The Tampa Bay Rays are two weeks away from the start of the 2014 season.
They entered spring training looking for a fifth starter, final reliever and final bench player to fill their Opening Day roster.
Even though the roster was essentially set before Grapefruit League began, there is still a lot of incentive for players to put forward great effort in the exhibition games.
The primary reason is that you never know when a need will arise that will require a minor league player to move up to the majors. Jeremy Hellickson’s surgery is a perfect example of a position that was filled that turns into an immediate priority need to fill.
Players not on the 40-man roster or in the organization’s farm system utilize spring training to try to earn a job. It is a job interview for many players with only few openings available annually.
Spring training also marks the highest level of optimism for franchises and fan bases.
For the Rays, there are high expectations set for new acquisitions including catcher Ryan Hanigan and relievers Grant Balfour and Heath Bell. There are even higher expectations for returning players to improve from the previous season, such as pitchers Chris Archer and Matt Moore.
On the other hand, there are lesser known prospects that have low levels of expectation that put together great performances in the spring. Stephen Vogt was one of those players for the years a few years ago in spring training and earned himself a spot on the Opening Day roster after an injury to Luke Scott.
Based on the level of expectation comes the titles of surprise players and busts in spring training.
Here is an update of the surprises, busts and injuries so far this spring for the Rays.