"Pitching has got to be the foundation in the organization. Everybody wants a good pitcher. The more pitchers we have, the stronger our organization will be."
- Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 Tampa Bay Rays Organizational Depth Report

1. matt garza, RHSP
2. scott kazmir, LHSP
3. david price, LHSP - august 2008
4. jake mcgee, LHSP - mid 2008
5. wade davis, RHSP - mid 2009
6. eduardo morlan, RHRP - august 2008
7. jeff niemann, RHSP - april 2008
8. edwin jackson, RHSP
9. andrew sonnanstine, RHSP
10.josh butler, RHSP - mid 2010

i think that edwin jackson, chris mason, and andrew sonnanstine are going to get eaten up by the numbers game in tampa. i like all 3 as pitchers, but it seems as though neither mason nor sonnanstine will get another shot at the rotation unless they pitch their way in this spring training. with kazmir, shields, and garza cemented in the top 3 slots, the other 2 would seem to be reserved for the likes of jeff niemann, wade davis, david price, and jake mcgee. it looks to me as if the best that mason, sonnanstine, or jackson could hope for is a 5 start trial going into may of this season. after that point, there will be nothing holding back the top tier prospects from claiming their spot in tampa's rotation. (and by top tier, i meant the top tier in all of baseball, not just in tampa's system. they are loaded.)

to expand on my edwin jackson thoughts, i love his arm, and i think he should have been moved to the bullpen earlier in his career. the hardest jump to make in baseball is from AAA to the majors, and jackson made that jump successfully as a 19 year old. since then, though he's had far less success, though he was close to serviceable in 2006 when he was primarily a reliever. with his arm, though, serviceable is not good enough. jackson features a tremendous fastball, and he once had a plus slider and a plus changeup. both secondary pitches have since regressed, and jackson is now at his best when he throws his fastball 70-80% of the time. i believe that it is easier for a pitcher to learn how to get major league batters out as a reliever. i also believe that if i don't have the confidence that you can consistently do that, you should not start. hopefully tampa will take some of this into account when deciding what role jackson will play with them in 2008.

i've talked previously about garza here. i am a huge believer in him.

Spotlight: Andrew Sonnanstine

sonnanstine is a typical finesse righty, featuring a full complement of pitches, and a full complement of variations of each pitch. his fastball sits 86-89 MPH, but he also throws a cut fastball which sits around 84, as well as a sinker which sits around 87. he has a changeup which sits around 81 with late bite that makes it effective. sonnanstine also throws a slider, at around 76 and a curve around 72. neither pitch is better than average.

sonnanstine's lack of great velocity isn't really a career threatening issue, as he does have a very effective changeup, and there are plenty of pitchers that have gone a long way with less. the fact that he's going to be 25 in 2008 isn't a big issue, as age for this type of pitcher, a finesse righty, isn't a huge limiting factor.

splitting the data, 10 of sonnanstine's 22 starts came against division rivals BAL, BOS, and TOR. in those games, sonnanstine threw 54.2 innings, and allowed 72 hits, 14 walks, 6 homeruns, and 48 earned runs. there is no excuse for this type of production against lineups that are as bad as toronto or baltimore. the distribution of these 14 starts shows no pattern, as sonnanstine allowed more than 5 earned runs in each of his 1st, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 19th, and 21st starts.

sonnanstine blew threw the minor leagues without much resistance. in 495 minor league innings, sonny had a 2.58 ERA, and 6 Ks for every BB. i have always been weary of these types, as i feel that struggling at the minor league level is a necessary learning experience for young pitchers. for me to have confidence in a young starter, i like to see a pitcher that has made adjustments to a level that was clearly ahead of his own. 2008 will be a tough task for sonnanstine, as not only will he have to do this, but he will also have to learn how to consistently get out the best hitters in the world his most positive assets being only control and a changeup. i think it's an uphill battle, and i don't see him having enough success in 2008 to stay in the rotation beyond. he will likely end up trade fodder or a throwin to upgrade TB's bullpen.


Anonymous said...

You left out Shields on your depth chart.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't read the rules about being under 25.

JRoll34 said...

When I read your blog, I have to wonder where our educational system went wrong. Do you get benefits from the government for being a retard?

Snuffy said...

"Do you get benefits from the government for being a retard?"

Harsh comments... I like this site. The forecasts are first rate and informed. Andy Sonny will be by-passed by more elite arms but he's likely to still be a solid #4 for say... Seattle. I think they would love to have him and he should end up as a very good ML pitcher for some time to come.