The Manta Way - Tampa Bay Ray Team Blog 2022 Pre Season Update: Offense Overview: The offense is ahead of the pitching at this stage of the game. Competition is becoming fierce as some of the Ray prospects are getting ready for primetime and pushing the incumbents. Projected Lineup: C – Elijah Schmitz and Tim Atlantis – Will be platooning these two. Atlantis calls a better game but Schmitz is the better hitter and will also get some DH at bats. 1B – Rafael Cruz – Barring any late trades of an outfielder and depending how spring training goes, Cruz will either break camp with the club or come up in June to avoid Super 2 status. After rapid progression through the minors and starting to find his power stroke, Cruz is the future prime #3 hitter in the Tampa Lineup and has potential super star written all over him. 2B – Delvyn Birch – Recently acquired from St Louis, Birch looks to hold down this spot. Flexible around the infield, his bat will indicate if he stays in the lineup or not. SS – Dominique Faure – Started off slow last year, got injured and then played a lot better in the second half. Above average both offensively and defensively. Has the ability to slide all over the infield. 3B – Derek Dietrich – Homegrown power bat signed for 1 year prove-it deal after slumping and injuries marred his 20321 campaign. Will be used to protect Guerra in the lineup and will be working to get a long term deal, either in Tampa or elsewhere. LF – Jose Guzman – 24 yr. old blossomed last year into a major threat at the plate. Looks to bat 2nd in the lineup and play above average ‘D’. CF – John Hapgood – Super talented former 1st rd pick that is a bit of an enigma. Will be brought along slowly and must do his best to hold off 5 star prospect, Manuel Ramos who looks to shine in AAA RF – John Givens – The trusty leadoff man and All Star is the glue of the lineup. Also playing for a contract DH – Junior Guerra – Mr. Ray had a monster season last year in HR’s and RBI’s. Still chugging along at 31 and will anchor the Ray lineup. Pitching Staff Overview: With Carson Kelly on the DL and Iampos in San Diego, the pitching staff will definitely have a revamped look to it. It was the first free agency for the new ownership and they tried hard to acquire quality depth in arms so we are no hopefully won't be rolling out 4A'ers or 38 year old retreads like Lincecum. Rotation: John Stilson – 31 yr old came over in the Iampos deal and is on the last year of his contract. Will be counted on to stabilize the staff and will either be deadline trade bait or getting an extension to stay in Tampa. Tyson Ross – Former Tiger who was brought over as a management. Above average guy who will mentor some of the up and comers. Luis Pena – Rookie was acquired in the John Adler deal with Oakland. Flame thrower who will be learning on the fly. Needs to keep working on his change-up. Jeff Ames – Org arm that still won 10 games last year. Would like to upgrade at some point but he is a decent innings eater. Winner of Spring Training battle – Last spot is up for grabs. We’ll have to see who wins it. Bullpen If we upgraded anywhere, it was in the bullpen. We resigned Luis Reyes to continue to close and a bunch of other guys like Ryan Perry. Spring training again will shake out who makes the show and who gets sent to AAA to be depth. I will provide a FA overview, Org Review and Season Outlook in my next post.