Rays Midseason Report





BEST PLAYER: Outfielder Desmond Jennings had heated up after a slow start due to a spring wrist injury, but righthander Jeremy Hellickson had been dominant all season at Triple-A Durham.

Hellickson, 23, was among the International League leaders in most pitching categories, with a 10-2, 2.35 record and 101 strikeouts against 22 walks in 100 innings. In many other organizations he would already be in the big leagues, but the Rays' pitching depth gives him more time to polish up his arsenal. He has added a two-seam fastball and cutter this season.

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Biggest Leap Forward: Righthander Zach Quate was an unheralded 14th-round pick out of Appalachian State in the 2009 draft. An impressive pro debut with short-season Hudson Valley—13-for-13 in saves, one earned run in 18 appearances—provided a hint of what was to come, and he has really asserted himself this season.

Jumping to high Class A Charlotte, Quate, 22, has been impressive, converting 13 of his first 14 save opportunities, allowing two earned runs in 39 innings, with a dazzling ratio of 52 strikeouts to eight walks.

Righthander Scott Shuman also raised his profile this season, going 2-2, 2.03 with a .187 opponent average for low Class A Bowling Green.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: During major league spring training, Rays manager Joe Maddon raved repeatedly about the improvement Tim Beckham had shown in his physical appearance and his approach. But that hasn't transferred to the field as Beckham, 20, made the jump from Bowling Green to Charlotte this season.

Beckham was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft but has not looked the part so far in his professional career. He was batting .212/.293/.340 for the Stone Crabs, with a worrisome ratio of 75 strikeouts to 28 walks. He had also made 10 errors in 64 games at shortstop.

COOL RAYS

• Jennings and Hellickson were both selected to play for the United States in the Futures Game, and Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo will serve as a coach for the World squad.

• Catcher Justin O'Conner, the second of the Rays' two first-round picks in June, signed quickly and joined the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. He got off to a 1-for-12 start in his first four games.