2021 Spring Training Rays Minors recap

Josh Fleming is a pitcher that will make an impact for the Rays in 2021 (Photo credit: Will Vragovic, Kevin Sabitus)

Spring training this year has been like no other. There was a ton of uncertainty surrounding what was going to happen with not only big league camp, but also those invited to major league camp. Like with every team there have been prospects who have torn up the Grapefruit League and others who were not so hot. Let’s start with some hitters that either impressed or left some to desire.

Tristan Gray (UTL)

Gray was the player along with Daniel Hudson that the Rays received from the Pirates for Cory Dickerson. Gray has never been the best hitter in the minors, but that hasn’t been the case this spring. In 23 plate appearances this spring, he is hitting .384, three home runs, and seven runs batted in. Along with that, he is also slugging .826 with an OPS over 1.000. Additionally, he is showing his worth with his glove. He has shown his versatility in the field, as evident by some of his stellar plays.

Wander Franco (SS, #1 Prospect)

Wander Franco hits a moonshot vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates in early March (Photo credit: Will Vragovic, Kevin Sabitus/Tampa Bay Rays)

I know it is just spring training, so you can’t read much into it, but it is disappointing how he has hit this spring. In 30 at-bats, he has managed just a .200 batting average and a .500 OPS. He has struggled against the limited major league talent he has faced which is why the Rays may be hesitant to bring him up as early as some may think. Rays fans do have to remember that he is only 20 years old and has not played above High-A. Despite his bat not living up to expectations so far, his fielding has been superb. I think he starts the season in either Montgomery or Durham, but we do see him sometime around July. 

Nathan Lukes (OF)

At 26 years old, Lukes is hitting his stride at a great time. In 2018, he was a Double-A All-Star and showed a great bat. This spring in 18 at-bats, he is hitting .333 with three RBIs. He has shown some good power with three doubles but still no homers. He also has been seeing the ball real well drawing some good counts and two walks. Along with his bat, Lukes’ glove has been consistently good and I would not be shocked if we see him really soon, especially if there is an injury to an outfielder. 

Now let’s look at the pitching side of the team. 

Shane McClanahan (LHP, Rays #6 Prospect)

McClananahan has shown why the Rays were so high on drafting him. After coming up last season, he has picked up where he left off. In three innings this spring, he has not allowed a run and has struck out seven batters. He has allowed one hit through his three innings and no walks. He is throwing all of his pitches really well including showing amazing velocity on his fastball. I am really impressed with him and with the injury to Anderson, he could make an impact with the Rays early.

Josh Fleming (LHP, Rays #21 Prospect)

Fleming came up last season with the Rays and pitched in seven regular season games going 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA. So far this spring, Fleming has tossed 8.2 innings to a tune of a 0.00 ERA and a 0.46 WHIP. He also has eight strikeouts to add to his line. He is another guy who may benefit from the Anderson injury. Fleming has shown some really good things that people have seen from him since his time with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. His surprisingly good play is one of our favorites to talk about on the “In The Tank” podcast. Watch out for him, because I think he will get a good chance this season and could be the rock of this pitching staff.

Kenny Rosenberg (LHP) 

In 2019, Rosenberg came into his own in Montgomery. That season he went 11-4 to the tune of a 3.29 ERA in 134 innings. He also gave Montgomery 108 strikeouts and a 1.29 WHIP. Rosenberg was also named a 2019 mid-season All-Star; however, this spring he has struggled in his 2.2 innings of work posting a 6.75 ERA. I know it is only spring and such a small sample size but he may not show it in the stats, but he is a good pitcher. He does locate well and can dominate on his day. I think that not having a 2020 season may have hurt Rosenberg a bit but he will do well. I see him starting in Durham and maybe making an impact in Tampa at some point.

Tune in every week where I give you a minors update. Spring camp opens up the first week of April so stay posted for that!