Rays Prospects

Takeaways From Tampa Bay Rays’ Winter Ball Results Part 3

By Robbie Knopf
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Apr 9, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Rene Rivera (44) throws against the Cleveland Indians in game two at Progressive Field. San Diego won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Rene Rivera: His durability will be a welcome change from Ryan Hanigan

It is far from a sure thing that Rivera will be better than Hanigan. However, here is the good news: his defense is just as good and he has a much better chance of staying healthy next season.

Rivera played in 103 games and made 85 starts for the San Diego Padres last season, so he had every excuse to take a break for the Winter. However, Rivera still had the strength to appear in 39 games in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League between the regular season and the playoffs, and the results have been quite good.

Rivera has been playing more first base than catcher, but he has provided the requisite hitting for the position, delivering a .281/.310/.469 line with 15 doubles, 5 homers, and 17 RBI in 168 plate appearances. A little more plate discipline would have been nice–that’s the single biggest question regarding his game–but his combination of defense and power is quite impressive.

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As we have mentioned before, Rivera has appeared in at least 95 games between the minors and majors each of the last three seasons. Hanigan, on the other hand, has met that standard just once since 2010. Rivera has the endurance to hold up as a starting catcher for the Rays this season, and now the team has to hope that he hits enough to warrant such an arrangement. Worth noting is the fact that they only acquired him because they think he will.