The Tampa Bay Rays own the distinction of having three starting pitchers named Alex among their top 20 prospects. While right-hander Alex Cobb and lefty Alex Torres are honing their craft with Triple-A Durham and keeping their bags packed for an occasional trip to Tropicana Field, the most highly rated of the trio, Alexander Colome, is coming into his own with the Class A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Despite getting off to a rocky start in 2011, Colome showed improvement in his next two outings before dominating Jupiter on April 29. The 22-year-old Dominican native blanked the visiting Hammerheads for seven innings, scattering three hits and a walk while striking out 10 to earn his first win of the year as well as FSL Pitcher of the Week honors.
"I've been going well," said Colome through teammate Alex Koronis. "I've had two that were not so great, two that were so-so and one that was very good. I feel I am getting stronger and getting better."
It was no surprise Colome's best start came at Charlotte Sports Park. In two home starts, Colome has a sparkling 0.75 ERA, while on the road he has struggled with a 9.95 ERA.
"I feel more comfortable at home," Colome said. "But there really is no difference between home and away. The days I was at home I was pitching better and I was locating my pitches better. You always feel more confident at home."
Colome's double-digit strikeout performance April 29 matched a career high, and he's fanning more than a batter an inning on average this season.
"Striking out people is a good feeling," Colome said. "It's something I've always done. It's part of my game."
As Colome strives to become a better pitcher, he's leaning not only on the advice of Stone Crabs pitching coach Steve Watson, but also his uncle, former Major Leaguer Jesus Colome. The elder Colome pitched 10 seasons in the Major Leagues with several teams, including Tampa Bay.
"We talk all the time," Colome said. "We talk baseball. We talk pitching, what pitch to throw, how to react on the field -- you know, baseball talk."
With his uncle's help, Colome is getting a handle on his blazing fastball and vast potential. Slowly but surely, he is transforming from raw talent to mature pitcher.
"I'm working on locating my pitches down in the zone," he said. "I've got the stuff, I just have to learn where to throw it and how to throw it."
If Colome can do those things, there's little doubt he will be joining the other Alexes in Tampa Bay sometime in the near future.
Everything ends with "K": Palm Beach Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller continues to pile up strikeouts. The 20-year-old Texas native has fanned 42 batters in 28 innings, averaging 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Hammering the ball: Jupiter outfielder Kyle Jensen is among the league leaders is several offensive categories, including total bases (60), home runs (6) and RBIs (24).
Starting with a bang: Brevard County outfielder Khristopher Davis is starting strong. In his first 86 plate appearances, he is hitting .349 and has reached base at a .402 clip. He also has five home runs and 22 RBIs in 23 games.