Results tagged ‘ Jake Faria ’

Baseball America Announces Rays’ Top 10 Prospects

Around this time every year, Baseball America ranks the Top 10 prospects in each organization. Earlier today the publication announced its Top 10 Rays prospects heading in to 2017, and we take a look at who made the cut, and if he’ll contribute to the Bulls next season.

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Willy Adames has taken over the top spot in Baseball America’s annual rankings (MiLB.com)

1. Willy Adames – SS

Adames was No. 2 on this list a season ago, sitting behind LHP Blake Snell. With Snell’s graduation to the bigs, Adames takes over the top spot with much fanfare. After he was acquired in the David Price trade at the 2014 Trade Deadline, the 21-year-old has steadily climbed the ranks of the Tampa Bay system, including a 2016 season that saw him hit .274-11-57 for Double-A Montgomery while earning Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star honors. Despite his young age and an abundance of middle infielders, don’t be surprised to see Adames in Durham in 2017.

2. Brent Honeywell – RHP

He’ll turn 22 just before Opening Day 2017, after combining to go 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 20 starts between Advanced-A Charlotte and Montgomery this past season. Honeywell missed some time because of injury in 2016, and because of his youth and plenty of pitching depth likely will start next season at the Double-A level. Still, if he performs well don’t be surprised to see him make a midseason jump to Durham like the Rays have done with Snell and RHP Jake Faria over the last two seasons.

3. Casey Gillaspie – 1B

Bulls fans got to see Gillaspie up close in 2016, after he was the team’s most consistent hitter after his promotion from Montgomery after the All-Star break. After a strong couple of months with the Biscuits, the 2014 1st round draft pick batted .307-7-23 in 47 games with the Bulls, while posting a .389 OBP. If he’s not back in Durham to open 2017, that’ll mean Tampa Bay’s Minor League Player of the Year is with the big club.

4. Jake Bauers – 1B/OF

A 2016 Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, Bauers hit .274-14-78 in 135 games for Montgomery in 2016 at age 20. Acquired by Tampa Bay from San Diego in the Wil Myers trade prior to the 2015 season, it’s not out of the question that Bauers will open 2017 in Durham after spending the last year and a half with the Biscuits.

5. Chih-Wei Hu – RHP

Aside from one spot-start for Durham early in the year, Hu spent 2016 in Montgomery. The right-hander led the Southern League in ERA, going 7-9 with a 2.75 mark across 25 starts en route to being named the league’s right-handed pitcher of the year and a Midseason and Postseason All-Star. He’ll turn 23 in November, and he’ll be fighting for a spot in the Bulls’ rotation when he arrives at Spring Training.

6. Josh Lowe – 3B

The Rays scooped up Lowe in the 1st Round of the 2016 draft out of high school, and the corner infielder split the year between the GCL Rays and Rookie-level Princeton. The Georgia native will turn 19 in February, and projects to be a few seasons away from contributing to the Bulls on a regular basis.

7. Jesus Sanchez – OF

Signed as an international free agent, Sanchez split 2016 between the Gulf Coast League and Princeton. Although he was just 18, Sanchez combined to hit .329 with seven home runs between the two levels. Similar to Lowe, because of his age it appears Bulls fans will have to wait to see the Dominican Republic native suit up for Durham.

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Jake Faria went 4-4 for the Bulls after his midseason promotion from Double-A

8. Jake Faria – RHP

Faria opened the 2016 season in Double-A, but was promoted to Durham at the end of June. In 13 starts for the Bulls the 23-year-old went 4-4 with a 3.72 ERA, but saw the ERA inflated by a few bad starts. Of those 13 outings, he allowed two earned runs or fewer nine times, and surrendered just 46 hits in 67 2/3 innings. Expect Faria to be back in Durham to open next season, but he’ll be on a short list if Tampa Bay needs an arm.

9. Justin Williams – OF

Acquired from Arizona in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson west prior to the 2015 season, Williams has had a strong two years in the Rays system. He split 2016 between Charlotte and Montgomery, combining to hit .295. Just 21, Tampa Bay might like to see Williams get more time in Double-A than the 39 games he played this season, but don’t be surprised if he earns a midseason call-up to the Bull City in 2017.

10. Garrett Whitley – OF

The Rays’ 1st Round draft pick in 2015, Whitley spent the 2016 season with Short-Season Hudson Valley. The upstate New York native swiped 21 bags in 65 games, while hitting .266 with 20 extra-base hits. Just 19, the speedy outfielder is still a few years away from being Triple-A ready.

Jake Faria: Back on Track

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Jake Faria’s Triple-A debut was exactly what a top pitching prospect dreams of. The right-handed pitcher needed just 82 pitches to get through six scoreless innings, and allowed just two hits and one walk, while striking out six Lehigh Valley IronPigs batters.

Faria looked ready to cruise through Triple-A just like he had in High-A and Double-A last season.

As a 22-year-old in his fifth minor league season in 2015, Faria was expecting to take another step in his development.

“Last year I came into the season with a new changeup, some new delivery things,” he said.

That changeup helped carry him to a quick 10 wins in 12 games with High-A Charlotte, and he was promoted to Double-A Montgomery in the middle of the season.

“Early on in the season we had a ridiculously good pitching staff,” Faria said. “I think we just fed off of each other. It just made every one of us better. We put up a lot of runs, so every win was a team effort. There weren’t many 1-0 wins.”

Toward the end of his time with Charlotte, Faria recognized that he was racking up wins, but when he got to Montgomery he lost track of his total. Late in the season, he earned his 17th win of the year between the two levels, and the Minor League Baseball world took notice.

He finished a breakout 2015 with a 17-4 record and 1.92 ERA in just under 150 innings pitched. He also rang up 159 strikeouts for Charlotte and Montgomery, finishing with the sixth-most strikeouts in Minor League Baseball behind teammates Blake Snell and Jaime Schultz.

Coming into this season, he knew those marks would be hard to replicate.

“I’m not trying to repeat the exact same year, because that’s really tough,” Faria said. “You can’t do that every year. Just trying to build step by step off of every game. Trying to continue the process I’ve been doing the last few years and see where it takes me.”

After another half of a season with Montgomery, it took him to Triple-A and Durham. Faria noticed the big differences between the two highest levels of the minors in his first game.

“The first game I threw against (Phillies prospect) Jake Thompson, which is a huge name,” Faria said. “He’s really good and always had good numbers, so that was kind of a big deal.”

The addition of more former major-leaguers in opposing lineups was the biggest change to Faria. He recalled facing one player with major league service time in Double-A, and that had been a big deal. Now it’s an everyday occurrence.

“Even on our team you have J.P. (Arencibia), who has been in the big leagues for at least four years, you have Dana (Eveland) who has been in the big leagues for four or five years. Especially in games when you’re facing guys who have been in the big leagues, guys you used to watch on TV. Like, I want to be that guy and now you’re playing that guy,” he said.

Faria

Faria kept building off of his past success with 42 strikeouts through his first 38 Triple-A innings. But after the All-Star break, he got off track for two brief starts.

“In the Syracuse game I was throwing everything for strikes, but after a certain amount of hitters it was just too late,” he said. “I just kept doing what I did when I first got here — attacking hitters. I got away from my game plan a little bit, throwing certain pitches in certain counts, but once I got back to the basics I got back on track.”

After two rough outings, Faria bounced back with a quality start. He allowed just six runs over those three starts to wash away the memory of those two previous starts.

Faria said, “If I can get through the first inning I’m really comfortable, but once I get the first time through the lineup and get a really good look at their hitters, that’s when I’m really relaxed and settled in.”

Faria enjoys a 3-1 record at the DBAP with a 2.15 ERA, and said he appreciates that Bulls fans embrace and support the team so well in the stadium and even around the city. Recently, he was recognized by Double-A Southern League managers as having the best changeup in the league this season in a Baseball America survey.

With slightly more than a month in Triple-A under his belt, Faria has overcome his first hurdle at the highest level of the minor leagues. Now that he’s back on track, he is ready to continue his climb to the big leagues.

Snell, Faria, Guerrieri Optioned to Minors

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Blake Snell will most likely open the 2016 season with the Bulls

There was much talk this past offseason if whether or not the reigning USA Today and Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Blake Snell, would open the season as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays pitching rotation. Coming off a season in which he went 15-4 with a 1.41 ERA across three levels (and 6-2 with a 1.83 in nine starts with Durham), it wasn’t out of the question the 23-year-old could compete at the big league level. However, with a full staff of starters, today the Rays optioned Snell, Jake Faria and Taylor Guerrieri to Minor League camp.

Should the Rays stay healthy through Spring Training, this all but ensures Snell will open the 2016 campaign in Durham. For Faria and Guerrieri, the answer isn’t as clear. Both right-handers, they each split last season between Advanced-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery. Faria led all minor leaguers with 17 wins, while posting a 1.92 ERA. Guerrieri, in his first season back from Tommy John, combined to go 5-3 with a 1.85 ERA in 20 appearances (18 starts). Despite their 2015 success, there’s still a chance they could open the year in Double-A to ensure they’re ready to make the jump to Durham. Still, it would come as a shock to no one if they broke Spring Training and headed north to the Bull City.

Additionally infielder Ryan Brett was optioned to minors camp today, while nine players were reassigned from big league camp to minors camp.

 

2016 State of the Bulls, Based on the Rays

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It only comes once a year. Today, as we sit just a little more than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Port Charlotte, Fla. for Spring Training, we examine the state of Durham Bulls baseball. Over the next 10 weeks the Rays’ (and therefor the Bulls’) rosters will take a more defined shape, whether by trades, free agency or other. For now though, we take a look at who could be bound for Durham come early April.

Starting Pitchers

As is typical for Tampa Bay, the starting rotation is strong and young. Headlined by Chris Archer and complimented by Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly and Erasmo Ramirez, the Rays’ staff seems fairly stable. So what does this mean for Durham? First things first, Blake Snell could make a run at the big league staff. He’ll be just 23 this year, but coming off a historic 2015 campaign will earn him a good look in camp. If he doesn’t make the squad, expect him to take the ball on Opening Night for the Bulls. Behind him in that rotation could be Jake Faria and Taylor Guerrieri, two right-handers who were added to the Rays’ 40-man roster back in November. Behind those three the rotation isn’t so clear, with a number of options. Burch Smith and Grayson Garvin are expected to return from injury at some point in 2016, and both have been starters in the past. Additionally Jaime Schultz went 9-5 in 27 starts for Double-A Montgomery last season at age 24, while Ryne Stanek – a 2013 first round pick – made 16 appearances for the Biscuits in 2015. Righty Austin Pruitt posted a 3.09 ERA for Montgomery last year, and Jared Mortensen joined Durham over the final week of the 2015 season, winning both his starts. One unknown is where Dylan Floro fits in, after he spent much of last season in Durham’s rotation but finished the year in the bullpen. Additionally, if Tampa Bay decides to keep Matt Andriese as a starter, expect him to open the year in Durham to stay on a regular routine. The righty was dominant for the Bulls last season, but split the entire year shuttling between North Carolina and Florida as both a starter and long reliever.

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Blake Snell aims to crack Tampa Bay’s rotation out of Spring Training

Relief Pitchers

A veteran relief corps could begin the year in the Bull City. Signed before the 2015 season, Jonny Venters and Neil Wagner each sat out all last year with injuries, but each have significant MLB time. Dana Eveland and Tyler Sturdevant were each picked up as a minor league free agents, and Danny Farquhar was acquired in a trade with Seattle. Most likely to return is Jhan Marinez, a 2015 IL Midseason All-Star who went 4-1 with a 1.92 ERA for the Bulls in his first year in the Rays system. On the younger side, Andrew Bellatti, who opened 2015 in Durham, had a lot of success at the big league level with Tampa Bay but struggled at the Triple-A level. Parker Markel, who’s fastball reaches the high 90s, could open the year in Durham after a call-up late last season, and he could be joined by Brad Schreiber, who saved 30 games between Advanced-A and Double-A last year.

Catchers

After his promotion last summer, Curt Casali took the reins as Tampa Bay’s number one catcher. Rene Rivera appears to be the backup, but Hank Conger was acquired for cash and Luke Maile played well in his first taste of the bigs in September. Expect the Rays to open  the season with Casali and Rivera, leaving Maile and Conger for the Bulls. Don’t forget about Justin O’Conner though, one of the best defensive catchers in the minors and a member of the Rays’ 40-man roster.

Infielders

The Rays infield has had a little bit of a shakeup so far this offseason, acquiring shortstop Brad Miller to replace Asdrubal Cabrera, who signed with the New York Mets. Other than that Evan Longoria will play third, Logan Forsythe second and James Loney first. Assuming the team carries no more than two infield backups, it would appear Tim Beckham and Logan Morrison would have the inside track. On the Durham front, that would mean Richie Shaffer, Ryan Brett and Taylor Motter (all 40-man players) would return to the Bulls to open the year. Still, Durham could also see 22-year-old Daniel Robertson open the year at shortstop after a solid first year at the Double-A level. Tampa Bay also has 2015 Southern League All-Star Cameron Seitzer who can play first base, along with Kyle Roller, an East Carolina University product that hit 14 home runs for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year.

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Daniel Robertson looks to make his Triple-A debut in 2016 (Marvin Gentry)

Outfielders

Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. all have secured spots on Tampa Bay’s roster. The big question is whether or not Mikie Mahtook will make the big league Opening Day roster after hitting .356 with four homers in 23 games last September. If not, expect him and Motter (who can play infield and outfield) to hit in the top third of Durham’s lineup. After Tyler Goeddel and Joey Rickard were taken in the Rule 5 draft, Tampa Bay’s minor league outfield depth has shortened some. Still, 20-year-old Jake Bauers has a chance to make Durham’s squad after hitting .276 across 69 Double-A games last season, after opening the year with Advanced-A Charlotte. Additionally Johnny Field, another prospect, could make his way to the Bull City as well after tallying 14 homers and swiping 18 bags for the Biscuits last year.

Aside from the bullpen, the 2016 Bulls squad is shaping up to be very young. Still, with plenty of time left between now and the beginning of April, expect Tampa Bay to round out the roster with some veteran additions.