With the Rays First Spring Training game coming up this Friday, I think now is a good time to examine which players deserve our attention more than others. While this is just Spring Training and is not always indicative of how a player will do afterwards (Rickie Weeks), it does give us an idea of what a good or bad Spring Training could do to boost a player’s standing in the organization.
The new guy, C.J. Cron
Last year’s first base acquisition Logan Morrison was met with suspicion, and you may probably have the same concerns regarding Cron this year, but funny enough, if we take a look at Morrison’s 2016 season, it is almost identical to Cron’s 2017 season. Here are the similar statistics from each player:
Morrison 2016: 398 PA, .238 BA, 100 wRC+, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 0.5 WAR, 22.4 K%, .176 ISO
Cron 2017: 373 PA, .248 BA, 99 wRC+, 16 HR, 56 RBI, .5 WAR, 25.7 K%, .189 ISO
This is not surprising as they are similar hitters in their approach. After Morrison’s sub par 2016 season, we saw a huge breakout. Will the Rays be able to repeat the trick with Cron?
A slim Wilson Ramos
Ramos showed flashes of greatness in his 2016 season with the Nationals before getting injured. It is reasonable to assume that his injury affected his 2017 numbers. After having an all-star year in 2016, he dropped his average to .260, fell from a 3.4 WAR to a .4 WAR, and his wRC+ fell from 124 to 92, in 2017.
Ramos is now in his last year of his “show me you can still play” contract. Thus, he will most likely be under an immense amount of pressure to perform, and show glimpses of his 2016 form. I will be intrigued to watch his Spring performance, to see if he truly has improved. Early reports indicate he’s dropped 15 pounds heading into 2018.
A confident Brent Honeywell
The hype will finally come to an end this season. The Rays have already announced there will be a four man rotation for the first six weeks, and Honeywell is most likely going to be a part of at least one spot start before a permanent promotion mid-season.
We know that he is an exceptional pitcher who has potential to be a front-line starter. He has a great mid-90’s fastball with exceptional movement on his breaking pitches. As you would imagine of our top prospect, he absolutely ran through minor league competition, and adding to the fun he has even called out Chris Archer,
He still has not thrown to a major league caliber roster yet, with this being his first big league camp, but now, he will get his chance this Spring. Steamer projects him to start 18 games, go 6-6, with a 4.16 ERA and a 4.27 FIP.
Will Willy Adames break through?
Adames is our top prospect on offense and ranked 22nd in MLB this year. Similar to Honeywell, he has shown potential as a hitter and posted a very respectable wRC+ of 119 last year. Last Spring, he posted a .300 batting average in 20 plate appearances with a very good OPS of .868, which increased the hype.
The Rays front office believes that this kid could one of the cornerstones of this franchise going forward, but when will it happen? If Adames repeats that Spring performance is he more than a mid-season call up? Second base is wide open on this Rays roster.
Is Matt Duffy finally healthy?
Matt Duffy was a fantastic player for the Giants in 2015 and was acquired to be the Rays short stop. Multiple foot surgeries later, and the Rays had to go get another short stop instead in Adeiny Hechavarria.
While the Rays have announced Duffy as the starting third baseman, we have no idea what to expect from him. Due to his injuries, this Spring is the first time in a while that he will see real competition.
The other new guy, Christian Arroyo
Duffy’s former Giants teammate, Christian Arroyo, will be fighting to start somewhere on the infield, and second base is the path of least resistance as he is likely not going to win the battle against Duffy for third base (presuming good health). With Duffy as injury prone as he is, Arroyo might actually get a shot to get some quality playing time in with the major league club this season.
It will be interesting to see how the 5th best third base prospect does against some real competition. We got a glimpse last year of what he did with the Giants, and his numbers were not inspiring enough to keep his prospect hype high this off season. The Rays went and got him anyway, and he’ll have his chance to prove himself this Spring.
Who will you be watching the closest during Spring Training?
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