Next week, Tampa Bay Rays fans will have a chance to see the High-A affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs and top prospect Brendan McKay in Bradenton and Clearwater.
If you want a chance to say you saw the stars before they were stars, next week will provide a local chance to see some of the best Tampa Bay Rays prospects. They will begin the week with three games in Bradenton before heading further north to Clearwater for a three-game weekend series.
Headlining the roster, of course, is the 2017 top draft pick, Brendan McKay. Obviously, most of his time is spent at first base and at the plate, but local fans may get a shot at seeing him on the mound as well. If the schedule plays out as it has recently, the best guess looks like a start Saturday August 25 in Clearwater.
At the plate, McKay’s numbers don’t stand out, as he brings a batting average of .229 with five home runs. But, on the mound, he’s been as good as advertised. He is 3-2 in seven starts with the Stone Crabs with a 3.12 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .229 batting average.
Beyond McKay, another top prospect on the Stone Crabs’ roster is second baseman Vidal Brujan. Ranked #12 by mlb.com, Brujan has rushed out to a .432/.543/.676 slash line in just ten games with Charlotte will swiping five bases. Prior to his promotion, he was hitting .313 in Bowling Green while stealing an amazing 43 bases in 95 games.
After McKay and Brujan, there are still others to keep an eye on.
There are a few other names that made news in the past years that are on the current Charlotte Stone Crabs roster, most notably infielders Tristan Gray and Jermaine Palacios. Gray came to the Rays organization as part of the trade that sent OF Corey Dickerson to the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to this season. So far this season, he is batting .250 with 50 extra base hits for Charlotte and is coming off a Florida State League Player of the Week honors earlier this month.
Palacios, you might remember, also game to the Rays system via trade. He was the young shortstop that the Rays snared from the Minnesota Twins in the Jake Odorizzi trade this spring. So far this season, he bats .259 with Charlotte in 53 games after being demoted from Double-A Montgomery after the first two months of the season and hitting a dismal .189.
Another notable name with Charlotte is 2016 first round draft pick Josh Lowe, although he is on the disabled list, so his appearance in the bay area is up in the air at this time.
In the end, unless you make the drive south to Charlotte, this might be your last chance to get a glimpse of Brendan McKay and Vidal Brujan for a couple of years. As they work their way up the system, their next appearance locally will most likely be in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform.