Rays Prospects

Takeaways From Tampa Bay Rays’ Winter Ball Results Part 5

By Robbie Knopf
5 of 8

Maile may be the most underrated of the Rays’ catching prospects. (Credit: University of Kentucky)

Luke Maile: The Rays wish they could get him more playing time

It was quite a shock when we first saw that Maile was playing in the Arizona Fall League. The reason: unlike every other Rays prospect in the AFL, Maile was playing not for the Peoria Javelinas, but for the Surprise Saguaros. Once we saw it, it made a lot of sense. The Rays sent Maile to surprise because that is where he could find some playing time.

Maile has spent plenty of his time in full-season ball as the second-best catching prospect on his team. In 2013, he split time with Justin O’Conner at Bowling Green and wound up having the much better year. In 2014, meanwhile, he began the season behind Curt Casali and finished it behind a resurgent O’Conner. This year will feature more of the same as Maile splits time with Casali once again.

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The thing about Maile, though, is that there is a chance that he could end up being the best catcher of the three. He is a better defender than Casali and features much more plate discipline than O’Conner. He lacks O’Conner’s superstar upside, but the Rays still see him as a potential starting catcher. With that in mind, even though O’Conner remained their priority for playing time in the AFL, they were going to do what they could to make room for Maile as well.

Luke Maile hit to a solid .268/.341/.387 line in 393 Double-A plate appearances as a player 1.5 years younger than the league’s average age. After Casali sputtered, first at Triple-A and then in the major leagues, there is a chance that Maile could play well enough to pass him. Maile’s future in this organization is as a second catcher–whether behind Rene Rivera or O’Conner–but he may be primed for plenty of success in that role.