As Tampa Bay Rays fans stay geared up for a potential season in 2020, we take a look at which players might make an impact on an expanded active roster.
The Tampa Bay Rays‘ system is overflowing with talented players. Last season they used a franchise record 57 different players in a 96-win campaign.
With the prospect of a shortened season, owners presented a plan to the players to get the season rolling. Naturally, there is a big hang-up over money (in case you haven’t heard), but parts of the plan regarding the games are intriguing.
One of those pieces is the expanded 30-man roster. The Rays are in a great position of depth. Here’s a look at a few guys that were borderline players coming into spring training that should be a lock for a 30-man active roster.
Nate Lowe – Nate Lowe set the system on fire in 2018 when he smashed 27 homers and showed great on-base skills. He showed off his power with the team last season with 15 extra-base hits 129 at-bats, including a memorable walk-off homer against the Red Sox as the Rays entered the final week of the season and pushed for the playoffs.
Lowe came into camp 20 pounds lighter this year and was endearing himself to Rays management by working at both first and third base.
Brian O’Grady – Lowe might have raised a few eyebrows in 2018, but Brian O’Grady was the Louisville Bats co-MVP last season while setting a club record for most home runs in a single season with 28. He was half of the “Bash Brothers” with Aristides Aquino. He’s matchup-proof as a left-handed hitter who slugged over .600 against lefties last season.
O’Grady doesn’t just bring the threat with the bat, he started his career as a speedy, leadoff hitter. He actually has more minor league steals than homers. He can play first, third, and all three outfield positions. He’s the type of player the Rays covet. He should be a lock for a 30-man expanded roster.
Randy Arozarena – After the Rays traded LHP prospect Matthew Liberatore to the Cardinals for Randy Arozarena and Jose Martinez, it appeared as though Arozarena was a lock for the fourth outfield spot. That was until the Rays acquired Manuel Margot. Arozarena, like O’Grady, fits the swiss army knife description that the Rays gravitate to. He can play any outfield spot, has speed to burn, and brings a lot of power for a 170-pound outfielder. He slugged .593 in Triple-A last season for the Redbirds.
Kevan Smith – Smith comes to the Rays as the projected third catcher behind Mike Zunino and Michael Perez. As we know, Zunino has had his struggles with the bat, and Perez is unproven at a major league level. That’s the one thing Kevan Smith has over both of those guys, he’s a proven major league catcher. Over four big-league seasons, he has a career .272 average and similar numbers to Travis d’Arnaud (pre-Rays). Smith also brings a very good slash against left-handed pitching: 304/.435/.439.
The Rays are set up to make a run this season, shortened or not. We haven’t even touched on the pitchers! Are there any players you believe should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.