More Rays Magic?

By R.J. Anderson //

With the rookie performances of Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking every player promoted by the Rays will come out of the gates charging. Having a mindset like that makes outfielder Brandon Guyer and catcher Jose Lobaton, both September callups, interesting prospects to add for the end of the postseason. Are they worth your consideration?

Let’s start with Guyer. The 25-year-old product of the University of Virginia came over in the Matt Garza deal after having a breakout 2010 season in Double-A. In Guyer’s first exposure to Triple-A this season, he kept hitting—tacking a .312/.384/.521 line with 14 home runs to his résumé—and added a neat notch to his major league career when he homered in his first big league at-bat. The results in his 17 big league at-bats since have been less satisfying, as he has just two hits (both singles), but there is reason to believe better days are ahead.

Before displaying more power in recent seasons, Guyer used to receive a tweener label—i.e. his bat played better in center, but his glove did not—and he still has more speed than you expect, however he played linebacker for the Cavaliers football program and it shows. He brings that same tenacity from the gridiron to the ballpark too, as he throws his body around with reckless abandon. What makes Guyer’s power and speed even more tantalizing is how he hits for average too—with a career minor league batting average of .297—the only thing that stands between him and being a nice everyday outfielder is his plate discipline, which can still use a little more refining.

The Rays seem committed to giving Guyer as many starts in the outfield as possible, so he could make for a nice sneaky starter against left-handed pitchers.  The same can be said for Lobaton, as Joe Maddon recently announced Kelly Shoppach’s playing time will diminish to accommodate the Rays efforts in evaluating Lobaton.

Acquire off waivers in 2009, Lobaton is a switch-hitting catcher who has a strong defensive reputation. He came up through the Padres minor league system and even reached the majors in 2009 before being designated for assignment. Lobaton has never been much of a hitting prospect, with a career .259/.348/.410 slash line, however he hit .307/.417/.505 across 244 plate appearances in Triple-A and on rehab assignment in High-A that, when combined with his age (26), make you wonder if maybe something clicked.

The safe bet is to go against that idea, but still, the increased power production is a development worth keeping an eye on, and if you have no other choices, then Lobaton could provide a little value if he gets on a tear.

For more on late season additions, check out BloombergSports.com

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