ST. PETERSBURG — One aspect of managing the Tampa Bay Rays that already appeals to Kevin Cash is the amount of players who live in the area and work out at Tropicana Field during the offseason.
On any given morning, the first-year manager will find a combination of pitchers Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, Jake McGee and Everett Teaford, center fielder Desmond Jennings, infielders Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin, and catcher Bobby Wilson working out.
Even pitcher Drew Smyly traveled to the area for a week’s worth of workouts, allowing Cash to see his rotation under one roof for the first time.
“It goes both ways. We’ve been impressed seeing him there every day, too,” Cobb said. “It’s nice seeing him around, getting those relationships built up. He’s going to have his hands full in spring training, so whatever relationships he can form now with the guys is awesome.”
Moore (Tommy John surgery) took another big step in his rehab this past Tuesday by throwing from halfway up the bullpen mound. McGee (elbow surgery) played catch this past Monday for the first time since surgery in December.
“The ball’s coming out real nice coming out of his hand,” Cobb said of Moore. “He’s throwing effortlessly. It looks like it’s all there.”
Ranking the kids
The Rays’ farm system will find itself ranked in the middle of the pack among all 30 teams major league teams when Baseball America’s rankings are released. Not so with ESPN, which has them ranked 23rd.
ESPN’s Keith Law’s top 10 Rays prospects differs from Baseball America’s, which is filled with players the Rays received during their flurry of trades.
Law: C Justin O’Conner, SS Daniel Robertson, SS Willy Adames, RHP Taylor Guerrieri, OF Stephen Souza, RHP Nathan Karns, C Nick Ciuffo, SS Hak-Ju Lee, RHP Brent Honeywell, 1B Casey Gillaspie.
Baseball America: Souza, Robertson, Adames, RHP Alex Colome, O’Conner, SS Adrian Rondon, Karns, OF Mikie Mahtook, 2B Ryan Brett, Honeywell.
Law has O’Conner ranked 78th and Robertson 83rd in his list of top 100 prospects.
Helping the kids
The Rays will provide jerseys and caps to more than 5,500 T-ball players and coaches in Hillsborough, Manatee, Charlotte, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.
The items will distributed Saturday and Sunday at the Trop during clinics for the youth teams.
Cash will conduct the clinics Saturday, while pitcher Grant Balfour and Odorizzi will conduct the clinics Sunday.
Last year, the Rays helped those leagues save a combined $ 115,000, allowing them to make repairs and purchase equipment.