Since the Tampa Bay Rays selected Josh Sale at 17th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, almost nothing has gone right. 2013, however, was the worst of it all. Sale began the season by continuing to serve his 50-game suspension for testing positive for methamphetamine, and the Rays hoped he could get back on track when he returned. Instead, Sale wrote a post on Facebook about throwing change at a stripper, prompting the Rays to suspend him indefinitely. Between the two suspensions, Sale did not appear in a single professional game, leaving him at just 134 games total in his three-and-a-half years since being drafted. Despite it all, the Rays have not given up on him yet, including him on the roster of their Winter Development Program. But now all the pressure is on because the Rays’ patience is running thin.
One for three leads to a good batting average, but when that is the number of seasons you’ve had that have not been total disasters, that leaves quite a bit to be desired. Sale looked overmatched in his pro debut for Advanced Rookie Princeton, managing just a .210/.289/.346 line at a level where the Rays had expected him to dominate. 2012 finally brought optimism as the Rays saw enough from Sale in extended spring training to send him to Low-A Bowling Green, and Sale started showing everyone why the Rays had regarded him so highly. Sale managed a .264/.391/.464 line with 10 doubles, 10 homers, and 44 RBI in 297 plate appearances. Most impressively, his strikeout to walk ratio was 61-52 as he displayed the mature approach that the Rays thought would be a signature of his game. But apparently Sale’s “mature approach” only applied in the batter’s box. Sale’s suspension caused his breakout season to end in a shroud of doubt, and that has yet to be lifted. Sale has apparently “done all the right things,” but his suspension has yet be lifted and he has everything still to prove.
Josh Sale is a 22 year old who has not played a single game above the Low-A level. His tools are not overwhelming. The only positions he can play are left field and first base thanks to poor range and arm strength, meaning his performance at the plate will be everything. Sale has to continue improving his approach at the plate and do a better job tapping into his power to have any chance. Now time is not on his side as he hopes to make that possible. Josh Sale’s quest to overcome the obstacles that he has created for himself starts tomorrow in the Winter Development Program. Can Sale get back on track and change his fate?