The countdown of days to the 2020 irregular MLB season has entered the single digits, with the Tampa Bay Rays slated to play their Opening Day on July 24th, against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Once the 60-game dash to the postseason begins, the Rays will need to have trimmed their 60-man Summer Camp roster to the 30-man roster MLB will be allowing teams to carry for the first two weeks of the season.
Over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look at each player the Rays have in camp and their case for making it onto the Rays 30-man roster, starting with the players who will be taking their reps behind the plate: the catchers.
Mike Zunino (R)
Zunino will be the Rays starting catcher for the bulk of the 60-game stretch during these next two months. The slugging catcher had a disappointing debut campaign with the Rays in 2020, in which he registered 45 wRC+ and 0.3 fWAR over 90 games. However, despite the poor showing, the Rays signed Zunino to a two-year contract extension this past November.
Michael Perez (L)
A very quiet under-the-radar acquisition by the Tampa Bay Rays at the 2018 trade deadline, Perez has shown a solid ability to hit at the plate, along with progressing defensive capabilities behind the dish. During the 2019 season, Perez was sidelined with injuries early on and then with the emergence of Travis d’Arnaud, he was relegated to depth in Triple-A Durham for most of the year. While with Durham, Perez hit .245/.338/.495 with 13 HR over 54 games.
Chris Herrmann (L)
Herrmann has spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues with a variety of teams since the start of 2012. The best year of his career came in 2016 while with Arizona in which he registered 117 wRC+ and accrued 1.0 fWAR over 56 games, but this was immediately followed by the worst showing of his career during the 2017 season. Since then, he has served as a backup for the Mariners and Athletics, before signing as a non-roster invite with the Rays.
Kevan Smith (R)
Smith was in the headlines this past offseason for the small part that he played in unearthing the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He has Major League time in each of the past four seasons, mostly with the Chicago White Sox, and has hit decently thus far, registering a 90 wRC+ over his big league career, serving primarily as a backup catcher.
Ronaldo Hernandez (R)
One of the most promising catching prospects in Tampa Bay Rays history, Hernandez is stationed with the depth roster in Port Charlotte. Hernandez is unlikely to see big league time this season, and is on the 60-man roster mainly so he can partake in competition regularly under the watchful eyes of the Rays coaching staff. Hernandez finished the 2019 season with High-A Charlotte and was ticketed for Double-A Montgomery prior to the pandemic, and subsequent cancellation of the MiLB season.
The foursome of Zunino, Smith, Herrmann, and Perez will all likely see time with the Rays during the 60-game dash, and the Rays will always be vigilant on the waiver wire for possibly more additions as the season wanes on.