Baseball is back! And with it, we have a few new rules.
One change we’ve already seen in effect is a new roster of 60 players that teams can have at “spring” training. These will be the only players in the organization the Rays can call on to contribute to the major league team for the year.
So while the active roster will start the regular season at 30, the remaining up-to-30 players will be able to train in Port Charlotte to develop and be ready for the call if needed. Think of how the Rays like to use the “taxi squad” to rotate fresh pitchers through the bullpen. That is often the most common use of the extra players on a roster. They also need depth at each position in case of injury, while also considering prospect development.
You certainly don’t want the best prospect in baseball Wander Franco missing an entire year of training, so of course he makes the roster even if his chances of seeing the majors are slim this year.
With a 60 man roster, we have a lot more players to know than normal. Right now the Rays roster is at 58 players, after a catcher and outfielder on minor league deals exercised opt-out clauses.
Below, if there’s one thing you you’re looking to know about each player, this is it. Players are listed alphabetically, grouped after position by 40-man roster and non-40-man roster players.
Mike Zunino - Opening day starter with a glove and power, but plenty of Ks.
Michael Perez - Likely Opening Day backup who is decent at everything but with no stand out tools.
Ronaldo Hernandez - Young and raw prospect but lots of potential in the bat. It’s unclear if will appear this season, and if the Rays depth were stronger at catcher he likely wouldn’t have been on this list to start with.
Kevan Smith* - Career .270 batting average is good at the catcher position.
Note: MILB invite Chris Herrmann was in camp but opted out.
Willy Adames - Everyday starting shortstop, All-Star contender.
Mike Brosseau - Backup utility infielder, debuted last year.
Vidal Brujan - Infield prospect who has everything but pop, including elite speed.
Ji-Man Choi - Fun guy, surprisingly good glove at 1B, and one of the Rays best hitters vs RHP. Possible All-Star contender.
Yandy Diaz - Tons of power, biceps to spare, but hits the ball into the ground a lot. 1B/3B/DH.
Lucius Fox - Young and raw but projectable shortstop prospect. May be promoted as a baserunner.
Brandon Lowe - 2B who mashes far more than the frame suggests.
Nate Lowe - 1B who got a taste in 2019 and slimmed down this off-season, potential for a big bat.
Jose Martinez - 6’6” righty bat acquired from Cards in off season, career .300 hitter so far, but not a great defender.
Kevin Padlo - 3B bat, hit 21 HR and 31 doubles in the upper minors last year, forcing his way into the conversation this season.
Daniel Robertson - Backup utility infielder who may surprise after getting healthy again.
Joey Wendle - Utility infielder recorded a great 2018 but injury plagued 2019... where are we going to fit all of these infielders?
Wander Franco* - Best prospect in baseball, potential future all star caliber shortstop.
Esteban Quiroz* - 5’ 7” INF came up in the Mexican League has a knack for getting on base.
Taylor Walls* - Switch hitting shortstop prospect with championships in college and minors.
Randy Arozarena - Major league bat debuted with Cards last year can field any OF position.
Kevin Kiermaier - Gold glove caliber defense in center field but needs to stay healthy.
Manuel Margot - Center Field defense who can hit LHP well but should platoon.
Austin Meadows+ - All star level bat in the corners and DH, staple in the lineup.
Brian O’Grady - The rare CF/1B combo, so he’s basically Cody Bellinger, right?!
Hunter Renfroe - Acquired from the Padres for Tommy Pham, right handed masher and gold glove outfielder, but low batting average.
Yoshi Tsutsugo - Slugger signed out of Japan may find himself at LF or DH for Rays.
Dylan Cozens* - Depth lefty at 6’6” hasn’t hit well in majors but has 150 HRs in minors.
Josh Lowe* - Nate’s younger brother is a real prospect at the center field position.
Note: OF Ryan LaMarre was in camp but opted out.
Right Handed Pitchers
Nick Anderson - Elite reliever, bullpen staple, all star contender.
Diego Castillo - Very good reliever so far over his 2 major league seasons.
Yonny Chirinos - Expected to earn a slot in the back end of the starting rotation.
Oliver Drake - Journeyman reliever posted a 3.21 ERA over 56 innings for Rays last year.
Pete Fairbanks - Rookie reliever has been lights out so far in spring training.
Tyler Glasnow - Youngest and most unproven of the big three starters, but sky is the limit.
Andrew Kittredge - Has been up and down with Rays over last 3 years.
Charlie Morton - Most experienced and accomplished man on the roster, all star contender.
Trevor Richards - Legit starting rotation depth, could be long man in bullpen to get innings.
Chaz Roe - One of the biggest sliders in the game, wiffle ball movement out of the bullpen.
Shane Baz* - Young starter with big arm but probably won’t see majors for another year unless he moves to the bullpen.
Dylan Covey* - Low leverage depth, Rays may tinker with his pitches.
John Curtiss* - Depth reliever with control issues but great ‘17 and ‘18 milb numbers.
Sam McWilliams* - 6’7” starter depth with Jacob deGrom-esque hair.
Joe Ryan* - Starter prospect who racks up Ks with his fastball.
Aaron Slegers* - Towering 6’10” long man threw 112 innings for Durham Bulls last year.
Ryan Thompson* - 6’6” with opener experience in AA last year.
Left Handed Pitchers
Jose Alvarado - Elite reliever, closer on most nights, all star contender.
Anthony Banda - Bulk reliever depth.
Jalen Beeks - Bulk reliever depth.
Brendan McKay - Top starter depth, probable first call when a starter goes down.
Colin Poche - Gets a ton of Ks somehow by throwing nothing but low 90s fastballs.
Blake Snell - 2018 Cy Young, big three starter and rotation anchor with Morton and Glasnow.
Ryan Yarbrough - Slated for back of rotation with Chirinos, low velo but good pitch mix.
Josh Fleming* - Starter prospect who probably doesn’t see the majors this year.
Sean Gilmartin* - Depth reliever with 5 years of major league experience at 4.18 ERA.
Aaron Loup - Depth reliever with 8 years of major league experience at 3.45 ERA.
Shane McClanahan* - Starter prospect from USF, could see majors this year.
Ryan Sherriff* - 3.04 ERA over 492 innings in the minors. Bullpen depth.
D.J. Snelten* - 6’6” starter depth who psoted 3.12 ERA in 20 starts last year in indie league.
*Not on the 40-man roster
+On the Injured List for COVID-19