Rays expect Motter in bigs sooner than later

After opening eyes this spring, utility man's versatility will be his ticket to the Majors

Rays expect Motter in bigs sooner than later

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Taylor Motter killed at karaoke during his closed-doors clubhouse performance this spring.

The Rays' No. 22-ranked prospect sang Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" -- dressed like Swift.

"He got after it," catching hopeful Luke Maile said. "Give him credit for that. He wasn't scared."

When asked if Motter might have enjoyed the performance a little too much, Maile smiled and noted, "He likes a lot of things too much. But we love him for it."

Motter is a character, and he's opened eyes with more than just his voice this spring. The utility man appears to have a future with the Rays, and he could play a pivotal role with the team this season.

"As far as Taylor Motter, he did everything he possibly could to present himself really well at this camp," said Rays manager Kevin Cash after Motter was optioned to Minor League camp on Sunday. "He caught the ball. He's just a baseball player. Swung the bat really well. I'm glad that he was in camp, because we'd heard a lot about him at the end of the year in [Triple-A] Durham and during the offseason. He probably lived up to it and lived up to the hype even more."

Motter optioned as Rays reduce roster by 5

Should a need arrive this season, Cash said they have "all the confidence in the world basically playing him anywhere."

Motter will continue to play multiple positions at Durham.

"That's the plan," Cash said. "He'll get plenty of games at short. That's what makes him special -- he's able to be versatile."

Motter hit .292 with 14 home runs and 72 RBIs while stealing 26 bases for Durham in 2015. After the season, he journeyed to Venezuela to play winter ball.

"There's no breaks for me, I don't like the breaks," Motter said. "I only have a certain amount of time to play this game. I want to spend every waking second training or preparing or doing what I have to do to play this game as long as I can. That's what I've wanted since I was a little kid. And that's what I want to do until I can't pick up a glove anymore."

If Motter keeps doing what he does, his time will come. Perhaps this season.

"He's a hustle guy," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "He loves to play. He has that right intangible about coming to the ballpark every day, ready to play, with the right energy."

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