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What might the Rays’ minor league lineups look like?

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As minor league season nears, speculation about affiliate rosters increases

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Willy Adames will be back in this uniform soon
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

How the Rays bench shakes out will have a serious effect on how Durham’s lineup looks next week. For now, I’m going with Daniel Robertson and Mallex Smith making the Rays. Both of those players would be in the everyday lineup for the Bulls should they return to the minors.

Here are our guesses for what each full-season affiliate’s lineup could look like when minor league action kicks off soon. Starters, in bold, go C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF and RF. The benches are not complete, as you can probably see. Each affiliate will have a DH as well.

Minor league hitting

Triple-A Durham Double-A Montgomery Class A-Advanced Charlotte Class-A Bowling Green
Triple-A Durham Double-A Montgomery Class A-Advanced Charlotte Class-A Bowling Green
Luke Maile Nick Ciuffo David Rodriguez Zacrey Law
Casey Gillaspie Joe McCarthy Dalton Kelly Nathaniel Lowe
Kean Wong Alec Sole Brandon Lowe Miles Mastrobuoni
Jake Hager Grant Kay Kevin Padlo Adrian Rondon
Willy Adames Andrew Velazquez Jake Cronenworth Lucius Fox
Patrick Leonard Granden Goetzman David Olmedo-Barrera Jake Fraley
Johnny Field Tommy Milone Nathan Lukes Garrett Whitley
Jake Bauers Justin Williams Manny Sanchez Jesus Sanchez
Curt Casali Jonah Heim Brett Sullivan Joshua Lowe
Ryan Brett Michael Russell Eleardo Cabrera
Cade Gotta Ryan Boldt

Without Robertson and Smith for now, I’d expect Jake Hager and Patrick Leonard to get some extra at-bats. Along with Hager, Ryan Brett returning to action and Kean Wong will factor in to the infield. Willy Adames, Casey Gillaspie and Jake Bauers should be pretty locked in to their positions. Johnny Field and Cade Gotta will get chances in the outfield.

Montgomery’s lineup is pretty tough to piece together. If I’m going to get a lot of players wrong, I think it would be Biscuits players. Justin Williams and Granden Goetzman are holdovers from 2016, and the rest of the lineup is a mix of players who may or may not have clearly earned promotions from Charlotte. Joe McCarthy definitely did. The Rays have shown a willingness to promote Nick Ciuffo because of his defensive strength. That may be true for Jonah Heim (Steve Pearce trade) as well.

Charlotte’s, on the other hand, is nearly just a cut-and-paste job from Bowling Green last year. Dalton Kelly (Taylor Motter trade), and Nathan Lukes (Brandon Guyer trade) came from other organizations, but the rest of the lineup just moves up a level. David Rodriguez and Brett Sullivan both need time behind the plate, and Michael Russell should get quite a bit of work all over the diamond.

Bowling Green’s outfield could be the most interesting thing to come out of minor league assignments over the next few days. Jake Fraley and Ryan Boldt both have to be in full-season ball as recent college players; it’s the next level up for Garrett Whitley; Jesus Sanchez, Eleardo Cabrera, and Joshua Lowe probably all deserve to be there.

The left side of the infield will be very talented too. Lucius Fox will get a second chance in a full-season league, and Adrian Rondon should get his first. Zacrey Law will return to Bowling Green, albeit at a new position, and the right side of the infield is a pair of 2016 college draft picks.

Based on Baseball America’s report on Chris Betts in the Prospect Handbook, my guess is that he’s starting in extended spring training again.