The Tampa Bay Rays debuted another from their seemingly never-ending supply of incredibly talented pitchers on Monday. Right-hander Shane Baz was summoned for this start and he ended up out-pitching potential AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. The Rays won, 6-4, with Baz recording the victory.
Baz needed only 65 pitches to get through five innings. He didn't walk anyone while striking out five. He allowed just two hits, but unfortunately for the ERA, both were solo home runs. Still, there's no shame in coughing up the occasional home run to the Blue Jays. They now lead the majors with 239 home runs.
Baz's stuff was pretty excellent. He threw 29 sliders and 29 fastballs. On that slider, on which he leaned so heavily, he got 21 swings and 11 misses.
Baz, 22, came to the Rays' organization several years ago after being drafted in the first round out of high school by the Pirates. He was sent with Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow in the much-maligned Chris Archer trade. Heading into this season, he was pretty widely considered a top-100 prospect in baseball, though there were wild variations within that (Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 24th while MLB.com had him 90th, for example).
CBS Sports prospect expert R.J. Anderson offered up the following scouting report last winter:
Baz has three potential plus pitches, his fastball, curve, and cutter, and has the body to start. His delivery leaves him with so-so command, and he's had issues with left-handed batters because of his lagging changeup. The upside is considerable, but there's a real chance he ends up in the bullpen if he can't shore up those weaknesses over the coming years.
In 78 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Baz had a 2.06 ERA and 0.80 WHIP along with a ridiculous 113 strikeouts to 13 walks. He also missed time to pitch for the silver-medal-winning Team USA in the Olympics.
It's clear that Baz was ready to join the majors after these three stops and he showed as much against one of the best offenses in baseball. Regarding the pitching talent and depth the Rays have, the rich got richer Monday.