Rays Notes and Fall Recap: Rays Among IL Top Prospects, Joel Peralta, Ben Zobrist
By Robbie Knopf
Usually the Minor League Recap gets a full article here at RCG, but there was not much going on in terms of Rays prospects getting into games on Monday. The Venezuelan Winter League had a league-wide off-day (Alex Torres will start today), and although the Rays have 8 players on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, just one got into their game on Monday, and that was Kevin Kiermaier, who only appeared as a pinch-runner, not getting a plate appearance. Phoenix lost 4-2 to Rivers, so I don’t think the Rays-less lineup is the best gameplan. In any event, let’s get to the Rays’ news.
The Rays had two prospects among Baseball America’s Top 20 International League Prospects, Chris Archer at #3 and Tim Beckham and #10. In the subscriber-only scouting reports, Baseball America gave a conservative review to Chris Archer.
"If he can throw more strikes and refine his changeup, he can be a No. 3 starter. If not, he’ll fit as a late-inning reliever."
We saw Archer dominate at times in his big league debut this season and he looks to have a chance to be a number two starter if he can get more consistent control. Other than another Wade Davis-esque case where the Rays have too many starters and decide Archer is the best fit for the bullpen, Archer will move forward as a starting pitcher and has a chance to be a really good one.
On Beckham, Baseball America was cautiously optimistic.
"Nevertheless, his plus bat speed and raw power continue to make him a prospect."
Interesting that they continue to talk about his power when his career high in homers in his minor league career is 12 and his career-high in slugging percentage is just .408, but they talk about how he needs to improve his patience and pitch selection skills for his power to start materializing more consistently. Hopefully that can finally happen this coming season and Beckham can break into the big leagues before the season is over.
Bill Chastain did a mailbag at the Rays’ official website and gave a couple of interesting answers regarding the way the Rays’ roster will look in 2013.
"I talked to Peralta on the final day of the season, and the Dominican Republic native definitely would like to return, which he made emphatically clear in his comments. He even said he would deal with the Rays first and exclusively, because he wants to remain in Tampa. Whether he returns could come down to whether Peralta gets a two-year offer from another team.The way I see it, the one thing that could make the shortstop position interesting is if Hak-Ju Lee is deemed ready to take over the position at the Major League level. Lee is an above-average fielder who can stun you with the way he plays defense, but I don’t know if he’s ready to make the jump yet. If I had to make a bet right now, I’d say Zobrist will be the Opening Day shortstop next season."
As we talked about yesterday, Joel Peralta really wants to return to the Rays, and that he’s apparently going to start by negotiating exclusively with the Rays is certainly a good sign in terms of the chances Peralta will stay in Tampa Bay for 2013. In terms of the shortstop position for the Rays in 2013, Zobrist proved capable there and while Lee is very talented, he hasn’t played a single Triple-A game and unless he absolutely tears up the Arizona Fall League there’s no chance he starts in 2013 in the big leagues. What that comment means more to me is that the Rays don’t have a possible starting second baseman under contract with Zobrist set to play shortstop and they’re going to have to give a long look to tendering a contract to Ryan Roberts in November or at least re-signing him if they non-tender him. The trio of Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, and Reid Brignac should not be starting players on any contending team, and the Rays have to find someway to get at least an average overall player at whichever middle infield position Zobrist doesn’t play. Could the Rays keep Roberts in that light?
And to close, current Rays color commentator Brian Anderson talked to David Laurila of Fangraphs about how he pitched Derek Jeter in Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. It’s an interesting look at what BA was like as a pitcher and what the perception was of Jeter as a hitter, and it is definitely worth the read.