Here’s the latest from Tropicana Field, as per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times…
- Most of the Rays’ coaching staff is under contract for 2016, including pitching coach Jim Hickey. As Topkin notes, Hickey “would be a hot commodity as a free agent” given the Rays’ success at getting results from both highly-touted young pitchers and veteran reclamation projects. Hickey has been Tampa’s pitching coach since November 2006.
- The Rays didn’t have interest in bringing back Alex Torres. The left-hander was designated for assignment by the Mets and then outrighted to their Triple-A affiliate after he cleared waivers. Torres pitched well out of the Rays’ bullpen in 2013 before being dealt to the Padres as part of the multi-player deal that brought Brad Boxberger and Logan Forsythe (among others) to Tampa.
- While the Rays are widely considered to have a strong player development system, Topkin notes that much of the club’s success in this area has come on the pitching side. Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford are the only two homegrown All-Star position players in Tampa’s history, and only 26 position players in total have made their MLB debuts as a Ray after being drafted, signed and developed by the team. The Rays’ “hit rate on position players is remarkably low and contributes to their need to constantly churn the roster,” Topkin writes.