The Virtue of Patience With the Rays Prospects

By David Hill

It can get maddening at times. There appears to be an obvious hole at a position, where the player on the Rays roster just is not producing, while there is someone in the minors hitting well. And yet, despite all the calls for the immediate activation of those players, the Rays have continued to bide their time.

However, it is all part of the plan. The Rays pay attention to the minor league statistics, but those statistics may not tell the entire story. Regardless of any successes, the Rays look at a number of different factors, such as how sustainable that success is, and whether or not there are any underlying factors for concern. Players move up once the Rays determine they are ready, and they try to avoid any premature promotions.

What this does is to limit the possibility of rushing players, particularly pitchers, before they are ready, which was a problem the Rays had in the beginning of their existence. Pitchers like Dewon Brazelton, Jason Standridge and Joe Kennedy may have had their careers turn out differently if they were able to spend more time in the minors developing. In fact, the pushing of the younger pitchers to the majors before they were ready may have been the biggest reason why the Rays were unable to contend, despite a plethora of higher draft picks in their early years.

Now, the Rays are a far more patient team. Even though Wil Myers may be considered the future, and is expected to be a middle of the order power bat, that does not mean that the Rays feel the future is now. More than the arbitration clock, it seems that the biggest concern is whether or not these players are ready. However, that does not mean that the Rays will not aggressively promote players that they feel warrant such movement. Cameron Seitzer was promoted from the Bowling Green Hot Rods to the Montgomery Biscuits, entirely bypassing High A ball. And he has held his own for Montgomery, drawing walks and not looking overmatched despite the big jump in level.

It is a matter of building confidence and creating a successful mindset. By having players that have been able to perform, and perform well, at every level they have played at, there is the expectation of success. Each step up is likely regarded as just another proving ground, and not a reason for apprehension. By having that history of success and the confidence built along the way, these players may well be in a better place to contribute once they reach the majors.

Even though it can get frustrating seeing Myers or Leslie Anderson hitting over .300 while other players on the major league roster struggle, it is part of plan. It is much easier to be overly cautious, and to be as certain as possible, that a player is ready before promoting them, instead of having to send them back down and rebuild their confidence. Although that can mean having to wait to see top prospects get to Tampa even though they appear ready, that approach appears to have worked more often than not during this run of success.

The Rays preach patience with their prospects. Myers, Chris Archer and the others will be up in time. It is just a matter of….well…being patient.