Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Why the Rays aren’t yet sold on Desmond Jennings
Posted Dec 4, 2010 by Roger Mooney
Updated Dec 4, 2010 at 01:46 AM
BY ROGER MOONEY
Desmond Jennings was expected to be the heir to Carl Crawford’s left field now that the four-time All-Star is about to strike it extremely rich with one of the deep pocket, big market teams.
Yet Rays VP of baseball Andrew Friedman has “left field” written on his to-do list as he heads to the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in Lake Buena Vista.
While the Rays are still high on the 24-year-old outfielder, they’re not yet ready to hand Jennings the keys to a spot in a major league lineup much less a major league roster.
Jennings’ body of work at Triple A Durham in 2010 didn’t exactly sound like a top prospect pounding on the big league door.
Slowed by a left wrist sprain suffered in spring training, Jennings hit .278 with three home runs and 36 RBI. He did start for the U.S. Team on the All-Star Futures Game last July in Anaheim and he did receive a September call-up by the Rays and was awarded a spot on their postseason roster, starting Game 2 of the ALDS in right field.
Still, the Rays were hoping for a little bit more.
“We feel like he’s got an extremely high upside,” Friedman said. “I think he’d be the first to say he didn’t have as good a year last year as he’s capable of. Part of that was because of injuries, but he’s got the ability to impact a game in every facet, which obviously we place a great deal of value on. But, he’s going to have to show us and make some adjustments, as all young players need to do, to have sustained success.”
Translation: Jennings could turn a terrific spring into a spot on the Opening Day roster, or he could start the season at Durham.