Tampa Bay Rays Down Under: 5 prospects open eyes in ABL
By Austin Reimann
The Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball league have reached the playoffs. Joining them in their pursuit for a title are 5 Rays prospects. All 5 have been opening eyes down under. Take a look at their stellar regular season campaigns.
Tampa Bay Rays prospects Tristan Gray, Chris Betts, Carl Chester all impressed with the bat while Christopher Sanchez and Joel Piguero dominated on the mound.
Leading the way for the Heat was Rays second base prospect Tristan Gray. Gray led the team with 10 bombs and 41 runs batted in. He also finished second on the team with 50 hits.
.321 AVG // .410 OBP // .583 SLG
Gray was traded to the Rays last offseason in the Corey Dickerson deal that sent him, Daniel Hudson and cash to the Rays in exchange for Corey Dickerson, who at the time was recently designated for assignment.
With the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Gray hit 13 bombs but hit .238. He found success in Australia, as he has hit for a better average and slugging percentage as well as reaching base more often. If he can do more of the same at Montgomery in 2019, Gray will be someone to watch going forward.
Not to be overshadowed by Gray is Rays outfield prospect Carl Chester who was also impressive for Perth. Chester finished tied for second on the team with 6 bombs.
.260 AVG // .356 OBP // .473 SLG
The Rays took Chester in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft out of Miami. He has been impressive up to this point in his professional career advancing through the ranks of the Rays organization steadily through his first 2 seasons.
Last year with Charlotte and Bowling Green, Chester hit .292 with 7 bombs over 119 games. Look for him to open with Gray in Montgomery in 2019.
Chris Betts joined both Gray and Chester in Perth this winter where he hit well over the course of 22 games. He hit 3 bombs and drove in 16.
.310 AVG // .388 OBP // .473 SLG
The Rays took him out of high school with a 2nd round draft pick in 2015 and as a result he is only 21 which is a plus.
Betts showed some pop this year with Bowling Green and Hudson Valley, hitting 10 bombs. He hit .244 and will likely open with Charlotte and look to advance to Montgomery if he can get off to a strong start.
Albeit a smal sample size, Peguero absolutely dominated hitters this winter in Australia. The 21 year old showed some real promise striking out 19 and only walking 2.
2-0 // 1.35 ERA // 13.1 IP
Peguero has been less than impressive for Princeton over the past two season but maybe he figured things out this winter in a Heat uniform. After pitching for the second of two Rays Dominican Summer League teams in 2016, Peguero was assigned to Princeton where he has struggled ever since.
He still has plenty of time though as he is only 21. I would expect him to again start 2019 at Princeton with an expectation for a promotion to Hudson Valley or Bowling Green if he can mirror what he did in Australia.
Last but not least on the list is Christopher Sanchez who also had a good ABL debut on the mound. The 22 year old had some control issues but still managed to limit the damage.
1-0 // 1.76 ERA // 15.1 IP // 10K/10BB
Another product of the Dominican Summer League who reached Hudson Valley unlike Peguero, Sanchez will likely open as a Renegade in 2019.
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With Perth in the playoffs, these Rays prospects could still improve upon their already stellar numbers. It is always nice to see future Rays performing well during the always slow offseason. I am excited to watch each of the 5 players discussed above in the coming 2019 season.