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Tampa Bay Rays: Jake Bauers Making a Case for 2017

m1sterdave
Mar 18, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; After hitting a two run homer Tampa Bay Rays' Jake Bauers (70) celebrates with Nick Franklin (2) in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; After hitting a two run homer Tampa Bay Rays' Jake Bauers (70) celebrates with Nick Franklin (2) in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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One of the Tampa Bay Rays top prospects, Jake Bauers was not expected to appear in the Majors until later this year. His performance in Spring Training could move that timetable up.

Prior to Spring Training, Jake Bauers had already been a topic amongst Tampa Bay Rays fans. With his nearly perfect lefty swing, Bauers had opened quite a few eyes in his 2016 campaign. He produced a solid .274/.370/.420 batting line, hitting 14 homers and stealing 10 bases. Although he was going to get a look in the Rays Major League camp, he was likely to start the year in Durham, and could possibly be a September callup this season.

At least, that was the plan before Spring Training. Instead of getting a chance to train with Major Leaguers and take that experience with him as he embarked on his first tour of AAA, Bauers has truly opened eyes this Spring. He leads the Rays with four home runs, displaying a powerful swing that evoked comparisons to Ken Griffey. However, Bauers has not just been about the power, producing a .353/.439/.824 batting line while leading the team in runs, RBI, and walks.

Meanwhile, Logan Morrison has not fared as well. In his 15 plate appearances, he has just three hits and two walks, with a double for his only extra base hit. Morrison is also on just a one year deal for $2.5 Million. Even by the Rays standards, that is not exactly a lot of money.

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If Bauers continues his torrid pace in Spring Training, he may well force his way into the conversation to be the Rays starting first baseman. Although the Rays would need to make a move to add Bauers to the 40 man roster, it would certainly be worthwhile to add a player who has the potential to be a cornerstone for the team.

Given the Rays issues on offense last year, Bauers could be a solid upgrade already at this point in his development. Yes, he could stand to get a bit more seasoning in the minors, but the Rays do have an eye towards contending this season. Should Morrison struggle at the beginning of the year again, and Bauers stays hot, it would be difficult to keep him in Durham.

Next: Rays interested in Nick Ahmed

Jake Bauers could get his chance sooner rather than later with the Tampa Bay Rays. If this hot streak continues, we could see him in the Trop before the end of the year.

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