A few interesting nuggets came out of the Rays Winter Development Program the last couple of days. First, we reported earlier that Matt Moore is eyeing a June return to the rotation. Rays skipper Kevin Cash also, maybe inadvertently, announced the candidates for the middle infield.
Cash indicated that Asdrubal Cabrera is expected to be an everyday player. While he didn’t mention where Cabrera would spend the bulk of his time, either at short or second, Cash was complimentary of Asdrubal, saying it would be “like pulling teeth” to remove him from the lineup. Cash continued, calling Cabrera (“Cabby”) a positive veteran presence on the team and in the clubhouse.
He also narrowed down the competition for the other middle infield spot to Nick Franklin, Logan Forsythe and Tim Beckham. Franklin is expected to make the roster regardless of the position, leaving Forsythe and Beckham to battle it out for the middle-infield-platoon and bench spots. Boding in Forsythe’s favor, his defensive range which pairs well with that of Franklin.
Beckham, 25 (at the end of January), is a name we’ve bandied about as bench depth for a while. With the exception of six games at the end of the 2014 season, the Rays former number one overall pick hasn’t any big league experience. Beckham has also been a source of frustration for many since, he’s never really posted impressive numbers…Not to mention the 50-game drug suspension he served last season for the use of marijuana. Cash was quick to note that Beckham — along with Franklin and Forsythe — is viewed as an interchangeable part who offers the Rays “flexibility.”
Interestingly enough, Hak-Ju Lee was left off the list, though it fails to be seen whether that was an oversight on the part of Cash, or not. Lee was a top prospect who suffered a devastating knee injury in 2013. And while he recovered enough to play the following season, Lee wasn’t the same player. He seemed to lag behind at his position, something that could be construed as an affect of a slow recovery, or a general lack of confidence in his capabilities.
It should be noted, both Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee are projected similarly in 2015.
You can hear sound clips of the Kevin Cash interview below, courtesy of Steve Kinsella.