Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays: Ben Zobrist IF #18

As we continue on our 40 Rays in 40 days series, our next Ray is IF Ben Zobrist.

Ben Zobrist
IF #18
HT:6'3 WT:200

The Dish: Ben "Benzo" Zobrist was the Houston Astros 6th round pick in the 2004 draft. Zobrist was selected out of Dallas Baptist University after playing previously for Olivet Nazarene University. In his first year of profession baseball Zobrist hit .338/438/.463 for Low A Tri City. In 2005 Zobrist was the starting shortstop for Team USA in the World Cup. In the minors that same year, Zobrist continued to post excellent numbers this time at High A Salem His line for the season was .333/.475/.496. The year 2006 was a big jump for Benzo, he started out in AA Corpus Cristi and ended up in the Major League for the Tampa Bay Rays, who acquired him along with Mitch Talbot for Aubrey Huff. Zobrist only played 18 games for AAA Durham before making his big league debut for the Rays on 8/1/06. In all he played 52 games in the Majors in '06, but was unable to continue his solid hitting batting only .224 with a .260 OBP. Zobrist was the Rays 2007 Opening Day Shortstop, but that was the only good news for Zobrist in 2007. He was sent down to Durham after two games into the month of May. The reason being his awful March and April which saw Zobrist put up simply awful numbers hitting on .145/.213/.148. Zobrist would be recalled later on in the year after Ty Wigginton was traded and didn't do much better.

2007 Numbers: (AAA Durham) 61 Games, .279/.403/.455 with 7 home runs and 22 RBI. (Rays) 31 Games, .155/.184/.206 with 1 home run and 9 RBI.

Role for '08: Despite his dreadful 2007 season Benzo still has a shot to make the team this year out of Spring. His days as a starter are long gone, but his solid defensive has kept him in the running for an infield utility spot. The problem with Zobrist is he has yet to play another position besides shortstop in the Major Leagues. If he is going to beat out Willy Aybar or long shot Andy Cannizaro, he's going to have to show the ability to play second and third base as well as maybe some first.

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