In Jeff Passan’s latest Yahoo! Sports piece he examines the art of developing starting pitchers. Reading Passan’s article inspired me to do some quick research. The question at hand was how many teams will enter this season with a homegrown rotation from top to end. The answer, as it turns out, is one: Just the Rays.
All told it’s not a surprising development. Andrew Friedman has not signed a free-agent starting pitcher to a big-league deal during his tenure (though Roberto Hernandez may change that this season). Instead the Rays during Friedman’s seven seasons have used pitchers acquired via the draft or trades. The 2008 squad, for instance, was 60 percent built from trades. Meanwhile, the 2011 unit and those since have been comprised from pitchers drafted by Tampa Bay. This year’s unit figures to feature David Price (the club’s first-round pick in 2007), Jeremy Hellickson (fourth round, 2005), Matt Moore (eighth round, 2007), Alex Cobb (fourth round, 2006), and Jeff Niemann (first round, 2004); three of whom were selected under Friedman’s watch.
Growing each of your starters doesn’t net you bonus points, but it is a nice piece of trivia to think about on this February day. Alas the 2013 Rays could be the final Tampa Bay team that fits the bill for a while. Trade acquisitions like Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi will fall into the rotation over the next 12-to-18 months, and wild cards like Alex Torres and Mike Montgomery could join them down the road.