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Adames Pairs Plus Skills And Youth

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Willy Adames (Photo by Mike Janes) Willy Adames (Photo by Mike Janes)[/caption]

BEST PLAYER: What shortstop Willy Adames has done this season at Double-A Montgomery is impressive enough—he hit .275 /.365/.472 with eight home runs through 71 games.  That becomes even more striking when one considers his youth.

"What is he, 20 years old?,” farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "Adames has the rare combination of plus skill and plus intangibles with youth.”

Adames has shown the Rays what they were hoping for in making him a key part of the return from the Tigers in the July 2014 David Price deal, and they are confident that there is much more to come, given his combination of athleticism, feel for the game and bat speed.

"Adames has shown to be an above-average defender who has the arm to make all the plays,” Lukevics said. "At the plate, he will get his share of hits (and he will) drive the ball to all fields.’’

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Given the dearth of catching depth in the system—Justin O’Conner has been out all year, Nick Ciuffo is sidelined again and 2015 second-rounder Chris Betts still is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery—low Class A Bowling Green catcher Brett Sullivan is worthy of this honor.

A 17th-round pick in 2015 primarily because of his lefthanded bat, Sullivan played third base at Pacific but caught in high school. He moved back behind the plate after spending his initial pro season at the hot corner at Rookie-level Princeton last season.

"We wanted to make sure his makeup would be suitable to catch,” Lukevics said. "The tools were there, and intriguing enough, to convert. The bat is certainly his strength.”

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Third baseman Richie Shaffer has shown very little of the power and overall offensive excellence that got him to the majors last season, headlined by 26 homers in 108 games between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.

Shaffer’s chances to stay in the majors took a major hit last offseason when the Rays acquired three veteran hitters in Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce.

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Though Shaffer said all the right things about going back to the minors and forcing the Rays into tough decisions, his performance at Durham through the first half of the season has not been inspiring. He hit .249/.339/.360 with five homers and 30 RBIs through 72 games.

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