Tampa Bay Rays Have Multitude of Options to Cure Offensive Anemia With September Call-Ups

It's no secret that the Tampa Bay Rays have had a strange year at the plate.

While they do a perfectly good job scoring runs — Tampa ranks fourth in the league, they seem to go weeks at a time in team-wide slumps, and a huge portion of their offensive production can be attributed to team speed and power.

Basically, the team can't hit for average. The Rays rank 25th in the league at .250. Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, Willy Aybar, Matt Joyce, Gabe Kapler, Dioner Navarro and Dan Johnson have downright embarrassing batting averages.

Lurking at Triple-A Durham, though, the team has quite a few prospects who are hitting 100 points higher than their major league counterparts.

With September call-ups coming Wednesday, the team's hitting could get a real shot in the arm.

The two names that Rays fans likely would be most excited about are Rays stalwart Rocco Baldelli and phenom Desmond Jennings.

Baldelli, who began his comeback attempt in June, is hitting .306 with a .556 slugging percentage for Durham, and while he can't play every day, his clubhouse presence, experience and ability to actually get hits would make him a big addition to the Rays roster.

Jennings is your prototypical Tampa Bay Ray — young, talented and fast as lightning. He's hitting .281 in Durham with 36 stolen bases. Baseball America's sixth ranked prospect can at the very least help the team as a pinch-runner.

Utility man Leslie Anderson is hitting .349 for the Bulls. That could certainly improve the lineup. Likewise, outfielder Justin Ruggiano is hitting .285 with 14 home runs. He's even hit over .300 in two full seasons in Durham, so he could be an option to get the Rays some hits as well.

The biggest potential addition, may be the recently acquired Brad Hawpe. While the former Rockie has been having a down year, his .255 average is still better than the Rays have posted as a team, and Hawpe has hit above .280 with over 20 home runs each of the past four seasons.

Even with the Rays' struggles at the plate, they have lost no ground in the AL East over the past month. Tampa, as always, has a lot of talent waiting for a chance to improve the team. The bats that we may see in September will likely do exactly that — which could put the team over the top in the division.

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