Here's the Rays' Spring Breakout roster

March 15th, 2024

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays prospect Chandler Simpson has a simple but lofty goal for this season.

After stealing 94 bases last season, tied for most in the Minors with his friend Victor Scott II, the fleet-footed center fielder is aiming for 100 this year.

“I’ll be definitely going for triple digits,” Simpson said, smiling, after a recent Minor League Spring Training workout at Charlotte Sports Park. “That’s the goal every year.”

Before he starts burning up the basepaths in the Minor Leagues, Simpson will put his elite speed on display as part of a team of top Rays prospects in its Spring Breakout game against the Twins on March 16, which will follow a 1:05 p.m. ET Grapefruit League game at Lee Health Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla. Tampa Bay’s Spring Breakout roster includes 13 players from its Top 30 Prospects list, including Simpson, who checked in at No. 12 on MLB Pipeline’s preseason list.

Simpson has a unique skill set, even among top prospects. The 70th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft has 80-grade speed and bottom-of-the-scale power, but he still finds ways to get on base with his ability to control the strike zone and make contact. It started to come together in an interesting way at Single-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green last season, as he slashed .293/.373/.345 with more walks (54) than strikeouts (44), no homers and, of course, 94 steals in 115 games.

“Just keeping the same mindset, staying in my game and being true to myself, knowing that I’m a contact, get-on-base, tough-to-strike-out, tough-out guy,” Simpson said, noting how much he hates striking out. “I’ve always been that way. I feel like I can’t do anything if I don’t put the ball in play. Anything can happen when you put the ball in play.”

Simpson was grateful for a full, healthy season -- but hardly content. He spent some time on the development list with Triple-A Durham, where he essentially shadowed one of the few who can relate to someone as fast as him: Billy Hamilton.

Hamilton topped 100 stolen bases in the Minors twice, with 103 in 2011 and 155 in ’12. He averaged 58 steals per season with the Reds from 2014-17 and has 326 overall in 951 Major League games. Hamilton was on the Rays’ taxi squad for last year’s American League Wild Card Series, but he first served as a friendly mentor for Simpson.

“It was great! It was like a big brother for that week I was there,” Simpson said. “He took me under his wing. He was a great guy, showing me the ropes, showing me his experience in the league and how he stole bags. And I got to see him do it in person, so that was cool. … It was like looking in a mirror, basically.”

Additionally, Simpson learned the importance of keeping his weight up during a long season. He hit the weight room this winter and weighed in this spring about 13-15 pounds heavier than last Spring Training. The added strength has improved Simpson’s bat speed and exit velocity -- and one other thing that should set off alarm bells for Minor League pitchers and catchers everywhere.

“I got a little bit faster,” he said.

How to tune in: MLB Digital (MLB.TV,, MLB App), Bally Sports Sun, Rays audio webcast, ESPN+, Gameday

What is Spring Breakout? MLB Spring Breakout is a four-day event showcasing baseball’s future: the current stars of Minor League Baseball. The inaugural edition will be held from March 14-17 at Grapefruit and Cactus league stadiums during Spring Training. A series of 16 exhibition games will be played between teams comprised of each MLB organization’s top prospects, creating a new touchpoint on the baseball calendar that celebrates our sport’s budding talent.

Here's the Rays' Spring Breakout roster with MLB Pipeline's rankings:

Trevor Martin, RHP, No. 20
Keyshawn Askew, LHP, NR
Jeff Belge, RHP, NR
Antonio Menendez, RHP, NR
Evan Reifert, RHP, NR
Drew Sommers, LHP, NR
Austin Vernon, RHP, NR
Kyle Whitten, RHP, NR
Matt Wyatt, RHP, NR
Alfredo Zarraga, RHP, NR

Dominic Keegan, C, No. 6
Kenny Piper, C, NR

Junior Caminero, 3B/SS, No. 1 (MLB No. 4)
Carson Williams, SS, No. 2 (MLB No. 20)
Xavier Isaac, 1B, No. 4 (MLB No. 58)
Brayden Taylor, 3B/SS, No. 5
Adrian Santana, SS, No. 7
Tre' Morgan, 1B, No. 15
Willy Vasquez, INF, No. 17
Cooper Kinney, INF, No. 23

Chandler Simpson, OF, No. 12
Colton Ledbetter, OF, No. 16
Mason Auer, OF, No. 25
Dru Baker, OF, NR
Ryan Cermak, OF, NR
Shane Sasaki, OF, NR