#20 Mike McCormick, C, 21 years old, spent 2007 at short-season Hudson Valley
McCormick was hitting decently, but his struggles in the field forced him to repeat at rookie-level Princeton in 2006. A high-school shortstop, the Rays moved him to 3B where he booted balls and made errant throw after errant throw. The front office decided to try his strong arm behind the plate, and the results at Hudson Valley were better than expected.
Unlike the Sergio Pedroza experiment, McCormick continued to hit after being moved, and his defense was surprisingly solid. He threw out approximately 25% of baserunners, a number that figures to improve as he becomes more comfortable. He hit for a .276/.352/.469 line in a pitcher's park in what's generally regarded as a pitcher's league.
McCormick's bat has some good pop with power potential, but his usually patient plate approach can erode at times and lead to slumps. In August, his walk rate plummeted from 15% to under 5%, a trend which carried into September, where he hit only .167. His stat line was buoyed by a tremendous month of July, so finding a way to keep his production up throughout the season will be the next step in his development.
He'll get his first taste of full-season ball in 2008, taking over for Nevin Ashley as Ashley moves up to Vero Beach. He still has to work on his receiving and game-calling skills, but it'll only be his second season behind the plate. He shouldn't have too much of a problem adjusting at the plate, provided he maintains solid walk and strikeout numbers.