Cash impressed with quartet of prospects

Guerrieri, Snell, Schultz and Faria standing out at Rays camp

Cash impressed with quartet of prospects

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash has been impressed by the "Fab Four" of this year's camp: Taylor Guerrieri, Jacob Faria, Blake Snell and Jaime Schultz. All four pitchers rank among the top 19 Rays prospects according to MLB Pipeline.

Unless injuries occur, no one in the group is likely to break camp with the team, but that doesn't mean they aren't talented enough to do so.

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"I don't know if I can recall seeing four guys [as impressive]," Cash said. "That's not to discredit anybody, but those four guys have stood out. Obviously because of the seasons they just had, the stuff, how it plays. But I think in this setting the way they've handled themselves."

Every time any of the quartet has pitched, Cash has come away impressed.

"Guerrieri came up and faced some pretty good hitters in Boston the other day, wasn't bothered at all," Cash said. "And then Faria comes in and throws two solid innings, gives up a home run and bounces right back and throws strike one, strike two and gets the guy out. That's a guy who started in A ball [last season]. There's a lot to be excited about. The four of them. Now let's see how it shakes out for them."

Top Prospects: Faria, TB

Worth noting

Steve Pearce remained sidelined during Thursday's 5-1 win over the Pirates due to right-calf tightness.

"We'll take the cautious route, give him a couple of days, but no real update on anything," Cash said.

• Catcher Justin O'Connor got optioned to Minor League camp after Wednesday afternoon's game against the Blue Jays. The Rays' No. 15 prospect according to MLB.com did not get to participate in any of Spring Training due to a herniated disc.

"To his credit, obviously unfortunate, because we like him a lot, and there's a lot of things he can do that other people can't, especially from the defensive aspect," Cash said. "So this was a frustrating spring. But to his credit he handled himself really well. He made some really good strides this offseason with some Instructional League stuff where he came in and worked on his hitting. We'll get him healthy and get him back playing."

• The Rays arrived to Spring Training with three Major League catchers in Curt Casali, Rene Rivera and Hank Conger with Luke Maile waiting in the wings. When asked if he had any more clarity on the competition, Cash replied: "Nothing really defined."

"Curt Casali has swung the bat well," Cash said. "Rene Rivera has come in with a solid approach at the plate that he's learned, and we're still trying to learn some things on Hank Conger.

"That's the one spot that's difficult to see consistent playing time because it's the one position [where] that's all they play. To try and mix them in, whether is Conger, Rivera or Casali, some of them have to come in and catch the last three innings of a game. And that's not ideal, but that's kind of where we're at with our camp."

As for Maile, Cash said he "did some nice things catching" while with the Rays last season.

"We asked him to try and work on some things offensively this offseason," Cash said. "He did that. A little bit more of an aggressive attack mode at the plate, and he's shown that. He's going to find that mix between what he's capable of doing in batting practice and what he's capable of doing in a game. I think that's what he's looking for right now. But his at-bats have been good and I like the intent of his swings."

Cash said he'd probably have a better idea about the "catching department" in another week.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.