June 18, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks pitcher Ryne Stanek (55) throws against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second inning of game eight of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Rays Roundup: First Rounder Ryne Stanek Signed, Rick Porcello Suspended for Hitting Zobrist

When the Rays selected Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek with the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft, they were taking a risk. Stanek had a chance to go in the top five picks before inconsistency dropped him to the end of the first round, and there was a chance that he would return to Arkansas as a senior to try to get his draft stock back up to where it was. In exchange for that risk, though, the Rays were able to find themselves a pitcher with as much pure stuff as anyone in the draft, with a fastball touching 97 MPH and a slider and curveball that both show a ton of promise. And for Stanek, he received the chance to join the Rays organization, renowned for its ability to develop pitchers. It took a little while to get the deal done, but Stanek and the Rays have agreed to a deal worth $1,758,300, the slot value for the 29th overall selection, and Stanek knew he would sign all along and can’t wait to begin.

 “I have a really good opportunity here with (the Rays) and I’m just excited to get playing and start working.”

“I love Arkansas but I felt like I’d done a lot there and I felt like this was a really, really good opportunity for me,” Stanek said. “So I don’t feel like it (the decision to sign) was that hard.”

It’s nice to officially welcome Stanek to the Rays organization and see what he can do as a professional. Stanek will work out at the Rays’ facility in Port Charlotte before beginning his career at Short Season-A Hudson Valley. For a scouting report and more on Stanek, check out our analysis of him from when the Rays selected him.

This past weekend’s series in Detroit wound up being extremely successful for the Rays as they took the last two games to win the series and start their current four-game winning streak. One negative, though, was the events of Sunday afternoon. On Saturday night, a Fernando Rodney fastball clocked at 98 MPH ended up around the head area of Miguel Cabrera. You can see it for yourself, and while it was certainly unfortunate that it happened, Rodney had left a previous fastball up and way out of the zone and it seemed that it was nothing more than Rodney losing control of another pitch. Cabrera and Rick Porcello, though, saw things differently.

When Ben Zobrist, who like Cabrera bats third in the order, stepped up to the plate with 2 outs and nobody on in the first inning, Porcello immediately hit him on the left arm with a first-pitch 94 MPH fastball, prompting a look of disbelief from the usually calm Zobrist. Considering Porcello has walked just 2.3 batters per 9 innings in his career and had hit just 1 batter previously among the 336 he had faced previously on the season, the pitch was clearly intentional. Porcello was allowed to stay in the game after both benches were warned, but now Major League Baseball has review the incident and decided to suspend Porcello for 6 games. Porcello will appeal the suspension, more likely to help the Tigers rearrange their rotation than because he believes he’s innocent, because he is clearly not. For Zobrist, the suspension was a gratification.

“I thought it was intentional, and obviously the league thought that as well,” Zobrist said before the game with the Astros. “They doled out the penalty.”

With safety coming to the forefront across the sports world, baseball can’t allow itself to stand passively by as players conduct vigilante justice on offenses that may or may not have occurred. Not every hit-by-pitch is nearly as clear-cut as Porcello’s, but with the intention so obvious, it was nice to see Major League Baseball take action.

Tags: Ben Zobrist Rick Porcello Ryne Stanek Tampa Bay Rays

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