GCL Rays Preview

The GCL Rays opened played last week in the Gulf Coast League by going 2-3. Featuring a wide array of international talent and players from this year's draft, the team is the first stop for many in the Rays farm system as they start their professional careers. Inside, Brad Lymburner previews this year's squad.

Getting started…

The Rays went 2-3 in their first week of play and find themselves tied for last place in the South division with the Orioles and are 1.5 games back. The Rays opened with two wins over the Red Sox, but went on to drop three straight, including two against the Twins. After losing to the Orioles a day before, the Rays didn't get a chance to split the back-to-back on Saturday as the game was postponed. The two teams are expected to make it up on June 29th.

Familiar faces…

A few players from the 2011 GCL Rays returned this year, and four have already been in action. Johnny Eierman, a 3rd round pick of the Rays in 2011, got off to a hot start going 4-for-15 with three doubles, three walks, and two stolen bases. To see Eierman back in the GCL is a surprise though, so it will be interesting to see what the organization's plans are for him moving forward.

Third baseman Cesar Perez is now into his third year as a GCL Ray, and he has yet to perform up to expectations. His power potential was intriguing enough to warrant a $1 million bonus back in 2009, but to this point he has collected just five extra base hits (including one home run) in 91 games as a member of the Rays, all of which came in the 2010 season. He got off to a pretty good start last week, going 5- for-15 with a walk and two RBI, but needless to say, this will be a very telling summer for the young Venezuelan.

Right-hander Isaac Gil and Czech lefty Stepan Havlicek are back with the team, and the two hurlers haven't allowed a run after going three and four innings, respectively, in the first week.

Outfielder Jonathan Quinonez joins catcher Brandon Choate (who is currently on the restricted list) as the only two players on the roster who played for the team last year that haven't yet appeared in a game in 2012.

The New Guys…

With a wave of recent Rays draft picks heading to Port Charlotte over the past few weeks, it will be awhile before we see some of the organization's new top prospects in action, at least on a consistent basis. First baseman Miguel Beltran, the 19th rounder out of Oklahoma City University, played in four of five games last week and went 3-for-13 with three walks and a run driven in. Lefty Jordan Harrison is the only pitcher drafted in 2012 to appear in more than one game so far for the Rays, going 0-1 in two appearances despite not allowing an earned run. Other recent draftees such as SS Benjamin Kline, RHP Jason Wilson, and RHP Kris Carlson have each played in one game.

The other 2012 picks that haven't yet seen action with the GCL Rays include Spencer Edwards, Nolan Gannon, Bralin Jackson, Damion Carroll, Clayton Henning, Dayne Quist, Luke Goodgion, Geoff Rowan, and Nick Sawyer.

Also included in the group of new faces are Dominicans Yoel Aroujo and Jiminson Natera who are two of three players that have appeared in each of the five games so far and have 19 at-bats apiece.

Natera showed a good bat early, logging six hits including a double, a triple, and a home run. SS Douglas Duran has also appeared in every game, going 3-for-16 with two walks and a pair driven in. Other notables include catcher Wilmer Dominguez (4-for-11), designated hitter Armando Araiza (4-for-13) and shortstop Adderly Rosa (5-for-19).

Stopping by…

Rays pitching prospects Nick Barnese, Lenny Linsky, and Chris Andujar all made appearances as part of rehab assignments with the Rays this past week. Barnese and Andujar each tossed five innings, with the former giving up one run in a winning effort while Andujar allowed no runs in parts of two games. Linsky also appeared in two games and notched a save on the 18th against the Red Sox.

Up next…

The Rays are scheduled to begin the week with a pair of games against the Red Sox, but the weather may have something to say about that. The Rays were rained out on Saturday, and as a result they have a double-header with the Orioles this Friday. Unfortunately, there may be more postponements in the very near future.

Brad Lymburner is the GCL Rays beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @_BradL.


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