For those that follow the minor league system, it always fun to project the Rays lineup 2-3 years down the road. Baseball America does just this with the release of their Top 10 Rays prospects list. And while projecting a lineup 2-3 years into the future is akin to guessing how many times BJ Upton will be picked off first base, BA’s list raises a few eyebrows…

A few thoughts on the lineup projection…

  • This is proof of how weak the Rays system is at the catcher position. Does anybody think the Rays are counting on Kelly Shoppach to be the everyday catcher in 2012?
  • Carlos Pena is a free agent at the end of the year, but we would not be surprised to see Pena give the Rays a “thanks for saving my career” discount and sign an extension.
  • There are very good reasons to believe that 2009 was not a fluke for Jason Bartlett. But he will be two years on the wrong side of 30 in 2012 and it is reasonable to think his offensive and defensive skills will have started to decline. Barty will also be a free agent following the 2011 season and due a large raise.
  • Most of us would love to see Carl Crawford play his entire career in a Rays uniform. But it just doesn’t seem realistic. A free agent at the end of the year, CC is more likely to be in a new uniform in 2011, if not sooner.
  • Desmond Jennings and BJ Upton is an interesting scenario. Upton might have a slight edge in range which means the Rays would want him in center. But he also has a strong edge in arm, which the Rays would love to have in right field. But should the Rays also consider that Upton has finally found a comfortable position after being bounced around the field like a Pinata?
  • Zobrist will be 31 in 2011. And while he is not as good defensively as some metrics suggested in 2009, it is difficult to think that Ben Zobrist will have regressed so much by 2011 that he will be the most-days DH. A more likely scenario would have Reid Brignac take over at shortstop for a departed Jason Bartlett and Zobrist at second base.
  • The top 4 starting pitchers seem safe. But we are surprised to see Jeff Niemann over Wade Davis in the rotation. Davis has shown that he can stay healthy and be a workhorse. Meanwhile there are still questions about Niemann’s stamina. Joe Maddon gave Niemann extra rest in 15 of his 30 starts. Opponents’ OPS was over 100 points lower when he was on 5 days rest (.666) as opposed to the normal 4 (.768). We’d say if one was headed to the bullpen, it is more likely to be Niemann.
  • Notables left out: Jake McGee (closer?), Tim Beckham (he will either be in the picture by 2012 or he will be a bust), Matt Moore (double-A in 2010 suggests he is on pace to be a factor in 2012)


  1. JD says:

    Beckham will only be 22 in 2012. I dont think he will necessarily be a "bust" in 2012 if he is not with the Rays.

    • very true. when I talked about him being "in the picture," I was really just saying he needs to be close at that point. Not necessarily in the majors. By 2012 we need to be talking about Beckham the way we are talking about Jennings right now.

    • MJ says:

      Agreed how can you be a bust at 22? He will be in convos but this is the starting line up.

  2. Brixology says:

    Good post. I know they can only use the players that are currently in the system, but it hampers their accuracy, as demonstrated by this list. Many of these slots will be filled from outside the current pool of players. I agree with the ones you cite and I would add that I can't see the Rays hanging on to BJ into 2012. I also agree that McGee is the most likely closer candidate and I would make Moore the #5.

  3. Sean G says:

    Two other notables left out

    Matt Joyce
    Sean Rodriguez

    • Reppin Rayshead Army in Portland says:

      was thinking the same thing. Even using only players in the orgnization, i think a much more likely scenario has Jennings/Upton/Joyce in the outfield and either SRod or Zobrist at 2B with Briggy at SS

  4. steve-o1285 says:

    I would like to see the projected payroll of this projected team.

  5. Kevin says:

    BaseballAmerica pretty much hates doing these. They took them out one year because they're really not a worthwhile feature but fans wanted them in. Basically, they assume no one loses their job because of performance(ie Bartlett still at SS and Niemann in the rotation) or leaves in trade or FA.

  6. Rayhawk says:

    NO NO NO, not Brignac I hope Sean Rodriquez gets the job, and Zorilla starts in right. Geez where did these guys go to school.......Happy Holidays to All.

  7. Jason W says:

    wouldnt Joyce make a better DH than Zobrist anyway? I like Zobrist's D to much for him to DH. And if Joyce can improve his hitting against lefties then all the better And they think we will have Briggy in 2012? Ha not Likely

  8. GatorRaysHead says:

    As much as I hate to say it, I dont see how both Pena and CC are still with the team in 2012. I will be surprised if we still have them after the trade deadline in 2010. And Big Wade will be our #2 or 3 starter, not a closer.

  9. Michael says:

    Come on, anyone who says these projected lineups 3 years in the future are pointless is simply missing the point. They're not really trying to make an accurate prediction of what we'll see in 2012 -- this is simply another way of showing organizational depth for each team. Prospects and minor leaguers are BA's bread and butter, not the kind of crazy rosterbation you see in places like, the comments of Fangraphs, or blogs solely dedicated to each team.

    Basically here's the premise BA uses for these lists: Given the talent in this organization RIGHT NOW, what is the best team the Rays could field in 2012 assuming re-signings and salaries are not an issue. That has little connection with reality (for some teams more than others), but again, that is not the point of the exercise. If money were not an issue and you had to decide right now, would you rather have Pena at 1B for 2012 or rely on Willy Aybar/Chris Richard/whoever?

    When you see BA has Kelly Shoppach pencilled in as the C in 2012, you know there is a serious problem with our depth at that position. Another site recently tried to point out how dumb their projection from '05 for the 2008 Red Sox was because they had an OF named Jason Place in a corner OF spot. But ask yourself, have the Red Sox come close to producing a home grown ML corner OF since that time? No, and the fact that Jason Place was their best in-house option shows you what type of depth the Sox had at that spot at that time.

    • MJ says:

      That's a good way of viewing this. But if thats the case, how do they have Brignac in there? Move Zobi-won to 2b, Bart to SS, and Joyce to DH. Or replace Brignac w/ Sean Rodriguez.

  10. ben says:

    If keeping Pena, and CC mean raising ticket prices so be it, watching the Rays would still be one of the most affordable pro baseball teams to watch in person, and I for one would not mind one stinking bit if i had to pay $20 or $30 bucks for an upperdeck ticket if it means CC and Pena are still Rays, paying $20 or 30 a ticket is still 10 fold cheaper than a ticket in the last row in the top deck behind a beam at Yankee stadium, and the same at fenway and everyother stadium out there.

  11. Indiana Rays Boy says:

    This projected lineup for the Rays in 2012 is a bit premature. I can't see Upton in a Rays uniform in 2012. Crawford and Pena with the Rays beyond 2010 is up for grabs. I can see Joyce, Jennings, Perez and Zobrist in the OF mix along with Longoria, Bartlett, Brignac, Rodriguez, Beckham and Aybar at the infield spot. Catchers are Shoppach, Ashley and Bailey. I can see the following starting rotation: Shields, Price, Garza, Niemann and Davis. Hellickson or guys like Loebstein can take over any of those slots pending on trading any of the starters for a bat. Relievers are McGee, Howell, Gorgen, Satow or a veteran. Alot can change in 3 years.


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