September is just around the corner and with it, major league rosters will expand from their usual 25-man limit to up to 40 players.
Teams don’t have to use all 40 spots and often don’t, but September is the time of year when many players having career years in the minors get their first taste of the majors, or veterans get another chance. The Rays have several players who could make the jump.
*Curt Casali went from being the Rays probable starting catcher at the beginning of spring training to being stashed and struggling in Durham. He hasn’t had a taste of the majors in 2017 after several stints with the Rays from 2014 to 2016. So far this year with Durham, Casali is slashing .264/.349/.347 with 5 HR and a 98 wRC+ over 81 games.
Justin O’Connor could finally make his major league debut after a rough climb through the Rays’ system. After being drafted with the Rays’ second selection in the 2010 draft, O’Conner has dealt with poor performance and season hampering injuries, causing his rise to stall out. He was removed from the team’s 40-man roster last off-season, but now that he is in Durham, he is only a call away from the Rays.
Patrick Leonard, originally brought into the Rays’ organization from the James Shields trade, he started off the season as the hottest player in Triple-A. However, Leonard has fallen off, but still has put up respectable numbers. He could fill in for the Rays at the corner infield spots.
*Matt Duffy, the infielder has seen very limited playing time with the Rays as he dealt with a lingering heel injury. He played with the Rays last August, but was ultimately shut down and hasn’t played a major league game since. He could make his return in September.
*Willy Adames, one of the top prospects in baseball, some would say should have been promoted already, but the Rays like to play the waiting game with some of their more elite prospects. He currently has a 120 wRC+ as a 21-year-old in Durham and could take the Rays starting short stop job.
Jake Bauers, the Rays next best positional prospect behind Adames, he is also just 21-years-old and actually has a 123 wRC+ during his first go around in Durham. He can play either in the outfield or at first base for the Rays.
Trevor Plouffe, he was on the Rays active roster until a week ago. A platoon bat that has struggled mightily in 2017, but could still play a role in the Rays’ September plans.
*Daniel Robertson, he managed to stay on the Rays roster for most of the season after making his first major league roster out of spring training. A very capable defender, his bat never came around this season in limited opportunities. He is almost certainly going to rejoin the Rays once rosters expand.
Ryan Brett, in an alternate universe, Brett has been a mainstay at the top of the Rays lineup since his promotion in 2015. Unfortunately, in this reality, Brett got hurt in one of his first major league games and hasn’t been the same since. Removed from the 40-man roster last off-season, Brett is back with the Rays in Durham but has been unable to stay healthy as he is currently on the DL.
*Mallex Smith, he has been on the Rays active roster for most of the season since breaking camp with the team. His performance has been sporadic as he can be a catalyst for the offense at times, while at other times he can just be a blackhole on both sides of the ball.
Shane Peterson has had a couple of stints with the Rays this year and I’m sure he’d be welcomed back as a bench bat. He had a 89 wRC+ over 30 games in the majors this season with a 118 wRC+ in Durham.
* Indicates player is already on the 40-man roster