Blue Jays series preview: Can Toronto answer the pitching of the Rays?
Apr 19, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) hits a 2-run home run during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Across the diamond, Tampa Bay continues to shuffle their roster heavily from year to year but still maintain success. The usual suspects of Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings are both hovering around .200 averages, but their bats are long overdue to awake.
Tampa’s most lethal all-around bat has been the 25-year old Steven Souza Jr., who came to the club this offseason as part of a three-team deal with the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres after winning the AAA International League MVP in 2014. In that season with Syracuse, Souza hit a sizzling .350 / .432 / .590 with 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases. The speed and power threat is starting to click lately, and when he gets ahold of a ball, it’s a question of which deck it will land in.
Logan Forsythe and Tim Beckham continue to provide some pop from the middle infield alongside the struggling Asdrubal Cabrera (.217 AVG), but the Rays are getting some serious contributions on both sides of the ball from a 2010 31st round pick.
Kevin Kiermaier made an encouraging debut in 2014, and has lived up to his growing expectations early in 2015 with a .279 average complimented by 2 home runs, 5 doubles and a triple. He’s given Tampa some highlight reel grabs in centre-field, too, but the Blue Jays may be catching him at the right time as he’s batting just 1-for-11 in his last four appearances.
Next: Game 1 preview: Dickey vs. Smyly