Not sure if anybody else has realized this, but the Rays international efforts have paid off in pitching depth. Prior to 2006, the Rays had minimal presence outside of the continent, now, there is a case to be made that beyond Matthew Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Alex Torres, the next three- or four-best starting pitching prospects in the system are products of international signings:
Alex Colome (High-A) – Closest to the majors, Colome is a 6-foot-2 righty with baseball bloodlines (he is related to Jesus Colome), and the stuff to boot. He features a plus-plus fastball that can get into the upper-90s as well as a good curveball. An unsmooth delivery and unsavory changeup are the concerns, and there is a chance Colome winds up in the bullpen over the long-term, but if he puts it all together, he could be a frontline starter.
Wilking Rodriguez (Low-A) – Often the forgotten guy in the mix, Rodriguez is a shorter righty without the velocity of Colome (although he still sits in the low-90s and can shoot higher), but has a better breaking pitch and could develop a changeup.
Enny Romero (A-Ball) – Romero’s ceiling is incredible. The 20-year-old is 6-foot-3 and weighs less than 170 pounds with a body that screams projectable. He has long limbs and his fastball already has solid velocity. He needs to work on his control and changeup, but the sky is the limit.
Braulio Lara (A-Ball) – Another projectable type with good velo, but Lara is older and appears to be Rule 5 eligible after this season.
And that’s admiring the international signings without talking about the positional prospects that could come through, like Yoel Araujo, Cesar Perez, and Juniel Querecuto.
Some other tidbits from today:
Jake Hager signed today for $9,000 over slot.
Ken Rosenthal noted that Dave Eiland gave the Rays some information about Kyle Farnsworth during the offseason, and Eiland’s experience with Farnsworth helped persuade the Rays to sign the tattooed closer. Rosenthal has some James Shields talk too, but it’s most speculation.
Jayson Stark wrote about B.J. Upton and the Nationals. Stark, citing teams who have talked to the Rays, categorizes the likelihood of an Upton trade as “unlikely”, and notes the Nationals have sent scouts to watch the center fielder on various occasions this season—just in case. Stark then says the Rays have no interest in Ivan Rodriguez or Jesus Flores (and given the organizational depth chart, why would they?) and should a deal happen, it will involve bigger names.