Prior to the season, I noted at One More Dying Quail that as a Red Sox fan, the Tampa Bay Rays scared me. This was immediately before I compared them to the 1969 Mets, a historically awful team that rode a bunch of young talent to the World Series. The common response to the post was something along the lines of, “Oh, silly OMDQ – you know the Rays will never actually be good.”
Jeez, I’m not looking so crazy now, am I?
The Rays are currently performing what figures to be a multi-year hostile takeover of the American League East, and they’re only getting better. Following an injury to shortstop Jason Bartlett in Wednesday’s win over the Red Sox (that’ll teach you to stage six-run rallies! Jerks!), Tampa Bay recalled Reid Brignac from Durham (AAA-International), where he was hitting .265 with 7 homeruns and 38 RBI in 78 games.
Brignac, the team’s fifth-rated prospect according to Baseball America, was a second-round draft pick in 2004 out of Louisiana’s St. Amant High School. (That was a potentially great draft for the Rays: four of the top five picks – Jeff Niemann, Brignac, Wade Davis and Jake McGee – are still top ten prospects, and 13th rounder Andy Sonnanstine has provided some value in the starting rotation the past two seasons.) He has progressed steadily through the system, showing some offensive pop and earning a reputation as the best defensive infielder in the organization.
Nobody knows how much he’ll play or how long he’ll be in the majors, except maybe Joe Maddon, but the mere sight of Brignac and Evan Longoria, two 22-year-old representatives of the organization’s exceedingly bright future, together on the left side of the infield is sure to make even the most hardened Rays fans shed tears of joy.
Gosh, it could be REALLY fun to watch the American League East for the next five to ten years.