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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget



Updated: 2017-10-17T12:31:35-04:00

 



2017 Season Review: Durham Bulls Top 10 Prospects

2017-10-17T12:31:35-04:00

The next wave of talent for the Tampa Bay Rays is a strong group just one promotion away. The Durham Bulls had a lot of prospects that are on the doorstep of the major leagues. They are young and there are some impact players that could fuel the next great Tampa Bay Rays team. The Durham Bulls were the youngest team in the league and had a boatload of prospect talent in 2017. It was disappointing to not see some of these guys help out the major league club in 2017, but there’s a group that did in the bullpen. To be eligible for this list they must still have rookie eligibility which is exhausted at 130 at bats for position players or 50 innings pitched for pitchers. #1. Willy Adames, SS The 6’0” tall 200 pound Adames has made big strides on the defensive side of the ball where most scouts think he’ll stick at short, and could be above average there. Davenport graded his defense at +7 and Baseball Prospectus gave him +1.1 FRAA. After a slow start he really picked it up down the stretch. His overall line of .277/.360/.415 and 120 wRC+ was quite impressive for a 21 year old middle infielder. Adames should play a major role in the 2018 Rays. There currently isn’t a lot of home run power in Adames’ swing, but there should be 15-20 power in a full season. Primarily he uses a line drive approach that should lead to a strong average, but might limit his overall power profile. As he ages you could see some of the doubles start going over the wall. #2. Brent Honeywell, RHP Much like Adames, Honeywell got a rough welcoming to AAA. For the first time in his professional career he really struggled with a 5.87 ERA and 4.64 FIP in his first three starts at the AAA level. He finished strong over his last 21 starts with a 3.32 ERA and 2.58 FIP in 108.1 innings. Overall he threw 152.1 innings including the post season. Next year he’s going to be limited to around 180 innings. Honeywell has a wider repertoire than most minor league pitchers with a 92-94 fastball that can reach 97, slider, changeup, curveball, and the legendary screwball. Most see him as a #3, but he does have upside to be a true top of the rotation stud. The last thing that Honeywell really needs to reach that level is the ability to keep his stuff deeper into a game. By the fourth or fifth inning around the 75 pitch mark his stuff starts to really play down. You’ll see his fastball around 90 and his control starts to waver. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images Brent Honeywell #3. Jake Bauers, 1B Jake Bauers is likely to man the first base in the near future. Coming into the season this wasn’t a sure thing with the presence of Casey Gillaspie. Now the Rays traded off the struggling Gillaspie and Bauers is their chance of filling the first base hole in the minors for a few years. Bauers combined with Adames to man the middle of the Durham lineup as 21 year olds for most of the season. Bauers continued what he did last year in Montgomery. Just like Adames and Honeywell, Bauers struggled in his first taste of AAA. In April he batted .229/.330/.289 and put up a 79 wRC+. From May 1st he hit his stride and hit .270/.375/.437 and put up a 129 wRC+ over 479 plate appearances. The most surprising stat line out of the minors was Bauers willingness to run and doing so successfully. He stole 20 of the 23 bases he attempted. He’s not fast, but he moves well for a bigger guy and gets good jumps. The power is the question when it comes to Bauers. That’s not a great thing when it comes to first base prospects, but it’s not like there is none. The last two years in AA and AAA he hit 14 and 13 home runs respectively. His hit tool is his best tool and should carry him even if he doesn’t put up big power numbers you expect out of a first baseman. Rays fans will fear he’s a James Loney type with very minimal power for a first baseman, but Loney never hit more than 11 homers in a minor league season despite being a year older at each level and having much more friendly homerun environments on the Pacific coast while in the Dodgers[...]



Baseball America’s MLB expansion plan separates Rays from Yankees, Red Sox

2017-10-17T12:27:04-04:00

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American and National Leagues are ancient history in this proposal

Baseball America reports that Major League Baseball has its eyes set on Montreal and “a team in the west” for two expansion cities, and goes on to name Portland, OR as the likely fit.

It’s a neat plan that adds symmetry to an otherwise wonky schedule baseball creates every year. Specifically, an expansion to 32 teams lends itself well to four divisions of eight teams, and the author Tracy Ringolsby has four geographical divisions available for your consideration:

Consider four eight-team divisions with the addition of teams in Portland and Montreal:

East: Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

North: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, both New York franchises and Toronto.

Midwest: Both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.

West: Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

The result of the schedule above is a 156 game season that silos segments of the North America into regional competitions, playing six games against each of the seven opponents.

Tampa Bay’s travel time is cut down significantly by this plan, as would be the case for all teams, but as a result the two largest drawing opponents are cut from the schedule.

Boston and New York (and Toronto, for that matter) all get pulled into a North division, separating snow birds and former home teams, and potentially killing revenue derived from those precious “prime” games.

The realignment would strengthen the Miami rivalry and add Atlanta to the southern mix. This proposal has six fewer games, but a proposed decrease in travel costs and increase in TV viewership by rarely, if ever, leaving your time zone.

Playoffs would feature a wild card game in each division, with the winner facing the division champion, followed by the traditional Championship series (Atlantic and Pacific?), with a concluding World Series. Three out of eight is easier odds than the current scheme.

Would the Rays be interested, if it came at the cost of losing out on high attendance drawing games?

If it means an easier road to the post-season, I’d have to think yes. Ownership can change, but with the above East alignment, the highest dollar payrolls largely leave the division. The playing field may be more level.




Tampa Bay Rays News and Links: Two Very Large Yankees and a silly HR beat Houston

2017-10-17T09:00:07-04:00

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Plus: Willy Adames “battles” Barreto, the Cards community tries to build a trade for Archer, and is Contact making a comeback?

Links:

The Devil Rays would go on to lose that game by the score of 11-6. Multiple franchise firsts occurred, though, as Dave Martinez recorded the first base hit and hometown hero Wade Boggs belted the first home run in franchise history.

The following night, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays experienced their first taste of victory as they defeated the Tigers, 11-8. The Devil Rays went on a roll following the victory as they won four out of five and on April 19th, they were 10-6, marking the highest over .500 an expansion team had ever been that late into a season.

Then things went downhill quickly for the Rays as they’d only win 36% of their remaining games that season, finishing with just under 100 losses with a record 63-99, 51 games back in the division.

Over the course of the season, the Devil Rays didn’t make many moves, staying quiet in trade talks. In the 1998 draft they selected two players who’d go on to be major league regulars, Aubrey Huff, and the late Joe Kennedy. The Rays also picked up Travis Harper and Jorge Cantu during the year.

The best offensive player for the Devil Rays that season was Fred McGriff who slashed .284/.371/.443 with 19 HR to lead the team, good for 111 wRC+ and 3.1 fWAR. The second top player on the team was rookie Miguel Cairo, who put up a solid year of his own with 2.4 fWAR, mostly due to his defensive prowess.

Rolando Arrojo and Tony Saunders led the pitching staff with solid years. Arrojo was the Rays lone selection to the All-Star Game in Colorado and he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

The Devil Rays avoided 100 losses, which is an accomplishment for a first year expansion team.

Vince Naimoli, the majority owner of the Devil Rays, had finally brought major league baseball to Tampa Bay and now with one season over, he looked ahead to 1999 and the effort to build a real contender.




Tampa Bay Rays News and Links: Dodgers Walk-Off against Cubs

2017-10-16T08:57:20-04:00

Dodgers take two game lead, Astros look to keep winning in New York, and Princeton to stay with the Rays The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off a thrilling walk-off victory to take a commanding two game lead in the NLCS as the series heads to Chicago. In the bottom of the ninth, Joe Maddon turned to John Lackey, who would give up the three run blast to Justin Turner to finish the game. Game three of the NLCS will take place tomorrow night at 9:00pm EST with Yu Darvish taking on Kyle Hendricks. Meanwhile, game three of the ALCS will happen tonight at Yankee Stadium. The Houston Astros have taken the first two games from the Yankees beating them 2-1 in both games. Charlie Morton will go for Houston while CC Sabathia will take the mound for New York with the first pitch set for 8:10pm EST. Baseball America released their grades for the 2017 draft with Brendan McKay receiving top marks on both his pitching and offensive potential Speaking of McKay, he is currently playing just as a position player in the Rays Instructional League Bill Chastain looks at the Rays needs this off-season and figures Chris Tillman and Rajai Davis as possible targets Former MLB pitcher, Daniel Webb, passed away this past weekend after an accident with his ATV The Princeton Rays will be a Rays affiliate at least through 2020 as the town sign an extension with the Rays Update on the Rays stadium search as the team searches for site to place to their new ballpark Flashbacks to the 2008 World Series thanks to this game in Japan src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RV6q0SPzcd0?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> I love baseball src="https://streamable.com/t/ro90b" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> [...]