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Inbox: Why are Rays holding off on prospects?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans
MLB.com @wwchastain

You hear a lot about the guys like Willy Adames and Jake Bauers who are doing so well in Triple-A. Why haven't the Rays called some of those players up?
-- Donald H., Zephyrhills, Fla.

A part of that is the business of baseball. By not summoning a player to the big league club until later in the season, teams are delaying the start of the player's Major League clock, thereby pushing back the beginning of that player's arbitration eligibility. All teams do this. It's accepted practice. In addition, the Rays adhere to the thinking that once they bring up the prospects they truly covet, they don't want to have to send them back down. Adames, Bauers (the Nos. 2 and 5 prospects in the organization as ranked by MLB Pipeline) and others will be at Tropicana Field in the near future, I would think, and if you're a Rays fan, you hope they're ready to produce when they arrive.

You hear a lot about the guys like Willy Adames and Jake Bauers who are doing so well in Triple-A. Why haven't the Rays called some of those players up?
-- Donald H., Zephyrhills, Fla.

A part of that is the business of baseball. By not summoning a player to the big league club until later in the season, teams are delaying the start of the player's Major League clock, thereby pushing back the beginning of that player's arbitration eligibility. All teams do this. It's accepted practice. In addition, the Rays adhere to the thinking that once they bring up the prospects they truly covet, they don't want to have to send them back down. Adames, Bauers (the Nos. 2 and 5 prospects in the organization as ranked by MLB Pipeline) and others will be at Tropicana Field in the near future, I would think, and if you're a Rays fan, you hope they're ready to produce when they arrive.

I really enjoy the Rays' approach to hitting this year. I've long thought that the problem with declining interest in baseball is not the length of the game but the lack of action within a game. Emphasizing home runs resulted in bunches of strikeouts and few runners on base. The Rays' approach this year seems to be making contact and putting the ball in play. Do you think the Rays' management likes the results? Will they stick with it?
-- Larry A., Seminole, Fla.

The Rays do have a different offense this season -- one that relies more on making contact to drive home runners. The past two seasons they relied heavily on the long ball, and I would agree with you, I like putting the ball in play a lot more than long ball-strikeout. Timely hitting is the key for the Rays, and during this recent hot streak they had plenty of hits at the right time. We'll just have to see if that continues.

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When it is clear that a pitcher, particularly in relief, has thrown a minimal number of pitches and is effective, why doesn't Rays manager Kevin Cash stay with him instead of following the book? Once a pitcher is warmed up and throwing well you have used him, so another 15 pitches makes no difference.
-- Blane C., Orange Park, Fla.

First, Cash is trying to win games. He also wants to put his pitchers in situations where they can succeed. The Rays' front office puts a premium on analytics, so Cash is loaded with information for optimizing a situation with a certain pitcher vs. a certain hitter, how effective that pitcher is after a certain number of pitches, etc. Instincts are still involved, but the Rays would rather have a decision based on what the data tells them.

Of all the trades the Rays made prior to the season, I disapproved of the Steven Souza Jr. trade the most. The guy had 30 home runs last year and seems to have a big upside. I'm not exactly sure whether we got anything decent for him.
-- Ben B., St. Petersburg

I share your opinion about Souza's upside. He began the season injured, but I think he'll get things going in Arizona. Having said that, I believe the Rays got some talent in return for Souza, beginning with left-hander Anthony Banda. He's smooth looking out on the mound, and I don't see any reason why he can't be a big contributor to the team's future success.

Do you think that totally overhauling the team is the reason for this start?
-- Ron C., Beverly Hills, Fla.

Based on what I've gathered from comments made by the Rays' front office, they felt like somewhat of an overhaul -- without totally tanking -- was needed. The thought was they were stuck in mediocrity on the path they were headed. I'd have to agree with that. I've heard a lot of criticism about the Rays breaking up the team they had last season, but seriously, breaking up an 80-82 team is hardly breaking up the '27 Yankees.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays