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Sporting News wrote:Andy Sonnanstine, 24, is the golden boy of the Bulls' staff and is leading the International League in strikeouts. The Rays' coaches love Sonnanstine, because "he goes after hitters from all angles, all speeds, and all quadrants of the plate."
In other words, he's polished, knows how to pitch, and has tremendous command. Still, his stuff is nothing special, so while he is the Bull most ready to step into a major league rotation, his upside is probably that of a No. 3 or 4 starter in the big leagues.
Jeff Niemann, 24, the Rays' No. 1 pick in 2004, has greater upside but less polish. Niemann has an explosive fastball, a good curveball, and a solid slider. He has been working on a changeup for the past year and a half, but the pitch has been slow to develop.
He also has had a hard time staying healthy, something Rays management would like to see reversed this year. While he's probably not slated for the Tampa Bay rotation this season, a full year of health and improved command of his changeup could put him in line for a major league gig in 2008.
Jason Hammel, 24, is almost ready for another shot. I saw Hammel throw a two-hitter through six innings against the Richmond Braves earlier this month and he looks like he has the total package. He has added a slider to his arsenal. The Rays coaches with whom I spoke think the slider will be a good weapon against big-league hitters and believe that it's just a matter of Hammel becoming more consistent in using the array of pitches at his command.
A big righthander who does a good job of keeping the ball down in the zone, Hammel could probably step into the Rays' rotation and be effective right away. He's not a top-of-the-rotation guy, but with more experience in mixing his pitches and setting up hitters, he can be a No. 3 starter in the bigs.
Mitch Talbot, 23, is probably the furthest away of the four, but he has as much upside as Hammel and Sonnanstine. Talbot has a good arsenal but seems to have lost his touch on the slider that allowed him to blossom in Double-A Montgomery last year. He has also tried to be too fine at times instead of going after hitters.
I saw Talbot after one recent rough outing and he admitted that he was still working on the slider. However, if he can regain command of his slider and learn to better attack hitters, he could easily have a spot in the Tampa Bay rotation in 2008 or 2009.
rotoworld wrote:According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Devil Rays may call up Andy Sonnanstine from Triple-A to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
He would replace either Jae Seo or Casey Fossum in the rotation, and the Devil Rays may also call up J.P. Howell to grab a starting spot. An extreme control pitcher with outstanding minor league numbers, Sonnanstine is like a slightly poorer man's Kevin Slowey and could good value in AL-only leagues eventually.
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