ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to be on the cutting edge, challenging what can and can't be done on a baseball field.• Draft Tracker: Follow every Rays Draft pickThere's been shifting, super utility players and "bullpen days" before they were common at the Major League level.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to be on the cutting edge, challenging what can and can't be done on a baseball field.
• Draft Tracker: Follow every Rays Draft pick
There's been shifting, super utility players and "bullpen days" before they were common at the Major League level. And the organization has embraced the idea of the two-way player. The Rays used the fourth pick of the 2017 Draft to select Brendan McKay, and this year, they used the 71st selection to choose Tanner Dodson, a center fielder/right-handed pitcher from the University of California.
• Rays' 2018 Draft Day 1 wrap
McKay is currently advancing through the Rays' farm system, both pitching and playing the field, in essence breaking new ground doing something previously considered taboo. Dodson adds to the organization's two-way player collection.
Dodson is one of three finalists for college baseball's John Olerud Award, which is given to the nation's top two-way player.
He hit .320 with 12 doubles, a home run, 27 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 54 games for Cal and went 2-1 on the mound, with a 2.48 ERA in 19 relief appearances, finishing with 11 saves.
Shifting is now prominent in baseball, as are utility players. Bullpen days haven't been embraced just yet, but the advent of the two-way player seems to be on the horizon. Shohei Ohtani is opening eyes with the Angels, and the Rays, should they sign Dodson, will have a pair of two-way players moving through their farm system.
Will the two-way player become common? If so, the Rays will be one of the first franchises to embrace it.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.