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Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Solak among those named to AAA roster

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Jesus Sanchez #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays and the World Team bats in the fourth inning against the U.S. Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Jesus Sanchez #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays and the World Team bats in the fourth inning against the U.S. Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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The Tampa Bay Rays announced their Triple-A affiliate’s roster this afternoon. Some of the team’s top prospects such as Nick Solak are scheduled to begin the year only one step away from their debut.

The Durham Bulls will have a stacked roster as they attempt to win the International Cup for the third year in a row. Led by Brady Williams, the 2019 Bulls will be made up of former major leaguers, fresh faces for Durham fans, and 16 returnees from the  2018 squad. The Tampa Bay Rays were especially aggressive in their assignment of Jesus Sanchez to the AAA roster.

What is very promising is that 3 of the Rays Top-10 prospects according to BA will start the season in Durham. Overall, 8 of the Rays Top-30 prospects will open the year in a Bulls uniform. That is a lot of talent on one roster.

The 34 man roster is broken down below:

Pitchers:

  • Oliver Drake
  • Jake Faria
  • Hector Figueroa
  • Mike Franco
  • Ian Gardeck
  • Ian Gibaut
  • Brent Honeywell Jr.
  • Andrew Kittredge
  • Sam McWilliams
  • Ryan Merrit*
  • Hoby Milner*
  • Andrew Moore
  • Jose Mujica
  • Emilio Pagan
  • Colin Poche*
  • Austin Pruitt
  • Ryan Sherriff*
  • Aaron Slegers
  • Cole Sulser
  • Ryan Thompson
  • Hunter Wood

* denotes LHP

Catchers:

  • Anthony Bemboom, LHH
  • Nick Ciuffo, LHH
  • Mac James, RHH

Infielders 

  • Jake Cronenworth, LHH, SS
  • Nate Lowe, LHH, 1B
  • Nick Solak, RHH, 2B
  • Andrew Velasquez, S, SS
  • Kean Wong, LHH, U

Outfielders

  • Jason Coats, RHH
  • Joe McCarthy, LHH
  • Jesus Sanchez, LHH
  • Jake Smolinski, RHH

My thoughts:

  • Jesus Sanchez catches my eye immediately as Baseball America projected him to open in Montgomery due to his struggles there at the plate after his promotion late in the season. BA ranked Sanchez as the Rays #6 prospect.
  • Nick Solak will be an interesting player to watch in 2019 as he put on a power show in Montgomery last season, hitting 19 bombs, 17 doubles, and 3 triples which was good for a slugging percentage of .450. BA ranks Solak as the Rays #13 prospect.
  • Kean Wong is still awaiting his call to the big leagues after winning the 2018 Bulls’ MVP award along with the AAA All-Star and Championship game MVP recognition as well. With Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, and Daniel Robertson all needing at bats at the major league level, his debut may have to come with another club.
  • With a strong start in AAA, Joe McCarthy could find himself on the major league roster if Guillermo Heredia struggles. BA ranks McCarthy as the Rays #24 prospect.
  • Jacob Faria, Colin Poche, Ian Gibaut, Emilio Pagan, Austin Pruitt, Hunter Wood, Andrew Kittredge, Brent Honeywell Jr., and others should all see time in a Rays uniform this season.

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With minor league rosters being announced, keep an eye out for more articles talking about specific players to watch at each level.

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