Friday, March 5, 2010

Players to Watch This Spring — Part Two

The 25 man active roster for the Tampa Bay Rays isn’t firm until the end of spring. Nevertheless, even a cursory glance at the blogs gives you a good idea of at least the core position players in line for jobs. So what I’ll look at in this list are position players currently on the 40-man roster whom we might end up seeing in Durham once the spring is over.

One interesting feature of the non-roster invitees list posted yesterday was that all of them were infielders. With that in mind I’ll start out here with outfielders.

Desmond Jennings, OF, 24. Jennings is one of the really hot prospects in the Rays system. He had a terrific year in 2009 in Montgomery and looked just fine in his games here in Durham. I’m guessing he’ll start the year with us, but it may depend on the health of Crawford and Upton. Stats and more.

Matt Joyce, OF, 26. I don’t really expect to see Matt back in Durham this year. I’m not sure why he didn’t go to the Rays and stay about the middle of last year, although he helped us out a lot. Stats and more, and even more.

Fernando Perez, OF, 27. Perez missed almost all of last year because of a spring training injury. Have read somewhere (can’t find the link) that he had shoulder surgery last November. So, hard to tell just what’s going on. Perez is scary fast, but I don’t see a place for him with the Rays. I’m guessing he’ll be back in Durham, but could be traded. Stats.

Justin Ruggiano, OF, 28. Ruggiano has had three productive years with the Bulls, but this year might be his last shot. I like him. I look forward seeing him playing for the Bulls this year. But I’ve got to think he’s available for a trade. Stats.

Reid Brignac, SS (mostly), 24. This will be a tough year for Brignac to break through. After being a hot prospect for a several years he’s now competing with Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, and Dan Johnson for a job. He’s a terrific ballplayer, but he’s been mentioned in trade rumors before. Maybe this spring? Stats and more.

Dan Johnson, Inf, 31. Dan is back from a year in Japan, where he played a lot of third base. We like him a lot here in Durham, but it remains to be seen if he can claim a spot with Rays. Stats and more.

Elliott Johnson, Inf, 26. Elliot would have to pass through waivers to get back to Durham this year (which is possible). His best hope is to have a great spring and either stick with the Rays or become part of a deal. Stats, more, and even more.

Sean Rodriguez, Inf, 25. Rodriguez was a welcome asset to the Bulls during our championship run last year. He came from the Angels organization with a good rep. Pure guesswork on my part, but he could start the year in Durham. On the other hand, he hit two home runs in the first two games with the Rays. Stats and more.

John Jaso, catcher, 27. We’ve seen a lot of Jaso in the last couple of years and, sorry to say, we haven’t been impressed. He seems to call a good game and that’s in his favor. The Rays organization has a problem at catching, but I doubt that Jaso is the solution. Probably will see him start the season in Durham. Stats.

Jose Lobaton, catcher, 26. Have no idea how he fits into the Rays plans. Not sure why he’s on the 40-man. Wait and see. If a reader has some ideas, please pass them on. Stats.

So, we have a total of 19 players to keep an eye on — more than will fit on either the Bulls or the Rays rosters come April. Best of luck to all of them!


  1. I suspect we won't be seeing Joyce or Brignac again but you never know. I too think Perez is not going to be a Ray much longer, but I don't see him coming back to Durham. Isn't he out of options anyway?

  2. I agree, there are probably a number of guys on this list that we won't get to see much of again. Too bad, there are some good guys here!

  3. I agree with both of you.

    Regarding Perez, I'm not sure. But since he's never been back to Durham (except during rehab) I'm guessing he's got all his options left. What an awesome outfield that would be -- Jennings, Perez, Ruggiano, Johnson (D or E)!!

  4. You could just give Jennings and Perez half the outfield each and play a 5 man infield.

    (Seriously, though, I would love to see Ruggiano in left, Jennings in center and Perez in right)