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Prospect Sanchez a bright spot for future

20-year-old outfielder is flashing hit tool so far in Spring Training
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- One of the great joys of Spring Training is watching up-and-coming prospects. Monday afternoon, Rays fans got a sneak peak at the future: Jesus Sanchez.

MLB Pipeline ranks the 20-year-old outfielder as the organization's No. 5 prospect, and he's No. 57 on baseball's Top 100.

View Full Game Coverage

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- One of the great joys of Spring Training is watching up-and-coming prospects. Monday afternoon, Rays fans got a sneak peak at the future: Jesus Sanchez.

MLB Pipeline ranks the 20-year-old outfielder as the organization's No. 5 prospect, and he's No. 57 on baseball's Top 100.

View Full Game Coverage

The left-handed-hitting Sanchez sent a charge through the crowd at Charlotte Sports Park when he led off the sixth by yanking a ball down the left-field line. Sanchez blazed around the bases, and didn't stop running until he reached third base.

Sanchez scored, and the Rays went on to score five more times in the sixth en route to a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays.

In his next at-bat, Sanchez led off the seventh with a chopper back through the middle that he beat out for an infield single.

No. 89 adorned the back of Sanchez's uniform, which was indicative of the fact he played at Class A Bowling Green in 2017. While he labored in the low Minor Leagues, he caught everybody's attention, winning the Midwest League batting title by hitting .305 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs.

Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics gushed over Sanchez after the game, noting that the Dominican prospect always has a smile on his face. When asked about the source of that smile, Sanchez said: "Because I love the baseball. I enjoy the game."

Eovaldi on deck
Nathan Eovaldi will make his first appearance in a Rays uniform when he starts Tuesday's game against the Orioles. The right-hander is coming back from his second Tommy John surgery.

"He has put in time, he's worked really hard," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I'm eager to see [him] but we saw enough of his live BP and bullpen sessions last year to get a pretty good sense of where he was going in the offseason.

 "He had a great offseason from a health standpoint. And he's come in here completely looking the part. I'm more excited just to see his stuff [in] play."

The Rays signed Eovaldi as a free agent on Feb. 14, 2017. He signed with them in part because of the organization's reputation in handling pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. He achieved his goal of being physically ready to return by the end of the 2017 season, prompting the Rays to exercise his 2018 option.

Eovaldi is slated to be in the team's four-man rotation to start the season.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

MLBPA stop
Following his annual stop at Rays camp, MLB Players Association director Tony Clark addressed reporters. Clark sounded pleased with the progress being made to try and get the Rays a new ballpark built in Tampa, Fla.

 "We're encouraged by every team being in the best position possible to maximize the value that we know it has," Clark said. "It's been a long-standing discussion in regards to the facility that the team is currently in. And we know there's been a lot of dialogue about locations and how that can be beneficial, to the extent that a decision is made sooner than later that puts the organization in the best position possible to maximize its value. So we're hopeful that considerations can be made sooner than later, so a team like the Rays can become what it's capable of becoming."

Clark, the player, actually made some history where the Rays are concerned. He played against the then-Devil Rays in their very first regular-season game, which took place at Tropicana Field on March 31, 1998. Playing for the Tigers, Clark had the first hit and scored the first run at Tropicana Field.

Clark laughed when reminded that took place 20 years ago.

"I had hair back then, and it was dark," Clark said.

Castillo cruising
Diego Castillo continued to shine out of the Rays' bullpen. The right-hander posted another clean inning in Monday's win over the Blue Jays, giving him two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and no walks for the spring. He's a solid candidate to win a bullpen spot. It's too early in camp to know who he might have to battle to win a spot, though.

At the game
• Catcher Jesus Sucre looked in top form when his throw completed a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play to end the Blue Jays second.

• Jason Coats broke a scoreless tie when he led off the Rays' half of the fourth with a home run to center field off Blue Jays lefty Craig Breslow.

Matt Duffy continues to look comfortable at third base. In the fifth inning, he charged Teoscar Hernandez's chopper, then threw across his body to nab the speedy Blue Jay at first.

Chris Archer started and felt good.

"I got good results," Archer said. "It's Feb. 26, so I'm not going to get too hard on myself, but I definitely want to be in the strike zone a little bit more."

• Willy Adames and Joe McCarthy homered to account for five of the runs tallied in the six-run sixth.

Video: Archer, Cash discuss the start against Blue Jays

Up next
The Rays will host the Orioles Tuesday afternoon in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Charlotte Sports Park. Eovaldi will start for the Rays. Also slated to see action are Austin Pruitt, Dan Runzler, Forrest Snow and Ryne Stanek. Hunter Harvey will start for the O's. Listen to the game on an exclusive webcast at raysbaseball.com.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jesus Sanchez