Alex Colome Joins Durham | The Process Report

Alex Colome Joins Durham

Another week, another top prospect moves up the ladder.

With Alex Colome’s promotion to Durham, the Bulls now have four interesting starting pitchers. Not bad considering how—for prospect purposes—boring the rotation appeared earlier in the season. Colome, along with Chris Archer, Cesar Ramos, and Alex Torres, share more in common than a farm team: Each has an unclear future in the rotation.

Skepticism about Colome as a starter dates back a few years. At one point or another, folks have questioned his repertoire, command, control, and mechanics; nearly anything and everything, short of durability, capable of causing a move to the bullpen. Another hurdle leapt onto Colome’s track to the big-league rotation last season: Double-A. Upon reaching Montgomery, Colome began to struggle. His strikeout rate declined to a career-low while his walk rate increased to a career-high.

The reason isn’t obvious; perhaps Colome tired from a larger workload, or maybe the competition forced him to reconsider his philosophy. Whatever the case, Colome opened this season back in Montgomery, and opponents weren’t so fortunate. Colome fanned one batter per inning and sliced into a hefty walk rate. The Rays were pleased enough with his progress to promote him to Durham. In Colome’s first start at Triple-A, he worked six shutout innings (though he did walk as many batters as he struck out).

Colome remained in the rotation throughout for part of the seam reason he’ll stick heading forward: His upside is tantalizing. Armed with a lively fastball, great arm strength (he can touch the upper-90s), and an occasionally plus-breaker, Colome could become a middle-of-the-rotation starter or better, were he to improve on his deficiencies. Even Colome’s changeup, previously doddering behind the other offerings, has improved since early in his development.

Also working in Colome’s favor is his options status. The Rays added Colome to the 40-man roster last November; meaning he can be optioned for an additional two years without being subjected to waivers; a nicety unavailable to Colome’s rotation mates, Torres and Ramos beginning next season. In the past, Tampa Bay has shown a reluctance to convert a starter into a reliever until the last minute. The exception being Jake McGee, whose likelihood of sticking in the rotation was seemingly lower than Colome’s is now.

If Colome does wind up in the bullpen, comparisons to his uncle Jesus are likely to fly. Just to whet imaginations, I’ll throw out a player who came up in conversation about Colome in late 2010: Rafael Soriano. (Although there no word about Colome’s un-tucking skills.)  Be it as a starter, reliever, or trade bait, Colome has the tools to help a future Rays team win games; he’s already a victory for the Rays’ international scouting and developmental efforts.

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