2012 Bowling Green Hot Rods Preview

The minor league season begins on Thursday and we begin our preview of all the full-season affiliates with a look at the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods. Inside are some brief notes for all the players on the Opening Day roster to help you get ready for the beginning of the season.

To say that the 2012 Hot Rods are stacked is an understatement. No other affiliate in the system can match the talent on both sides of the ball that Bowling Green will field this season. There are a total of four number one picks on this year's squad (three from last season) and there are 11 players that are ranked in the 2012 Rays Digest Top 50 Prospect List, including the entire projected starting infield. The Hot Rods should score a lot of runs, showcase good starting pitching and have to be among the favorites for the 2012 Midwest League crown.



Pitchers


RHP Andrew Bellatti: Bellatti was a 12th round pick in the 2009 June Draft and led the Short-Season A Hudson Valley Renegades in strikeouts last season. His 2.62 ERA was the 7th-lowest in the New York-Penn League and the 3rd-lowest in the Rays organization. He also allowed only one home run in 72 innings of work and did not throw a wild pitch or issue a balk.

LHP Ryan Carpenter (Rays Digest Top Prospect #26): A 7th round pick in last year's draft, Carpenter had been previously drafted by the Rays in 2008 in the 21st round. The native of Peoria, Arizona attended Gonzaga University and made his pro debut for the Renegades last season. In 23.2 innings he pitched to a 0.76 ERA and struck out 26 hitters.

RHP Charlie Cononie: The native of Germantown, Maryland was a 24th round selection last season out of Towson State University. In 16 appearances at Hudson Valley, he threw 29.2 innings and struck out 27 hitters. The right-hander, who is listed at 6'7", had an ERA of 2.43 and did not give up a home run.

*(DL) RHP Jairo De La Rosa: The Dominican native did not play at all last season due to shoulder surgery and will once again begin the season on the disabled list. He last pitched in 2010 for the Hot Rods where in 16 games he recorded an ERA of 8.88 and struck out 22 hitters in 25.1 innings.

RHP Jake Floethe: Another 2011 draft pick, Floethe is the son of Chris Floethe who pitched in the Oakland Athletics organization from 1968-74. The native of California native made his debut for Hudson Valley last season and started 5 games. In 7 appearances total, he had a 1.71 ERA and struck out 15 hitters in 21 innings.

RHP Roberto Gomez: Gomez, a native of the Dominican Republic, made his US debut last season after pitching in the DSL in 2010. He was named the GCL Rays Player of the Year after going 3-4 with a 2.48 ERA in 11 appearances (8 starts). In total, he pitched 54.1 innings and struck out 42 batters. He was rewarded with a brief late-season promotion to Hudson Valley where he appeared in 2 games and pitched 7 innings.

RHP Austin Hubbard: Bowling Green fans should be well familiar with Hubbard who pitched in 46 games last season for the Hot Rods. In 68 innings he struck out 68 hitters and also recorded 10 saves. A 14th round selection in the 2010 draft, Hubbard is a former Auburn Tiger and as a former high school quarterack holds the single-season and career passing yards, touchdown and completion records at Homewood High School in Birmingham, Alabama.

*(DL) RHP Lenny Linsky (Rays Digest Top Prospect #17): Linsky will begin the 2012 season rehabbing an undisclosed injury in Port Charlotte. The 2011 2nd-rounder made a late-season debut for the Hot Rods last season and threw a total of 4.2 innings while not allowing a run. Earlier in the season, he had pitched for Hudson Valley where in 12 appearances he had 3 saves and struck out 27 hitters in 24.2 innings.

RHP Parker Markel (Rays Digest Top Prospect #13): Markel was drafted in the 39th round in 2010 and was a mid-season New York-Penn League All-Star last season. The right-hander went 3-4 in 13 starts and had an ERA of 3.14. Markel was previously drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2009 but chose to attend Yavapai College in Arizona instead.

RHP Jason McEachern: McEachern made four starts for the Hot Rods last season going 1-2 with an ERA of 7.20. Prior to that he had gone 3-0 for Hudson Valley in 7 starts while striking out 35 in 34 innings. Selected in the 13th round of the 2008 June Draft, McEachern has a career 4.10 ERA in four minor league seasons.

LHP Jacob Partridge: Partridge started 15 games for Hudson Valley last season and posted a 3.89 ERA in 74 innings. The lefty was drafted in the 18th round of the 2009 June Draft and is a native of Spokane, Washington. In three minor league seasons, Partridge has a 7-11 record with a 3.20 ERA spanning 39 games.

LHP Felipe Rivero (Rays Digest Top Prospect #23): After two years pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League, Felipe Rivero came stateside in 2011 and appeared in 14 games (12 starts) for the Princeton Rays. He went 3-3 with a 4.62 ERA in 60.1 innings while striking out 57. He was signed as an international free agent on July 30, 2008 by scout Ronnie Blanco.

RHP Trevor Shull: Drafted in 2008 in the 19th round, Shull returned to action last season with Hudson Valley after missing all of 2010 with a strained elbow. In 6 starts he posted a 4.67 ERA and struck 14 in 27 innings. In parts of four minor league seasons, he has a career ERA of 4.84.

RHP Stayton Thomas: Thomas is another 2011 draft pick (43rd round) and like outfielder Todd Glaesmann, was born in Waco, Texas. After briefly pitching in the GCL, he came to Hudson Valley and in 14 appearances posted a 2.05 ERA. He totaled 32 innings in all for the season and struck out 20 while walking 10.

Catchers


C Matt Rice: One of two Hot Rods to attend local Western Kentucky University, Matt Rice was selected in the 9th round of the 2011 June Draft. A native of Johnson City, Tennessee, Rice finished as the all-time leader in hits and RBI at Western Kentucky. He hit .286 with 21 RBI in 192 at bats for Hudson Valley last season.

C Alejandro Segovia: Another graduate of the Venezuelan Summer League, Segovia appeared in limited action in 2011 splitting time between the GCL Rays and Hudson Valley. For the Renegades he hit .276 in 58 at bats with 2 home runs and 9 RBI. He led the VSL in hitting in 2009 with a .349 average and was also named an All-Star that year.

Infielders


2B Ryan Brett (Rays Digest Top Prospect #12): Brett was one of the offensive stars of the rookie level Appalachian League in 2011 where he finished third in doubles (22) and stolen bases (21). The 2010 3rd-rounder also led Princeton in runs (42), hits (72) and total bases (113). He also hit over .300 for the second straight season and has a career OBP of .369 in two minor league seasons.

3B Tyler Goeddel (Rays Digest Top Prospect #15): Goeddel (pronounced GOOD ell) was the 41st overall pick in last year's draft out of Hillsborough, California and will be making his professional debut at Bowling Green in 2012. His brother Erik, is a pitching prospect in the New York Mets system and his father, David Goeddel, is a bitotech industry pioneer who developed synthesized insulin. Goeddel was committed to UCLA prior to signing with the Rays and was rated by Baseball America as the No. 89 prospect in last year's draft.

SS Jake Hager (Rays Digest Top Prospect #14): Having just turned 19 years old on March 4th, Hager will be the youngest player in Rays full-season ball to start the 2012 season. He was the 32nd-overall pick in last year's draft and then made his pro debut for the Princeton Rays where he hit .269 in 193 at bats. Previously committed to Arizona State University, Hager is a native of Henderson, Nevada and was named a Second Team High School All-American last year by Baseball America.

1B Jeff Malm (Rays Digest Top Prospect #29): The left-handed hitting Malm was named Hudson Valley's Most Valuable Player after hitting .259 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI. A graduate of Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, Malm is the all-time career hits leader in high school history with 277. He participated in the Winter Development Program in 2011 and was a mid-season New York-Penn League All-Star last season.

SS Taylor Motter: A 17th round selection last season, Motter was an Appalachian League All-Star for Princeton in 2011. The infielder, who attended Coastal Carolina University, made a brief appearance late last season with the Hot Rods hitting .182 in 11 at bats. For Princeton, he hit .323 while stealing 22 bases and scoring 37 runs in 46 games.

SS Juniel Querecuto: A native of Venezuela, Querecuto hit .241 for Hudson Valley last season in 274 at bats. Signed by the Rays as an international free agent on July 2nd, 2009, the infielder is 19-for-24 in stolen base attempts in his career. In 2010 he played for the GCL Rays where he hit .251/.287/.315.

1B Cameron Seitzer (Rays Digest Top Prospect #45): Son of former major league infielder Kevin Seitzer, Cameron was drafted last year in the 11th round out of the University of Oklahoma. In his pro debut with the Princeton Rays, he hit .285/.407/.498 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 221 at bats. The lefty swinger also walked 43 times and hit 14 doubles.

Outfielders


OF Joel Caminero: Leandro "Joel" Caminero is a native of the Dominican Republic and was signed by scout Eddy Toledo out of his home county in 2007. The right-handed outfielder led the entire Rays organization in batting average with a mark of .330 in 2011. He played two seasons for the DSL Rays (2008-2009) and was with the GCL Rays in 2010 where he hit .251 with 12 extra-base hits in 187 at bats.

OF Kes Carter (Rays Digest Top Prospect #32): Carter is a local product of sorts, having attended Western Kentucky University where he became the institution's highest-ever draft selection when he was picked in the first round last season by the Rays. He had an injury-plagued debut campaign for Hudson Valley where he hit .231 in only 13 at bats. He was a participant in the Rays Winter Development Program this past off-season.

OF Todd Glaesmann: Glaesmann returns to the Hot Rods for a second season after hitting .229 for the club last year in 210 at bats. A 3rd round pick in 2009, Glaesmann played in the Australian Baseball league this winter where he was named to their All-Star team. A former high school football player in high school, Glaesmann has a lifetime .232 average in three minor league seasons and was rated as having the Best Outfield Arm in the organization prior to the 2009 season by Baseball America.

OF Drew Vettleson: (Rays Digest Top Prospect #9): The native of Bremerton, Washington made his pro debut last season after being a 1st round pick (42nd overall) in 2010. At Princeton he hit .282/.357/.462 with 7 home runs, 40 RBI and 20 stolen bases and was also named the team MVP. Going into this season, Baseball America has named Vettelson the Best Hitter for Average in the Rays system and he was rated the best pure high school hitter in the 2010 June Draft by the same publication.




John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.

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