Despite a lackluster start to the 2014 season, the Tampa Bay Rays may have found a bright spot for the rest of the season and their future in rookie outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. The 24-year-old rookie only has two weeks’ worth of games under his belt, but it has been an impressive start to his young career.
Kiermaier is hitting .359 with three doubles and three home runs. He has taken over for injured starter and 2013 A.L. Rookie of the Year Wil Meyers in right field. Meyers will have his work cut out for him earning a position when he returns if Kiermaier keeps up this pace. There may even be back-to-back ROY awards for Rays’ right fielders after the season.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has had Kiermaier hitting towards the bottom of the lineup, but the rookie found himself in the two hole for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Mariners, as well as at the announcement of the starting lineups for Monday’s contest.
Kiermaier was a 31st round selection back in 2010 for the Rays and made his Major League debut last season in the wild-card tie-breaker game against the Cleveland Indians. He has found a more permanent role this season and will likely be kept on the active roster if he continues to play the way he has so far. The Rays may need to have him play left field once Meyers returns, as it is likely they will want to have their two young stars on the field at the same time. Kiermaier could be a permanent starter for the left field platoon of Matt Joyce, David DeJesus, and Sean Rodriguez.
Fifteen games is not much to judge, but Kevin Kiermaier has shown he can play with the big boys. It will be interesting to see how Maddon handles the roster and lineup once Meyer returns. Tampa Bay has been awful thus far in 2014 but could be due for a huge turnaround with the talented rookie from Indiana on the roster providing a spark.