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Tampa Bay Rays: Top Prospects Get a Good Look in Spring Training

By David Egbert
Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Jake Bauers during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Jake Bauers during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Tampa Bay Rays have as many as a dozen top 30 prospects at spring training that are a year or two away from contributing. Here’s a look into those prospects and how they’ve done this spring.

Spring training is a great time to take a look at your team’s top prospects. Some are trying to make the big league team. Others are just getting their first taste of the major leagues. Usually a team may have a few prospects that at the AAA level and close to the big leagues. However, this spring the Tampa Bay Rays have as many as a dozen top 30 prospects that are a year or two away from contributing to the Rays major league team. Let’s take a look at who they are and how they have fared so far this spring. All rankings are based on Baseball America’s 2017 prospect guide.

The Tampa Bay Rays number one prospect, shortstop Willy Adames, isn’t having the best spring numbers wise and through March 18th he only has a .222/.250/.389 slash line in 18 at bats. However, he has impressed the team with his skill set and maturity level. With Matt Duffy on the roster, Adames will return to Durham for the 2017 season but he could be the Rays starting shortstop as early as 2018.

Number three prospect, Casey Gillaspie, has shown the type of power the Tampa Bay Rays had hoped for in the switch hitting first baseman. In 24 at bats to date, he has a .241/.290/.586 slash line with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs. Depending on how Logan Morrison performs, Gillaspie could play for the Rays this year and he’ll definitely go into the 2018 spring training as the team’s first baseman.

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Gillaspie’s bash brother, number four prospect Jake Bauers, is also having a good spring. The 21 year old first baseman/outfield has an awesome .409/.500/.773 slash line in 22 at bats . Never the less, he’ll go to Durham to improve his outfield skills. However, despite his young age, he could make a run at the starting left field job in 2018.

The starting pitching prospects were equally as impressive. Number five prospect Chih-Wei Hu has posted a 1.29 era with four strikeouts and one walk in seven innings. Jacob Faria, the number eight prospect, has a 6.14 era but has struck out nine batters to one walk in 7 innings. Finally, Taylor Guerrieri has a 3.60 era in five innings. All three will pitch for Durham this year but could be on the Tampa Bay Rays staff in 2018.

Out of the bullpen, number twelve prospect Jaime Schultz has posted an incredible 1.73 era with 13 strikeouts in 8 innings. Austin Pruitt, the number twenty nine prospect, has a 3.52 era with 9 strikeouts to zero walks in 7.2 innings. Schultz or Pruitt may make the Rays’ 25 man roster. Last but not least, number twenty seven prospect, Hunter Wood has a 0.00 era in 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts.

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Not all of the top thirty prospects have had a good spring. Starter Jose De Leon and reliever Ryne Stanek have been kicked around pretty badly. Infielder Daniel Robertson has put up only a .111/.200/.111 slash line in 27 at bats. However, Robertson may make the teams if Matt Duffy goes on the DL.

Some interesting stories are also in the Rays’ camp. Former number seven prospect Ryan Brett is having a nice spring with a .389/.368/.611 slash line in 18 at bats. Brett was out all last year with a back injury and has fallen out of the top 30 prospect list. He will return to Durham and try to jump start his career as a second baseman/center fielder. Newly acquired Mallex Smith has not done much at the plate but has shown amazing speed and has an outside shot to be the opening day left fielder if Colby Rasmus is not ready.

Eight of these prospects, including Adames, DeLeon and Stanek, have been sent to the minor league camp this week. The remaining six, Gillaspie, Bauers, Robertson, Schultz, Pruitt and Smith, will stay in the major league camp.

Next: Adames, De Leon among First Set of Roster Cuts

How many, if any, will be on the 2017 opening day big league roster remains to be seen. However, they will continue to get a chance to show their skills to Kevin Cash and, hopefully, be an integral part of the Rays’ team in the not too distant future.

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