6'2" 180 lbs DOB: 10/30/1986
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2009: Montgomery Biscuits/Durham Bulls
Acquired: 2006 Draft, 10th Round, 289th Overall
Desmond Jennings was on the brink of falling off the prospect radar with another injury-riddled year in 2009. But not only did he stay on the field, he had one of the best seasons across all of the minor leagues.
After playing just 99 and 24 games in the previous two seasons at Columbus and Vero Beach, respectively, Jennings put in 132 between Montgomery and Durham in 2009. He did a little bit of everything with the Biscuits - hitting .316, showing an impressive batting eye, swiping 37 bases, and playing top-notch defense - on his way to Southern League MVP honors. A late-season promotion to Durham didn't slow him down, in fact, he hit better with the Bulls in 32 games than he did with Montgomery. He even set a record in his brief time with the Bulls, collecting seven hits in one game.
Across the board, Jennings' tools compare favorably to anyone in the system. His combination of contact and discipline skills are un-matched among Rays' farmhands. He's not a big home run threat, but he has some raw power and his 52 extra-base hits led the system. He's among the fastest players the Rays have, and that includes Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton. Jennings, who was offered a football scholarship to play wide receiver for Alabama, may be a better basestealer than those two with an 88% success rate(52 steals out of 59 chances).
Jennings has the range to play center field at a high-caliber level. His lack of experience means his reads aren't perfect, but he has the speed to make up for it while they improve. His arm is his weakest tool, but it still grades out as at least average. A defensive outfield of Crawford in left, Jennings in center, and Upton(whose arm is superior to Jennings') in right would be among the best in recent memory.
There's little question about Jennings' tools playing at the major-league level. The only thing he has left to prove is that he can continue to stay on the field. He's missed time with injuries to his knee, back, and non-throwing shoulder, but none of those were issues in 2010. He'll begin the 2010 season back with Durham, but if he stays healthy and continues to hit the way he has, the Rays won't be able to hold him back much longer.