Having spent this past year in the Southern League at 21 years old, Jake Bauers is used to facing off against experienced competition. He will have an even greater opportunity to do so in Spring Training.
The Rays' No. 3 prospect was among 11 Minor Leaguers the club invited to big league camp Thursday. The 21-year-old outfielder/first baseman joins former first-round picks Casey Gillaspie and Nick Ciuffo as the most noteworthy prospects in camp.
Acquired from the Padres in December 2014 in the Wil Myers trade, Bauers hit .274/.370/.420 with 14 homers, 78 RBIs and 10 steals in 135 games for Double-A Montgomery. The California native established career highs in long balls, RBIs and runs scored (79) while ranking second in the league with 73 walks. Known primarily for his big bat, he ranks as MLB.com's No. 73 overall prospect.
Tampa Bay's ninth-ranked prospect Gillaspie, 23, was taken 20th overall in the 2014 Draft. The first baseman compiled a .284/.388/.479 slash line in 132 games between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. The 2016 Organization All-Star led the system with 18 home runs and drove in 64 runs en route to being named Tampa Bay's Minor League Player of the Year.
The 21st overall pick in 2013, Ciuffo stands as the Rays' No. 24 prospect. The 21-year-old catcher battled a hand injury for much of the season, hitting .262/.288/.297 in 59 games for Class A Advanced Charlotte.
Also invited were right-handers Jeff Ames and Andrew Kittredge, catcher Jonah Heim, first baseman Dalton Kelly, infielder Jake Hager, utilityman Patrick Leonard and outfielders Johnny Field and Dayron Varona.