Monday, the Rays released preliminary rosters for their four full-season affiliates, which start play on Thursday.
Unlike last season, Jake Bauers is listed as an infielder, not an outfielder. I don’t know if it means he’s totally finished in the outfield, but it would seem his defensive focus has changed for this season.
Fans in Durham should probably not get too attached to those relievers. They will probably be on the Durham-to-St. Petersburg shuttle for much of the season.
Jermaine Palacios, acquired from the Twins in the Jake Odorizzi trade, is moving up to Double A. In 263 Florida State League plate appearances last season, he had a .662 OPS, below the league average of .680. With Palacios, Jake Cronenworth, Brandon Lowe, and Nick Solak, there is going to be some mixing and matching in the infield.
The pitching staff is interesting. Kyle Bird and Michael Franco are repeating the level despite having success there last season, likely due to the bullpen depth on Durham’s staff. I wouldn’t expect them to be fixtures in Montgomery the entire season.
Matt Krook, acquired from the Giants in the Evan Longoria trade, is on the Biscuits’ staff. Also on that staff is Zach Lee, a former first-round pick and one-time top Dodgers prospect. The Mariners once traded Chris Taylor for him. Another addition from outside the organization is Austin Wright. He was once named the top Independent Leagues prospect by Baseball America, but the results haven’t been great since he returned to affiliated ball.
Charlotte’s disabled list to start the season is so large I had to omit the team header from the screencap. Kevin Gadea and Brandon Koch missed all of last season. Previously unknown — to me, anyway — were injuries to Jake Fraley and Blake Bivens. Fraley did see some action in major league spring training but is apparently not ready to start the season.
The Lowe brothers will start the season on the same roster again, but last season, Nate earned a midseason promotion.
Lucius Fox and Kevin Padlo will return to the Charlotte infield this season, and among the players joining them is Tristan Gray, acquired from the Pirates in the Corey Dickerson trade. He’s skipping over Bowling Green, which I admit surprised me. He should see action at multiple positions.
Like Fox and Padlo, David Rodriguez is back with the Stone Crabs, and he’ll be splitting time behind the plate with another well-regarded catcher in Rene Pinto.
Stephen Woods, also acquired in the Longoria trade, is starting the season on the disabled list.
A remarkable thing about this roster is that Adrian Rondon is still the third-youngest player on the club. He was not good last season, but he’s still so young.
Of course, what really stands out is that deep pitching staff, particularly the rotation. With Brendan McKay’s unique schedule plus Austin Franklin, Resly Linares, Tobias Myers, Jhonleider Salinas, and Drew Strotman, Bowling Green appears to be using a six-man rotation to start the season.
Also of note is catcher Ronaldo Hernandez skipping Hudson Valley and making his full-season debut. That’s not a particularly surprising promotion, but I was still unsure if it would happen. His performance in 2017 certainly merited this assignment.