Monday, January 2, 2017

Predicting the Skitz 2017

Wow, this gets tougher every year. The annual team prediction is a challenge for many reasons, not only are we three months ahead of the roster being set, the Rays usually manage to swing a trade before heading to spring training. Then of course there are injuries, which can never be predicted.

Still, its always fun to peer into the crystal ball and work a bit of prognostication!

Nick Ciuffo
Mac James

1B Grant Kay

2B Riley Unroe

SS Alec Sole
Andrew Velazquez

3B Christian Toribio

Granden Goetzman
Cade Gotta
Brax Lee
Justin Williams
Jace Conrad

Chris Kirsch*
Brent Honeywell
Hunter Wood
Greg Harris
Jonny Chirinos
Grayson Garvin*?

Steve Ascher*
Kyle Bird*
Mark Sappington
Mike Franco
Brad Schrieber
Ian Gibaut
Brian Miller
Nick Sawyer

The Rays have a well stocked system, resulting in a crowded starting rotation in Durham to start next year.

 This could push a couple guys who are ready to advance back into Skitz raiment to start 2017 - players like Chris Kirsch or Brent Honeywell, however if the Rays finally trade a MLB starter it could open the door for one or both.

The catcher situation is always up in the air - much depends on how free agent acquisition Wilson Ramos comes along. Maile and Casali will handle the catching for the Rays, at least in the first half of the year. Mike McKenry was also signed and could split time at Durham and Tampa, leaving the bulk of triple-A catching to Mike Marjama and Arencibia.

At double-A Montgomery, Justin O'Conner had his back worked on, he will miss the start of the season, likely leaving the Biscuits catching first chair duties open to Nick Ciuffo. Mac James should share time wearing the tools of ignorance.  Thats a lot of dominoes to line up, but thats how I see it shaking out!

Third base is a bit of a mystery, Toribio's defense wasn't overwhelming at Charlotte, but there isn't much depth in the Rays system so he could easily get the nod. It was also suggested that the Biscuits third baseman could be Kean Wong, who played there 40 games last year. Perhaps this is a spot that could be filled by a trade.

The field staff was announced, Brady will return to skipper the club with RC Lichtenstein as pitching coach and Dan Dement in the hitting coaches roles. Its a nice return for the staff that has taken the Biscuits to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Added to the coaching staff this year is former big-leaguer Gary Redus.


Redus brings a hefty resume of major league accomplishments, playing for five MLB teams over his 13 year career. A native of Tanner, Alabama, Gary was chosen by the Red Sox in 1977 but turned them down, then again in the 15th round of the 1978 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. Redus made his debut in 1982 for the Reds and appeared in over 350 games for them before being dealt to the Phillies in '85.

Two season later the Phils sent Redus to the WhiteSox, who dealt him to the Pirates where he would spend four seasons.

In 1993 he signed with Texas and played for them for two years. The Strike of '94 spelled the end his playing career, Redus hung up his spikes to spend time with his family.

Known as a talented outfielder with speed and pop, Gary Redus tallied over 300 career stolen bases. Eight times he swiped 25 or more and with the WhiteSox in '85 he stole a whopping 52 bags, good for third in the circuit. Known for speed, Redus was also an excellent defender in left field, leading the league in outfield assists in 1986.

Gary was in the postseason three times with the Pirates, batting .279 with three steals and three RBI while playing mostly first base. While with the Pirates, Redus let his former team know what they had let go - he hit for the cycle on August 25th, 1989 against the Reds.

The last time Gary Redus was in the Southern League was 1979, where he appeared with Nashville in 36 games.

In 1978 Gary hit a stellar .462 while with the Billings Mustangs, a professional record that sent his bat to Cooperstown.

Former Biscuits 1B Cameron Seitzer signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox.

Adam Kolarek and Armando Araiza signed with the Braves - have I mentioned that already? There are so many offseason move I have a hard time keeping up with them!

Parker Markel signed to play in Korea.

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