With the AL East getting tougher and tougher, the Rays have done what they can to find contributors over the off-season.
Evan Longoria and David Price are the stars on this team but the Rays will need other players to step up and produce to make the playoffs. Here are five lesser known players who could make important contributions to this team.
The Rays acquired Escobar in December for a prospect and he immediately was placed on the depth chart as the starting shortstop.
He is known for his defensive game which fits well in the Rays style, but he is also an improvement over Sean Rodriguez/Reid Brignac offensively.
He had 290 hits over the last 2 seasons with Toronto and a fresh start with the Rays could further improve his approach at the plate.
The Pitcher formerly known as Fausta Carmona is another guy who just needed a fresh start.
Hernandez pitched in only three games last year because of the suspension he had to serve but that is all straightened out.
He won 19 games with the Indians in 2006 and could be an important innings eater out of the pen or fill in for an injured starter.
Loney was a big time prospect who never developed into the star 1B the Dodgers longed for. But he is still only 28 and will take over for Carlos Pena and get a chance to prove his worth.
A career .282 hitter, Loney signed with the team coming off a bad year for a low price, a very typical Rays move.
If Loney can return to his 2011 numbers, Tampa will be given some much-needed depth in their lineup.
Fernando Rodney got a lot of much deserved credit last year for his work as the closer for the Rays last year, but Jake McGee was extremely important too.
The left hander had a 1.95 ERA and is developing into a perfect set up man for Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey. He will take on a bigger role in the bullpen and could form a dynamic 1-2 punch with Rodney.
The 4th best prospect in baseball will probably start the season in Durham, but that doesn’t mean he won’t contribute to the Rays this season.
When he’s called up, he’ll slide into a starting role in the outfield and hit high in the lineup.
Reports out of spring training have been very positive and the 2012 MiLB Player of the Year could be a source of power for the Rays.