February 21, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (55) poses for a picture during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rays Notes: Matt Moore, Joel Peralta Make First Appearances, Rays Top 15 Prospects

In 2013, the Rays are expecting to have one of the best rotations in baseball once again. But for that to happen, a key pitcher is going to be Matt Moore. The lefty with sky-high potential is penciled as the Rays’ number three starter, and the Rays made him to make huge strides in his development and fast. But the Rays not only believe that Moore can live up to the challenge, but that he can outperform their expectations by a wide margin. They believe that Moore has all of the talent to pull a David Price 2010 and go from enigmatic rookie to right up there for the AL Cy Young, and that starts today versus the Detroit Tigers.

Ben Zobrist, DH
Kelly Johnson, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Luke Scott, RF
Yunel Escobar, SS
James Loney, 1B
Ryan Roberts,  2B
Jose Lobaton, C
Sam FuldCF

Roberto Hernandez, SP

The two big players to watch in this game will enter in relief: Moore and Joel Peralta, both making their spring debuts. Peralta makes his first appearance since suffering a stiff neck when he got out of his car trying to get a sandwich, and makes his long-awaited first appearance since re-signing with the Rays on a two-year deal with three team options this offseason. Peralta is expected to be a key setup man for the Rays this offseason, and hopefully he can have a strong spring and avoid the rough start that made his 2012 ERA finish at 3.63 even though his ERA was 2.76 from April 15th to the end of the season.

The other big story in this game is that Luke Scott is heading to right field, his first time in the outfield since July of 2011. Scott’s shoulder is finally healthy after he underwent shoulder surgery later that year, and you know that the Rays will take advantage of his versatility this year assuming everything goes well.

One other news item for today was that Mark Anderson, a contributor to Baseball Prospectus, released his Rays Top 15 Prospects list over at his site Baseball Prospect Nation, and his rankings were quite interesting.

1. Wil Myers, RF
2. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP
3. Chris Archer, RHP 
4. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
5. Richie Shaffer, 3B
6. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
7. Blake Snell, LHP
8. Alex Colome, RHP
9. Felipe Rivero, LHP
10. Drew Vettleson, RF
11. Mike Montgomery, LHP
12. Oscar Hernandez, C
13. Tim Beckham
14. Jose Castillo
15. Jake Hager, SS

The two names that specifically stand out are Hernandez and Castillo, with Hernandez being a 19 year old coming off his first season in America and Castillo being just 16 years old without any pro experience yet. Anderson praised Hernandez for his “good bat speed and strength that lead to plenty of raw power” while saying about Castillo that “there are hints that his fastball that already runs in the low-90s could be a complete monster down the line.” Anderson also was optimistic about Mike Montgomery even after a couple of bad seasons, saying that he’s “hopeful” that the Rays will be able to get Montgomery back on track. Anderson provided a different look on the Rays’ system, making his rankings more on upside than anything else, and he was able to provide nice insight and get us even more exciting about the player scheduled to come up for the Rays in coming years.

Tags: Joel Peralta Jose Castillo Luke Scott Matt Moore Oscar Hernandez Tampa Bay Rays

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