In this series I'm going to take a quick look at the probable roster of each full season minor league affiliate at the beginning of the 2012 season. I'm going through it position by position. Keep in mind that these projections are very much subject to change (trades could happen, Rays could be more aggressive/conservative with some players, ...). We are going to do more in-depth pieces about the final roster for each affiliate when they are set. This is only to give you a short peek. For more information on the current state of the Rays Depth Chart, check out Doug's great work.
The next position I'm going to look at is Third Base.
The Rays are very well set at 3B for years to come (at least until 2016) with Evan Longoria being above average offensively and even more impressive defensively at the hot corner. Nevertheless, they need to develop talent at third base in order to continue having long-term talent there after the Longoria-era and in order to having depth in case of an injury. The Rays have enough 3B-depth already within their current major league roster with Sean Rodriguez and Elliott Johnson being able to play very well at 3rd behind Longoria.
Matt Mangini (L)
The Bulls will have a very good starting Third Baseman in 2012 with Matt Mangini and his very good hit-tool providing depth for the majors. Behind him, Russ Canzler and especially Henry Wrigley provide excellent depth while a versatile player like Cole Figueroa also being able to help out. Overall, the Bulls are very well set at the infield corners.
Greg Sexton (R)
With Dan Mayora gone and Cole Figueroa (hopefully) moving up to AAA it's Gregory Sexton who will be handling 3B most of the time. He moved up to AA mid-way last season (for the 2nd time) and should play in AA all season long. The versatile Matt Hall, Omar Luna and Anthony Scelfo could give him some time off at the hot corner as Sexton might have to help out at First as well.
Charlotte Stone Crabs:
Julio Cedeno (R)
It's very tough to predict who is going to play most of the time at third in Port Charlotte. After Sexton moved up to Montgomery midway last season, the position was mostly handled by Omar Luna and Matt Hall. I, however, see both of them providing depth in Montgomery next season. Therefore, Julio Cedeno and Bobby Price should be handling most of the 3B-duties in Port Charlotte next season. Riccio Torrez, a 2011 draftee, could also be a dark horse to start in A+, while I see him starting in A-ball before eventually being promoted mid-season. Another possibility to get some playing time at third is Derek Dietrich. Most scouts think that he'll eventually have to move to the hot corner. In 2012, however, I think that he will - at least mostly - stay at short.
Bowling Green Hot Rods:
Riccio Torrez (R), Leonardo Reginatto (R)
Riccio Torrez, Leonardo Reginatto and Taylor Motter (mostly at short) should handle 3B for the Hot Rods in 2012. And even if Reginatto, who is one of the first Brasilian players in the Rays organization, doesn't improve upon his mediocre '11 season, the Hot Rods should be very well represented at third. Torrez (4th round pick last year) and Motter (17th round pick; impressive '11) look to be impact bats in a very potent Hot Rods lineup which could feature Jeff Malm, Cameron Seitzer, Ryan Brett, Drew Vettleson, Kes Carter and Alejandro Segovia next to them.