Throughout spring training I’ll be running down my list of the top 30 Rays prospects, with the occasional weekend interlude. Check back daily to get caught up on the system with a new capsule each day.
Alex Torres | 5-10/175
What happened in 2012? The bottom pretty much dropped out. Torres had been toeing the line between acceptable and unacceptable with 11% and 13% walk rates in 2010 and 2011, but that number ballooned to near 19% as he issued 63 free passes in 69 innings for Durham. A demotion to the bullpen barely helped, and he was on his way off this list until winter ball. But with Aguiles del Zulia of the Venezuelan League, he struck out 86 in 60.1 innings while walking 27 — not great, but much more in line with his career numbers.
What needs to happen in 2013? He needs to prove that winter ball and spring training thus far (0 walks in 4.2 innings) are for real and he’s not simply broken as his season with Durham indicated. I’m not going to say "he needs to throw strikes" because at this point it’s pretty clear that Torres ain’t gonna be Cliff Lee. But his stuff is surely legit — in between walking one in five batters with the Bulls, he did strike out 27% — and it will play in the major leagues. He’s not even considered to be a part of the logjam of starters the Rays have and any 2013 value he gives the team will come from the ‘pen, but I’d expect him to continue starting in Durham to a) continue giving him repetitions to hopefully extract a bit more command, and b) possibly increase his trade value. If he shows his typical stuff at Durham along with pre-2012 control numbers, another club might see a big league starter if they squint enough.