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Tampa Bay Rays: Jesus Sucre Emerging in Catcher Conversation

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Feb 26, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hits a RBI single during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hits a RBI single during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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When looking at the Tampa Bay Rays catching conversation, Jesus Sucre is rarely mentioned. With his performance thus far in Spring Training, he might be a part of the conversation.

When the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Jesus Sucre earlier this month, the transaction was generally met with a yawn. He was expected to be nothing more than a depth piece, staying in Durham unless an emergency necessitated that he make a brief stint on the Major League roster. After all, his lifetime .209/.246/.278 batting line, worth an OPS+ of 48, does not exactly inspire confidence.

However, there is something to be said for making a first impression. Sucre has certainly done that with the Rays, displaying far more offense than anyone could have imagined. In his Spring Training debut on Saturday, Sucre hit a home run. Yesterday, he had a base hit to the opposite field, and gunned down a basestealer. Sucre also showed his strong arm by throwing out another batter on a bunt attempt. It was truly an impressive weekend.

In fact, Sucre’s performance led Chris Archer to think of another former Rays catcher in Jose Molina. Like Molina, Sucre does not have much of an offensive profile, but he shined defensively. Despite his limited time in the lineup, Sucre has saved six runs and thrown out 35% of basestealers in his 88 games behind the plate.

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As neither Curt Casali or Luke Maile has inspired any confidence amongst the Rays faithful, Sucre could have a realistic chance. His defense fits the Rays profile for what they look for behind the plate, and if he can get his offense to Molina levels, he could be the backup once Wilson Ramos is ready to return behind the plate.

No one is expecting that Sucre can keep up his performance throughout the Spring. After all, it is just two relatively meaningless games in February. And yet, for Sucre, who joined the Rays not even three weeks ago, it is a great first impression. With a spot open in the lineup, at least to start the season, this start has been quite opportunistic.

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There is still a lot of time between now and the start of the season. While Jesus Sucre is still the third catcher on the Tampa Bay Rays depth chart, his solid start is getting notice. Now that the door may be cracked open, the ball is in his hands.

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