ST. PETERSBURG -- While it's cliche, Spring Training really is all about starting anew. Fueling that feeling in many cases is the promise of young players ready to begin their Major League careers.
The Rays have four youngsters, who have yet to play a Major League game, but are so close they can smell Tropicana Field. Right-handers Brent Honeywell and Jaime Schultz, first baseman Jake Bauers, and shortstop Willy Adames. Watching these four try and make the team is what excites me the most heading into Spring Training.
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Honeywell, MLB Pipeline's No. 12-ranked prospect, will be appearing in Major League camp for the first time. I don't recall if he pitched in any of the Grapefruit League games I covered in the past, but I know I'll be paying attention when he's on the mound this spring.
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Honeywell has done everything that's been asked of him in the Minor Leagues. He's got five pitches -- including a screwball, and, according to Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics, he's the most competitive player in the organization.
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Based on what he accomplished last spring, Schultz would have been in the Major Leagues last season if he had not fought injuries for the length of the season.
Schultz is a mighty-might, who can overpower hitters with his fastball. He also appears to have the flatline composure needed from a reliever. In short, he has a chance to be a weapon out of the bullpen, and he profiles to become a closer at some point of his career.
Bauers, ranked No. 64 by MLB Pipeline, has the chance to become the second two-time Al Lopez Award winner in Rays hitsory.
The Al Lopez Award is presented annually to the best rookie in Major League camp. Elliot Johnson twice won the award, now Bauers can tie the former Rays infielder with another quality spring.
Not only does Bauers have above-average power, he is also selective at the plate. That is a dangerous combination. He will have a chance to earn the starting job at first base.
Adames, the No. 22-ranked prospect, is rare. The Rays acquired him from the Tigers in the David Price trade, when Adames was just 18. So he's been on the radar since 2014. The rare part comes in how rare it is for a player to be projected so highly at such a young age and then actually turn out. But Adames has advanced, and excelled, at every stage of his Minor League career to where he now appears ready to grab a Major League job.
Not only does Adames excel between the white lines, he's a star off the field with his personality. Lukevics allowed that Adames has the "it" factor.
Spring Training is just around the corner, and these four will make watching the Rays go through their paces this spring even more exciting.