With the WBC nearing, Spring Training will be an insanely long one this year. The Rays, having a handful of players involved in the WBC, will get longer looks at some of the players who are on the outside looking in and give the Rays ideas on whom will be their picks if a player gets injured or becomes so ineffective that they need to be benched/released. Last year, it seemed as if the Rays were ill-prepared for players getting injured(however, can anyone else foresee 10 players being on the DL at once?) or outright ineffective. This year, it seems that Friedman & the scouting dept. made sure that the replacement players were of better quality than the ones of the past.
While you can never assume anything from Spring Training stats or playing time, it seems like 3 position players are being primed as the Rays initial “In Case of Emergency” players. In my eyes, those players are Mike Fontenot(Utility IFer), Leslie Anderson(1b/OF) and Kevin Kiermaier(OF), as of right now.
Mike Fontenot is the only one of the trio with MLB experience, playing some for the Cubs, Giants and Phillies but never really getting extensive time with any of the teams. Has decent pop for a small guy, due to his uppercut swing. but isn’t anyone really that should be starting long-term for any team. In small doses, he could be effectively used as a Utility IFer or a bat off the bench.
Leslie Anderson was the Rays first signee out of Cuba, but seemingly he hit a road-block in 1B and hasn’t found his way to the major leagues. In interviews, he has told(through translators) that he has spent enough time in the minors and is going to do everything possible(and legal) to make it to the majors this year. Thus far, in ST games, he has shown to be a clutch bat and is seeing the ball very well. With James Loney on the Rays, a bad start with the bat by him or another injury to Luke Scott, could see Leslie getting a call-up. While it may cause Keith Law to shudder of the thought, Grandpa Leslie is a slightly better replacement than Nick Weglarz & current-model Jack Cust has shown to be.
Last, but certainly not least, is Kevin Kiermaier. Kevin seems to be the organizations’ Outfield-version of Craig Albernaz. He’s a gamer and no matter where you place him, he’s going to give you his all. The numbers may not be pretty, but he’s a more complete replacement than say Rich Thompson(who is a speed-only threat who just happens to carry a bat).
The “In Case of Emergency” Gang may change as Spring Training drags on, but it’s early and what’s more fun than speculation?