High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs
Here is where things get absolutely nuts. Casey Gillaspie will almost surely be the Stone Crabs’ starting first baseman, but what will happen with Willy Adames, Andrew Velazquez, Kean Wong, Juniel Querecuto, and Jake Bauers?
It is hard to imagine that the Rays move Willy Adames off shortstop now. While Velazquez and Querecuto are both capable defenders there as well, Adames is the top prospect of the group and should get the bulk of the time at the position, only occasionally sliding over to third base. With that in mind, Velazquez will likely play second base more than any other position while Kean Wong moves over to third base.
Even if Velazquez plays primarily second base, however, it makes sense for the Rays to have him move around. He needs to get some time at shortstop while Wong plays some second base, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play say 70 games at second and 20 each at short and third. Querecuto will likely do the same to a more extreme extent, filling in at any position he could possibly play.
Gillaspie will clearly play a lot of first base, but Bauers is a terrific defender there and a good prospect in his own right. The fact that Bauers doesn’t need as much work at first base, though, will allow the Rays to start him at the position say a third of the time while having him also play DH and left field.
Of course, the outfield presents its own set of problems with Andrew Toles, Granden Goetzman, and Justin Williams all set to receive regular time. The Rays will have their hands full trying to get everyone on the field. With that in mind, here’s my best guess for how playing time will be divided among the Stone Crabs’ 137 (or so) games in 2015.
First Base: Gillaspie 90 games, Bauers 40 games, Querecuto 7 games
Second Base: Velazquez 77 games, Wong 50 games, Querecuto 10 games
Shortstop: Adames 106 games, Velazquez 20 games, Querecuto 11 games
Third Base: Wong 65 games, Querecuto 41 games, Velazquez 20 games, Adames 11 games
Left Field: Williams 97 games, Querecuto 25 games, Bauers 15 games
Center Field: Toles 115 games, Querecuto 14 games, Goetzman 8 games
Right Field: Goetzman 112 games, Williams 20 games, Toles 5 games
Designated Hitter: Bauers 65 games, Gillaspie 30 games, James 22 games, Querecuto 7 games, Wong 5 games, Adames 3 games, Velazquez 3 games, Dominguez 2 games
Totals (Games): James (102), Dominguez (59), Gillaspie (120), Bauers (120), Querecuto (115), Velazquez (120), Wong (120), Adames (120), Goetzman (120), Williams (117), Toles (120)
Of course, the Rays are hoping that both Leonard and Gillaspie can be promoted one level each by the end of the year, which would give Bauers more time at first base and rectify that problem. In addition, if Ryan Brett gets called up to the big leagues, then Jake Hager might be moved up to Triple-A and either Adames or Velazquez could be bumped up, giving the Rays the opportunity to play both of them at shortstop.