||Myers, Archer Headline Bulls Opening Day Roster
Local Prospects, Proven Veterans Form Core of Durham’s Most Exciting Team in Years
The Durham Bulls, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, have announced their 2013 Opening Day roster. Led by local standouts OF Wil Myers and RHP Chris Archer, manager Charlie Montoyo‘s squad boasts one of the deepest lineups and talented rotations in Triple-A Baseball.
Durham’s offense will be anchored by Myers, a Thomasville, NC native who MLB.com ranks as the No. 4 overall prospect in baseball. The 2012 Minor League Player of the Year (Baseball America, USA Today, and Topps/Minor League Baseball) blasted 37 home runs last season between Double-A and Triple-A before an offseason trade involving James Shields and Wade Davis brought him to the Rays organization. Myers is one of only five players to be showcased in Major League Baseball’s Futures Game twice (’11-’12).
Myers is joined by another North Carolinian in Archer, the Clayton High School alum who was named the Rays 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year after leading the International League in strikeouts (139). Archer made his Major League debut last season, starting four games for Tampa Bay, and earned consideration for a spot in the Rays rotation this spring.
Archer leads a fearsome Bulls rotation that will include the other two top prospects acquired by the Rays in the Shields trade with Kansas City. RHP Jake Odorizzi went 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 2012, winning the third most games in all of MiLB en route to being named Triple-A Omaha’s Pitcher of the Year. Currently ranked as Tampa Bay’s No. 2 prospect (behind only Myers), Odorizzi is flanked by former teammate LHP Mike Montgomery. Formerly the Royals top overall prospect, Montgomery is now tabbed as the 6th best prospect in the Rays system. Rounding out the starters, Durham mainstay LHP Alex Torres seeks to duplicate his 2011 campaign when he led the IL in strikeouts (156) and 40-man roster member RHP Alex Colome looks to build a full season at Triple-A after an impressive 16.2 innings of work last year with the Bulls.
A crowded Bulls outfield will feature not only Myers, but also speedsters OF Rich Thompson, OF Brandon Guyer, and OF Jason Bourgeois. Thompson is currently MiLB’s active career leader in stolen bases (446), while the highly-touted Guyer played in just 22 games last season after tearing his labrum. Bourgeois has amassed 51 steals in parts of five Big League seasons. Figuring to play all over the field is 2012 Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star, 1B/OF/DH Leslie Anderson. The Cuban defector led Durham in most offensive categories last season and was recently named Tampa Bay’s Most Outstanding Rookie in Spring Training.
INF Tim Beckham returns for another season with the Bulls and vies for his most productive season as a professional ballplayer, in this the sixth of his career. He’ll be joined up the middle by INF Hak-Ju Lee, an exciting defender who also stole 35 bases in an All-Star campaign with Double-A Montgomery in 2012. INF Cole Figueroa and INF Mike Fontenot assume duties at third base and as utility men. Figueroa completed a strong season with the Bulls last season and has already recorded 501 hits in his young Minor League career. Meanwhile, Fontenot is a proven Major League veteran (582 games between Cubs, Giants, and Phillies) who will add leadership, experience and versatility to the Bulls roster. Another new face in the Bulls infield will be INF Vince Belnome, who was acquired from the Padres organization this past December.
The Durham bullpen is stocked with hard throwing righties this season. RHP Brandon Gomes was among the final cuts in Rays camp this spring and returns to anchor the Bulls relief corps. Former Pawtucket closer RHP Will Inman is joined by fellow newcomer RHP J.D. Martin, who spent all of 2012 with Triple-A New Orleans (Marlins). Bulls veterans RHP Josh Lueke and RHP Jim Paduch are both back for their second and third seasons, respectively, in Durham. RHP Kirby Yates will make his Triple-A debut this season after four masterful seasons in the lower levels of the Tampa Bay system. The most recently added piece of the bullpen is RHP Steve Geltz, who the Rays just acquired from the Angels for 2012 IL All-Star Dane De La Rosa. LHP Frank De Los Santos is Montoyo’s lone left-handed option to start the season, but the southpaw impressed with the Bulls last season, notching a 2.18 ERA in 27 Triple-A appearances.
C Chris Gimenez, who batted .310 for a third-place Bulls team in 2012, will lead the Durham backstops. Rays Minor League veteran C Craig Albernaz is back for his fifth season with the Bulls.
14 Bulls return to Durham fray for the 2013 Opening Day Roster after spending time with the team last season. In addition, 12 current roster players have Major League experience. A grand total of 12 players from the Tampa Bay 40-man roster will begin the season in Durham as the Bulls seek their sixth IL South Division crown in seven years.
Pitching Coach Neil Allen returns for his third season with the club, while Hitting Coach Dave Myers returns for his fifth campaign. They are joined by second-year Athletic Trainer Mike Sandoval. Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Rousseau returns to Durham after spending last season with Rookie League Princeton.
The Durham Bulls open 2013 International League play this Thursday on the road versus the Norfolk Tides before returning to Downtown Durham for their home opener on April 8 at 6:05pm. Tickets for all home games are available at durhambulls.com, by phone at 919.956.BULL, or at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park box office.
Thanks to the Durham Bulls for this capcom story & graphic.