hangoverIf you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Unlike most team blogs, we do not very often tell you what the Tampa Bay Rays should do. We prefer to live under the premise that the people that run the Rays are smarter than we are, and know many, many more things that even the most learned fan will never know.

However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that the Rays didn’t come through on very many of our wishes, and the result was a somewhat disappointing season. Let’s hope that changes in 2010.

On the second day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, TWO Major League debuts for their top prospects…

The Rays have two of the top prospects in all of baseball in Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson. Both made their triple-A debuts in the second-half of the 2009 season. Thanks to a deep big league roster, there is no immediate need for either player. But it is our hope that we get to see both players make their big league debuts at some point this season.

But the Rays have good reasons to delay both players’ debuts.

  • Desmond Jennings: Due to various injuries, 2009 marked the first season in which Jennings played 100 games. And as a result, he only has 311 games as a pro in four seasons since being drafted. The Rays would like to get Jennings a little more experience before he makes the jump and becomes the next uber-talented Rays outfielder. But how much more experience does he need? It was only 32 games, but he did hit .325/.419/.491 (.406 wOBA) at Durham with 15 of 17 stolen bases. Assuming he stays healthy and continues to produce at similar levels in 2010, we don’t see why he couldn’t make his debut in the second-half.
  • Jeremy Hellickson: Like Jennings, Hellboy also had a limited, but very successful run in triple-A this past season. He made 9 starts, going 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA (2.66 FIP) and a ridiculous 70-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 57.1 innings. Those that have seen him pitch say his fastball and changeup are already big league-ready. And if a guy can throw strikes, display command in the strikezone and change speeds, he will be successful at any level. Certainly the Rays want to get Hellickson at least another 12-15 starts in triple-A, but does he have a shot at being the Rays sixth starter at any point this season? That is, if somebody gets hurt, will Hellickson be the first starter off the “bench” to fill the spot. He only threw 114 innings in 2009, so the Rays will want to limit his 2010 innings to about 140. So even if he does get the call to replace an injured starter, his stint will likely be a short one.

It is a nice situation to have when a team has two of the best prospects in baseball ready for the big leagues and there isn’t an immediate need for either player. Both figure to be important components on the 2011 roster, but it sure would be nice to get a glimpse at both players this season. And in the case of Jennings, he could be the spark that most teams look for in August and September as they make playoff runs. Only the Rays won’t have to give up any prospects to add him to the roster.



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