Spring Preview 2014: The Outfield | The Process Report

Spring Preview 2014: The Outfield

With camp opening this week, we’re going to begin previewing the roster in segments. Today we’ll focus on the potential members of the opening day outfield. The format is as follows:

Player name
Position
2013 role
Expected 2014 role
A brief breakdown of the player

David DeJesus
Left fielder
Primary left fielder when facing RHP; secondary lead-off hitter
Same with more opportunities to lead off when facing RHP

The Rays long had an interest in DeJesus, and were finally able to acquire him for the stretch run last season. He is versatile enough to back up Jennings in center field and is arguably the team’s best option to hit lead-off against right-handed pitchers as he is adept at working counts and getting on base. He requires a platoon partner because he has demonstrated no ability to hit left-handed pitching in recent season

Desmond Jennings
Center fielder
Everyday center fielder; primary lead-off hitter
Same with less lead-off duties

Returned to his native center field last season. Improved plate discipline led to more on-base opportunities, but still less than ideal for the lead-off spot. With DeJesus becoming the primary tip of the spear, he can be more aggressive in the second-half of the lineup. Has 20/20 potential, but would have greater impact as a 15/40 player. He plays a smooth center field; although he did have a brief case of the drops. The profile may have undergone a bit of a change; however, he remains one of the better players at his position.

Brandon Guyer
Outfielder
Starting outfielder in AAA once he returned from injury
Outfield platoon  partner for DeJesus

The Rays are waiting to hear if Guyer is granted an injury exemption for the time he missed in 2012 and part of 2013. If the exemption is granted, Guyer could be sent down to Triple-A without being exposed to waivers which would greatly reduce his chances of making the team. If the waiver is not granted, it would seem likely that Guyer would be a primary platoon partner in left field when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound. He has but 50 major league plate appearances at age 28.

Matt Joyce
Outfielder/DH
Split time between both corner outfield spots
Primary DH, reserve right fielder

Joyce is expected to serve as the primary DH in 2014, or in the field when DeJesus or Myers needs a half-day off. The key for Joyce is consistency as most of his performance tends to come during May and June while his second halves in recent seasons have been large drop-offs from his early summer months. He has added weight this off-season in hopes of staying stronger throughout the season. Should be in the lineup most every night a right-handed pitcher is on the mound.

Wil Myers
Right fielder
Split 2013 between Durham and Tampa Bay
Most-days right fielder, occasional designated hitter

During his first stint in the majors, Myers showed maturity at the plate beyond his years. The centerpiece of the James Shields trade combines big-time strength with better pure hitting ability than expected. He could use some work defensively and on the basepaths, however, as his arm seldom played as a weapon and he took one-way leads against left-handed pitchers.



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