Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' next generation of star pitchers on cusp of majors

PORT CHARLOTTE — Before Chris Archer envisions the same bright future everyone else does in glancing down the row of lockers in the Rays clubhouse that includes promising pitching prospects Blake Snell, Taylor Guerrieri and Jake Faria, he first sees the past.

"It's so weird," Archer said. "I feel like I'm looking at it from the same perspective (David) Price was my first camp. I feel like it's the exact same thing. And they are going to be so much better two-three years from now, it's unreal."

Whether Snell, Guerrieri and/or Faria turn out to be anywhere near as a good a pitcher as Archer did under Price's tutelage, they represent the crest of the next wave of Rays starters.

And just in time.

As grand of a legacy and as great of a reputation as the Rays have for developing starting pitchers, only one member of their projected starting rotation is homegrown: Matt Moore.

And since Moore debuted at the end of the 2011 season, the only two pitchers to emerge from their system and start a game are Alex Colome (19) and Enny Romero (one), who have both since been converted to relievers.

Though the Rays have been able to build a strong rotation with starters acquired in trade (Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, Matt Andriese), it is vital that they grow their own.

That's where Guerrieri, Snell and Faria come in. (And Jaime Schultz, Brent Honeywell and others behind them.)

All three were part of the 2011 draft, the year the Rays were supposed to be restocked for a baseball generation with 10 of the first 60 picks. The overall results have been mixed, but it would have to be considered quite a success if they one day field a rotation that features Guerrieri (their first choice, 24th overall), Snell (seventh, 52nd) and Faria (20th, 330th).

Each has had issues. Guerrieri lost 1½ seasons to Tommy John elbow surgery and a suspension for marijuana use. Snell didn't take the game seriously enough until last season. Faria needed to learn how to pitch and get bigger and stronger.

But now all are on the cusp of breaking through. Snell, 23, has gotten the furthest, reaching Triple-A Durham during his tremendous 15-4, 1.41 season that earned him minor-league player of the year honors, and he should be in the majors at some point this season, perhaps sooner than later. Guerrieri, 23, and Faria, 22, seem likely to start at Double-A Montgomery, where both finished last season, with the potential to provide the Rays with late-season help.

"It's exciting," wily Rays pitching coordinator Dick Bosman said. "I don't want to say at long last, but some of these kids that we signed, nurtured, brought along have had setbacks — Tommy John and so forth, underachieving and all that.

"And pretty soon it's starting to come to fruition. That's what we do, obviously. To see this group come along as they have and as they are — the camaraderie, the friendly competition, which you really, really love — it's all there.

"Who's going to be good and who's not, obviously I couldn't tell you that one. But it's going to be fun watching to find out."

The three share a bond and a kinship, going back to that 2011 summer, and the different paths they took to end up in the clubhouse together this spring.

Guerrieri and Snell talked about it on the ride up to the Trop for the team's Fan Fest a couple of weeks ago.

"Where we were then versus where we are now and everything that has come along with it," Guerrieri said. "And we're really excited for everything that's going to come our way. As long as we stay healthy, I think we're all going to do really well."

Though paired as teammates in just about all the possible combinations, the three have never pitched together on the same team. It could happen this summer at Durham. What would be even better, they all acknowledge, would be to eventually be in the Rays rotation at the same time.

"That," Guerrieri said, "would be like the coolest thing."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

 
Comments
Live from Port Charlotte: Rays will open with 4-man rotation, Andriese in pen

Live from Port Charlotte: Rays will open with 4-man rotation, Andriese in pen

While most of the talk at Rays camp on Sunday was about the series of late Saturday deals that saw Jake Odorizzi traded, Corey Dickerson DFA'd and C.J. Cron acquired, there was some news.Manager Kevin Cash said they that because of a lot of early sea...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Morning after comments on Rays’ busy Saturday, dealing Odorizzi, Dickerson; adding Cron

Morning after comments on Rays’ busy Saturday, dealing Odorizzi, Dickerson; adding Cron

Here are some of the comments from Rays camp this morning after the Rays' busy Saturday night in which they traded RHP Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for Class A SS prospect Jermaine Palacios, designated for assignment 2017 All-Star DH/OF Corey Dickerson...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘Babe Ruth of Japan’ already talks the talk of an MLB pitcher

‘Babe Ruth of Japan’ already talks the talk of an MLB pitcher

TEMPE, Ariz. – Major league pitchers nowadays emerge from the womb, or at the very least arrive at the end of their minor-league apprenticeships, already knowing that the only proper answer to any question pertaining to your first stint on a mo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays trade Odorizzi to Twins, acquire Cron from Angels, DFA All-Star Dickerson

Rays trade Odorizzi to Twins, acquire Cron from Angels, DFA All-Star Dickerson

The order from ownership to cut payroll stymied by the same market freeze that has stalled transactions throughout the game, the Rays on Saturday night burst into action with a series of somewhat confusing moves that saved them around $10 million.The...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Who was right in Archer-Honeywell exchange? How about both?

Who was right in Archer-Honeywell exchange? How about both?

ROSTER REPORTFirst of our weekly semi-educated guesses at the makeup of the 25-man opening day roster, projecting that Jake Odorizzi and Denard Span will be traded:PITCHERS (12): Jose Alvarado, Matt Andriese, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Nathan Eovaldi...
Published: 02/17/18
For Rays Wilson Ramos, horrors of 2011 kidnapping remain

For Rays Wilson Ramos, horrors of 2011 kidnapping remain

PORT CHARLOTTE – Lying on the floor of a Venezuelan mountain hideout as his kidnappers and would-be rescuers exchanged gunfire for more than five minutes, Wilson Ramos, understandably, feared the worst."Everything I was thinking in that moment ...
Published: 02/17/18
Denard Span happy to be with Rays now, would be happier March 29

Denard Span happy to be with Rays now, would be happier March 29

PORT CHARLOTTE – OF Denard Span was truly happy to be here in Rays camp on Saturday.But the Tampa product said he'll be much happier – and more relaxed – if he actually makes it to the regular season with his hometown team.The Rays ...
Published: 02/17/18
Live from Port Charlotte: Rays to continue parade of arms

Live from Port Charlotte: Rays to continue parade of arms

UPDATE, 9:59: Span, Williams and Velazquez have all reported to camp, leaving the Rays just Hechavarria shy of  a full house.Velazquez, who played last season at Double-A Montgomery, said he was pleasantly surprised to get a call on Tuesday, whi...
Published: 02/17/18
Dave Martinez has brought a slightly different approach to spring training

Dave Martinez has brought a slightly different approach to spring training

WEST PALM BEACH – Washington Nationals pitchers and catchers began Friday's workout at 9:30 a.m. with their daily Circle of Trust meeting. The gathering, designed to foster communication and competition, closed with hearty applause before the p...
Published: 02/17/18
Miami-Dade County sues seeking money from sale of Marlins

Miami-Dade County sues seeking money from sale of Marlins

MIAMI — Miami-Dade County is suing former Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and the new ownership group led by Derek Jeter seeking money from the $1.2 billion sale of the team.The suit contends a 2009 agreement calls for the county and city of ...
Published: 02/17/18