PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - The Tampa Bay Rays have made their second round of Spring Training cuts, this time with a lot more interesting names being reassigned to minor league camp.
Per Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays have sent pitchers Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Dane De La Rosa, Brandon Gomes, and author/flamethrower Dirk "@TheGarfoose" Hayhurst down to minor league camp.
Archer is the top pitching prospect acquired in the Matt Garza trade and projects as a frontline starter down the line, but his chances of making the Rays out of camp either starting or in the bullpen were slim. He will get more time in minor league camp to develop as a starter, allowing the pitchers battling for the bullpen more time to showcase their skills in big league camp. Do not be surprised if Archer receives a September call up, perhaps in a role similar to David Price in 2008.
It will be hard to see Dirk Hayhurst go, a fan favorite due to his tremendous Twitter feed, alternate Garfoose personality, and New York Times bestselling book The Bullpen Gospels. In reality however, Hayhurst is still recovering from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season, so starting the season in Triple-A was an almost certainty.
Joining the pitchers in minor league camp will be catchers Nevin Ashley and Robinson Chirinos; 1B/OF Leslie Anderson; SS Tim Beckham; infielders Russell Canzler, J.J. Furmaniak, Daniel Mayora, Stephen Vogt; and top prospect OF Desmond Jennings.
Some believed that Jennings could start the season with the big club, but the Johnny Damon signing signalled the front office's desire to give Jennings more time at Triple-A. By not breaking camp on the 25-man roster, Jennings' service time in the majors will be preserved and he'll receive daily at bats with Durham. Jennings will be just a call away in case of an injury to an outfielder.
Also, with Robinson Chirinos being reassigned, it becomes a definite that Kelly Shoppach will survive the spring and break camp as the backup catcher.