Competition shows how far Rays have come

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Illustrating how far the Rays have advanced from Devil Rays days is the competition for the No. 5 starter spot.

Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi -- each of whom could make any Major League rotation -- would all easily have made most any Devil Rays rotation. Instead, just one will be in the Rays' 2013 starting rotation.

"That just shows you how far this organization has come," Niemann said. "Shows you that the model the organization has is so good, because they haven't changed the model of how they do things. ... It's the model that's been built and they've followed it to a T. I can't remember a time since I've been in the big leagues and haven't looked back and said, 'Man, there's like five guys at Triple-A who could be pitching up here.'"

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.