FIguring out Wil Myers' Opening Day assignment isn't very difficult - Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE
We looked at what the minor league rotations might look like. What about the position player assignments?
Last week, I previewed what I thought might be the Rays' full-season rotations to start the minor league season. Without any ideas for this week, I thought I'd do the same for the every day lineups. A lot of factors go into this because some players could either start for Durham or be on the big club's bench, and about 30% of the organization has suspensions carrying over from the end of last season. Doing the hitters is probably harder because there are more spots to fill, so there will probably be minor quibbles with where the org players go. This area of the organization probably isn't as deep, but there is still plenty of talent to watch. For these purposes, I'm going to assume that these position players are on the Rays' Opening Day roster.
C Jose Molina
C Jose Lobaton
1B James Loney
2B Kelly Johnson
SS Yunel Escobar
3B Evan Longoria
OF Matt Joyce
CF Desmond Jennings
OF Sam Fuld
Every position Ben Zobrist
IF Ryan Roberts
IF Sean Rodriguez
DH Luke Scott
Beckham, Lee and Myers were the easiest to place on here. Choosing the Durham lineup was probably the toughest. There are the players who earned promotions from AA, players who won't break camp with the Rays, and players who will return to Durham because there's no room on the Rays and no other minor leagues to get promoted to. Those are your Rich Thompsons or Leslie Andersons. At least five of the above nine players will get plate appearances for the Rays this year, so even if a handful of them aren't prospects, their performances could be important.
Guyer was probably my last cut from the rough sketch of the Rays roster. Another right handed bat in the outfield is a really good fit, but with all of the players competing for a bench role, I figured Guyer could start here since as far as I can tell, he has an option remaining. Chirinos is listed as the catcher here, but I expect he's going to play all over the diamond. Mark Thomas should be at Durham, and he was recently ranked as the organization's best catching prospect by Baseball America.
Without Derek Dietrich returning with this general group of players, prospect wise, this lineup seems pretty barren to start the year. Mahtook and Glaesmann are both among the team's top 30 prospects, and Bailey, Kiemaier and maybe even O'Malley are lying in the weeds of eventually getting a cup of coffee in the majors. I didn't want to leave Mahtook in Montgomery again. He could probably make some improvements there over his stint to finish 2012, but he will play for Durham this year barring injury, perhaps when Wil Myers gets called up to the majors.
This was another tough lineup to set, but for different reasons from Durham. Without high priority players like prospects to place, I had to look to organizational players and minor league veterans to fill in. Sheridan and Sexton could be gone tomorrow without most fans noticing and have certainly accumulated a lot of plate appearances with Montgomery already, but there just aren't many options to fill those positions. Once Mahtook is bumped up to AAA, this could be the least interesting box score to check each night.
Charlotte Stone Crabs
This is the roster most affected by last season's drug suspensions with Ryan Brett and Josh Sale set to miss the first third of a season. Juniel Querecuto is a player that could benefit and get some extra plate appearances, and it opens up a spot in the outfield for the organization to experiment with Richie Shaffer. Tyler Goeddel could probably change positions down the line is well, but Shaffer should be ready for the majors sooner, and they might want to get him used to playing a position he may have to with the Rays. It'll probably be a pretty fluid situation that could see Shaffer playing some first base too.
Kes Carter staying healthy for a change would be nice for the Rays. It's almost easy to forget that he was a first round pick just two years ago because he's only had 200 plate appearances. His performance really hasn't merited this assignment so far, but he's been injured so much it's hard to tell if he's really struggling in pro ball or just can't get in any kind of rhythm constantly being in and out of the lineup. Segovia is listed as the starter here, but they almost had an identical amount of plate appearances last year, and that'll probably continue this year.
Bowling Green Hot Rods
C Oscar Hernandez
1B Luke Maile
2B Tommy Coyle
SS Brandon Martin
3B Patrick Leonard
LF Johnny Eierman
CF Andrew Toles
RF Granden Goetzman
DH Justin O'Conner
There's certainly potential for a lot of this to be wrong with how slowly the Rays can be with some prospects. Hernandez is probably the least likely out of all of these players to start in Bowling Green. He won't be 20 until July, so there's no rush to get him into full-season ball. If he's not there to start the year, Luke Maile can probably hold down the fort. With the addition of Patrick Leonard to the organization and some of the younger players jumping up, last year's championship Hudson Valley team may not have much of a presence in the everyday lineup here.
One player who was on that Renegades team is Justin O'Conner; whether or not he actually provides a presence is up for plenty of debate. At this point, I don't know if he'll catch or even play some first base, but this is his chance. He has to sink or swim in full-season ball at this point. There's a little less urgency for a trio of 2011 picks, Brandon Martin, Johnny Eierman and Granden Goetzman. Whether it's due to underwhelming performance or injuries, these three aren't a guarantee to start with Bowling Green. It sure would be nice to see they're up for the challenge though.
There are a handful of players to keep in mind for when the short-season leagues get going. There are four 2012 picks from high schools, Spencer Edwards (2nd round), Bralin Jackson (5th), Clayton Henning (11th) and Taylor Hawkins (12th). Yoel Araujo was a big ticket Latin American signing by the Rays, and catcher David Rodriguez leads a pretty big crop from the 2012 signing period.