Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

Spring Training Prospect Report

Or STPR for short. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

I’m in Florida now for a two-week stretch and it’s like a gold mine for us prospect fans. Especially this early and especially with the World Baseball Classic, prospects are and will get a lot of playing time in Grapefruit League action.

My goal is to give updates regularly here on B3 about the players I get to see. When I can, I’ll also wrinkle in some opinions from scouts about prospects in big league camps in general. so lets get this thing started, shall we?

Yesterday (Tuesday) was my first game and I took in the Rays-Twins game. There were prospects-aplenty, with both the Rays‘ and the Twins‘ Top 20s well-represented (rank in team top 20 in parentheses):


Will Myers (1): Started in RF, went 1-for-2 with a walk. He told me he’s really working on turning on the ball so he can tap into his power to the pull side more consistently.

Hak-Ju Lee (5): Came into the game and played shortstop, went 1-for-2 with a run scored. Drove in the tying run with an infield single, stole second and third and scored during the five-run Rays’ 8th.

Mike Montgomery (8): The lefty who came in the James Shields trade tossed a scoreless eighth inning, allowing one hit and one walk (Keep an eye out today for a story I wrote about him).


Joe Benson (13): Benson started in center and hit lead off as he competes with others for the spot. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Much, much more to come. Today, I’m at the Pirates-Red Sox. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s starting in center for the Red Sox and I see that Gregory Polanco is on the travel roster for the Pirates.



AFL catchup — Rays, Marlins, Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers…

As could have been predicted, I’ve fallen behind on AFL updates in recent days. I’d love to blame Sandy for that, but that wouldn’t be fair. So… let’s catch up on team reports and Stars of the Day, shall we?  Oh, and stay tuned for news on the Rising Stars Game rosters, the exciting game being played at Salt River on Saturday (And I’ll be there in person to cover).

First, the team reports:

Tampa Bay Rays: Focuses on Tim Beckham

Miami Marlins: Focuses on Christian Yelich

Chicago Cubs: Focuses on Tony Zych

Los Angeles Dodgers: Focuses on Chris Reed

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to hand out some Stars of the Day for action from Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Thursday: While there were some good hitting performances — Nick Franklin homered and drove in a pair for Peoria; Kyle Jensen homered and drove in two for Phoenix, Brian Goodwin went 3-for-4 with two doubles and Carlos Sanchez  went 2-for-3 with a triple and 4 RBIs, both for Salt River. But I have to give the tip of the B3 cap to Tim Crabbe of the Reds. He tossed four hitless innings for Peoria, walking one and striking out two. That brought his AFL batting average against down to .182.

Friday: It really comes down to two hitters from the Peoria-Salt River game. Vinnie Catricala of the Mariners had a nice day, going 2-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBIs. But the Rockies’ Kent Matthes one-upped him a bit, going 3-for-3 with a home run and 4 RBIs. Matthes is now fifth in the AFL with his .596 SLG and tied for fourth with 10 RBIs.

Saturday: It was tempting to give a rare star to a reliever. Chris Martin of the Red Sox went two perfect innings and struck out four for Surprise. But it was too hard to ignore Tyler Botnick‘s day for Salt River. The Diamondbacks’ infielder went 4-for-5 with a double, four RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Those were the first four RBIs of the fall for Bortnick, who is hitting .296 for the Rafters.

And, finally, Monday: A couple of good candidates, including another homer from Matthes. Ryan Perry of the Natinals went five scoreless, allowing just one hit while striking out three. But the Pirates’ Kyle Kaminska was just a smidge better. He also went five scorless, allowing just one hit. But he struck out six to earn the Star. He’s on a one good, one bad start pattern. In the two good starts, he’s gone 10 IP, allowing no runs on just four hits and no walks while striking out nine. In the not as good starts, he still isn’t walking anyone — just one free pass allowed all fall — but he’s given up four earned runs on 13 hits over eight innings. Kaminska came to the Pirates at the trade deadline along with Gaby Sanchez. He hasn’t started regularly since 2009, so it’ll be interesting to see if the fact that he is starting in the AFL means anything in 2013.

AFL Report: Angels

Today’s report is on the Los Angeles Angels and how Kaleb Cowart (No. 1 on the Angels’ Top 20) and Bobby Cassevah have taken very different paths to be in the same place in Arizona.

The video report below focuses on Cowart, Travis Witherspoon and Randal Grichuk, all in that Top 20.

And Wednesday’s Star of the Day is…

Someone from the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who absolutely pounded the Surprise Saguaros, 15-1. Honestly, I thought going for the two-point conversion after their second touchdown was a bit much… The Dogs, as I like to call ’em, had two players with four hits. Brock Kjeldgaard of the Brewers went 4-for-6 with a pair of ribbies. But Tim Beckham of the Rays outdid him just a bit. The former No. 1 overall pick went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and four RBIs. Beckham has been working on his play at second base while making up for lost time and trying to restore his prospect status following a 50-game suspension this year.

Spring Training, Day 2: Rays camp – pitching everywhere you see

If you went to the back fields of Port Charlotte today, you could have watched 3/5 of the Triple-A Durham rotation in action, obviously a rarity.

Two of them were going at the same time, with Alex Torres starting in the Double-A game and Alex Cobb starting the Triple-A contest against the Orioles (Don’t read into Torres starting down a level. The Rays wanted to make sure everyone got the innings they needed.). Chris Archer pitched in the Triple-A game after Torres. It was a whole lot of fun to station myself between the two games and track all that pitching depth (not to mention seeing Orioles’ prospect Manny Machado playing shortstop and singling off of Torres).

Cobb was pretty sharp throughout his outing. Torres scuffled a bit in his first inning — fastball command was the culprit — but settled down. Archer had some command issues in his first inning. He was supposed to go three, but because of the length of that first frame, his day was done after two innings. For all three, it was just one step in getting ready for the start of the Triple-A season on April 5.

Archer, of course, was in the Matt Garza trade and he was at the Rookie Career Development Program in 2011 when the news broke. He came across as a very thoughtful and well-spoken prospect and that clearly hasn’t changed, even with the struggles he had in the first part of the 2011 season.

There will be a story on Archer on the site in a while, along with some of the video interview I did with him. Here is the entire interview with the right-hander, who hopes to help out in Tampa at some point in the near future.

I also got to have a nice chat with Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics about some of the other players in the system, especially some from the bountiful 2011 Draft.

In general about the crop: “It is early. All have come in great shape. You never know in a young player because they don’t know exactly what to expect even though you tell them what to expect. They have offseason programs they have to do in preparation, but you still don’t know. All have come in great shape. There’s plenty of room for everyone to get at-bats and innings pitched.”

On Mikie Mahtook: “He came in here ready to go day one. He’s taking full advantage of our camp. I wouldn’t think he’ll break with double-A. We want to see him here. Keep in mind, he’s only been with us a little bit. We saw him a little bit in instructional league, some have seen him a little bit in the fall league. We don’t have a lot of history with Mikie. So there’s no rash decision on Mikie Mahtook. He’s a good player now, he’ll be a better player later. We want to assess and see and put him where we think he fits best.”

On Taylor Guerrieri: “Taylor is really doing great. He has so much upside. Historically, we are slow with young pitchers and young players. That’s our philosophy, our overall development philosophy. He shows great stuff. Now it’s a matter of tying everything together and it takes time. There’s a process they all have to go through. We all know the physical and mental process. As that all comes together, we expect these kids to do great things.”

On how Guerrieri fits into that overall philosophy: “What’s the rush? Historically, we’re slow with our youngest players. But our players tell us when they need to be moved or when they can be moved. Despite our overall philosophy, they make our decisions for us. But it’s a long-distance race. If there’s doubt, why rush? We have players in place at the Major League level and at the upper Minor Leagues, so what’s the rush? We’d rather make sure that when a player gets to the big leagues, there’s impact and longevity. We don’t have to force-feed players to get there. That has been from day one, since we started in 2006, that’s been the philosophy from ownership on down.”

(As an aside, I really like that line about ensuring impact and longevity. I think it speaks to why the Rays have had so much success in developing successful big leaguers.)

Finally, on others who have made an early impression: “Jake Hager. He’s a good looking infielder who’s done a nice job (also from the 2011 Draft). It’s going to take time to grow. You have young guys like Brandon Martin and James Harris, two young up and comers. We have some Dominicans, one in particular, Roberto Gomez, he’s on the radar. Those are just a few kids to mention.”

I’ve got big league game coverage the next couple of days, but will do my best to throw up some prospecty info on here along the way. Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s my story on the Dominican Prospect League tour in Florida.

The Rays rotation and notes from the AFL

I got a question on Twitter that I thought was worth throwing out there to everyone:

What does the Rays rotation look like in 2012? Should they trade James Shields?

This is relevant here, obviously, because it’s all about Matt Moore. He looked like he’s ready for prime time, which should give the Rays a very nice problem to have next year. People talk about Shields because he’s the most expensive pitcher in the rotation. If the Rays exercise the team option in 2012, he’ll get $7 million. Considering he was an All-Star and the anchor of that rotation, that’s a relative bargain. But the Rays also are working with a somewhat limited budget, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Jeff Niemann was left off the playoff roster, but that was more because of his lack of success vs. the opponent than anything else, though I’m sure there are those who will read into that more.

Bill Chastain wrote that it’s likely all of the starters — and we haven’t even talked about Alex Torres or Alex Cobb (with Chris Archer coming into play later next year, I think) — will come to Spring Training and have one heckuva competition. Don’t know about you, but I’m booking my trip to Port Charlotte now.

Great quote from David Price in that Chastain piece: “I think I’m going to start my workouts in a couple of hours to make sure I can still be in this rotation.”

So here’s the official question: If you were building the Rays staff on Opening Day 2012, what would be your five-man rotation?

Leave any ideas in comments below.

On to the AFL…

Only two games were played yesterday in the Arizona Fall League, with the night game (the one where Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Gary Brown could’ve been in the same outfield together) being rained out. That’s right, rained out. Red Sox prospect Alex Hassan has a good post about it over on the AFL Prospects blog.

It probably shocks no one that there was a bunch of offense in the other two games. Kind of par for the course in the Fall League, after all. Seven homers were hit in the two games with a combined total of 41 runs crossing the plate. Lots of potential Stars of the Day from a hitting standpoint, but the guy atop the list has to be the pick:

Josh Vitters, Cubs: 2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 SB
Robbie Grossman, Pirates: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI
Anthony Gose, Blue Jays:  2-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R
Alex Castellanos, Dodgers:  3-6, 3 RBI, 2B, 3B
Matt Adams, Cardinals: 3-5, 3 RBI
Jaff Decker, Padres: 4-4, 2 RBI

There is only one Pitcher of the Day candidate: The Reds’ Brad Boxberger (and he’s blogging to boot) . Boxberger got the save for Phoenix, completely shutting the door on Mesa in a 12-8 slugfest. Not only did Boxberger pitch a perfect inning and a third to get the save, he struck out all four batters he faced in less than optimal conditions.

OMG: Tampa Bay Rays

I just finished watching the Rays’ final exhibition game of the spring, here in Tropicana Field, so this is good timing. Here’s their talent-laden Top 10 Prospects list. After that, here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system… though in this case it’s really One More Guyer*:

Brandon Guyer, OF: While Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee are the two from the Matt Garza trade to land in the Top 10,

Brandon Guyer came to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal

that doesn’t mean we should forget all about Guyer and Robinson Chirinos. The Rays got four future big leaguers in this deal. And Guyer’s not too far away from helping out. The description below is largely from the breakdowns of this fantastic four I wrote back when the trade went down (I figured, why duplicate effort?).

Guyer is a toolsy outfielder who really started to turn his tremendous athletic ability into on-field performance over the past couple of seasons. He really broke out in 2010, though he ended up with just 369 at-bats as he dealt with a shoulder issue. When he was playing, he was outstanding, earning Southern League All-Star honors and being named by as the Cubs system’s hitter of the year for batting .344/.398/.588 with 30 steals for Double-A Tennessee.

A former football standout in high school, Guyer brings that game’s mentality to baseball with an all-out aggressive style on both sides of the ball. He’s got very good speed and his power continues to develop. Guyer got 10 ABs this spring on the big league side, going 1-for-1o with a double.  He can play anywhere in the outfield and could very well start the year with Triple-A Durham.

*Bad Guyer pun comes courtesy of Jason Ratliff.

4th AB for Beckham

Time: 8:53
Inning: Bottom 7
Situation: One out, no one on. Score tied 5-5.
Outcome: Tapper back to the mound.

Facing a lefty for the first time, John Flanagan, Beckham took a ball before getting fooled on Flanagan’s second pitch. He was way out in front, tried to hold up his swing and ended up with a check-swing tapper back to Flanagan. Flanagan’s got a real funky delivery and comes from a three-quarters arm slot and the guess here is Beckham didn’t see too much of that in high school. Flanagan’s tossed three scoreless innings, so it’s not just Beckham having trouble picking the ball up.

So Beckham is 1-for-4 tonight. Combined distance of all of his balls in play, I think, would be about 300 feet. But hey, he hasn’t struck out yet.

Third AB of the night

Time: 8:12
Inning: Bottom 4
Situation: .Two outs, none on. Princeton leading, 5-3.
Outcome: Groundout to the shortstop, end of inning.

Getting a third look at Lehman, he took a couple of pitches to run the count to 1-1. He then hit a grounder in the hole to short, fielded by Lifete Jose, who threw out Beckham by a half-step. Beckham’s 1-for-3 on the night, but hasn’t gotten the ball out of the infield as of yet. He has shown an ability to get down the line in a hurry.

At this rate, he’s going to have about 6 ABs…

Beckham AB No. 2

Time: 7:32
Inning: Bottom 2
Situation: Runner on third, two outs. Princeton leading 3-0.
Outcome: Grounder to second, side retired.

Beckham took the first offering from Lehman in his second at-bat and went the other way with it, right at Franco. It was a routine play and Franco made it. Beckham will have to wait for his first pro RBI.

The Beckham era is under way

Time: 7:11
Inning: Bottom 1
Situation: One out, no one on
Outcome: Infield hit.

Had the chance to talk with both Beckahms (Tim and older brother Jeremy, who wasn’t in the lineup) prior to the game and both were engaging and intelligent. Both, needless to say, were a bit excited for the game to get going.

As for the first at-bat, Beckham faced Mike Lehman, a Royals right-hander who was taken in the 20th round of the 2007 draft who put up some decent numbers in the rookie-level Arizona League last summer. He got a nice hand from the home crowd, but you get the feeling that most here in Princeton didn’t quite get what the big deal was, which is really as it should be. Tim Beckham would like nothing more than to be just “one of the team” for the time being.

After taking a first pitch for ball one, Beckham hit a bounder up the middle. Burlington 2B Angel Franco was able to backhand it, but Beckham easily beat the throw for his first professional hit. Someday, he’ll tell his grandkids it was a screaming line drive. So far, he’s batting 1.000. He came around to score his first pro run later in the inning.I’ll be back later for his next AB.

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