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May 30, 2013

The Call-Up

Alex Colome

by Mark Anderson and Mike Gianella

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The Situation: Tampa Bay originally called up Colome to help solidify its bullpen, but ended up needing him in the starting rotation when Alex Cobb came down with an injured finger.

Background: Signed in 2007, Colome did not make his stateside debut  until 2008, when he was torched for a 6.80 ERA in 46 1/3 rookie-league innings. He improved dramatically the following year in the New York-Penn League, posting a 1.66 ERA across 15 starts while striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings. As the Rays typically do, they have moved Colome slowly through the system; he spent the entire 2010 season in Low-A and then the majority of the 2011 season in High-A. Late in the 2011 season, he was promoted to Double-A Montgomery for nine starts and he finished with a 4.15 ERA and less than a hit per inning, though he did walk 28 batters and only strike out 31. During a return trip to Double-A in 2012, Colome battled injuries but still showed improvement across the board, as he continued to refine his arsenal. Entering the 2013 season, Colome ranked 10th on BP’s Rays Top 10 Prospects list. With Triple-A Durham this season, Colome has notched a 2.60 ERA in 10 starts, allowing just 46 hits and 22 walks in 55 1/3 innings while fanning 61 hitters.

Scouting Report:  Colome has decent size and strength that helps him generate a powerful fastball that can reach 97-98 mph in short bursts. He routinely sits in the 93-94 mph range with excellent late life on the ball, and the pitch is difficult to barrel because of the combination of liveliness and tremendous velocity. Colome backs up his heater with a quality curveball that flashes plus at times. He throws his breaker in the upper-70s, and it typically shows sharper, more definitive bite when thrown harder. At times Colome, will show a hybrid slider/cut fastball that gives a slightly different horizontal element to his arsenal, but the pitch is not consistently effective. Improvements in the consistency of his changeup have helped Colome take another step forward this year, though the pitch is still a fringy offering at its best. The biggest knock on Colome has always been the considerable effort in his delivery and the associated control/command problems. Though there have been some rumblings in scouting circles of his improved delivery this year, Colome still struggles to repeat his mechanics and does not locate his arsenal well. The improvement in and the increased willingness to throw his changeup gives Colome a better chance to stick it out as a starting pitcher long term, but his control and command issues will prevent him from reaching a level greater than that of a number-four starter. If he continues to work from behind in the count and struggles as a starter as a result, Colome has the electric fastball-curveball combination to be highly effective in a late-inning role—a role most scouts believe he will eventually fulfill.

Immediate Big-League Future: When Colome was originally called up as a reliever, he had a chance for immediate success at the big-league level. His delivery, command profile, and raw stuff have long suggested he could fit very well in the late innings. With a quick move to the rotation, Colome will likely have a more difficult time finding consistent success in the majors. Assuming Cobb returns to the rotation quickly, Colome will either make his way to the Tampa Bay bullpen or head back to the Triple-A Durham starting rotation soon. —Mark Anderson

Fantasy Impact: Based on the fluidity of the Rays’ starting rotation, it is hard to say how many starts Colome will get from this point forward. However, with Jake Odorizzi getting sent down on Monday and the possibility that David Price might not return until mid-to-late June, this will be more than a one-and-done if Colome delivers later this evening.

This is a case where paying attention to more than just the stud prospects pays off if you can stash minor leaguers in season, especially in deep leagues. At the beginning of 2013, even in AL-only formats, Colome would not have been a good use of a roster spot in leagues with limited reserve lists or farm systems. Indeed, the experts in the AL-only pools in CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars all passed on Colome—and justifiably so, as he looked like a fringe starting option at best, even if he made it to Tampa Bay. Obviously, this has changed.

Now, Colome is most definitely AL-only worthy. In other formats, he’s a match-up play. This makes him an almost automatic start today, when he gets the ball against the punch less Marlins in Miami. After tonight, I’d take a wait-and-see approach in mixed leagues. The high-strikeout potential gives him value, but while the walk rate has improved, it’s still high enough to be a bit of a red flag and a potential drag on his overall value. Colome has brightened his long-term outlook for those of you in keeper leagues. If you have a bench spot and already have an eye on 2014, Colome is a must-add; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he cracked the Rays rotation next year. —Mike Gianella

Mark Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mark's other articles. You can contact Mark by clicking here
Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

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Premium Article Painting the Black: Th... (05/29)
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