Sweet-Swinging Jake Bauers Eyes Big League Role

Don’t label Jake Bauers as an overachiever because of his status as a 2013 seventh-round draft pick who signed for a modest $240,000.

The 22-year-old first baseman views himself instead as overlooked.

Bauers ranks No. 45 on this year’s Top 100 Prospects ranking, and as is true with most high-end players, he does not lack for confidence. He believes teams missed out by not drafting him higher five years ago.

The Padres selected Bauers out of his Southern California high school, but the Rays quickly became enamored of him when he starred as an 18-year-old in the low Class A Midwest League in 2014. Tampa Bay acquired Bauers after that season in the three-team trade that shipped Wil Myers to San Diego.

“Our staff had raved about him after seeing him that season,” Rays president Matt Silverman said. “We’re thrilled we were able to acquire him. You don’t see many prettier swings.”

Bauers showed off his sweet lefthanded swing last spring at big league camp, when he went 13-for-35 (.371) and hit a grand slam that hit the base of the Charlotte Sports Park office building beyond the right field fence.

“I bet he’s probably had a similar swing his entire life, (and that) nobody has ever changed it or tinkered with it because it’s just so natural,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It looks like his hands and bat get into that slot and he looks . . . real smooth and effortless.”

After a good but not great season at Triple-A Durham—he hit.263/.368/.412 with 13 home runs in 132 games—and addition to the 40-man roster, Bauers will be back in big league camp this spring, this time to compete for a job.

Bauers is one of several advanced prospects, along with shortstop Willy Adames and righthander Brent Honeywell, the Rays will be expecting big things from in 2018 after they helped guide the Bulls to the International League title in 2017.

While no member of that trio stands to make the Opening Day roster, Bauers, Adames and Honeywell are expected to make their big league debuts this season, possibly early in the year.

At that time it will be clear to Bauers that he is no longer overlooked.

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