If Toronto has a veteran lineup with few prospects seeing serious time this spring, the Devil Rays are a prospect-watcher’s delight with a multitude of future stars getting regular at-bats.
Who’s Hot: With Rocco Baldelli battling a balky hamstring, Elijah Dukes is playing his way onto the major league roster as a backup outfielder. He’s hit .368/.429/.456 this spring, and has seemingly been a model citizen in the clubhouse. If Dukes makes the roster, it would help the Devil Rays avoid a difficult situation. It’s hard to see Dukes heading back to Triple-A Durham, where he was suspended last year after saying that the team “showered in sewer water.” Delmon Young has had a solid spring (.308/.324/.385).
Who’s Not: Akinori Iwamura, the Devil Rays acquisition from Japan, has had a nightmarish spring. He didn’t get his first hit until his 10th at-bat–an ordeal he described as like passing a kidney stone. And he hasn’t heated up since then. He’s hitting .173/.259/.250 as he’s struggled to get comfortable at the plate. As BA correspondent Marc Topkin explained, the Devil Rays haven’t been able to help him fix his timing problem because no one had gotten to see him swing in person before he showed up for spring training.
Former Prospect Update: The Devil Rays also have a slew of one-time prospects who are worth mentioning. B.J. Upton has spent the spring as a super-utilityman, but Jorge Cantu’s struggles mean that Upton could end up being the team’s starter at second base, even if his own .239/.311/.313 spring hasn’t been spectacular. If that happens, Jorge Cantu may be sent to Triple-A Durham (he’s fighting with Johnny Gomes for the final roster spot), and well-traveled prospect Brendan Harris could end up as the team’s backup shortstop/third baseman. Edwin Jackson has earned the team’s fifth-starter job by going 0-1, 1.74 with 18 strikeouts in 20 innings this spring.