Shane Baz Shows Glimpse Of His Potential
It was early on a Sunday morning in mid-July during a summer camp workout that Rays players and some of their big league coaches got their first look at a future big leaguer.
Shane Baz was brought up from the Port Charlotte alternate training site to throw live batting practice, and the 21-year-old righthander put on a show.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound flame-thrower was acquired as the third piece from the Chris Archer trade to the Pirates on July 31, 2018, but as much as Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow have already done in the majors, the player to be named could one day be just as impactful.
“Just really, really effortless,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You look at him out there, he’s a big kid, but he’s really put together. The delivery is so clean, then, whack, the ball is on top of you really, really quick.”
Baz, a 2017 first-round pick from Concordia Lutheran High in Tomball, Texas, had a solid 2019 season at low Class A Bowling Green, going 3-2, 2.99 in 17 starts and striking out 87 in 81.1 innings.
For a contending team like the Rays, each spot is important, so they didn’t have much wiggle room for players who would benefit from the development time at the alternate site but wouldn’t be considered for duty in the majors.
But Baz got the call.
“It’s an honor they would use me for a spot in this,’’ Baz said. “Now it’s my turn to just do my part, work hard and show it day in and day out.’’
That includes what he does on the mound, but also how he carries himself, how he trains, how he gets better and how he adapts to baseball in 2020. Fellow prospect Shane McClanahan said Baz has already made “night and day” changes in maturity, and this was a chance to show that as well.
“I was just really excited to get to come down here,’’ Baz said. “It’s really cool to be around a lot of the older, higher-level players and be able to learn from them."
— Three players from the Rays' original 60-man played pool used opt-out clauses in their minor league contracts: catcher Chris Herrmann, outfielder Ryan LaMarre and righthander Dylan Covey (who was subsequently traded to the Red Sox in a minor transaction). A fourth, catcher Kevan Smith, was added to the Rays' 40-man roster.
— Catchers Rene Pinto and Brett Sullivan were added to the 60-man player pool to give the Rays depth—for the training camp at the alternate site in Port Charlotte, Fla., and potentially for the big league team.