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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

Wild on Sports
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MLB Team Preview: Tampa Bay Rays
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman
TAMPA BAY RAYS
2012 Record: 90-72

RECAP: The Rays boasted superb pitching once again, but their offense struggled without Evan Longoria, and they basically went the entire season without a useful catcher or first basemen. Thus they barely finished below the wild card winners

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Wil Myers, Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, James Loney, prospect depth from KC. They’ve also added the players formerly known as “Fausto Carmona” and “Leo Nunez” for bullpen depth. The pair are now known as Roberto Hernandez and Juan Carlos Oviedo, respectively. 
NOTABLE SUBTRACTIONS: Jamie Shields, Wade Davis, Carlos Pena

Keys to Success: Finding the ‘right’ position for Ben Zobrist. Zobrist is very versatile and should be an offensive asset wherever he plays. It seems likely that he will start 2013 in the outfield, with Kelly Johnson at 2B and Yunel Escobar at SS. That shouldn’t stop the Rays from trying to find the right outfield mix, however, particularly if Johnson/Escobar struggle. A healthy Evan Longoria is also key as they are basically punting catcher and first base, and there’s a big drop-off from him to Ryan Roberts.

PROSPECT WATCH
 Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excel at Tool
WIL MYERS, OF (ROOKIE WATCH)-
Power
Speed
Hitting
On-base ability
Defense
Arm
xx

TBD
x
xx
x
The crown jewel of their offseason plan, 21-year-old Myers could give the Rays another premium position player behind Longoria as soon as this year. Myers hit .314/.387/.600 between AA-AAA last year in 134 games, with 37 HR and 109 RBI. He earned Baseball America’s coveted “Minor League Player of the Year Award.” His 140 strikeouts suggests he could have a lower batting average in the major leagues, but his power and defense will make him an immediate impact player.
CHRIS ARCHER, RHP (ROOKIE WATCH)-
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
TBD
x

x
x
Archer went 7-9 last year with a 3.66 ERA for AAA-Durham, getting better as the season went on. He walked 62 batters and struck out 139 in 128 innings, demonstrating a surplus of velocity but a lack of control, which could move him to the bullpen. He’ll probably start in the Tampa bullpen either way, as he has little to prove in the minors but is blocked by better pitchers in the rotation. He’ll be 24 next year.
JAKE ODORIZZI, RHP-
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
TBD
x
x
x
x
x
22-year-old Odorizzi was acquired with Myers, Mike Montgomery, and Pat Leonard from KC for Jamie Shields and Wade Davis in December. He had a very strong year, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA between AA-AAA, with an excellent 50/135 BB/K ratio in 145 IP. Orodizzi doesn’t throw as hard as Archer but he could have four average pitches, and his better control makes him more likely to wait in AAA until Tampa needs a starter, than move to the bullpen.
HAK-JU LEE , SS-
Power
Speed
Hitting
On-base ability
Defense
Arm

x

x
xx
x
 Lee is a defensively-gifted shortstop who hit .261/.336/.360 with 37 SB as a 21-year-old for AA-Montgomery last year. He was acquired from the Cubs in a package (along with Archer) for Matt Garza two years ago. Lee is a .287 hitter in the minors but overall his offensive numbers will probably peak at levels similar to what he produced last year. That will still make him valuable considering the lower offensive standards of shortstop. Lee also has hit 25 triples the last two years, so he could grow into more power/gap power in his peak years.
TIM BECKHAM, INF (ROOKIE WATCH)-
Power
Speed
Hitting
On-base ability
Defense
Arm

x

x
x

Beckham,23, went first overall in the 2008 draft but he is no longer a top prospect. His tools did not develop as expected, and as a result he now projects as a super-utility player who will help a team when injuries strike but might never be good enough to hold down a full-time job all season. Last year he hit .256/.325/.361 in 72 games for AAA Durham, with 6 HR and 6 SB. His numbers moving up the ladder are slightly better but mostly uninspiring. But his youth and position(s) keep him on the radar.

Top 2012 Draft Pick: Richie Schafer, OF

Sleeper MLB Contributor: BRANDON GUYER, OF, was hurt last year but could fight his way into the outfield mix

2013 OVERVIEW AND PROJECTION: Tampa Bay’s offense overall is mediocre and lacks depth, especially as this year there will be no Jeff Keppinger to hit .350 and save them from disaster. Only Evan Longoria (3B) and Ben Zobrist (2B? OF?) project as above-average offensive players, which is why Wil Myers’ (and to a lesser extent, Desmond Jennings’) development is so important. Their pitching, however, is still superb, even without James Shields. Matt Moore could join David Price as a second left-handed ace in the rotation, and Jeremy Hellickson has shown he can pitch well even without great strikeout rates. Their depth overall should allow them to fill out the rotation with above-average pitchers all year. That makes them
LIKELY CONTENDERS 

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