When the Tampa Bay Rays drafted Ryne Stanek at 29th overall in 2013, there were plenty of reasons to be excited. Sure, Stanek had his issues, but he was considered by some to be a top-ten talent, and for good reason. Stanek’s fastball and slider had flashed plus potential, his changeup looked like it could become above-average, and even his curveball had its moments. Stanek once again showed great stuff in his pro debut this year but it was hard to walk away from without disappointment.
A large part of the reason that Stanek fell so far was injury concerns, and if anything those concerns only got worse this year. First of all, offseason hip surgery meant Stanek missed the first month of the season. He finally made his first start on May 8th, and that seemed like enough time for Stanek to still build up a solid amount of innings. But, Stanek suffered another injury in July, this time shoulder fatigue. He missed over a month at the end of July and beginning of August, only returning to make a pair of starts at the very end of the season.
Because of those injuries, Stanek totaled just 58.2 innings this year, though he was named to the Rays’ Instructional League roster, where he’s built up at least a few additional innings. Still, that number is a far cry from what Stanek needed to thrown to make us feel better about his “injury risk” tag. You certainly have to be worried about his ability to build up innings moving forward.
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When looking at Stanek, it is hard not to make a parallel to Grayson Garvin. Drafted by the Rays at 59th overall in 2011, Garvin didn’t have the ace potential that Stanek has, but he looked like a solid number three starter and possibly even a number two . Since being drafted, though, Garvin has struggled mightily with a multitude of injuries. In the four years he’s been with the organization, Garvin has thrown just 148.2 innings, and he’s never topped more than 74.0 innings in a single season. Garvin looked to be a solid bet to become a good starter for the Rays if he could get past his injuries, but he has not been able to do so, and it looks more and more likely that he is headed to the bullpen.
Garvin is not a lost cause yet, and Stanek certainly is not either. But, the comparison is simple: both were highly touted draft picks, but both came with injury risks and have done little to change that as a pro. Stanek could come back next year and prove he is almost ready to make a big league impact as a starter. But, there is also the chance that he continues to suffer from injuries, and thus a move to the bullpen is a possibility. We certainly cannot write off Ryne Stanek based off of one season, but there is some worry that his career path follows a similar one to Grayson Garvin.