Right-hander Wade Davis gave up 8 runs (5 earned) in only 2 innings as the Durham Bulls bowed out of the International League playoffs Friday night, falling three games to one to the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre team.
While the previous three games were all decided in the final at-bat, the Bulls were beat handily on Friday. Following the game, right-handed pitchers Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot were called up to the Rays, along with outfielder Jonny Gomes and lefty phenom David Price.
The top overall pick in last year’s draft, Price compiled a 13-1 record and a 2.39 ERA in 21 starts for Vero, Montgomery and Durham, including two playoff outings with the Bulls. He last pitched Tuesday in Scranton, allowing four runs in six innings in the opener of the Governors’ Cup finals.
The initial plan is for the Rays to use all three pitchers–starters the entire season–out of the bullpen. But there is at least one spot start available, in the second game of the Sept. 23 doubleheader at Baltimore. Although Price would be an enticing choice as a spot starter, the club will remain cautious in putting too much pressure on the 22-year-old pitcher.
Gomes and Price joined the Rays in New York on Saturday (although Price was not used in the Rays doubleheader) and Talbot and Niemann are expected to join the team on Monday back in St. Petersburg.
Talbot and Niemann will each begin their second stint in the Major Leagues this season. Niemann posted a 1-1 record with a 5.79 ERA in two starts for the Rays and went 9-5 with a 3.59 ERA for Durham. Talbot did not get to pitch during an abbreviated one-day stint with the Rays and went 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA at Durham.
The quartet joins former Bulls teammates outfielder Fernando Perez, first baseman Dan Johnson and catchers John Jaso and Michael Hernandez as a length list of September call ups.
— Brittany Ghiroli
Top prospect David Price was chosen as USA TODAY’S Minor League Prospect of the Year on Wednesday, in a vote decided by the staff of USA TODAY and Sports Weekly as well as online voting for fans.
A powerful lefthander, Price went a combined 12-1 in three levels of the Rays Minor League system, with a 2.30 ERA and 109 strikeouts.
Tuesday night marked his final start with the Triple-A Bulls, as the team is currently in the best-of-five Governor’s Cup Finals. Price tossed six innings in the opening game, allowed four runs on seven hits while fanning nine. The Bulls rallied to take the lead with five runs in the 7th inning, but eventually lost, 8-7 to the Yankees Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
With the conclusion of Price’s season, the question remains as to when or if the Rays will call upon the touted lefty to help in their franchise-first pennant race. Although it was widely assumed that the 22-year-old Price would end his season in the Majors, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman sounded more skeptical when speaking with ESPN’s Peter Gammons on Monday.
According to Gammon’s blog , Friedman wasn’t definite that Price would join the Rays heated American League East battle. “We don’t want people getting ahead of themselves,” Friedman told Gammons. “Anointing [Price] a savior and putting undo pressure on a kid in his first full professional season.”
Price’s teammate in Durham, right-hander Jeff Niemann, could get the nod to join the big league club after his start on Thursday. Niemann (1-0, 1.13) will take the hill against LHP Kei Igawa (1-0, 1.29) for Game 3 of the series, and is coming off an impressive start against Louisville in Round One, in which Niemann took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Friedman told Gammons he has been watching the International League playoffs closely and after seeing Niemann throw so well was sure the lanky right-hander would fit into the Rays bullpen sometime this month.
If the success of the last batch of call-ups from Durham is any indication, Tampa Bay will be greatly benefitted by dipping into their farm system again following the Governor’s Cup.
Although Friedman had originally planned to make only two waves of call-ups, early August injuries to Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria coupled with recent setbacks by centerfielder B.J. Upton (strained left quadriceps) and backup catcher Shawn Riggans (bursitis in his right knee) has made more frequent moves necessary.
Despite substantial roster thinning, Durham is making the adjustments and is set to play Game 2 vs. Scranton on Wednesday night with right-hander Mitch Talbot on the hill.
— Brittany Ghiroli
Strong starting pitching and timely hitting? Sound familiar?
The Rays’ Triple-A Affilliate, the Durham Bulls, did their big league club proud on Saturday night with a 3-2 victory over the Louisville Bats. The win secures Durham a chance to clinch the best-of-5 International League semifinal series Sunday night.
Jeff Niemann shut down the same Bats that stomped on the Bulls in Game 2 to the tune of 19 runs and 24 hits. Saturday night Niemann never let Louisville’s offense take off, as the former top pick fanned 11 and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Niemann allowed just two baserunners prior to Craig Tatum’s double to lead off the eighth.
“Jeff was throwing everything for strikes,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoya said in Sunday’s The News & Observer. “No one could look for anything from him because he was throwing everything for strikes. It was getting to the point where he had the no-hitter and I was going to have to take him out. He was getting to that pitch count. He made a lot of big pitches.”
On the other side of the plate, Jonny Gomes worked a lot of pitches. The outfielder and Major League veteran, Gomes took the 12th pitch of his first at-bat over the fence for a two-run homer. Jon Weber also went 2-for-4 with two runs scored for Durham.
The Bulls did all this despite a 19 minute power outtage at the stadium, something Niemann told MILB.com he had never seen in the middle of a game.
Juding from Saturday’s results the Bulls wouldn’t mind another brief power outtage on Sunday. They enter the game –also in Durham– with a shot to clinch a spot in the Governors’ Cup Finals. Right-hander Wade Davis will take the mound in the 5:05 p.m. contest.