It's been almost three full days since E-Day or Monday when the Rays decided to send Evan Longoria to the minors to start the season. Since then Rays fans have spoken out on both sides. Those for and against the move have let their opinions be known, but is it really that big of an issue? Is this move so unprecedented? Not really. I know each player's promotion or lack there of is on a case by case basis, but really Evan's case isn't that far off the norm.
RJ Anderson of DRaysbay wrote an article yesterday about Jeff Niemann's minor league innings pitched compared to that of some current Rays, most namely James Shields and Andy Sonnanstine. Reading that made me think of how Evan Longoria's minor league time compares with other players. I looked at the crop of talented young 3B in the majors or about to be in the majors, a few established MLB stars who came up as 3B, and how the Rays have handled promotion of their own home grown talent. Here is the list:
I didn't do this to show a correlation between MiLB time and MLB success because as you can see Albert Pujols didn't need no stinkin AAA time. In fact, those three AAA games were the only MiLB games Pujols played over the A+ ball level, that's how good he is. I just wanted to see what other teams did with their stud 3B prospects and it seems that the Rays are pretty justified in sending Longoria down for a little more seasoning. Only Pujols, Gordon and Zimmerman shot to the MLB in less games and less AB's. While Longoria has more AAA time than Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Kouzmanoff and will pass Ryan Braun and David Wright, they still had more total games and AB's in the minors/college than Longoria.
I also wanted to track some of the Rays prized position player prospects rise through the minors. From the list only Rocco Baldelli had a quick stint in AAA with 23 games. Crawford, Delmon Young, Upton and Aubrey Huff all played at least 85 games in AAA. BJ played two + full seasons at AAA, but obviously for defensive reasons. Also every other Rays player on the list besides Baldelli had at least 200 ABs more than Longoria. Even if Longoria gets 100 more ABs he still will have the second fastest rise through the Rays system behind Rocco. So to say the Rays are being cheap and are holding Longoria down isn't really justified by this list. This doesn't mean that the Longoria move wasn't money motivated, but shows the Rays have a history of getting their players more time at the MiLB level before promoting them.