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Tampa Bay Rays: What Could Have Been with Desmond Jennings

By David Hill
Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) at bat against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) at bat against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Desmond Jennings was expected to be a star with the Tampa Bay Rays. Now, at 30 years old, his career may be done.

It was not all that long ago that the Tampa Bay Rays were looking at Desmond Jennings as a future star. He was expected to become another Carl Crawford, hitting with a bit of pop while being a weapon on the basepaths. His ascension would, in theory, replace the Rays dynamic leadoff hitter.

While Jennings became a productive player, he was never the star the Rays had hoped for. He showed flashes of that ability, but was unable to maintain consistency. From 2010 through 2014, Jennings had a solid .248/.327/.401 batting line, hitting 47 homers and stealing 88 bases. He may not have been Crawford, but he was a reasonable facsimile.

That changed in 2015. He missed a large portion of the 2015 season after surgery on his left knee, but returned for two solid weeks in August before missing the remainder of the campaign. He struggled in 2016 due to hamstring and further knee issues, posting a .200/.281/.350 batting line before being released.

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Since then, Jennings has yet to return to the majors. He signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, but was released during Spring Training. Jennings then signed with the New York Mets, where he posted a .237/.301/.415 with eight homers and only three steals in AAA before being released on Friday.

At this point, it may be fair to wonder if Jennings will get another chance. The Mets have essentially been a walking disabled list thus far in 2017, yet Jennings was unable to produce enough to get a look at the majors. His once prolific speed appears to be gone, as the ravages of his knee and hamstring issues have caught up with him. At this point, Jennings is nothing more than a shadow of his former self.

It is unfortunate that his career may be coming to an end in this way. Jennings never quite lived up to his potential, his flashes of brilliance too few and far between. He was a decent enough player in his own right, with solid defense and an above average bat, but he was not the Carl Crawford clone that he Rays fans were promised.

At times, it appeared as though those expectations were weighing on Jennings. Instead of being his own player, he was trying to be Crawford, much to his own detriment. He may have been a similar player, but he just was not the same.

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At this point, Desmond Jennings career may well be over. While he was a good player with the Tampa Bay Rays, one still has to wonder what might have been.

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