What You Might’ve Missed…

Durham Bulls
Jan 3 · 3 min read
After two straight championships, Chih-Wei Hu is now a member of the Indians’ system (BrianFlemingPhotography.com)

With 2019 underway, it’s time to catch y’all up on what you might’ve missed over the last few months. After capturing a second straight Governors’ Cup title in 2018, a few players (and a manager!) have departed the Durham Bulls and made their way to new organizations, while a few players have been signed by the Tampa Bay Rays and could start 2019 in the Bull City.

The Departed:

  • Manager Jared Sandberg — Seattle Mariners organization
    After four years and back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles, Sandberg took a job as Field Coordinator of the Seattle Mariners, joining their big league staff.
  • RHP Chih-Wei Hu — Cleveland Indians organization
    Hu split 2017 and 2018 between Durham and Tampa Bay, appearing in 55 games for the Bulls over that span. The righty was a member of both Governors’ Cup squads, and went 2–0 with 1.50 ERA in two playoff starts in 2018.
  • RHP Ryan Weber — Boston Red Sox organization
    Weber was one of the stalwarts on the Bulls pitching staff in 2018, posting the 4th-best ERA in the International League with a 2.73 clip to accompany a 9–6 record.
  • OF Rob Refsnyder — Arizona Diamondbacks organization
    The MVP of the Governors’ Cup, Refsnyder was fantastic in the Bulls’ playoff run, batting .367 with two homers and six RBI. After joining the Bulls in late-June, he batted .283 across 51 regular season games.
  • LHP Kyle Bird — Texas Rangers organization
    Bird opened the 2018 campaign with Double-A Montgomery, but earned a promotion to Durham in late-May. The southpaw went on to post a 1.94 ERA in 27 games, and didn’t allow a run in 7 2/3 postseason innings.
  • RHP Forrest Snow — Los Angeles Angels organization
    The right-hander appeared in 26 games for Durham a season ago (20 starts), and struck out 112 batters and surrendered fewer than a hit per inning.
  • RHP Zach Lee — New York Mets organization
    A former first round pick, half of Lee’s 26 appearances in 2018 came with the Bulls and Montgomery, combining to go 12–6 across the two levels.
  • RHP Ruben Alaniz — Seattle Mariners organization
    Alaniz split 2018 between Montgomery and Durham, appearing in 20 games for the Bulls. He didn’t allow a run in three playoff appearances, and earned the win in the decisive Game 5 of the Governors’ Cup Finals with two scoreless frames.
Ryan Merritt is 26–16 in his International League career (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The New Guys (maybe):

  • LHP Ryan Merritt — The starter joins the Rays system from the Cleveland organization, where he spent the first eight years of his career. The southpaw has a career 26–16 record in the International League, and is 3–0 with a 1.71 ERA over nine MLB appearances.
  • OF Jake Smolinski — A veteran of 234 MLB games and 221 Triple-A contests, Smolinski missed the majority of 2018 with injury. Still, the outfielder hit .278 in 36 games with Triple-A Nashville in the Oakland system.
  • C Anthony Bemboom — Other than having an awesome last name, Bemboom spent the majority of each of the last three seasons at the Triple-A level. In 2018 he appeared in 70 games for the Albuquerque Isotopes.
  • RHP Cole Sulser — After he was drafted in 2013, Sulser spent the first six seasons of his career in the Cleveland organization. The reliever made it to Triple-A Columbus for the first time in 2016, and has posted a 3.51 ERA over 78 appearances in the IL.

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