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James Shields / RHP / starter

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Shields has been a great surprize for the Rays since reaching the big leagues. He pitched like one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2007 and 2008 and has since settled into being a #2 or #3 starter. Shields signed with the Devil Rays after high school, turning down a scholarship to LSU.

Big Game mixes his tailing 90+ mph fastball with a disappearing changeup. The changeup is one of the best in the game, getting good sink and deception. At times, it appears that batters are looking for the changeup and still swing overtop of it. James also throws two different breaking pitches. He owns a razorblade cutter that can break bats and also throws a big curveball with good command, making him a true four-pitch pitcher. 8/1/10 CSJ

*fastball(90-94), changeup(80-85), cutter(84-89), curve(73-77)

 

David Price / LHP / starter

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The 2007 #1 overall pick, David Price reached the major leagues in his first season of professional baseball. Just two years later, Price has made himself into a one of the best pitchers in the game and a Cy Young contender.

David throws a plus fastball that can dominate hitters and make him very difficult to hit. Price whips his fastball to home plate somewhere in the 92 to 96 mph range and did not allow a homerun to a lefthanded hitter in 2010. 2010 also saw Price adjust his breaking ball repertoire. Coming into the season, Price was known for his sharp, upper 80s slider that missed bats. However, he has begun to mix in quite a few curveballs, a pitch he hadn't used in previous seasons. This new pitch may be keeping hitters a bit off-balance since they can't just sit on the hard stuff anymore. David has been working on his changeup for years, and still appears to be in the development stage with it. 10/6/10 CSJ

*fastball(91-97), slider(84-89), curve(74-79), changeup(82-86)

Rafael Soriano / RHP / closer

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Despite showing plus stuff and putting up stunning numbers at the major league level, Soriano has been traded twice already in his career. The first trade had him going for Horacio Ramirez, and the second trade saw the Braves acquire Jesse Chavez for him. Yikes! Soriano has had a history of elbow problems, including TJ in 2004 and another elbow surgery in 2008, but really? Jesse Chavez?

Soriano begins with his low to mid 90s fastball that gets some armside run. Then he mixes in his new weapon, the cutter, and it's a good one. I'm not sure when he introduced the pitch, but it was either late 2009 or spring training 2010. In the past, Soriano would appear to get some natural cutting action on his fastballs, but now I believe he's working this pitch on purpose. The cutter appears as close to resembling Mariano Rivera's cutter as I've seen, slipping glove side just at the moment of contact. Soriano figured out quickly that this is a good pitch and is using it often. Rafael still goes to his slider as well, a pitch that dives towards home plate. I'll also bet Soriano still throws his sinking changeup a handful of times a season against tough LHs. 8/1/10 CSJ

*fastball(90-95), slider(81-84), cutter (89-93), change(84-86)

Dan Wheeler / RHP / setup reliever

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Wheeler has never had dominant velocity, but is still able to produce as a setup man every year. He has a 90 mph moving fastball and mixes in lots of breaking balls. He's currently throwing a slider around 83 mph that gets some lateral movement. Dan is also throwing a curveball in the upper 70s that gets more drop. The former Met and Astro will occasionally mix in split-fingers to LHs, a pitch that can drop under bats. In the past, Wheeler experimented with cutters and changeups, and might still try anything at any time. Despite his success, Wheeler is hittable and prone to allowing the long ball. 6/15/10 CSJ

*fastball(87-91), slider(82-86), curve(76-79), splitter(80-84), changeup, cutter

Andy Sonnanstine / RHP / starter-reliever

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Sonnanstine uses a cutter as his primary fastball pitch, mixing in the occasional 2-seamer. Both of these pitches come in at approximately the same velocity, around the mid-upper 80s. Sonnanstine will throw the cutter over the top, giving it a slight drop, or drop his arm angle down to 3/4 which gives the pitch some horizontal movement. Andy will also use a standard slider, a slow 12-6 curveball and a sinking changeup. Sonnanstine has the ability to throw strikes with all his pitches, which keeps his walk totals extremely low and keeps himself in games. 5/4/09 CSJ

*fastball(86-90), cutter(85-90), curveball(69-75), changeup(81-82), slider(78-82)

Lance Cormier / RHP / reliever

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Cormier is a fastball/cutter pitcher. He throws a 90 MPH fastball and an 89 MPH cutter off of it. The cutter can induce weak groundballs from both LHs and RHs. Cormier deals a 12-6 curveball and has shown a sinking changeup at times. 6/26/09 CSJ

*fastball(88-92), cutter(86-89), curve(76-79), changeup

Randy Choate / LHP / reliever

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*fastball(87-88)

Matt Garza / RHP / starter

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Garza has the stuff to be one of the next great starting pitchers in baseball. He'll throw a hard fastball in the mid 90s to go with his two breaking balls. First, he has a plus slider in the low to mid 80s that gets good drop. It usually looks like a hard curve. Second, he'll slow that pitch down considerably into the low to mid 70s, making a 12 to 6 curveball. Garza's improving fourth pitch is a straight changeup in the low 80s. 5/4/09 CSJ

*fastball(90-95), slider(84-88), curve(73-78), changeup(82-85)

Jeff Niemann / RHP / starter

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Niemann is a big man and he throws hard. He has a low-90s fastball that gets some arm side run. Jeff will mix in low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves as secondary pitches. Both breaking balls are fairly standard and his overall command is lacking. Niemann likely uses a changeup to LHs on occasion, I just haven't seen it yet. 5/27/09 CSJ

*fastball(88-95), slider(81-84), curve(74-78), changeup(83-84)

Wade Davis / RHP / starter

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Davis, drafted out of high school, made the standard climb through the minor leagues, making at least 13 starts at each level. He pitched well at every stop but never quite dominated the competition. At the big league level, Wade Davis appears to be that same type of pitcher, projecting as a middle of the rotation type guy.

Wade pounds the corners of the plate with a fairly straight low 90s fastball. He twirls a solid curveball as a strikeout pitch, or a 'get me over' strike one. Davis also spins a tighter slider and a seldom seen changeup. Stuff wise, he could look like your generic righthander, but I believe he has a little of that pitcher intangible that could make him successful. Another plus is that Davis has already thrown 767 innings in the minor leagues, and looks like he has a durable arm. 6/15/10 CSJ

*fastball(89-95), curve(76-83), slider(84-88), changeup(85)

Grant Balfour / RHP / reliever

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Balfour is an intense dude. He throws hard, challenges hitters, and swears at himself on the mound even if things are going well. He owns a tight slider and a curveball, but he will go multiple outings without throwing anything but fastballs. 5/4/09 CSJ

*fastball(91-96), curve(79-83), slider(84-87), changeup

Joaquin Benoit / RHP / reliever

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Benoit has always shown promise and good velocity. His fastball gets some movement in the low 90s and he has shown a tight slider. His best pitch may be his sinking split-finger. 6/15/10 CSJ

*fastball(90-96), split(81-85), slider(82-87)

Chad Qualls / RHP / reliever

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Qualls is a strict fastball/slider pitcher. He has a great sinking fastball that is difficult to hit squarely. His delivery looks stiff and awkward, but produces a sharp slider that can duck under LH's bats like a cutter. He can also change planes with his slider, giving it more downward break and bury it below the strikezone. I don't think I've ever seen Qualls throw a changeup.

He has been a significant bullpen producer for the Astros and DBacks, and now the Rays hope to get a few decent innings out of him in late 2010. 8/1/10 CSJ

*fastball(90-95), slider(85-90)

J.P. Howell / LHP / setup reliever

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Howell gets a lot of movement on all his pitches. His fastball sinks, tails, and/or cuts on its way to the plate. It only reaches about 88 MPH but looks much faster these days. He mixes in a changeup that he tends to overthrow and it ends up only about 5 MPH slower than the fastball. Howell's breaking ball is in the upper-70s and may touch the low-80s. It has become a real weapon against all hitters, especially LHs. The improvement of Howell's stuff after 2007 is dramatic. 6/26/09 CSJ

*fastball(84-88), curve(77-82), changeup(76-81)


 


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