Rays: 16 Things to Look Forward To in 2016
Number Five Thing to Look Forward to: 1B Prospects
Jim Callis of MLB.com recently stated that Jake Bauers is among 10 prospects he expects to surge in 2016. He notes his developing power and that he
"“handled Double-A pitching at age 19 and showed some aptitude as an outfielder in the Arizona Fall League.”"
While the versatility to play the OF, mostly LF, is great, he’s still envisioned mostly as a 1B. Another aspect that makes Bauers likely to have an impact in 2016 is his low strike out rate of 14.4% despite being young for the level he was playing in.
When Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs put out his KATOH list, Bauers was listed 7th overall as most likely that have the highest WAR value before age 28 in all of MLB. That’s a tremendous outlook for the young 1B, and one that could begin in the second half of 2016.
However, the 1B prospects don’t end there. Patrick Leonard (23) and Cameron Seitzer (25) both have potential to impact the 1B position for the Rays in 2016, and both have more experience. Seitzer had 41 extra base hits in 417 AB with a .312/.382/.477 line in 2015 while playing in AAA and may get a look before Bauers does in 2016.
Leonard, meanwhile, spent the year in AA with Bauers but is older and showed more power with 45 extra base hits in 446 AB and a .256/.350/.408 line. All three provide depth at 1B that will be ready to be tested in 2016 if needed, although it’s likely that only one or two get the call.
Next: Number Six Thing to Look Forward to: Experienced Manager