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The Next Big Thing: Desmond Jennings

Sep 4, 2009, 2:56 PM EDT

Last week Rays outfield prospect Desmond Jennings was named MVP of the Double-A Southern League despite earning a promotion to Triple-A a month ago.
Last night, in his 29th game at Triple-A, Jennings tied an International League record by going 7-for-7 as the Durham Bulls clinched a playoff spot.
He had what baseball analysts typically refer to as a really awesome week.
Jennings was limited to just 24 games last season because of back and shoulder injuries, but the former 10th-round pick has bounced back in a huge way this year and is often compared to current Rays outfielder Carl Crawford.
It’s easy to see why, because like Crawford he’s a former standout football player who offers an amazing blend of physical tools that revolve around tremendous athleticism and blazing speed.
Jennings has hit .322 with 11 homers, 31 doubles, and 10 triples in 128 games between Double-A and Triple-A, swiping 52 bases while being caught just seven times. In a recent Baseball America managers poll he was named the Southern League’s fastest baserunner, best baserunner, best defensive outfielder, and most exciting player, which certainly fits with the Crawford comparison.
One area where he has a leg up on Crawford is plate discipline and strike-zone control, as Jennings has an excellent 66/66 K/BB ratio in 563 plate appearances. By comparison, prior to this year Crawford had never drawn even 40 walks in any season, minors or majors. Any prospect whose ceiling can even optimistically be described as “Carl Crawford with plate discipline” has a chance to be a very special player.

  1. Alan - Sep 5, 2009 at 5:54 PM

    Assuming Jennings is major-league ready — and it’s hard to see a hole in his game — how do you suppose the Rays will align their outfield next year? Personally I’d love to see them go Crawford in left, Jennings in center and Upton in right (he certainly has the arm for it), with Joyce up as a fourth outfielder and lefty bat off the bench. Dunno how realistic it is that they’ll ask Beej to move again, though.

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