MINNEAPOLIS — Jake Bauers got the call on June 6. He was heading to The Show.
In the bigs for just over a month now, the 22-year old has been a mainstay of the Rays lineup. He’s already had his coming out party, a walk-off home run in the 12th inning to complete a three-game sweep of the Yankees June 24 — the highlight moment of the Rays season so far.
Suiting up 182 times for Triple-A Durham through 2017 and 2018, Bauers came to the Rays big-league ready.
“I think I had a pretty good grasp of what everything was like up here,” Bauers said. “I mean, you for sure get treated a lot differently here and held to a higher standard and people treat you like it. It’s just about staying grounded and showing up every day like it’s your job and also balancing that with playing a game, having fun, smiling, and laughing.”
That approach has worked.
Over his first 134 big-league plate appearances, the sweet-swinging lefty has racked up an impressive 16 extra-base hits (11 doubles, two triples, three homers) slashing .252/.377/.461 with a 136 wRC+. He’s also shown a discerning eye at the plate, spearheading a 15.9 BB% and .377 on-base percentage. His solid play, combined with the team’s success, has made for a fun first month of his career.
“Fun. A lot of fun. Exciting.” Bauers described his time so far in the majors. “Obviously the only thing that matters up here is performing, doing well, and winning. We’ve been able to do a little bit of that, so it’s been fun.”
The Rays acquired Bauers in the 11 player deal that sent Wil Myers to San Diego during the 2014-2015 off-season. Since then, Bauers has played exceptionally well at each level in the Rays system, despite being well below the average league age at each stop along the way. He, along with top prospect Willy Adames, earn consistent praise for their makeup. Bauers steady climb through the organization is grounded in his ability to stay true to himself:
“Just be you. Be who you are. You don’t have to change. A game’s a game. Yeah, they call you here for a reason and it’s because they like whoever you are as a player. When you kind of lose sight of that and be someone you’re not, that’s when when you can get in trouble.”
Not only do Bauers and Adames have great makeups, they are also great friends off the field, growing and developing alongside each other at each level over the past four years. “I think we’re just two kids who just like to have fun,” Bauers said. “That’s the main thing for me, showing up every day and just enjoying myself. He’s the same way, and so it’s just two guys who operate in similar fashions, which has made us close.”
Adames was recently sent back to Durham for what will likely be a short stay; Bauers looks forward to sharing the infield with him once again when he returns to the Rays.
Jake Bauers, AKA Rake Bauers, AKA Light Tower Bauers, AKA “Some Guy”, seems to have all the ingredients needed for a long, successful career. You can watch him, and his sweet swing, tonight as the Rays try to even the series against the Twins at Target Field.