PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While most of the attention will fall on the players who are expected to make the Opening Day roster, manager Kevin Cash and the rest of the organization will be keeping a close eye on some of the players that could find their way to the
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While most of the attention will fall on the players who are expected to make the Opening Day roster, manager Kevin Cash and the rest of the organization will be keeping a close eye on some of the players that could find their way to the big leagues at some point within the next year.
With the first full-squad workout scheduled for Monday, the Rays will be looking for players who will force them to make tough decisions when it's time to make roster cuts.
Here are 10 Rays players that could make some noise during this year's Spring Training.
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Meadows isn't one of the players competing for a roster spot, as he's expected to get plenty of time in the outfield this season, but he's one of the players looking to showcase his ability during the spring. After being acquired from the Pirates in the July 31 deal that sent Chris Archer to Pittsburgh, Meadows was sent to Triple-A Durham due to the Rays having too many options in the outfield. Meadows appeared in 10 games for Tampa Bay last season, finishing with a .250/.308/.417 slash line in just 26 plate appearances. The confidence in Meadows was a big reason why the Rays didn't go after a big-name outfielder over the offseason, and Meadows will look to show why during the spring.
Pitching coach Kyle Snyder and Cash have been very pleased with what they've seen out of Faria during his two bullpen sessions this spring. Faria struggled in 2018, finishing with a 5.40 ERA in 17 appearances. The 25-year-old came into Spring Training in much better shape, losing 15 pounds over the winter, and he's looking to get back to his '17 form, where he finished with a 3.43 ERA in 16 appearances. Faria will be competing for one of the last spots on the roster.
Font was very impressive in the few appearances he made with the Rays after being acquired from the Athletics last May. The 28-year-old right-hander made nine appearances last season with Tampa Bay, finishing with a 1.67 ERA. Font suffered a lat injury in June that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He has been fully cleared, and he has already impressed Cash during his early bullpen sessions. Font can serve as a starter or as a multi-inning reliever for the Rays this season. One important note on Font is that he is out of options, so he would have to be designated for assignment if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster.
A big first-base glove was waiting for Lowe when he arrived at camp Friday. Lowe, who played second base and left field in 2018, will be getting time at first base during the spring. The club believes Lowe is athletic and mobile enough that he can handle playing first base whenever the team needs him. Most importantly, the team will continue to look for ways to get Lowe's bat in the lineup, regardless of where he plays on the field. If you take away the 0-for-19 skid to open his career, Lowe finished with a .884 OPS over the last 37 games of the season.
With Jake Bauers now in Cleveland, it appears to be only a matter of time before Lowe makes an appearance at the Major League level. Lowe, who was named Rays Minor League Player of the Year after hitting 27 home runs in the Minors last season, is looking to showcase his hitting ability during the spring as a non-roster invitee. It's unlikely that Lowe is part of the roster on Opening Day, but if he remains healthy, there's a strong chance he makes his big league debut at some point during the 2019 season.
Diaz, who was acquired from the Indians in December, is expected to be one of the primary options at first base for the Rays. The 27-year-old infielder spent most of his time at third base last season, but the club is hopeful that he can make a smooth transition to first base. Diaz has shown the ability to hit at the big league level, finishing the 2018 season with a .312 batting average, but he has yet to do it over the course of a full season. It's the first time the Rays will get a chance to see Diaz up close, and it'll be interesting to see where he ends up defensively.
It didn't take long for Poche to become a topic of discussion at Rays camp. Cash said both of his bullpen sessions this spring have been impressive, and he can see why the left-hander struck out 50 percent of the hitters he faced in Triple-A last season. Poche hopes to make the Opening Day roster, but he'll surely make an impact at the big league level in 2019. He's competing with left-handers Jalen Beeks and Adam Kolarek for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
• Prospect Poche making strong first impression
This will be Sanchez's first big league camp after being added to the 40-man roster in November. The team's No. 4 prospect won't make the Opening Day roster, and it remains to be seen if he'll make an appearance at the big league level this season, but a good showing over the next couple of weeks will go a long way for the young outfielder.
After being acquired from the Giants in the deal that sent Evan Longoria to San Francisco, Arroyo was expected to make a contribution on last year's team, but an injury-plagued season limited him to just 20 games with the big league club in 2018. With the crowded infield, Arroyo could start the season in Triple-A Durham in order to get consistent at-bats, but this is a big spring for the 23-year-old in order to show the Rays that he can help add some more depth in the infield. Arroyo says he's in much better shape this season, and he hopes to learn from last year's struggles.
The team's No. 9 prospect had 29 stolen bases last season, and his speed is something that could help him get to the big league level within the next year. The 21-year-old won't make the Opening Day roster this year, but there's a chance Fox makes an appearance in September if the Rays are looking for some help on the bases.
** Juan Toribio ** covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.