Tampa Bay Rays 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - July 19: Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Tampa Bay Rays starts against the New York Yankees July 19, 2011 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Hellickson was the winner. The Rays won 3 - 2. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Rays 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, continuing today with the Tampa Bay  Rays. This list was originally published January 13, 2011. On Tuesday we will review the Chicago Cubs, on Wednesday we will review the Texas Rangers, on Thursday we'll look at the Milwaukee Brewers, and on Friday we'll examine the Minnesota Twins.

This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.

The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.

1) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Grade A:  3.17 ERA, 75/40 K/BB in 111 innings, 85 hits for the Tampa Bay Rays. Hard to complain about a very successsful rookie season, and he could get even better in time.

2) Matt Moore, LHP, Grade A: Just promoted to Triple-A, fanned seven in first start for Durham. For Double-A Montgomery, posted 2.20 ERA with 131/28 K/BB in 102 innings, just 68 hits. Outstanding prospect.

3) Desmond Jennings, OF, Grade B+:  Hit .275/.374/.456 with 12 homers, 17 steals, 45 walks in 338 at-bats for Durham. Just promoted to the majors, will be subject of Prospect of the Day article on Tuesday.

4) Jake McGee, LHP, Grade B+:  2.70 ERA with 38/8 K/BB in 33 innings for Durham, 30 hits, nine saves. Struggled early in the Rays pen and was demoted, but back in the majors now.

5) Chris Archer, RHP, Grade B+: 4.84 ERA with 92/57 K/BB in 100 innings for Montgomery,  112 hits. Struggling with command issues.

6) Josh Sale, OF, Grade B:  .216/.292/.373 in 102 at-bats for Princeton in the Appalachian League, three homers, 11 walks, 18 strikeouts. Not very impressive yet, but this is his pro debut.

7) Alex Colome, RHP, Grade B: Just promoted to Double-A. Had a 3.66 ERA with a 92/44 K/BB in 106 innings for High-A Charlotte, 78 hits allowed. Command an issue but strong stuff.

8) Alex Torres, LHP, Grade B:   3.21 ERA, 104/55 K/BB in 101 innings for Durham, 102 hits. Maintaining excellent strikeout rate.

9) Enny Romero, LHP, Grade B:  4.79 ERA for Low-A Bowling Green, 100/48 K/BB in 83 innings, 82 hits, 1.76 GO/AO. Has pitched better than ERA indicates, K/IP and grounders combination stands out.

10) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Grade B:  .324/.390/.438 with 24 steals, 33 walks, 63 strikeouts in 333 at-bats for Charlotte, plus strong defensive skills.

11) Jake Thompson, RHP, Grade B-:   2.93 ERA with 32/23 K/BB in 71 innings for Charlotte, 72 hits. Throws strikes, but the K/IP ratio is not impressive at all.

12) Justin O'Conner, C, Grade B-:   .163/.226/.296 in 98 at-bats for Princeton, 8/44 BB/K.  He hit poorly in rookie ball last year too, and while he is quite young, I think concerns about the bat are now warranted.

13) Drew Vettleson, OF, Grade B-:  Hitting .282/.347/.47 for Princeton with 11 steals, 12 walks, 20 strikeouts in 110 at-bats. Very solid performance.

14) Alex Cobb, RHP, Grade B-:   1.87 ERA with 70/16 K/BB in 67 innings for Durham, 3.09 ERA with 22/16 K/BB and 1.52 GO/AO in 35 major league innings over six starts. Obviously an excellent season so far.

15) Nick Barnese, RHP, Grade B-:  3.23 ERA with 65/45 K/BB in 86 innings for Montgomery, 81 hits. He's kept the ERA down and I've liked him as a sleeper for a few years, but his K/BB ratio isn't too hot.

16) Joe Cruz, RHP, Grade B-: Ugly 8.43 ERA with 42/20 K/BB in 47 innings, plus an incredibly bad 75 hits for Montgomery. On the DL since early June with a strained groin.

17) Brandon Guyer, OF, Grade B-:   .309/.385/.498, 11 homers, 28 walks, 69 strikeouts, 13 steals in 311 at-bats for Durham. Solid campaign.

18) Scott Shuman, RHP, Grade C+:  5.45 ERA, 64/42 K/BB in 36 innings for Charlotte 22 hits, 1.75 GO/AO. Outstanding strikeout rate with lots of grounders, but very serious control problems this year.

19) Wilking Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+: Has pitched just 13 innings this year between New York-Penn League and Low-A. Bothered by shoulder problems.

20) Braulio Lara, LHP, Grade C+:  4.78 ERA with 84/45 K/BB in 90 innings for Bowling Green, 85 hits. I felt he was capable of better.

21) Leslie Anderson, OF, Grade C+: .279/.311/.430 with 12 homers, 14 walks, 43 strikeouts for Durham. Very low walk rate limits usefulness as an extra bat.

22) Ryan Brett, 2B, Grade C+:  .315/.362/.481 in 108 at-bats for Princeton, nine steals, seven walks, nine strikeouts. No complaints here, performing very well.

23) Tim Beckham, SS, Grade C+:  .271/.330/.393 for Montgomery. Incremental improvements.

24) Robinson Chirinos, C, Grade C+:  .265/.342/.378 for Durham, 3-for-18 (.167) in the majors. Now 27 years old but will hang around for awhile as a reserve/Quadruple-A type.

Even with some guys not quite living up to expectations, this is still an amazing farm system. Let's discuss it.

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