O'Conner leads three Rays prospects on Top 100 list

Shortstops Adames, Robertson round out Tampa Bay's representatives

O'Conner leads three Rays prospects on Top 100 list

ST. PETERSBURG -- If MLBPipeline.com's list of Top 100 Prospects is any indication, there's another wave of high-end talent heading toward Tropicana Field.

Like last year, three Rays prospects cracked the Top 100. Catcher Justin O'Conner is the game's 61st-ranked prospect, recently acquired shortstop Daniel Robertson checks in at No. 65 and shortstop Willy Adames rounds out the group at No. 77.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays to provide uniforms for area youth baseball leagues

Rays to provide uniforms for area youth baseball leagues

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second straight year, the Rays will provide jerseys and caps to more than 5,500 T-ball players and coaches in the Tampa Bay area.

The Rays will launch the program on Feb. 7-8 by handing out the uniforms and conducting clinics for both players and coaches.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prized Cuban prospect Moncada works out for Rays

Tampa Bay's international signing pool likely prevents acquiring infielder

Prized Cuban prospect Moncada works out for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays held a workout for Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada this week at Tropicana Field, but it's still unlikely they will sign the highly coveted 19-year-old prospect.

Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said last week on MLB Network Radio that his club had looked into Moncada. But the switch-hitting infielder could receive a signing bonus between $30 million and $40 million, a high price for any club but particularly for Tampa Bay.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

When they were prospects: Longoria

Rays third baseman moves from No. 2 ranking in '08 to AL Rookie of Year

When they were prospects: Longoria

It was pretty clear why Evan Longoria was ranked by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo as baseball's No. 2 prospect in 2008 when the Rays called him up just two weeks into the season. He promptly hit .272 with 27 home runs in 122 games en route to winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award and helping the upstart Rays reach the World Series.

As we gear up for the unveiling of MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects for 2015 -- which will be revealed on MLB Network and MLB.com at 9 p.m. ET on Friday -- we're looking back at what was written about some of today's superstars back when they were still on prospect lists.

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Moore throws off mound for first time since April

Rays lefty continues comeback from Tommy John surgery, hopes to return to rotation by June

Moore throws off mound for first time since April

Rays left-hander Matt Moore has reported no setbacks throughout his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and he's targeting a return to the big league mound in June.

After reportedly throwing off the mound Tuesday for the first time since the operation, nothing's changed. And in this case, no news is good news for Moore and the Rays. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Moore threw 15 times from about halfway up the bullpen mound at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, and he told the Times he felt "pretty good."

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minor League catcher Marjama traded to Rays

Minor League catcher Marjama traded to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays acquired Minor League catcher Mike Marjama from the White Sox on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named or cash.

Marjama, 25, is not expected to attend Major League Spring Training. He played 70 games for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem last year, hitting .266/.292/.383 with three homers and 17 RBIs.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Robertson No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 SS Prospects list

Astros' Correa, Indians' Lindor, Cubs' Russell lead strong contingent

Robertson No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 SS Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

The top two players from the 2014 list of top shortstop prospects graduated: Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox and the Cubs' Javier Baez. So did the last two on that top 10: Luis Sardinas, then of the Rangers, and Chris Owings of the D-backs.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Will Rays maintain high level of defense?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers Tampa Bay fans' questions

Inbox: Will Rays maintain high level of defense?

I'm concerned about the Rays' defense, as so many of the new acquisitions seem to be average at best. If a prime defender like Kevin Kiermaier or Evan Longoria were to miss any time, could this team still get it done on defense?
-- John S., Palm Harbor, Fla.

Defense is a huge part of what the Rays do. Over the years, I've noticed how different a team can look when one of its main players is on the shelf with an injury. Normally that difference is subtle, and you don't really notice it until some time passes. Then it occurs to you that the double play is a half a click away from happening or the ball is just out of range for the fill-in player. Again, it's a subtle difference noticed over time, but all of those subtle differences add up to winning and losing games.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brett No. 8 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 2B Prospects list

Braves' Peraza heads list, followed by White Sox's Johnson, Rockies' Wall

Brett No. 8 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 2B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at the Top 10 prospects at each position.

Graduations to the Major Leagues have taken a heavy toll on this list in the past year. Six of the second basemen on last year's preseason Top 10, including the top four, have lost their rookie eligibility, creating room for several newcomers.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Gillaspie No. 6 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 1B Prospects list

Bucs' Bell leads list, followed by A's Olson, Yanks' Bird

Gillaspie No. 6 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 1B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

As has become an annual occurrence, the list of top first basemen lacks a bit in the elite prospect department. But there is good news: There are two players on this list on this year's Top 100: Josh Bell of the Pirates and Matt Olson of the A's. That doubles the total from the 2014 preseason list.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

O'Conner No. 5 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

Red Sox's Swihart sits atop list, followed by Rangers' Alfaro and Cubs' Schwarber

O'Conner No. 5 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

Though only one catcher (Blake Swihart of the Red Sox) fits in the top 40 spots on MLBPipeline.com's upcoming 2015 Top 100 Prospects list, talent behind the plate actually runs deep. The Minors are teeming with backstops who have the tools to contribute offensively and defensively in the big leagues in the near future. This list could see a lot of turnover a year from now, as Christian Bethancourt figures to be the Braves' starter and Swihart, Kevin Plawecki (Mets) and J.T. Realmuto (Marlins) could be playing regularly in the Majors by season's end.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Archer inspired, humbled by visit to South Africa

Rays pitcher went on trip in December as a Major League Baseball ambassador

Archer inspired, humbled by visit to South Africa

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer has a curious mind. He enjoys reading, learning and seeking answers.

So Archer was the perfect choice to travel to South Africa in December as part of Major League Baseball's ambassador program, which helps build awareness of the game in different countries and continents. The trip left him humbled.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays name Minors staff, with big change at Triple-A

Durham manager Sandberg replaces longtime skipper Montoyo after promotion to Majors

Rays name Minors staff, with big change at Triple-A

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jared Sandberg will have big shoes to fill as Triple-A Durham's new manager. The former infielder for the Rays and Bulls will be the skipper to follow Charlie Montoyo, the winningest manager in Bulls history.

Sandberg's new position highlighted Wednesday's announcement of the Minor League staffs in the Rays' farm system for 2015. Montoyo has been promoted to the Major League coaching staff, which brought about the vacancy at Tampa Bay's top farm club.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Beckham a sleeper for Rays in 2015?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans

Inbox: Beckham a sleeper for Rays in 2015?

What's become of Tim Beckham? It seems like we're asking that question every year come the start of Spring Training. I can't help but think how great this team would be had they drafted Buster Posey that year instead of Beckham. Will Beckham ever be a Major Leaguer?
-- Don P., Wesley Chapel, Fla.

True, Posey would look good in a Rays uniform. But hindsight is always correct. As for Beckham, it's likely he would have been with the team last season had he not injured his knee. Heading into this season, I believe he is the sleeper on the 40-man roster. With Zobrist's departure, the second-base and backup-shortstop slots are wide open. Beckham, along with Nick Franklin and Logan Forsythe, are all in the hunt. I saw Beckham working out at Tropicana Field the other day and he seemed to have a glow about him whizzing through drills. Yep, I think Rays fans are finally about to see what all the buzz was about concerning Beckham.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays Foundation accepting grant applications

ST. PETERSBURG -- Applications for the Rays Baseball Foundation's Community Fund Grant Program are now being accepted.

The Community Fund Grant Program provides financial support to local nonprofit institutions in the Tampa Bay region. These funds will support current youth and/or education programs offered by community-based nonprofit organizations. Grants averaging $5,000 are awarded through this program.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

A's, Rays could ride overhauled rosters to postseason

Oakland's Beane, Tampa Bay's Silverman surprise with bold moves

A's, Rays could ride overhauled rosters to postseason

Raise your hand if you think the Rays and Athletics are both going to the postseason in 2015. Funny game, isn't it?

Turns out, neither team ever intended to punt on the 2015 season. From the beginning, both tried to tell us there was a larger plan.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cobb among eight Rays to avoid arbitration

Cobb among eight Rays to avoid arbitration

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have agreed to terms for the 2015 season with all eight of their arbitration-eligible players: right-hander Alex Cobb, infielder Logan Forsythe, catcher/designated hitter John Jaso, outfielder Desmond Jennings, right-hander Kevin Jepsen, left-hander Jake McGee, catcher Rene Rivera and left-hander Drew Smyly.

In doing so, the Rays avoided going to arbitration.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays sign five to Minor League deals

Rays sign five to Minor League deals

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays signed five players to Minor League contracts on Friday, each with an invitation to Major League Spring Training: catcher Mayo Acosta, outfielder Joey Butler, infielder Juan Francisco, right-hander Jhan Marinez and left-hander Everett Teaford.

Acosta, 27, has thrown out 39.9 percent of attempted basestealers in his eight-year Minor League career. He spent the 2014 season with Triple-A Durham, appearing in 30 games. Acosta played in 28 games for Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League, throwing out 10 of 20 attempted basestealers.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Retooled Rays see a chance to prove doubters wrong

Retooled Rays see a chance to prove doubters wrong

ST. PETERSBURG -- Just to make one thing clear, Rays management has not been dismantling the 1927 Yankees this offseason.

The 2014 Rays won 77 games. That's a 15-win drop-off from the previous season. So keep that in mind while throwing salvos at the makeover that new president of baseball operations Matt Silverman has directed this offseason. Did anybody really think the organization should have stood pat?

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Silverman foresees improved offense in 2015

Silverman foresees improved offense in 2015

ST. PETERSBURG -- Offensively, the 2014 Rays didn't exactly set a high bar. Last year's team scored 612 runs, while the opposition scored 625.

Translation: Tampa Bay's offense needs to improve. New president of baseball operations Matt Silverman believes that will happen in 2015.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Hal Bodley

Rays have been in position to surprise before

Counting out AL East's scrappiest squad a mistake not worth repeating

Rays have been in position to surprise before

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nearly four years ago, Joe Maddon stood outside his team's clubhouse during Spring Training and boldly stated, "The demise of the Tampa Bay Rays has been greatly exaggerated."

"Sure," I said to myself. "Damage control at its best."

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Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. Follow him @halbodley on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays' prospects getting taste of big league life

Rays' prospects getting taste of big league life

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tropicana Field's infield resembled ripening fruit on Wednesday morning, and that fruit was Major League prospects.

The Rays were in the midst of the organization's annual Winter Development Program. Now in its sixth year, the program is for select Minor League players. Before this week is complete, the 29 players on hand will have attended daily workouts, received instruction from Minor League and Major League staff as well as instruction on a variety of subjects, including media training. They also will have served as goodwill ambassadors for the organization by making visits to MacDill Air Force Base and the Northside Boys & Girls Club.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Moore targeting June return to Rays' rotation

Moore targeting June return to Rays' rotation

ST. PETERSBURG -- Former Rays manager Joe Maddon used to say that a player's face would let you know how he felt. Well, judging from Matt Moore's face, the left-hander is well on his way to a total recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Moore and his best friend Griffin, a chocolate goldendoodle, were on hand at Wednesday's workout at Tropicana Field. He underwent the surgery to his left elbow on April 22 and the prognosis is good.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays 2015 Fan Fest scheduled for Feb. 21

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fan Fest is fast approaching. The Rays announced on Tuesday that the 2015 Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Admission and parking for the event are free.

As usual, kids will be a priority at the yearly event. Among the myriad of kids activities will be "Reading with the Rays," new interactive zones and photos with Rays mascot Raymond and DJ Kitty.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cobb has stuff to be among AL's elite starters

Rays right-hander went 6-3 with a 1.79 ERA in second half of 2014

Cobb has stuff to be among AL's elite starters

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields is gone. So is David Price. That leaves Alex Cobb, at age 27, as the elder statesman of the Rays' starting rotation.

"It's a little weird," Cobb said. "I guess it was kind of astounding how quickly it happened. I just remembered getting up here, my eyes wide open, and watching Shields and Price, and all these older guys ahead of me. And I couldn't wait to be an established big leaguer. I can't describe how quickly it did come around to be the situation that it is."

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Rays sign Francisco to Minors deal

Source: Rays sign Francisco to Minors deal

The Rays have signed infielder Juan Francisco to a Minor League contract, a source confirmed to MLB.com's Bill Chastain. The club has not confirmed the deal.

The 27-year-old Francisco spent last season with the Blue Jays, hitting .220/.291/.456 with 16 home runs in 106 games between first and third base.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zobrist expresses gratitude for 'chapter' with Rays

Super utility man spent nine seasons with Tampa Bay before trade to Oakland

Zobrist expresses gratitude for 'chapter' with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- A day after getting traded to Oakland, Ben Zobrist noted that he was "sad to be leaving Tampa Bay."

On Saturday, the Rays traded Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics for catcher John Jaso and a pair of prospects, shortstop Daniel Robertson and outfielder Boog Powell.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays bid farewell to Zobrist in five-player deal with A's

Escobar also heads to Oakland; Tampa Bay reunites with Jaso, adds two prospects

Rays bid farewell to Zobrist in five-player deal with A's

ST. PETERSBURG -- Most figured Ben Zobrist would be elsewhere in 2015. On Saturday, that speculation came to fruition when the Rays traded one of the most popular players in team history to the A's. The surprise came in the fact that Yunel Escobar joined him.

In return for their shortstop and utility man, the Rays received catcher John Jaso and a pair of prospects, shortstop Daniel Robertson and outfielder Boog Powell.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays finalize deal with Asdrubal

Veteran signs 1-year pact, likely to start at short

Rays finalize deal with Asdrubal

ST. PETERSBURG -- In the backdrop of Saturday's news that Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar had been traded to the A's, the Rays announced that free-agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera is officially a member of the team.

Cabrera signed one-year contract that will pay him $7.5 million. Sans Zobrist and Escobar, Cabrera will likely be the team's starting shortstop. Nick Franklin, Logan Forsythe and Tim Beckham will likely vie for the starting second-base job.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays Spring Training now available

Rays Spring Training now available

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced on Friday the process for purchasing single-game tickets to 2015 Spring Training games and also introduced the new Spring Three-Game Pack. The Rays open their Spring Training season on March 5 against the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Single-game tickets will go on sale next week, based upon availability. On Friday, Spring Training tickets will go on sale online to the general public exclusively at raysbaseball.com at 10 a.m. ET. On Jan. 17, Spring Training tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. via phone at 888-FAN-RAYS or 1-800-745-3000, online at raysbaseball.com or at the following locations:

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.