MLB Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training: Ranking the Top 5 Early Standouts

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Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training: Ranking the Top 5 Early Standouts

Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training: Ranking the Top 5 Early Standouts
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The big news for the Tampa Bay Rays last Spring Training was the addition of top prospect Wil Myers in the James Shields trade. Myers was called up in June and immediately had an impact on the Rays. He won the AL Rookie of the Year award, as the Rays finished second in the AL East, losing in the ALDS.

Coming off of last year's success, the Rays didn't make many changes to their roster. The moves they did make were smaller ones, adding Ryan Hanigan to be the catcher and Heath Bell and Grant Balfour to the bullpen.

The Rays look to their returning players for improvement to make that next step in the playoffs. They have some strong young pitchers in Alex Cobb and Chris Archer back to pair with David Price and Matt Moore. Offensively, improvement is expected out of Myers in his second season.

What the Rays will also rely on is for their veterans to continue to produce. The Rays re-signed James Loney, and big names such as Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria will need to have solid seasons.

With the lack of moves, it looks like the Rays are very confident that their team will have a good season. It has shown during Spring Training, as the Rays have gotten off to a 4-1 start.

Here's a look at five players who have stood out so far in Spring Training.

Spencer Impellizzeri is a MLB writer covering the Detroit Tigers for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Spence_I or on Google +

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5. Jose Molina

Jose Molina
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At age 38, Jose Molina is still an integral part of the Rays team. He is coming off a season where he had a career-high in plate appearances and is off to a great start to Spring Training. Molina is 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, and has drawn a pair of walks for a .667 on base percentage. With the addition of Ryan Hanigan, Molina will serve more as a backup this season, but if he can continue to get on base, he will see more opportunities in the field and could really help the Rays this year.

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4. Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Getting Evan Longoria off to a strong start is key for the Rays, as they rely on him for a lot of production at the plate. The Rays have to like what they've seen this spring, as Longoria is 3-for-8 at the plate with a home run and two RBIs.

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3. Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays brought in Heath Bell and Grant Balfour to strengthen their bullpen this offseason, but returnee Joel Peralta has had the best start to Spring Training out of the bullpen. In two appearances, lasting an inning each, Peralta has struck out four batters and has yet to allow a hit, let alone a run.

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2. Yunel Escobar

Yunel Escobar
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Yunel Escobar had a solid first season as a Ray and looks to be ready to repeat in 2014. So far this spring, Escobar is 4-for-6 with a pair of doubles. Escobar provides the Rays with a solid defender at shortstop, and it would be huge for the Rays if he can have another great year at the plate.

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1. David DeJesus

David DeJesus
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In his first Spring Training with the Rays, David DeJesus is off to a hot start. He has started off the spring by going 4-for-7 with two doubles, a triple and an RBI. A late-season addition last season, DeJesus could be key for the Rays this season as they try and improve on last season's results.