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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget

Updated: 2018-04-22T11:30:02-04:00


Rays Op-Ed: What are we to make of Daniel Robertson?


An article kind of about Daniel Robertson, and how players can be hard to evaluate. I had a rather interesting realization today. I began writing for DRaysBay a little over a year ago. Before my move to DRB, I was a baseball lover, but I didn’t have a team per se. This was not the first time I had hitched my wagon to a team that I had previously followed peripherally but had not had under my microscope. In past iterations, I had written about the Oakland A’s and Minnesota Twins, despite growing up in Yankees country (don’t worry, that love has been burned out of my soul thanks to too many years of Steinbrenner shenanigans). I feel quite comfortable in my ability to dive deep into the vibe surrounding a team: What the fans care about, players that are loved, players that the fanbase is just a bit chilly toward for whatever reason. I thoroughly enjoy deep-diving into different franchises, and what was first an appreciation of the Rays has grown into a budding romance in my second year covering the team. However, whenever this process in undertaken, there are inevitable blind spots. For me, Daniel Robertson was a blind spot. I started off an article with what I believed to be an excellent premise early this morning: Daniel Robertson as the next Ben Zobrist. It made perfect sense. Here was a middle infielder/super utility player who struggled a bit offensively in his Rays debut, but (potentially) broke out after a change in approach. It wasn’t hard to imagine Robertson, his excellent patience at the dish and ability to play nearly every position on the diamond as a Ben Zobrist for the next generation of Rays. Perfect. Excellent article idea. Good work, Jim. However, once I actually sat down and started doing to do the research to make the comparison, it became clear that the comparison broke down quite quickly. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Daniel Robertson was drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft. In 2014, he sported an .873 OPS at High-A, and he was tracking nicely as one of the A’s better prospects. Even before that strong 2014 campaign, he was listed as the fourth-best prospect in the A’s organization by our friends over at Minor League Ball. After that season, he was traded as part of a package from Oakland to Tampa Bay in exchange for, irony of ironies, Ben Zobrist. (It was going to make such an excellent pivot point in the article!) Robertson was the main piece in the deal, and while he wasn’t as flashy as the top pieces in the David Price or even the memorable Wil Myers deal, he was certainly on the radar of more Rays fans than a player like Ben Zobrist was before he made his debut. In 2015, he first year in the Rays system, he was a consensus top-70 prospect, topping out at #65 on’s top 100. All of this happened before I had my MLB microscope specifically pointed toward Tampa Bay. I obviously knew of the Zobrist deal, but I was not reading into the prospects who comprised the return, or if I did, it was mostly in one ear, out the other. As such, when I arrived on the scene before the 2017 season, and a bit of the shine had worn off of Robertson (he did not make any top 100 lists before last season), I looked at him (and this is where I am admitting to holding a bias that I’m not super proud of) and thought: Hmmm, ok, nothing special, he’ll probably will be a replacement-level utility player who won’t stick around long. That’s where the titular idea for a “Daniel Robertson as the next Ben Zobrist” article came from. A bit of ignorance, a bit of slowing hype for a prospect, and a bit of judging a book by its cover. Of course, we’re only 13 games and 44 plate appearances into 2018 Robertson, so maybe it’s best that I just ranted and raved about any and every other than SSS analysis for the past 600 words, but let’s really talk about Robertson for a minute. Robertson is slashing .250/.434/.450 this season for a wRC+ of 156. But even more than that, he just kind of has the look of a guy who’s ready to be with the team fo[...]

Rays prospects and minor leagues: McKay dominates on mound


Brendan McKay continues to do it all for Bowling Green. Dating back to last season, Brendan McKay has dominated in nearly all of his outings. In his first start this season, he threw two innings. That increased to three his next time out, and he threw four innings on Saturday. Whether it’s with Bowling Green or Charlotte, I can’t wait to see him pitch deeper into games and figure out the adjustments he has to make facing hitters multiple times. Triple-A Durham Bulls (5-9) Anthony Banda wasn’t sharp in Durham’s 8-4 loss to Lehigh Valley. The lefty struck out eight batters for the third time in four starts this season, but the IronPigs got to him for six runs on nine hits in four innings. Willy Adames drove in three of the Bulls’ four runs. 1B Jake Bauers: 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 SBSS Willy Adames: 1-for-3, 3 RBICF Joe McCarthy: 1-for-3, 1 BBRF Justin Williams: 0-for-4, 2 K3B Jake Cronenworth: 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B LHP Anthony Banda: 4 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 8 KLHP Jonny Venters: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 KRHP Diego Castillo: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K Durham’s site offers this recap. Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (5-11) Montgomery jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 5-3 win over Biloxi. Brett Sullivan doubled in two in the first, and the Biscuits went up four until the bottom of the fourth. The Shuckers’ second hit of the game was a bases-clearing triple, but it would be their last hit of the game. Genesis Cabrera pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on two hits and four walks with four strikeouts. 2B Nick Solak: 2-for-4, 1 R, 2 KLF Brandon Lowe: 1-for-4, 1 KSS Jermaine Palacios: 1-for-4, 1 RBI, 2 K LHP Genesis Cabrera: 7 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 KRHP Mike Franco: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K Class A-Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (8-8) Charlotte earned its fourth straight win with a 5-2 triumph over Palm Beach. A leadoff double followed by an error to start the game put the Stone Crabs in an immediate hole, but they went ahead for good with two runs in the second. In the sixth, RBI doubles by Jesus Sanchez and David Rodriguez added insurance. Starter Willy Ortiz was sharp, allowing just an unearned run in seven innings with seven strikeouts. SS Lucius Fox: 2-for-3, 1 BBRF Jesus Sanchez: 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K RHP Willy Ortiz: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 7 K Charlotte’s site offers this recap. Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (8-8) Brendan McKay delivered another strong effort in Bowling Green’s 4-3 win over Lake County. In four scoreless innings — a season-long outing so far — he struck out a career-high seven batters, allowed just two hits, and didn’t walk anyone. He threw 38 strikes in his 45 pitches. In the Hot Rods’ three-run second inning, Devin Davis drove in a run and later scored on a balk. 2B Vidal Brujan: 1-for-4, 1 RDH Ronaldo Hernandez: 1-for-4, 1 R, 2 K, 1 SB LHP Brendan McKay: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 KLHP Hunter Schryver: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K CLICK HERE FOR ALL BOX SCORES Sunday’s games (probables courtesy of Durham vs. Lehigh Valley 5:05 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)Chih-Wei Hu (0-1, 6.00) vs. TBA Montgomery @ Biloxi 3:05 p.m. ET (MiLB.TV, radio stream)Zach Lee (1-0, 1.62) vs. Luis Ortiz (1-1, 1.56) Charlotte vs. Palm Beach 12:35 p.m. ET (radio stream)Brock Burke (0-2, 10.13) vs. Anthony Shew (1-0, 0.51) Bowling Green @ Lake County 1:30 p.m. ET (radio stream)Alex Valverde (1-0, 0.90) vs. TBA *Listed as TBA on Scouting the opposition Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia)7-7 (3rd in IL North)Offense: 57 R (T-2nd) .728 OPS (4th)Pitching: 3.48 ERA (9th) 1.28 WHIP (8th)Top-30 prospects: RHP Enyel De Los Santos (10), OF Roman Quinn (14), RHP Jose Taveras (24), RHP Tom Eshelman (28), RHP Steve Geltz Biloxi Shuckers (Milwaukee)10-6 (1st in SL South)Offense: 61 R (3rd) .728 OPS (4th)Pitching: 2.39 ERA (1st) 1.28 WHIP (2nd)Top-30 prospects: RHP Luis Ortiz (6), 3B Lucas Ecreg (8), OF Corey Ray (10), 1B Jake Gatewood (14), OF Trent Grisham (15), RHP Cody Ponce (18), RHP Adrian Houser (31), C Nick [...]