3 takeaways from Rays 9-4 loss to Twins
3 takeaways from Rays 9-4 loss to Twins:
* RHP Jose De Leon remains very much a prospect in progress. De Leon, acquired from the Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, said he felt he took "a step forward" Monday, allowing three runs on two hits (one a 3-run HR) and a walk over three innings. That's relative, because his first outing was really bad and his second was just okay. He was 90-93 with his fastball but command remains elusive, evidenced when he followed a 15-pitch first inning with a 26-pitch second, and needed 54 overall to get the nine outs. Manager Kevin Cash said De Leon's command was "a little bit better,'' but it's obvious he needs more work.
* OF Mallex Smith has the potential to be a very exciting player - and has a personality that will make him a fan favorite. Smith showed several of those skills in the first inning alone, pushing a bunt past the Twins third baseman for a leadoff single, drawing a pickoff throw to first that was errant so he could move to second, advancing to third on a fly to right and then scoring on a sac fly to center. Then in the bottom of the inning he made a leaping catch against the CF wall to rob Joe Mauer of a homer. Cash praised Smith for his diligent work on his bunting. "I don't think I've ever seen a player work that hard at it,'' Cash said. "So he's pretty special in that regard.''
* INF/OF Nick Franklin can hit, but where will he play. Franklin had three hits, one to left, to center and to right, raising his spring average to .571 (12 for 21). With SS Matt Duffy expected to start the season on the DL and Tim Beckham likely starting at short, Franklin will have the chance to fill the super utility role, but he has to show that his defense, in the outfield as well as the middle infield, is good enough.