The Rays’ major league roster is set, but they are still putting together the pieces for their Triple-A affiliates. Most of them will act purely as depth, but if they get lucky on even one, they could end up with a contributing major leaguer at an extremely affordable price. The latest signees and invites to spring training are Jeremy Moore and Juan Sandoval.
Moore, 26, had a huge season in 2011 at Triple-A Salt Lake in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization, hitting to a .298/.331/.545 line with 24 doubles, 18 triples, 15 homers, 66 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances. The lefty-hitting outielder has not seen good results since then, missing all of 2012 after bone spur surgery in his right hip before managing just a .211/.288/.359 line at Triple-A for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. But Moore still has relative youth on his side, and his talents made him worth another chance. Moore has always stood out for blazing speed, and he paired it with solid power, giving him the ability to hit some home runs and also show off his speed running out doubles and triples. Defensively, he features great range, and while he lacks a good arm, he has the ability to be a strong defender in left field or centerfield. The minuses with his game right now are that he lacks much plate discipline, he struggles against lefty pitching, and he never learned how to be an efficient basestealer. But if the Rays can help mitigate some portion of those flaws at Triple-A Durham this season, they could have a player with the ability to be a solid 4th outfielder in the major leagues. Instead of signing another Rich Thompson or Jason Bourgeois, the Rays found themselves a player with some potential in Jeremy Moore, and we’ll have to see if he amounts to anything.
Sandoval, who just turned 33, attracted attention last offseason after the Rays signed him despite him being blind in his right eye. Then he proceeded to have a strong season between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, going 6-4 with a 3.21 ERA, a 7.0 K/9, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 0.4 HR/9 in 58 appearances and 81.1 innings pitched. His groundball rate was a strong 52.2% as his sinker was working well, and he also showed a pair of solid secondary offerings in his slider and changeup. Juan Sandoval has a chance to start 2014 in the Durham bullpen as his amazing story continues, and we will have to see if it culminates with an opportunity to make his major league debut.