Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rocco's Boys

When it was announced that long-time Rays favorite Rocco Baldelli returned to the organization in a special assistant coach and possibly biding time for a comeback to the big league roster, the question arose on which prospects that Rocco may be helping out with.

Its easy to guess that Rocco would be helping with the centerfielders throughout the system on routes and getting a major leaguers thought process on approaching certain flyballs and improving communication(like who calls for the ball, which times is it okay to gun a runner instead of hitting the cut-off man). However, Rocco may be also helping players that are new to the position or may one day be converted to the outfield. Also, Rocco could be also showing our speedier prospects tips on improving their SB/CS ratios. Without talking to Rocco himself, its unclear who or what he's helping with.

Looking through the Rays organization, certain names pop out on which prospects are being worked with right now.

Isaias Velasquez, Omar Luna and Shawn O'Malley and Cody Cipriano are 4 players that are newer or "raw" when it comes to playing the outfield and may need Rocco's tips to easier assimilate the art of playing the OF and possibly CF itself. Isaias and Omar were infielders before this year and both are playing a majority of games thus far in the season in the outfield.

Names like Ty Morrison, Kyeong Kang, Christopher Murrill, Dustin Biell, Brett Nommensen and Emeel Salem are players who are outfielders in the system that are the likely ones just getting tips on improving routes and communication. Murrill, Biell and Morrison are younger guys and wouldn't be at all surprised if the organization had Rocco working with them closely.

If I had to guess players getting tips on baserunning, it'd be Tim Beckham(who may later on be moved to LF, if its clear that short-stop isn't his position), Shawn O'Malley, Salem and Perez. These players use speed as a weapon and Rocco showed before injuries a knack for being an above-average runner. I wouldn't even be surprised if Rocco wasn't in Tropicana some days to help Sean Rodriguez in learning the OF position better at the big league level.

Now all my guesses are purely speculation, but logical in theory. Keep an eye all these guys on prospect lists and if you notice dramatic improvements in these guys numbers, we probably have Rocco to thank. Also, and this is purely hypothetical, don't be surprised if Rocco is offered a minor league managerial job if (a) he does well in this current role and (b) his career is truely over.

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