By Ryan Adams
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2B Logan Forsythe – The Rays locked up Logan to a 2-yr extension earlier this week and he will no doubt be the Opening Day man at second base after being named the teams MVP in 2015. Even if Logan repeats last year’s performance at the plate and in the field (Gold Glove-caliber, snubbed) – he’s well worth the money.
SS Brad Miller – Brought over from Seattle at the very beginning of the baseball off-season, Miller has surprising pop and a solid glove. While Tim Beckham will push him for innings, I still see Miller getting most the starts at short.
INF Tim Beckham – Beckham showed plenty of versatility at both middle-infield positions in ’15. He also showed some pop and early on was a stud off the bench in pinch-hitting situations.
INF Nick Franklin – Showed he was getting it together late in the year as he hit .300 in September last season. Another weapon Kevin Cash has to move around the infield at multiple positions.
1B James Loney – Barring any sudden moves, Loney will start the year at first for the Rays for the fourth year in a row. He put up pretty solid numbers despite an injury-prone 2015. His slash line was down but he still managed to hit .280 in 104 games.
3B Evan Longoria – Coming into his ninth year manning the hot corner for Tampa Bay, Longo was hard on himself last year and shouldered a lot of the blame for the team’s scoring struggles for yet another year. I see Evan “rebounding” in ’16 and pushing the 30-home run mark with close to 100 driven in with Logan Morrison brought in for protection and Forsythe’s chances of repeating his stellar ’15 at the plate.
SS Daniel Robertson – Everything points to this young man being MLB-ready by the end of the year with how he’s performed in the minors. God forbid an injury to any of the aforementioned occurs, Robertson could make his MLB-debut sooner than later.
1B Richie Shaffer – Strikeouts are a big issue for Shaffer but there is no doubt about his raw power. He has the ability to play either corner of the infield. In 2015, he mashed at the minor league level combining for 26 HRs between Durham and Montgomery. Shaffer should rejoin the Rays at some point in ’16. His power is too valuable to ignore.
2B Ryan Brett – He got a shot at The Show in April last season but only played in three games before a shoulder injury put him on the DL. Brett is a solid, contact hitter who has a .289 career average at the minor league level. Brett would most likely be first in line to call up if an injury occurs.
Of course any sudden moves before Spring Training could shift around a lot of this depth chart. But for now – this is where I see guys starting Opening Day for your Tampa Bay Rays.
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