The Tampa Bay Rays have long prided themselves on competing in an uber tough American League East with shrewd drafting, outside-the-box talent evaluation and an elite application of advanced metrics.
Tampa has held its own in a division which features powerhouse franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. And with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles showing some real signs of life, it’s imperative that the Rays — who aren’t known for pursuing All-star free agents — keep adding quality talent to the roster. Adding someone of rookie Chandler Simpson’s talent level (70th pick in the 2022 Draft) only increases that talent pool and keeps the foundation solid for the future.
Chandler is a smooth, high average slugging second baseman and shortstop who’s didn’t strikeout more than sixteen times in each of his final two college seasons. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets star stole the show at the plate on many occasions, displaying the innate ability to pull the baseball, while hitting for average and with power.
Simpson Possesses Great Speed
During his last year at GT, Simpson stole 27 bases, which is another tool that will serve him well at the next level. His coach at GT, Danny Hall, said he’s never seen a player with speed like Simpson. Hall has coached baseball for over four decades and had this to say about his star pupil.
“I’ve never seen anyone score from second base on a sacrifice fly.”
“If it’s anyone else running you’re not scoring in that situation.”
Chandler Simpson has broken the Northwoods League single-season stolen base record with 51 stolen bases this season. Congratulations on making history Chandler!#BagSecured #SpinTheWeb 🕷🕸 pic.twitter.com/mbRrwBQWEw
— Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (@DockSpiders) July 30, 2021
Simpson has shown a knack for bunting and turning them into base hits. He’s routinely turned singles into triples. Beating out grounders is something he does regularly. He’s so impressive on the base pads and in the field, Rays senior director of amateur scouting Rob Metzler described his as having “top-of-the-scale” speed.
Led NCAA In Batting Average
Simpson’s bat along with that speed makes him a dangerous weapon. He led all of NCAA baseball with a whopping (.433) batting average. With his elite wheels the Rays plan is to develop him as an outfielder, probably centerfield with his elite range and athleticism.
Perry Roth, his coach at UAB for two seasons, who’s now his hitting coach at Birmingham Class-A, spoke on the demise of baseball and how Simpson has avoided all of that.
“Baseball has become kinda one-sided to a certain extent of one of its three outcomes: walk, homerun or strikeout.”
“And he’s outside of that norm.”
— Georgia Tech Baseball (@GTBaseball) July 18, 2022
Simpson prides himself on being unrelenting and aggressive at all times on the field. He believes that’s the only way to play the game. He also uses that motto as it pertains to his low strikeout numbers, which is proof of the hard work he puts into his craft daily.
“Just trying to have that relentlessness of not accepting strikeouts,” Simpson said. In an age where the strikeout is as common as the walk, Simpson is dedicated to contact with impact.
Georgia Tech SS Chandler Simpson might be the best player you've never heard of.
But you should.
You should know Chandler Simpson. He's @FlashGJr 2.0.
He'll likely hear his name called early in July. And he brings a ton to the table.
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) June 27, 2022
Simpson sounds just like most Rays players, fundamentally sound and prepared. That’s how the Rays have been able to compete in a division where two of their rivals have unlimited resources and deep pockets. Tampa has to resort to the throwback style to keep up, and that’s draft talented baseball players to have any chance to keep up and compete.