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Rays rookie Desmond Jennings is off to an incredible start

Aug 1, 2011, 1:20 PM EDT

Desmond Jennings profile

Many people questioned why the Rays kept Desmond Jennings at Triple-A for so long, allowing the speedy outfielder to rack up 230 games and nearly 1,000 plate appearances in parts of three seasons in Durham, but now that he’s in the majors the 24-year-old rookie is thriving.

Jennings got some brief action in Tampa Bay last season, but through nine games since his call-up last month he’s batting .333 with six walks and five stolen bases. He’s gotten on base 19 times in nine games for a .463 on-base percentage and five of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases, which is good for a .576 slugging percentage.

He’ll eventually come back down to earth, but Jennings ranked 22nd on Baseball America‘s annual list of top prospects coming into the season and earned the long-awaited promotion by hitting .283 with a .374 OBP and 69 steals in 230 games at Triple-A. If/when the Rays trade B.J. Upton it figures that Jennings will take over for him as the long-term center fielder, but for now he’ll flank Upton as the Rays hope Jennings can be a poor man’s (or at least young man’s) Carl Crawford in left field.

  1. proudlycanadian - Aug 1, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    I prefer the term “young man’s Carl Crawford”. The current Red Sox version of Carl Crawfor is not as exciting or as good as the young Carl Crawford was. I am excited by Jennings but Crawford now elicits ho hums.

  2. spindervish - Aug 1, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    If he keeps that OBP above .380 I’d say it’d be fair to call Crawford a poor man’s Desmond Jennings.

  3. Vincent - Aug 1, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Does that photo bother anyone as much as it bothers me?

  4. APBA Guy - Aug 1, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    After watching Jennings play for a series in Oakland I like him better than I did Crawford, though I see similarities in their game. I’d have to see a lot more of Jennings to finalize my opinion, but honestly, I think he makes better contact than Crawford did as a rookie. He’s almost as good an outfielder (Crawford was always incredible) and may be a better instinctive base stealer. Crawford really worked on the weak spots in his game and continually got better. But what really stands out to me is Jennings command of the strike zone, which is reflected in his OBP. It’s exceptional for a rookie.

    • sugeknightsglock - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      Crawford has also always been a LFer which is incredibly easier to play than CF.

      Crawford’s main weakness throughout his career has been a complete and utter lack of plate discipline.

      They’re exceptionally similar players but Dez gets the edge due to vastly superior plate discipline and positional value.

  5. sugeknightsglock - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    When Dez was in AAA, I projected him to be .300/.390/.480 with plus-plus speed and plus (if not plus-plus) defense in CF, which would make him better than Crawford and a potential Hall of Famer. Yes, I’m serious.

    Nothing has been done to diminish those expectations.

    Desmond Jennings = Hardest man alive.

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