Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced the forty player postseason eligible pool. With the magic number for the AL East down to one, it’s almost a formality that they’re going to be AL East Champions for the first time since 2010. Yet, that hasn’t come without a load of conundrums. Their injury woes are affecting their big league squad in a major way.
Their postseason player pool is as followed:
Catchers: Michael Perez, Kevan Smith, Ronaldo Hernandez, Mike Zunino.
Infielders: Joey Wendle, Yandy Diaez, Brandon Lowe, Mike Brosseau, Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan, Ji Man Choi, Nate Lowe, Willy Adames.
Outfielders: Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows, Hunter Renfroe, Brett Phillips, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Randy Arozarena, Manuel Marget, Brian O’Grady.
Pitchers: Josh Fleming, Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Loup, Nick Anderson, Charlie Morton, Aaaron Slegers, Ryan Yarbrough, Shane McClanahan, Diego Castillo, Jose Alvardo, John Curtiss, Oliver Drake, Pete Fairbanks, Sean Gilmartin, Trevor Richards, Ryan Sheriff, Ryan Thompson, Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell.
There aren’t many surprises here. Some injuries to Yandy Diaz, Austin Meadows, Ji-Man Choi and others make you question if they’ll play in the division series. Other than that, the Rays will run out a rotation of Morton/Snell/Glasnow/Yarbrough, have a bullpen anchored by Anderson, Alvarado, Slegers and Fleming while also hoping that Oliver Drake can get healthy. Their outfield will feature prominently: Renfroe, Tsutsugo, Kiermaier, Arozarena, Margot. The catching duties out of the gate will be split between Zunino and Perez. The infield will see N. Lowe at first (only while Diaz and Choi heal up), B. Lowe at second, Adames at short and Wendle at third.
However, interestingly enough, there are five prospects who have not made their Major League debut: MLB’s number one prospect Wander Franco. Franco is 19 years old and infield sensation, perhaps he’d see playing time if Adames or Wendle were to get hurt. Vidal Brujan is the organizations top second base prospect, if Lowe were to get hurt. Although, second base is Wendle’s primary position when everybody is healthy, thus this scenario is a bit more unlikely than the former. Ronaldo Hernandez is the team’s top catching prospect. This is a bit more likely, seeing as Perez and Zunino have both missed major time with injuries this season.
As for the pitching, Shane McLanahan is a Tampa Bay Native who went to the University of South Florida, off of Fowler Avenue in the heart of Tampa. He was born in Cape Coral, a mere two hours away from St. Pete and Tropicana Field. He was drafted 31st overall by the Rays in 2018. A lefty by trade, the 23 year old saw Double A action last season and has three plus pitches, a change up, curveball and fastball. With the Rays documented pitching injuries, he could theoretically be in a good position for a callup.
The fifth prospect is Brent Honeywell, who is probably the least likely, having not seen live game action since the 2017 season due to Tommy John. The surgery cost him all of 2018, and then a bone fracture in his right elbow cost him all of 2019. Honeywell, though, has been the system’s top name for years, due to his wipeout screwball. Unfortunately, he’s not made it up yet while seeing lesser hyped prospects such as Yonny Chirinos come in and make an immediate impact for the Rays.
Mark Kiger for the 2006 Oakland A’s played in two postseason games, but never once saw a regular season game. Royals’ Adalberto Mondesi made his MLB debut in the 2015 World Series. Players making their Big League debut in the postseason isn’t unprecedented, but it is a rarity. Rays’ CF Kevin Kiermaier made his Major League debut in the 2013 Game 163 against the Texas Rangers, and then played in the wildcard game against The Indians that season.
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