Camp Preview 2015: The Depth
With the season nearing, it’s time to preview the Rays’ roster, unit by unit. Here’s the schedule:
Friday – Depth pieces and minor leaguers
Eighth or ninth on the rotation depth chart, but could likely start for second-tier team now thanks to a polished, if pedestrian arsenal.
Former top pick in the draft has a shot to impact big-league roster at multiple positions following a lost season due to injury.
Potential starter at the second base, but not in 2015. May get a cup of coffee in September, and could serve as a pinch-runner type.
Brown is a local product (he attended Plant High School) and former first-round pick with big-league appearances in each of the past four seasons. He could make it five years in a row, but only if emergency strikes.
Once a regular with Minnesota, Casilla’s days as a productive big-league player are over. He’ll serve as organizational depth, but the best-case scenario sees him stay out of the way.
The more developed of the two arms acquired for Joel Peralta, Dominguez could profile as this season’s Brad Boxberger—that is an in-season promotion who becomes a late-inning fixture. The diminutive righty boasts an elite fastball and an average-ish slider, giving him enough stuff to pitch in high-lev spots. Durability and command woes are the only hurdles between Dominguez and his ceiling.
Francisco’s raison d’etre is pummeling right-handed pitching. Otherwise he doesn’t field, run, or handle lefties well enough to be more than a platoon bat.
Garvin is a tall, physical southpaw from Vanderbilt. Sounds familiar, right? Alas, Garvin doesn’t have David Price’s stuff; instead, he relies upon a largely average three-pitch mix. Pegging Garvin as a 2015 contributor might seem overzealous, given the Rays’ pitching logjam and his lack of experience above Double-A, but he’s a polished 25-year-old who isn’t far off.
A little lad with a riding fastball, Geltz earned his way back onto the 40-man roster in 2014. Sadly, his command and secondary pitches are nothing special, leaving him as an up-and-down arm who should spend much of the year in the minors.
Some hold hope that Gomes can carve out a role in the ‘pen; the same people believe Dr. Dre is dropping Detox, too.
Following two disappointing seasons—one lost to injury, another to the lasting effects from the injury—Lee is embarking on a pivotal campaign. A full recovery to his pre-injury speed-and-D days could put him back on the prospect map; otherwise, he’s done.
Maile is a catch-and-throw backstop whose bat will determine if he’s more than a reserve. Given the paucity of talent ahead of him, there’s an outside chance he reaches the majors before the season ends.
Former first-round pick has a big league future likely as a platoon or forth outfielder. After a strong showing in 2014, he could get the call in a pinch this year and potentially for good soon after.
A project of Neil Allen, Montgomery showed strides as a starter last season but finds himself in an uphill battle for a spot in the big-league rotation. The transition to relief may come sooner than later; a move some feel with provide the potential for impact innings.
Motter in an interesting project if not a prospect. He can play multiple positions in the infield and outfield and has not got the bat knocked out of his hand at the plate. He is the type of player coaches love and could sneak on a roster as a 25th man one day.
Norberto redshirted with the Rays last season rehabbing from injury and dealing with a PED suspension. Previously had a big, left arm which is why the club decided to bring him back for a better look.
Widely considered the best catching prospect in the system, O’Conner has a chance to develop into a defensive dynamo thanks to one of the strongest arms in the minors. Unfortunately, the rest of his game remains a work in progress, meaning he probably won’t debut for another season. Look for O’Conner to continue to improve upon his receiving in the upper-minors, as well as his approach at the plate.
Riefenhauser, who made his big-league debut last season, ought to open the season in Durham. Yet he’s not far from becoming a middle-innings fixture thanks to his quality three-pitch arsenal.
Romero figures to spend most of the season in Durham. At some point though, after years of relative developmental stagnation, the Rays will have to call a reliever a reliever and ship him to the ‘pen. From there, Romero’s fastball-breaking ball combination could land him in the late innings.
Mentioned in the running for the fifth starter spot, it seems unlikely that the new comer wins the role despite a big arm and a future in the bigs.
Wagner underwent Tommy John surgery in August, so he won’t be a factor until late in the season at earliest. His efforts bear watching, because he could impact the 2016 bullpen.
Veteran backstop with defensive chops. Will serve as the team’s third catcher if he doesn’t win the job as its second.