The Tampa Bay Rays have 67 players in camp competing for a place on the 26-man roster. We take a look at a few players who are battling for a spot.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in their second week of spring training and barreling toward the season. There are still a few roster spots they need to get lined out this spring. Today we take a look at a position that could be up for grabs this spring.
Final Bench Spots
To me, it appears that the Rays have 12 spots very likely to be locked up for their Opening Day roster:
- Austin Meadows
- Willy Adames
- Brandon Lowe
- Kevin Kiermaier
- Ji-Man Choi
- Yandy Diaz
- Jose Martinez
- Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
- Hunter Renfroe
- Mike Zunino
- Manuel Margot
- Winner of the backup catcher spot.
"Tampa Bay Rays Spring Skirmish: Battle at Backup Catcher"
With the new 26-man rosters in effect, teams can carry a maximum of 13 pitchers. That means there’s one more spot for a bat if the Rays maximize the pitching staff.
Let’s take a look at one of the players duking it out for that final spot.
Following the release of Jesus Aguilar, the Rays sent cash and a player to be named later to the Reds for 1B/OF, Brian O’Grady. O’Grady fits the Rays’ mold of an under the radar player with immense talent. While he’s slashed .252/.354/.453 over six minor league seasons, last year in AAA-Louisville, he took a major step forward. He posted the highest OPS of his career with 59 extra-base hits with 28 homers and a .359 on-base percentage. It was a lot of damage in only 112 games. O’Grady served as Aristides Aquino‘s fellow bash brother.
"“We always say, ‘Bash Brothers since 2014,'” O’Grady said."
After spending years in the minors together, they had aspirations of reaching the big leagues together. Last season, Aquinos was called up on Aug. 1 and O’Grady made his debut just seven days later.
The Bash Brothers had arrived in Cincinnati. While Aquinos set a series of rookie records, O’Grady struggled in only 48 major league plate appearances. Despite only hitting .190 he still flashed his power with a .429 slugging percentage.
In addition to his power with the bat, O’Grady is a versatile defensive player. Last season with the Reds he played all three outfield spots and first base in only 28 major league games.
O’Grady made for an interesting acquisition for the Rays but his chances of cracking the roster have slimmed since the additions of Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot, and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. It’s likely O’Grady starts in AAA-Durham but he’s a bat to watch this spring.
What kind of pieces have to fall in place this spring for O’Grady to crack the Opening Day roster?