Thursday, March 4, 2010

Players To Watch This Spring — Part One

The Rays rode a bus (or two) all the way from Port Charlotte to Sarasota yesterday and played their first game of the year. They got their head handed to them by Baltimore, 12-2. Because it’s Spring Training, and, after all it’s the Rays, we aren’t too interested in the outcomes of these games.

On the other hand, as Bulls fans, several players who will be showing up in the lineups are of interest to us. So we’ll be checking the box scores to see how they are doing.

Here’s the beginning of my list of position players worth watching. I’m not going to try to speculate on pitchers, too many variables.

By “worth watching” I mean that there’s some chance that we could see players on this list in Durham this year. Each has a shot at the Rays 40-man, or may currently be on it. Some have already gotten some attention on the web and I’ll provide a link or two in that event. I’m not going to dig into contractual stuff — I don’t understand it all that well and sometimes the information is just too hard to get to.

I’ll start with the “non-roster invitees”, that is, players who are in camp and playing with the team, but not on the Rays’ 40-man roster.

Ryan Shealy, 31, 1B, minor league contract, with the Royals and their AAA team in Omaha last year. Stats.

J. J. Furmaniak, 31, infielder, minor league contract. We saw him playing for the Phillies’ AAA team Lehigh Valley last year. Stats.

Joe Dillon, 35, infielder, minor league contract. Super-solid player with the Bulls virtually all of last year. Trying to extend his range by working in the catcher position this year. Stats and more.

Chris Richard, 36, 1B, minor league contract, NRI. Chris is a stalwart of the Durham Bulls. He got a few at-bats with the Rays last year, but we can expect to see him back in Durham this year — and he’s very, very welcome. Stats.

Angel Chavez, 29, 3B, minor league contract. Played for Boston AAA affiliate Pawtucket last year. Stats.

Tim Beckham, 20, SS. Top prospect making his way up through the system. Possible he might show up in Durham near the end of the season, but Rays will put an emphasis on keeping him healthy and developing his skills. Stats.

Craig Albernaz, 28, catcher, NRI. Albernaz spent virtually all of 2009 with the Bulls, but didn’t get a lot of time behind the plate. Exceptional arm. Stats.

Nevin Ashley, 26, catcher. Ashley is a prospect working his way up through the Rays system. He spent last season with the Rays’ AA affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits and the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Rays’ A affiliate. Stats.

Alvin Colina, 29, catcher. Colina is a veteran AAA ballplayer who was with the Braves’ affiliate, Gwinnett, last year. Stats.

For more on prospects Ashley and Beckham, check out the Rays Prospects website.

Next: Players on the 40-man.

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