Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

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.

Former Durham Bulls in the World Series

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Before the 2016 MLB Postseason began, we brought you a list of every former Durham Bull who was on a playoff team. Now, with the World Series kicking off tonight, we take a look at the former Bulls on the Cubs and Indians, and how they’ve fared during their team’s playoff runs. (Years with the Bulls are listed in parentheses.)

CHICAGO CUBS: UTL Ben Zobrist (2006-2008), LHP Mike Montgomery (2013-2014)

Zobrist is back in the World Series for the third time, and the second straight year. The utility man first went to the Fall Classic in 2008 as a member of the Rays, and won the title with the Kansas City Royals a season ago. This postseason the switch-hitter has appeared in all 10 games for the Cubs, but is just 6-for-36 with three RBI.

Montgomery has been solid out of the bullpen for Joe Maddon this October, going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA. He’s tossed 9 2/3 innings and allowed four earned runs, and three of his six appearances have been scoreless.

CLEVELAND INDIANS: OF Brandon Guyer (2011-2013)

Guyer, who was dealt to Cleveland at the Trade Deadline, went on to hit .333 in 38 games over the season’s final two months. The outfielder has only appeared in three of the Indians’ eight playoff contests, but is 3-for-8 with an RBI in that span.

Catcher Chris Gimenez made the Indians’ ALDS roster, but was left off the ALCS and World Series rosters. In the first round Cleveland opted to carry three catchers, but with Yan Gomes returning from injury and the strong play of Roberto Perez, the 2012 and 2013 Durham Bull will not appear in the Fall Classic.

Former Bulls in the 2016 Postseason

The 2016 MLB *postseason kicks off tonight, as the Orioles and Blue Jays square off in the AL Wild Card Game.

*We say postseason because we don’t consider the Wild Card games the ‘playoffs.’ Sure you’ve made it farther than 20 other teams, but come on, it’s not really the playoffs yet. It’s just a play-in game.

With the start of the postseason, we take a look at all the former Durham Bulls who you might see throughout the month of October

Baltimore Orioles: None

Of note, OF Joey Rickard played in 29 games for the Bulls in 2015 before Baltimore selected him in the Rule V draft. He’s currently on the DL.

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David Price looks to return to the World Series with Boston this October

Boston Red Sox: LHP David Price

For all the success Price has had at the big league level, he actually wasn’t all that impressive in Durham at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. He went 2-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 12 starts for the Bulls, while striking out a batter an inning.

Chicago Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel, LHP Mike Montgomery, UTL Ben Zobrist

Hammel, a member of the Bulls in 2005, 2006 and 2007 went 12-16 in 47 starts in his time in the Bull City. Across 30 starts for the Cubbies this year, the 34-year-old went 15-10 with a 3.83 in 30 starts.

Montgomery pitched for the Bulls in 2013 and 2014, and was named an IL Midseason All-Star in 2014. After he was traded to the Mariners and subsequently the Cubs, the 27-year-old posted a 2.82 ERA in 17 games (five starts) for the best team in baseball in the regular season.

Zobrist, who spent parts of 2006, 2007 and 2008 in Durham, hit .301 in 99 career games for the Bulls. This year the utility player, reunited with Joe Maddon, hit .272 with 18 homers while playing primarily second base and the outfield.

Cleveland Indians: C Chris Gimenez, OF Brandon Guyer

Gimenez is in the postseason for the second straight year after going with the Rangers a season ago. This year he played in 67 games for the Indians, and he combined to appear in 166 games for Durham in 2012 and 2013.

Guyer was traded to the Indians at the trade deadline this season and went on to hit .333 in 38 games. The outfielder spent parts of three seasons with the Bulls (2011-2013), while also making a five-game rehab stint in 2014.

LA Dodgers: LHP JP Howell, LHP Scott Kazmir

Howell made 31 starts for the Bulls between 2006 and 2007, and returned for a four-game rehab appearance in 2011. The southpaw made 64 relief appearances for the Dodgers this season.

It is unclear if Kazmir will pitch in the postseason after his last start came on Sept. 23. The 32-year-old only ever played for the Bulls on rehab stints, making one appearance each in 2008 and 2009.

Southpaw Adam Liberatore will not pitch for the Dodgers in the postseason, as he will undergo season-ending elbow surgery. Earlier this year the lefty set a franchise record with 28 straight scoreless outings. Liberatore appeared in 113 games for the Bulls from 2012-2014, including a 2014 campaign in which he struck out 86 batters in 65 innings.

NY Mets: None

OF Justin Ruggiano – a member of the All-DBAP team – appeared in eight games for the Mets this year, but  hasn’t played in a game since Aug. 26 after undergoing shoulder surgery.

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Matt Moore, now with the Giants, seeks his first pennant

San Francisco Giants: LHP Matt Moore

The Giants picked up Moore at the trade deadline, as the lefty went 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 starts since. Moore has an interesting history in Durham, making 17 starts across the 2011, 2013 and 2015 seasons. He dominated in 2011 (4-0, 1.37), made one rehab start in 2013, then played as both a rostered player and rehab player in 2015.

Texas Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos

Chirinos hit .259 with six homers across 78 games for the Bulls in 2011, before he was traded to Texas at the start of the 2013 campaign. The 32-year-old batted .224 for the AL West Division winners this season.

Toronto Blue Jays: C Dioner Navarro, OF Melvin Upton, Jr.

Navarro split 2016 between the White Sox and Blue Jays, joining Toronto for the stretch run. The 32-year-old hit .284 in 43 games for the Bulls in 2010.

The artist formerly known as BJ opened 2016 with San Diego, but was traded to the Blue Jays in July. Upton debuted with Durham in 2004 at the age of 19, and proceeded to play in 314 games with the Bulls from 2004-2006, while also appearing in two rehab games in 2007.

Washington Nationals: C Jose Lobaton

Traded by the Rays to the Nationals in February of 2014, Lobaton played for the Bulls in both 2010 and 2011, combining to appear in 126 games. The Venezuelan also appeared in four rehab games in 2012.

Gillaspie, Pruitt Take Home Rays’ Minor League Honors

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On Friday afternoon the Tampa Bay Rays announced their 2016 Minor League award winners, with 1B Casey Gillaspie taking home Player of the Year honors, and RHP Brent Honeywell earning the Pitcher of the Year award. The Rays named RHP Austin Pruitt Durham’s MVP.

Gillaspie had a strong 2016 campaign, split between Double-A Montgomery and the Bulls. The 23-year-old first baseman combined to hit .284 with 18 homers and 64 RBI in just his second full season of professional baseball. The 20th overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Wichita St. was promoted to the Bulls in mid-July and went on to star for the team over the season’s final month and a half, hitting .307 with seven home runs and 23 RBI in 47 games. Over that span the switch-hitter posted a .389 on-base percentage, while his 22 extra-base hits were the third-most in the IL.

In his first season at the Triple-A level, Pruitt earned MVP honors after going 8-11 with a 3.76 ERA. The 27-year-old tied for first in the IL with 28 starts, ranked second with 149 strikeouts and fourth in innings pitched (162.2) and WHIP (1.19). The University of Houston product represented the Bulls at the Triple-A All-Star Game, and became the first Durham pitcher to earn the win in that contest after tossing a scoreless fifth inning.

Full List of Rays 2016 Minor League Awards Winners

Player of the Year – 1B Casey Gillaspie

Pitcher of the Year – RHP Brent Honeywell

Durham Bulls MVP – RHP Austin Pruitt

Montgomery Biscuits MVP – 1B/OF Jake Bauers

Charlotte Stone Crabs MVP – RHP Greg Harris

Bowling Green Hot Rods MVP – INF Michael Russell

Hudson Valley Renegades MVP – LHP Travis Ott

Princeton Rays MVP – OF Eleardo Cabrera

GCL Rays – OF Jesus Sanchez

Dominican Summer League Rays – C Ronaldo Hernandez / OF Sabriel Polanco

Baserunner of the Year – OF Jake Fraley

Reliever of the Year – RHP Joe Serrapica

Defensive Player of the Year – C Nick Ciuffo

2016 Fan Appreciation Video

The 2016 season was another memorable year in Durham Bulls baseball. From numerous sellouts to fun promotional nights to exciting on-field action, thank you fans for making this past season another fantastic experience.

The Arrival: The Bullpen

Everyone knows bullpen guys are a little different. Our 2016 squad was no exception. Check out how our relief corps showed up to the DBAP.

The Arrival: Daniel Robertson

Daniel Robertson has been a constant in the Durham Bulls’ lineup all season long. Watch how the 22-year-old infielder preps for gameday.

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.

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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.

The Arrival: Dayron Varona

Dayron Varona defected from Cuba to chase his dream of playing in the big leagues. Now, just one step away, he knows there’s nothing that can stop him.

Justin Marks Interview

On July 16, 2016, Justin Marks threw the fourth no-hitter in Durham Bulls Triple-A history, and the first ever thrown by one player in the organization’s 19-year I.L. tenure. The southpaw sat down with Bulls’ broadcaster Patrick Kinas fewer than 24 hours after his historic evening.

Justin Marks Interview