ST. PETERSBURG -- Stephen Vogt delivered a bullet to third baseman Sean Rodriguez to nail speedy Jacoby Ellsbury for the third out in the ninth inning of Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Red Sox.
The throw and the moment were a good measure for the improvements Vogt has made behind the plate this summer while catching for Triple-A Durham.
Vogt bats left-handed and the Rays like his abilities as a hitter, which he put on display during Spring Training. But they wanted to see some defensive progress, so save for the little time he spent with the big league club, he spent most of the year with the Bulls.
Vogt, 27, understood his situation and got enough work behind the plate to feel like he made some progress.
"My focus this year was to mainly get better on blocking and throwing and to develop more arm strength," Vogt said. "And I did that, playing long toss every single day this whole season and I just really focused on gaining arm strength.
"The last couple of months down in Durham, I felt like I really gained arm strength and that I've been throwing really well, like I've made a lot of strides."
Manager Joe Maddon said that Vogt indeed made progress this season.
"That was a great throw [Monday night]," Maddon said. "The thing again, these are the things I watch for. You see him in the batter's box, you see him behind the plate, very calm, very calm. He has not been playing. It's a pretty big moment. He was back there with really good self-awareness and poise."
Nobody knows what the Rays' catching situation will look like next year, so Vogt will likely be one of the team's options come spring.
"Moving down the road, he's not a spring chicken either. I like the way he handles the moment," Maddon said. "Of course his defensive skills have improved. Where's he going to be in the future? I don't know that yet, but I liked what he did yesterday a lot."