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 position I'm going to look at today is the Outfield.
It more and more looks as if B.J. Upton will stay with the Rays ... at least for the start of the season. This puts Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Sam Fuld and him into the Rays outfield. As the Rays are looking for impact bats, lots of additional COF/DH types could land with the Rays until Spring Training (Kyle Blanks, Jesus Guzman, Luke Scott, Kendry Morales, Johnny Damon, ...). I expect one addition of the COF/DH mold (+ one 1B) happening. This would mean that either Elliot Johnson, Justin Ruggiano or Brandon Guyer will get spot #25 on the roster. Knowing the Rays I think they'll give the spot to Johnson in order of having Guyer playing every day in Durham. And if an additional spot with projected limited playing time is open I expect them to go with Ruggiano.
Stephen Vogt (L/LF), Kyeong Kang (L/mostly RF), Leslie Anderson (L/LF), Brandon Guyer (R/RF and CF), John Shelby (R/CF), Emeel Salem (L/CF)
Having said this, the Durham corner outfield positions should look decent, even if Guyer starts in the majors. Stephen Vogt, Kyeong Kang and Leslie Anderson should be in Durham come Spring Training. With Brandon Guyer in Durham, no additional COF depth signings for the majors are needed. Regarding CF: John Shelby should start in Durham while I have no update on Emeel Salem's knee injury. Behind them, I'd start Isaias Velasquez in Montgomery. I could see an additional signing for the Bulls outfield. Maybe one of Ruggiano (if not in majors)/Matulia will be signed to a MiL deal?
Ty Morrison (L/CF), Isaias Velazquez (R/CF), Chris Murrill (L/LF and RF), Brett Nommensen (L/RF), Anthony Scelfo (L/LF)
Ladies and Gentleman, this might just be the fastest minor league outfield in Rays history. The 5 players add up to (114+70+41+100+76) 401 SB in their pro careers. Breaking it down position by position, both, Morrison and Velazquez, should see time in center field with both playing some COF as well. Brett Nommensen should be the primary RF while Chris Murrill and Anthony Scelfo should play most of the time in left field. Additionally I see Scelfo filling in at 2B and 3B and all outfielders rotating into the DH role as well. This gives all five of them enough plate appearances and adds even more speed to a roster that also features Hak-Ju Lee and Tyler Bortnick. On the other side, I don't see much in the power production sector in Montgomery this year as Mark Thomas might be the only power bat in the lineup (assuming Henry Wrigley moving up and no minor league free agents added).
Charlotte Stone Crabs:
Mikie Mahtook (R/RF and CF), Kevin Kiermaier (L/OF), Cody Rogers (L/OF), Todd Glaesmann (R/RF) and Steven Tinoco (R/LF and RF)
Man do the Rays have speed in their A+ and AA outfields. Kevin Kiermaier and Cody Rogers are two more very speedy guys with Mikie Mahtook being very fast as well. This leads to another lineup with multiple guys being capable of playing an adequate center fielder. Therefore, I see the Rays moving Tood Glaesmann to RF full time leaving Mahtook, Kiermaier and Rogers as CF possibilities. Mikie Mahtood should spare Todd Glaesmann in RF and play as the primary CFer in order to receive more than 500 PA's. Cody Rogers should play regularly in LF while providing excellent depth for CF as well as RF and Kevin Kiermaier should mostly play CF while providing depth for the corners. Steven Tinoco (who could also see some time at 1B) adds even more depth to Left and Right Field. All 5 should rotate into the DH spot as well. Overall, while Charlotte has a very speedy OF as well, these 5 are much more powerful hitters than the 5 in Montgomery. Especially Mahtook, Glaesmann and Rogers are can-do-it-all forwards in the making.
Bowling Green Hot Rods:
Drew Vettleson (L/RF), Kes Carter (L/CF and RF), Craig Lyerly (R/LF and CF), Joel Caminero (R/OF), Nicholas Schwaner (L/LF)
I could see Drew Vettleson (in right), Kes Carter (in center) and Craig Lyerly (in left) being the primary starters for the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Joel Caminero (at all 3 positions) and Nick Schwaner (in left field and at 1B/3B) are the only backups I can think of for the Hot Rods (as the Renegades OF has been released and as I don't see, while not being surprised if it happens, Josh Sale moving up to Bowling Green at the start of the season). These outfielders won't rotate into the DH role either as the Hot Rods have a much more crowded infield.