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Sleeper Prospect: Joe McCarthy, 1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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On-base star also provides positional flexibility

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As far as names go, “Joe McCarthy” plays it generally safe. There’s nothing wrong with it, mind you, it’s actually a very cool name. Demands respect before putting name to face. Anyway, this Joe McCarthy isn’t the first one to make waves in Major League Baseball.

The unrelated Hall of Fame Manager Joe McCarthy helmed the Yankees as well as the Cubs and Red Sox from 1926 to 1950 and was elected to the Hall in 1957. His 2,125 managerial wins are eighth all-time.

While our newer Joe McCarthy isn’t going to be managing any time soon, he’ll be playing.

A fifth round pick in 2015 out of the University of Virginia, McCarthy boasts a spectacular hitter’s eye, runs very well for a first baseman/corner outfielder and is developing some pop. He’s not too far off from in-house comparisons to fellow organizational prospect Jake Bauers.

After the 2015 draft, McCarthy jumped into Short-A ball with Hudson Valley and hit .277, which is his lowest MiLB season average to date. He walked 18 times to 23 strikeouts and stole 18 bases in 49 games.

2016 began in full season ball with Low-A Bowling Green and here power entered the mix for McCarthy, who also began to play first base which subsequently supplanted left field as his primary position.

He slashed .288/.425/.425 for the Hot Rods, hitting his first three professional home runs, stealing 11 bases and driving in 29 runs in just 43 games.

Donten Photography

After 92 games between Short-A and Low-A, a call-up to High-A Charlotte was in the cards. There, his numbers were similar across the board with a slight drop in stolen bases (11 to eight) but a bump in home runs (three to five).

The 23-year old then spent the entire 2017 campaign at Double-A Montgomery and was a star for the Biscuits, finishing second in the Southern League in OBP with an exceptional .409 clip. His .284 batting average was also a top ten mark and his 20 stolen bases a career-high.

31 doubles slotted him third in the league and seven home runs was his most at one level in a year, but did come a single long ball shy of his eight total in 2016.

On the depth chart, he nearly split his first base and outfield time evenly, making 61 appearances at the former and 62 at the latter, 57 of those coming in left field with three games in right and a pair of outings manning center.

The lefty thrower and hitter’s big season after two previously productive years has earned him a non-roster invite to 2018 Spring Training. The big wigs in the Rays organization will get an up close and personal look at the emerging prospect in Port Charlotte in just a matter of weeks.