May 1st, 2014

Dombrowski on Ray: “We think he projects to be at least a No. 3 starter”

Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski went on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight podcast with Buster Olney to talk about several different subjects around his club, including the impending promotion of Robbie Ray to fill Anibal Sanchez’s rotation spot.

The immediate sentiments were similar to what Brad Ausmus said Wednesday: He needs more seasoning before he’s truly ready for the big leagues, but he’s the best option they have to fill the void. Long-term, Dombrowski said Ray projects to be at least a mid-rotation starter.

“For us the other day, he’s throwing 93-94 late into the ballgame, even touching 95,” Dombrowski told Olney. “He’s got a real good changeup. He throws strikes. His curveball’s a developing pitch. He’s gone back and forth at times between sliders and curveballs early in his career. It’s a situation where we like his makeup.

“We like a lot of things about him. Apparently other organizations didn’t like him as much as we did, because we had him up there high in our evaluation process. But we’re very happy with him and we’re glad that we have him. We think he projects to be at least a number three starter as the future goes on, not necessarily now because he’s still in a development stage. Ideally he’d have a little more time before he’d come up here, but we do have the need next week and he’s thrown the ball very well at Triple-A. So we’ll give him an opportunity and we think he’ll give us a chance to win the ballgame.”

The projection sentiment is similar to what Dombrowski said going into Spring Training, maybe slightly different with the “at least” condition. For those looking at Ray’s performance so far at Triple-A Toledo and seeing him as potentially Detroit’s next front-line arm, it might be a splash of cool water. For those who are wondering what Detroit’s rotation will look like long-term if Max Scherzer doesn’t stick around and Rick Porcello eventually goes, tucking in Ray after Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez isn’t bad.

The podcast is available on ESPN’s site. It includes a lot of discussion on Scherzer’s start to the season and where he slots on the open market, plus George Carlin’s bit comparing baseball to football.