Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Meet the Rays: Ranking the Rays in order of importance

Meet the Rays

What players will be most critical to the team's 2016 success? Tampa Bay Times staff writer Marc Topkin ranks 'em (x-disabled list; roster with position, player and number as of Thursday):

1. CF Kevin Kiermaier, 39

Speed and athleticism to change a game on the field (see Gold Glove) and bases; needs to maintain improved approach at plate.

2. RHP Chris Archer, 22

Emerged in '15 as All-Star ace of the staff and leader of the team in Shields/Price mold; remains driven to get better.

3. 3B Evan Longoria, 3

Reported lighter, more flexible, liberated from leadership burden he shouldered in '15 in search of return to MVP-type form.

4. SS Brad Miller, 13

Acquired for lefty bat and speed, has to prove past throwing troubles won't be an issue, or it could be a big problem.

5. DH/OF Corey Dickerson, 10

Biggest of the bats brought in during offensive offseason, and at the cost Jake McGee, has to provide needed thump.

6. LHP Drew Smyly, 33

Has shown the talent to be an elite starter; key is if he can stay healthy for a full season after missing most of '15 (shoulder).

7. 2B Logan Forsythe, 11

After breakout '15 season made him team MVP (.281-17-68, .804 OPS), now being asked to adjust to move into leadoff spot.

8. LHP Matt Moore, 55

Great spring has fueled confidence after showing glimpses of return to pre-Tommy John surgery form by end of '15 season.

9. OF Steven Souza Jr., 20

Is he ready to be the multi-dimensional impact player Rays envisioned? Or is he just a role player? Or still a work in progress?

10. LF Desmond Jennings, 8

Somewhat of annual question if this is the year Jennings takes full advantage of multi-talent package to star.

11. RHP x-Brad Boxberger, 26

Closer would have been higher if healthy; how he's replaced, how close to slated mid May return from surgery now key.

12. RHP Jake Odorizzi, 23

Least heralded member of rotation arguably had best '15 season, ranking in AL top 10 in ERA (3.35), opp. avg. (.231).

13. RHP Alex Colome, 37

Expected to get primary closing opportunity in Boxberger's absence; how he does could be tone-setting or deflating for season.

14. 1B Logan Morrison, 7

Has to prove he won't hurt the defense while flexing enough muscle vs. RHPs to make offense better, especially hitting No. 2.

15. INF/DH Steve Pearce, 28

Righty option at 1B/DH can be huge add if anywhere closer to '14 form (.293-21-49, .930 OPS) than '15 (.218-15-40, .711)

16. C Curt Casali, 19

Earned his share of job after showing big bat (10 HR, 110 AB), improved pitch blocking/throwing in small '15 sample.

17. C Hank Conger, 24

Won his job based on having pop in bat as switch-hitter and strong pitch-framing/receiving skills, throwing is the issue.

18. LHP Xavier Cedeno, 31

Impressively consistent after unheralded April '15 pickup, takes over with McGee gone as primary late-inning lefty slayer.

19. OF/DH Brandon Guyer, 5

Will be a key part of lineup vs. left-handers (.387 OBP), provides depth at all three outfield spots and DH.

20. RHP Erasmo Ramirez, rhp

Returning No. 5 starter moved to bullpen during Boxberger absence with plan to be used in high-leverage and swing roles.

21. RHP Steve Geltz, 54

Versatile enough to start, close and work anywhere in-between, led Rays with 70 appearances last year, though tired at end.

22. LHP Enny Romero, 45

Converted starter has shown enough strike-throwing to be considered a weapon in 'pen, and potentially in an impact role.

23. INF Tim Beckham, 1

Primary backup middle infielder will get some starts at SS vs. lefty pitchers, can also serve as pinch-runner.

24. RHP Ryan Webb, 58.

Veteran Clearwater native comes home to fill role as ground-ball specialist, can also work multiple innings.

25. RHP Danny Farquhar, 43

Has the most closing experience of Rays healthy options, converting 18 of 26 during stint with Mariners.

26. RHP x-Alex Cobb, 53

Eyeing a late-July return to rotation after Tommy John surgery; return to anywhere near past form could be big boost.

27. LHP Dana Eveland, 51

Veteran worked as a starter and reliever, could provide welcome experience to a relatively young bullpen corps.

28. OF Mikie Mahtook, 27

Combination of power, speed and strong arm make him appealing option coming off bench in various roles.

29. RHP Andrew Bellatti, 59

Hard-thrower had mixed success in '15 rookie campaign with 2.31, has the ability to work multiple innings if needed.

30. RHP x-Chase Whitley, 47

Former Yankees starter also eyeing late-summer return from Tommy John surgery; could join rotation or bullpen.

Staff

Kevin Cash, manager

38-year-old Tampa native in second season, was 80-82 in first year managing at any level.

Coaches: Rocco Baldelli, 1b; Stan Boroski, bullpen; Tom Foley, bench; Jim Hickey, pitching; Charlie Montoyo, 3b; Jamie Nelson, catching/asst. hitting; Derek Shelton, hitting.

Medical: Ron Porterfield, head athletic trainer; Paul Harker and Mark Vinson, assistants.

Comments
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Published: 06/16/18
Rays journal: Arroyo on DL, Hechavarria returns

Rays journal: Arroyo on DL, Hechavarria returns

NEW YORK — Just when it seemed like SS Adeiny Hechavarria might not play another game for the Rays, he will rejoin them on Sunday.The Rays announced after Saturday's 4-1 loss that INF Christian Arroyo was placed on the DL due to an oblique stra...
Published: 06/16/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

RHP Ryne Stanek did his job as the opener just fine in getting four outs on Saturday, but for the Rays' unorthodox pitching plan to work it takes a team effort. And LHP Ryan Yarbrough's inability to throw strikes quickly put them in a hole.The experi...
Published: 06/16/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, trying to break through

For starters: Rays at Yankees, trying to break through

UPDATE, 11:49: Cash said he played Cron at 1B in an effort to get him more involved in the game, indicated he may do so again Sunday (with Bauers off vs. LH Sabathia) and should have done so more as Cron struggled. … Cash reiterated that CF Kev...
Published: 06/16/18
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

NEW YORK — So what does the boss — lowercase, of course, around here — think of this up-and-down, hot-and-cold Rays season so far? Appropriately, a variety of things.In a 30-minute chat with the Tampa Bay Times before Friday's 5-0 l...
Published: 06/15/18
Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

NEW YORK — RHP Nathan Eovaldi made an impressive return to Yankee Stadium on Friday to face his high-powered former teammates.It's too bad he didn't get any help from his current mates, in what ended up a 5-0 Rays loss.Eovaldi was in command an...
Published: 06/15/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Give RHP Nathan Eovaldi credit for not letting emotions get in the way in his return to Yankee Stadium. He said he planned to treat it as all business, despite memories and friendships and he did just that, working impressively into the eighth.The Ra...
Published: 06/15/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

Coming off Thursday's 4-3 loss, the Rays will face the Yankees again tonight, and they are starting a pitcher quite familiar with the Yankee Stadium mound, RHP Nathan Eovaldi.Having spent 2015 and 2016 with the Yankees until sustaining the elbow inju...
Published: 06/15/18