The Montgomery Biscuits were an average team in 2014, going 71-69. They did feature some top prospects in the likes of Kevin Kiermaier, Enny Romero, Mikie Mahtook, and Todd Glaesmann. These prospects are a solid bunch, but the Rays management is looking for even more out of the Biscuits in 2014. What will the lineup and starting rotation look like as the Biscuits look to meet or exceed expectations?
This lineup features quite a few top prospects, but also some interesting players that look to make a name for themselves. Hager was a first rounder in 2011 and has a decent rack record, but he hit a wall in High-A in 2013, although a wrist injury did affect his performance. He doesn’t have any tools that stand out, but with average defense at shortstop and a bat that could hit in the .270-.280 range with 10-15 home runs, Hager could turn into an average shortstop in the big leagues. This year, he will hope to tap into his power potential. Brett missed the early part of last year because of injuries suspension for a failed drug test, but he came back a new player and hit extremely well. He could be an everyday second baseman thanks to his scrappy play.
Shaffer was a first rounder in 2012 that came with a reputation for a big bat, but a poor plate approach led to a disappointing year, although he did player better in the second half. He still has the potential to hit 20-25 home runs a year, but his patience and pitch recognition need major improvement if his raw bat speed is going play in games. Segovia is a fringe-prospect at this point, but his above-average power tool might just make him a big leaguer one day. He doesn’t have a defensive home, but his bat alone could carry him to the big leagues as a DH.
Casali was acquired from the Detroit Tigers last offseason, and had a nice first impression in the Rays organization. He put up a .383/.483/.600 line in 35 games in Double-A last season after a mid-season promotion from High-A, but he needs to prove he can sustain good performance before a Triple-A assignment is in order. Between his defense and his newfound ability with the bat, the Rays have to wonder whether he could be more than the backup catcher he was touted to be. Argo is a fringe-guy like Segovia, but he is the type of player that a manager loves to have. He helps his team win everyday through his hustle, and while he will never wow you with tools, he could be a solid 4th outfielder in the future.
Motter is also a borderline prospect, but he is a player Joe Maddon will really like down the line. He is versatile, spending time at multiple infield and outfield spots, and he can hold his own with the bat. Left field has been his most played position, which is why he is slotted there, but he will see time at multiple positions as he tries to become a Sean Rodriguez-type player. Malm once had potential to be a first baseman with some power, but as he has moved up the ladder his bat has not held up against better pitching. The Rays hope he can tap into some of the potential he once had, but the time is running out for him. Morrison missed most of last season because of Tommy John surgery. He looks to bounce back this season, and does have major league potential thanks to above-average defense in center field, but he will need to prove his bat will not hurt his value too much.
This rotation was tough to put together. Garvin was another first rounder in 2011, but injuries have derailed his career so far. Now it finally looks as if he is healthy, and he was decent in an Arizona Fall League stint last year. He looks to regain his potential as a mid-rotation starter by proving he is healthy this season, and if he does, he could move fast. Kelly broke out in Triple-A last year after being just OK in Double-A, but the Rays just don’t have a spot for him in Triple-A this year. He could be moved to the bullpen, but given how much Andrew Friedman values starting depth, I think that he will be sent back to Double-A as a starter for the time being. He will be the first pitcher from the bunch called up to Triple-A when an injury or promotion occurs.
Floro put up a 1.77 ERA in 19 starts in Low-A and 4 starts in High-A thanks to great command. This would be a rare aggressive assignment by the Rays, but Floro is extremely polished, and his performance was so good that it is conceivable. The Rays like Mateo, even inviting him to big league camp before he was cut late last week. He broke out in the second half at Double-A last year, but the Rays don’t have room at Triple-A, so he returns to Montgomery. Colla was signed out of the independent league ranks last year, and posted a decent 3.70 ERA in 14 Double-A starts, but at 27 years old he is pretty much a non-prospect. There are plenty of other options here such as guys like Jake Thompson and Ryan Carpenter, among others.
Overall this team could turn out to be interesting. The lineup features nine players that are at least fringe-prospects, a couple of whom could be big league regulars within the next year or two. They should have no problem scoring runs. The rotation is the area with more concerns. Garvin, Floro, and Kelly are all decent pitchers, but none of them are going to be a true ace of the staff. Also, Mateo and Colla are not going to do anything special at the back end of the rotation. The Montgomery Biscuits could be decent in 2014, but don’t expect too great of the year thanks to the unexciting rotation.