Tampa’s Next Big Thing: Desmond Jennings
When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays elected to let their free agent All Star outfielder Carl Crawford go to Boston, many of their fans were perplexed. The 9 year Ray is a near .300 career hitter, with decent pop and great speed, that plays a Gold Glove worthy outfield. Why would Tampa Bay allow arguably the best player in franchise history to walk away without a fight? The answer is Desmond Jennings.
Jennings is still is AAA Durham, but the Rays can’t keep him down for long. The former 10th round draft pick in 2006 is a fast rising star that will be patrolling the outfield at Tropicana Field sooner than later. In 2010, his 1st full season at Durham, he batted .278 with a .362 on base percentage. And he was only caught stealing 4 times in 41 attempts.
In 2009 he was named Southern League (AA) MVP, and named Rays minor league player of the year. Furthermore, MLB.com has named him the 11th best prospect in 2011.
The Rays elected to go with veteran Johnny Damon this year to allow Jennings to get a bit more seasoning, and to ensure he’ll get plenty of at bats in the minors. But with the Rays struggling out of the gate and with the Manny Ramirez drug testing fiasco, (and did I mention Damon’s less than stellar .220 BA / .256 OBP), I have a feeling Jennings might get that permanent call to The Show this year.