The Tampa Bay Rays have continued to prove that they can put together winning squads despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the entire league. They did so again in 2022, where they made it to the playoffs in a crowded American League East, although they didn’t last long before getting sent home by the Cleveland Guardians in the Wild Card round.

The Rays will enter the 2023 season in a similar spot. They have a lot of young talent on their roster that seems set to continue to develop, and even though the AL East is as competitive as it’s ever been, the Rays seem set to contend for a Wild Card spot once again, or maybe even the top spot in the division if everything breaks their way.

Spring Training has gotten underway for the Rays, and it’s clear that while there are quite a few star players who deserve fans’ attention, there are also some up-and-coming prospects who could make a name for themselves over the next few weeks. Let’s take a look at three Rays players who fans should pay attention to throughout Spring Training,

3. Kyle Manzardo

The Rays have three prospects inside the top-100 list, according to, but just outside that list falls Kyle Manzardo. Manzardo made a lot of noise in his first season with the Rays organization, and earned an invitation to Spring Training as a result. Manzardo may not make it to the majors this season, but it’s clear he has a ton of potential.

Manzardo is a smooth-hitting first baseman who has shown the potential to be a real impact hitter in the majors for Tampa Bay. Manzardo split his time between A+ and AA last season, and his numbers were very strong (.327 BA, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 1.043 OPS). Not only was Manzardo raking at the plate, but he nearly walked as many times as he struckout (65:59 K/BB ratio).

There are some strong hitting prospects around the league, but Manzardo flashed with the Rays last season. He could conceivably start at AAA and make his way to the majors, but he’s still only 22 years old, so Tampa doesn’t necessarily have to rush him. But if he rakes in Spring Training after a strong 2022 campaign, he could end up in the majors at some point this season.

2. Curtis Mead

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After a strong 2022 campaign, Curtis Mead is on track to find his way to the majors at some point in 2023, so it will be interesting to see what he’s able to accomplish during Spring Training. The Rays could certainly use a versatile infielder who has a strong bat, and that’s precisely what Mead looks to be for them heading into 2023.

Mead split his time in 2022 between AA and AAA, and played well at both spots. His final numbers on the season are solid (.298 BA, 13 HR, 50 RBI, .922 OPS) and he looks likely to be a guy who could hit .300 with around 20 home runs while playing at second base. Mead can also play third or first base in a pinch, but it seems like the Rays want him at second base for the time being.

Having a potential middle infield of Mead and Wander Franco at shortstop would make for one of the more exciting young duos in the league. Mead’s position in the field is certainly in flux, but he’s a good enough hitter that it shouldn’t matter where he plays. He likely will start the season in AAA, but if he starts the season in the majors, he could end up making a run for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

1. Taj Bradley

The most likely player to make it to the majors in 2023, though, is Taj Bradley, who is the Rays top prospect and one of the best overall pitching prospects in the game. Bradley has already impressed in his first Spring Training action, and while he may not start the season in the majors, it’s a safe bet to expect Bradley to make it there at some point later on in the season.

Bradley has lit it up at every stop he’s made in the minors, as he spent time at AA and AAA with Mead last season. Bradley’s total numbers are very strong (7-4, 2.57 ERA, 141 K, 1.04 WHIP) although it is worth noting his ERA did jump to 3.66 in AAA after sitting at 1.70 in AA. There’s still room for Bradley to grow despite how good he’s looked early on for the Rays.

Bradley will turn 22 before the start of the season, so he still has a lot of time, but he’s well on his way to making the majors at some point this season. If he can put together a strong Spring Training, that could help his case even more, making him the top prospect on the Rays that should be watched.