ST. PETERSBURG -- After being named the Rays' top prospect by MLBPipeline.com, 21-year-old shortstop Willy Adames is ready for the next step of attending Spring Training as a member on the 40-man roster.Adames is one of 25 players taking part in the Rays' Winter Development Program this week at Tropicana
ST. PETERSBURG -- After being named the Rays' top prospect by MLBPipeline.com, 21-year-old shortstop Willy Adames is ready for the next step of attending Spring Training as a member on the 40-man roster.
Adames is one of 25 players taking part in the Rays' Winter Development Program this week at Tropicana Field. It's the eighth year of the program and a way for the team to monitor the offseason progress of its top prospects.
"We are able to bring them here and we have all eyes on them," said Rays Minor League director Mitch Lukevics. "We can help them, we can guide them so they are better prepared for Spring Training."
Rays manager Kevin Cash and bench coach Tom Foley are among the contingent that will be watching players like Adames this week. Adames became the starting shortstop at Double-A Montgomery last season and was a Southern League All-Star, hitting .274 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 132 games for the Biscuits.
"Last season was amazing, the guys around me did well and we made the playoffs," Adames said. "I feel great, it's exciting to be on the 40-man roster and have an opportunity to go to big league Spring Training."
Now Adames is ready to learn from some of the veteran players -- most notably third baseman Evan Longoria and second baseman John Forsythe.
"I want to learn everything from them, because I'm a rookie and they have seen everything," Adames said. "They have a lot of good vibes around them and a lot of knowledge. I just want to listen and learn and get better at my job."
Lukevics said Adames has all of the tools necessary to be an everyday shortstop in the Majors.
"He has the intangibles, he has a wonderful attitude," Lukevics said. "His aptitude, his work ethic. He will be tested and time will tell, but he has all the intangibles. He has learned plate discipline and he's more under control. He can learn in every element of the game as a young 20-, 21-year-old should."
Other prospects are in the program to continue to monitor their health -- like right-hander Brent Honeywell, who moved up to Montgomery midway through last season and went 3-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 10 starts. He struck out 53 and walked 14 in 59 1/3 innings.
Honeywell said that the move up put an emphasis on his command, especially against hitters who had more experience. He has a fastball that regularly hits the mid-90s and pairs it with a screwball that has gained notoriety around the Minor Leagues.
"I'm able to execute everything better, with the exception of my curveball," Honeywell said. "That's still up in the air a little. Their main thing is fastball command. They want to develop you as a pitcher. And they develop good people around here. That's the important thing."
Honeywell said his primary goal is to be healthy for Spring Training after experiencing some injury concerns. He says he's put on some weight and hopes that will help maintain his health.
Lukevics said the organization has high hopes for Honeywell, but his health is most important and it will not rush his progress.
"I am a little guarded with Honeywell," Lukevics said. "He had a little boo-boo elbow this season. We wanted to make up some innings in the Arizona Fall League and he came up with a little boo-boo back. He has everything to be a very good Major League pitcher, but what's the rush? Let's take our time and bring him along slow. It's not how you start, it's how you finish and the sky is the limit for him."
Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com.