we’ve decided to break down the 2014 Durham Bulls season with some of the “Baseballiest” stats we could find. These range from oddities to things we simply just found interesting enough to share. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do, and if you don’t, well, there’s no way we’re going to know that now is there?
RHP Matt Andriese became the first Bulls pitcher since at least 1998, when the team jumped to the Triple-A ranks, to win back-to-back Bulls games as a starting pitcher. Andriese pitched on July 12, the Bulls were rained out on July 13, and the All-Star Break was the 14th-16th. Andriese took the bump on the 17th and defeated the Gwinnett Braves, winning consecutive Bulls games.
From 5/23-6/7, Andriese turned in 23.0 straight scoreless innings, the longest stretch by a Durham starter since Mitch Talbot tossed 24.0 straight scoreless frames in 2008.
RHP Alex Colome made 15 starts with the Bulls this season. In 10 of those 15 he allowed 0 or 1 earned run. In the other five starts, he allowed a combined 29 earned runs (9, 5, 7, 3, 5).
RHP Jeremy Hellickson rehabbed with Durham from 6/12-7/7, and went 1-4 with a 7.23 ERA. In five starts with the Bulls this season he allowed 20 runs (15 earned), which was 37% of the amount of runs he allowed as a member of the Bulls in 2009-10, when he made 30 starts and went 18-4 with a 2.47 ERA.
RHP Nathan Karns had perhaps the most consistently inconsistent season ever. See below:
- Over his first 6 starts, he was 2-2 with an 8.20 ERA, the 2nd-worst ERA in the IL
- Over his next 6 starts, he was 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA, the 6th-best ERA in the IL
- Over his next 4 starts, he was 1-3 with a 13.22 ERA, the worst ERA in the IL
- Over his next 6 starts, he was 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA, the 4th-best ERA in the IL
- Over his final 5 starts, he was 0-4 with a 6.92 ERA, the 4th-worst ERA in the IL
Prior to his promotion to Tampa Bay on 6/7, RHP Kirby Yates held left-handed hitters to a .050 average (2-for-40).
Despite playing in just 30 of Durham’s 144 games (20.8%), C Mayo Acosta caught five of the team’s 15 shutouts (33%).
INF Mike Fontenot hit three home runs in 113 games this season. All of them came on the road at Norfolk.
Speaking of Fontenot, he hit 34 points better when he was behind in the count (.299) than when he was ahead (.265).
OF Mikie Mahtook hit a career-high 12 home runs this season. After going the first 35 games of the season without a home run, he hit eight over his next 42 games. He then went 42 games without a home run, before hitting four over his next six games.
OF Jeremy Moore hit .183 for Double-A Montgomery, totaling four multi-hit games until his promotion to Durham on 6/24. With the Bulls, he had five multi-hit games in his first 12 contests, and had more hits in his first 16 games (23) than he did with Montgomery in 38 games (22).
In the postseason, INF Wilson Betemit hit just .125 but registered an on-base percentage of .500. He went 1-for-8 at the dish, but walked six times.
On 4/6, INF Ray Olmedo suffered the first four-strikeout game of his career in his 1,644th game.
On 7/27 manager Charlie Montoyo was ejected for arguing a play at home plate, the first time he was ejected since 2010, a span of 584 games. On 8/12 in Rochester he was ejected again, ending his new streak at 12 games.
Despite getting shut out 11 times this season, the second-most in Triple-A Baseball, Durham was never shut out by an IL South Division rival, spanning 64 games.
This season the Bulls were no-hit for the first time since 2012, as the Rochester Red Wings shut them down. However, the game spanned 18 days, over 600 miles and two ballparks, with the Red Wings serving as the road team in their home ballpark. On July 24 in Durham, Rochester’s RHP Alex Meyer threw 3.0 hitless innings before the game was suspended in the middle of the fourth frame. The game was completed on August 11 in Rochester, as LHP Logan Darnell completed the feat by tossing 6.0 hitless innings.
So now that we’ve had some time to digest the Bulls’ loss in the Governors’ Cup Final (ugh), let’s reflect on some of the standout players throughout the Rays’ entire Minor League organization. Last week, Tampa Bay announced their Minor League award winners, so we’ve decided to break down the 2014 season for some of the players that could end up in Durham in 2015 (and some you already saw).
In just his second year of professional baseball, and first full season, Field split the season between Single-A Bowling Green (82 games) and Advanced-A Charlotte (40 games). Between the two levels he combined to hit .300 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs, while swiping 23 bags in 31 attempts. Drafted in the Fifth Round in 2013 out of the University of Arizona, he excelled when he was promoted to Charlotte in mid-July, hitting .320 with the Stone Crabs over the final month and a half of the season.
Like Field, Snell split the season between Bowling Green and Charlotte, but made just eight starts with the Hot Rods before a promotion to Charlotte at the end of May. In Single-A he was dominant, going 3-2 despite a 1.79 ERA, striking out 42 in 40 1/3 innings. With Charlotte he went 5-6 with a 3.94, but still posted strong strikeout numbers, fanning 77 in 75 1/3 frames. Snell, who compares his repertoire to Matt Moore’s, was a First Round pick (52nd overall) in 2011 out of Shorewood H.S. in Washington, is the No. 13 prospect in the system according to MLB.com.
If Coyle’s name is familiar to you, don’t be surprised as he was an infielder at UNC from 2010-2012. This season with the Stone Crabs, the 16th round pick in 2012 went 30-for-34 in stolen base attempts, and is now 90-for-106 over his three-year career. He hit .249-5-37, while also tallying 13 doubles and eight triples.
O’Conner, the No. 14 prospect in the system according to MLB.com, spent the majority of the season with Charlotte (80 games) before a late-season promotion to Montgomery (21 games). Between the two levels the 2014 Futures Game selection was fantastic behind the plate, throwing out 33-of-60 runners, good for a 55% clip. With Charlotte, the 22-year-old threw out 24-of-48 attempted base stealers, which would have been best in the league, but his promotion to Montgomery made him fall short of the amount of games needed to qualify.
Liberatore’s 2014 accomplishments have been documented by the Bulls already, but as a refresher, the southpaw was dominant out of the bullpen, going 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in a career-high 54 games. 44 of his 54 appearances were scoreless, while he allowed just 8.17 baserunners per 9 innings, the best among all Triple-A relievers. His K/BB ratio was 5.73/1 (86/15), averaging 11.91 K/9 (86 K in 65.0 IP).
In his first season at the Triple-A level, Mahtook excelled, leading all Tampa Bay farmhands with 68 RBIs, while ranking fourth in the IL in total bases (224) and fifth in hits (143). The 24-year-old, ranked the No. 11 prospect in the Rays’ system by MLB.com, set career highs in home runs (12), doubles (33) and walks (46), while he reached base safely in 59 of his final 72 games.
In 107 games with the Biscuits this season, Brett hit .303, cracking eight homers and driving in 38. His .303 average was the fourth-best in the Southern League, while his 27 steals were the third-best on the circuit. Additionally, his 25 doubles and six triples were each career-highs, despite missing time in early August because of an injury.
After joining the organization in the blockbuster trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City, Leonard had a solid season, hitting .284-13-58. His .448 slugging percentage was the third-best in the Florida State League, while his career-high 79 runs scored was good for fourth-best on the circuit. He was a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts, while also setting a career-high with 126 hits, 49 walks, a .359 OBP and tying a career-high with 26 doubles.
The younger brother of St. Louis’ Kolten Wong, Kean proved himself to be a valuable young player in his first full season of professional baseball. Just 19, he ranked second in the Midwest League with a .306 batting average while stealing 13 bases and smacking 15 doubles. Additionally he was sharp in the field, playing 97 games at second base and committing just seven errors.
So by now you know the Bulls have advanced to the 2014 Governors’ Cup Final (for the sixth time in eight years, no less), and they’ll be taking on the Wild Card winner Pawtucket Red Sox, who swept the Syracuse Chiefs in the first round. This year’s best-of-Five Final is a rematch of last season’s championship round, which Durham won 3-1 over the PawSox. To get you ready for this year’s showdown, we’ll break down the teams to tell you all you need to know about this year’s Governors’ Cup Final.
Durham’s starting pitching has all the talent in the world. On any given night, any pitcher can shut down the opposing team and nobody would be surprised. That being said, the starters have been inconsistent this season, posting stretches where they’re nearly unhittable, and stretches where the whole rotation has struggled. However, the rotation was strong in the First Round against Columbus, allowing just six earned runs over the final three games.
Pawtucket’s rotation is in flux, as the team has had a handful of starters plucked by the Red Sox over the past few weeks (IL Most Valuable Pitcher RHP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Steven Wright). The PawSox will be relying on newcomer LHP Edwin Escobar and recent call-up and top prospect LHP Henry Owens to lead the charge against Durham’s offense.
Durham’s bullpen has been lights out all season, and recently has been superb. Led by a pair of southpaws in LHP Adam Liberatore and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, and aided by 2014 IL All-Star Merrill Kelly, the unit struck out 16 and walked just three in the First Round against Columbus.
Similar to their rotation, Pawtucket’s bullpen has also been dealt setbacks as LHP Drake Britton and LHP Tommy Layne have been called up to Boston. The unit allowed just three earned runs against Syracuse in the first round, and will rely on 2014 PCL All-Star Heath Hembree, who was traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Red Sox in the Jake Peavy deal in July.
Behind the dish the Bulls feature Ali Solis and Luke Maile. Solis spent the season with the Bulls, save for a two-week period in early June that saw him get called up while Ryan Hanigan was on the DL. Maile on the other hand, just 23 years old, spent the whole season with Double-A Montgomery where he was a Midseason All-Star. He caught two games for Durham against Columbus, his first two appearances at the Triple-A level.
Pawtucket’s Blake Swihart (.262-1-9 in 18 G) and Ryan Lavarnway (.283-3-20 in 62 G) each had solid seasons for the PawSox. That carried into the First Round of the playoffs, as Swihart went 4-for-7 and drove in a run.
All season long Durham’s offense has held the team back, finishing last in the IL with a .248 team average in the regular season. The Durham infield has struggled at the dish this season, as the eight infielders on the roster for the postseason combined to hit just .239 in the regular season. However, Vince Belnome (.358), Mike Fontenot (.350) and Cole Figueroa (.371) all posted OBPs of .350 or higher, while All-Star Wilson Betemit led the team with 18 home runs.
Pawtucket’s infield, similarly to Durham, did not produce much over the course of the regular season. Against Syracuse though they produced at the dish, led by Travis Shaw (5-for-10, HR, 3 RBI) and former Bull Ryan Roberts (3-for-9, 3 RBI).
The combination of Mikie Mahtook, Jeremy Moore and Justin Christian has been strong for Durham, especially with the addition of Moore from Double-A Montgomery in late June. Mahtook, the Bulls’ 2014 MVP, was among lead leaders in doubles and extra-base hits while cracking a career-best 12 homers. Christian hit a solid .271 with 10 dingers, while Moore hit 12 homers in just 55 games since his promotion.
The PawSox lost top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Red Sox just a few days ago, but have replaced him with Rusney Castillo, a 27-year-old Cuban defector who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Boston a month ago. He went 5-for-15 for Double-A Portland in the playoffs, and will join an outfield corps that combined to hit 45 homers in the regular season.
Durham’s Charlie Montoyo is the man. Simple as that. Eight seasons in Durham, seven division titles, sixth Governors’ Cup Final berth, two Governors’ Cup titles and a Triple-A National Championship.
Pawtucket’s Kevin Boles is in his first season as a Triple-A manager. To get your team this far in a rookie campaign is pretty good. But…
Wool E. Bull is the best mascot in Minor League Baseball, and probably all of sports. To read more about why Wool E. rules, click here. And honestly, we love Paws, we really do. But it’s sort of like the manager debate: no matter how good you are, you just simply won’t have the advantage.
So by now everybody knows that the Durham Bulls have won the 2014 International League South Division title. And frankly, you probably could’ve predicted that in February, seeing as how the Bulls have won the division in seven of the past eight seasons. And the common denominator of those eight seasons has been none other than manager Charlie Montoyo, the winningest manager in Durham Bulls franchise history.
So, you know the team won the title, but what you don’t know is how Montoyo spent his first couple minutes after exiting the dugout on August 25th, when the Bulls’ 4-2 victory over the Gwinnett Braves propelled Durham into the Governors’ Cup playoffs for the 13th time in the past 17 years.
Luckily, we have you covered. Follow Charlie from the field and into the clubhouse.
P.S. We hope you enjoy pitching coach Neil Allen’s celebration as much as we did.
You know how hitters use video to break down their swing? Well today, we’re going to use video and break down Wil Myers‘ massive grand slam in the Bulls’ 5-4 loss to Rochester on Monday. It may or may not be as technical as you’d get from a hitting coach.
Here’s the video, and below is our expert analysis.
Comment #1: Hanging curveball – that’s a really bad pitch
Comment #2: Took massive swing. If you’re Wil Myers, I guess that’s ok
Comment #3: Demolished baseball. If you’re Wil Myers, I guess that’s what happens
Comment #4: Wil seems happy with himself (:40 mark)
And there you have it. We’ve just broken down a Wil Myers’ grand slam. Join us next week, when we (potentially) break down Myers eating chicken fingers.
Last night the newest member of the Durham Bulls, INF Nick Franklin, scored the Bulls lone run in game one, before hitting a game-winning homer in game two of the doubleheader against the Buffalo Bisons. The switch-hitting middle-infielder joined the Bulls a week ago from the Seattle Mariners organization in the three-team deal that sent LHP David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Bulls broadcaster Patrick Kinas caught up with the 23-year-old earlier this week to talk about the trade, his family ties to the east coast and first impressions of the Durham Bulls.
With the Buffalo Bisons visiting Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the next four days, it means the return of Gary Allenson. Allenson, the first-year skipper of the Bisons, etched his name into ballpark history when, in 2011 as skipper of the Norfolk Tides, he climbed the centerfield wall to find a ball he thought was a home run. No description can do the scene justice, so we’ll just let the video do it for us. For quick results, fast-forward to the 3:30 mark.