Tampa Bay Rays Top 20 Prospects for 2013
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
This list is current as of January 15, 2013
1) Wil Myers, OF, Grade A: I love the power and overall offensive package, main concern is strikeouts which could inhibit batting average, at least in the short run. Tampa seems like it will be a better fit for him than Kansas City was going to be.
2) Chris Archer, RHP, Grade B+: Just a matter of command: has the stuff to be a number two starter if he throws strikes. Of all the organizations in baseball, I think the Rays are well-suited to getting the most out of guys like Archer. He's got nothing left to prove in the minors, so run him out there and see what happens.
3) Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Grade B+: I've gone back and forth between Archer and Guerrieri. When I do the Top 50 pitchers list, this may get flipped. Archer is ready now and G needs more time, of course, but I think G has a slightly higher ceiling. G could be a number one guy when all is said and done.
4) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline B. I've always liked Odo, but I do worry about the fly ball tendency becoming a problem. My guess is that he could struggle in the short run, but long-term I still expect him to be a number three starter, and the Rays do a better job developing young pitching than the Royals do.
5) Richie Shaffer, 3B, Grade B: One of my favorite bats in the 2012 draft, refined college hitter with good power and plate discipline. Defense at third base is underrated in my view, though of course he's blocked by Evan Longoria in this organization. Should hit enough to play first base or right field.
6) Alex Colome, RHP, Grade B-: Command is spotty and he suffered through physical maladies in 2012, but this is another guy who can be a mid-rotation starter. Also has closer-worthy stuff if they can't find room in the rotation. Should be ready for a role in 2014.
7) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Grade B-: Like everyone else, I like his defense. I have been among the optimists about his bat, but his hitting sagged in '12 and I didn't like his approach in the Arizona Fall League. Just 22 years old and still has time to grow, but he needs another year in the minors.
8) Enny Romero, LHP, Grade B-: His command wobbles (76 walks in 126 innings in High-A is too many) but he's got quality stuff with mid-90s heat and a good curve. At worst he should be a good LOOGY, and with more development he can be a mid-rotation guy. The Rays have a lot of those.
9) Drew Vettleson, OF, Grade B-: Solid across-the-board, has some power, some speed, some patience, good defender in right field, hit pretty well in the Midwest League (.275/.340/.432) at age 20/21. I don't see him as a star but he does a lot of different things to help his teams.
10) Mikie Mahtook, OF, Grade B-: I was very pro-Mahtook entering the season and I still like him, but he didn't live up to my expectations, particularly in the power department. I still see him as a solid regular but it is possible he may be more of a very good fourth outfielder.
11) Blake Snell, LHP, Grade B-: Thrived in the Appalachian League (2.09 ERA, 54/17 K/BB in 47 innings) at age 19. Tall, projectable, still somewhat raw but another guy who projects as a big league rotation guy, assuming good health, etc.
12) Jeff Ames, RHP, Grade B-: Excellent season in the New York-Penn League (1.96 ERA, 70/20 K/BB in 64 innings) at age 21, impressive fastball and slider combination. Can be mid-rotation guy if he gets his changeup going, otherwise a good reliever.
13) Jake Hager, SS, Grade B-: Another Bowling Green guy, doesn't have Goeddel's tools but more polished at this point and actually several months younger, hit .281/.345/.412. Might wind up at second base but I like him.
14) Tyler Goeddel, 3B, Grade B-: Young, toolsy, one of many intriguing young position players (age 19) at Low-A Bowling Green who didn't put up terrific raw stats (.246/.335/.371, 30 steals) but who has the physical ability to be a regular player.
14) Todd Glaesman, OF, Grade B-: Prototype right field tools, hit .285/.336/.493 with 21 homers, 30 walks, 124 strikeouts in A-ball at age 21. Good thump in the bat but needs to get the strike zone under better control to avoid Francoeuritis.
16) Felipe Rivero, LHP, Grade B-: Solid Bowling Green lefty with live arm, 3.41 ERA with 98/29 K/BB in 113 innings. Stuff is not quite as good as Enny Romero's.
17) Parker Markel, RHP, Grade B-: Another Bowling Green guy, live-armed right-hander with power sinker, 3.53 ERA with 96/34 K/BB in 120 innings. And yet another guy who could be a mid-rotation starter if all goes well.
18) Jesse Hahn, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Recovered from Tommy John surgery to dominate New York-Penn League for Hudson Valley (2.77 ERA, 55/15 K/BB, 2.88 GO/AO in 52 innings). Has always had the stuff, just needs command and health. Once we see how much stamina he has, he could shoot way up this list in 2013. You can draw a scenario where he ranks as their second-best pitching prospect behind G nine months from now.
19) Tim Beckham, INF, Grade C+: Seems like he can be a useful utility guy to me. Forget any possibility of stardom and he's probably not a regular either.
20) Ryan Brett, 2B, Grade C+: Best of the four Bowling Green prospects who got suspended late in the year for PED use. Hit .285/.348/.393 with 48 steals. I like him, he can move well up the list in 2013.
OTHER GRADE C+: Granden Goetzman, OF; Patrick Leonard, 3B; Josh Sale, OF; Andrew Toles, OF
OTHERS: Ryan Carpenter, LHP; Damion Carroll, RHP; Kes Carter, OF; Frank De Los Santos, LHP; Spencer Edwards, OF; Cole Figueroa, 2B; Jake Floethe, RHP; Nolan Gannon, RHP; Brandon Guyer, OF; Oscar Hernandez, C: Lenny Linsky, RHP; Brandon Martin, SS; Mike Montgomery, LHP; Ty Morrison, OF; C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP; Nick Sawyer, RHP; Alejandro Segovia, C; Alexander Torres, LHP.
The Rays farm system was already in good shape at the lower levels, but the big trade with the Royals helps at the top. Wil Myers adds a major league ready bat with star potential. Jake Odorizzi doesn't have the pure upside of some of the other system arms, but he throws strikes and seems like a good fit with the Rays organization. If anyone can fix Mike Montgomery, it is the Rays, and Patrick Leonard is a really nice sleeper third base prospect.
The system stands out most for the pitching. Archer and Odorizzi are ready now, with Alex Colome next in line, to be followed by Enny Romero. At the lower levels you have possible future ace Taylor Guerrieri, then a whole bushel of guys who are plausible mid-rotation arms with proper development. As we've written before, if you have five good pitching prospects you are doing well if you get one or two actually good pitchers, but the Rays know how to develop these guys. My grade for Jesse Hahn is cautious until we see what his stamina looks like, but he's got outstanding potential.
Hitting is thinner, especially at the upper levels, but there is talent available. Lee and Beckham could contribute in the middle infield soon. Lee's glove is good but I'm growing less optimistic about the bat, while Beckham will likely always be an enigma. Mahtook from the '11 draft and Shaffer from the '12 draft are polished college bats who should help in some way in the next year or two, Shaffer having the higher upside. Low-A Bowling Green had several highly-intriguing toolsy young players, but they won't be ready for at least a couple of years.
Overall, this was already a good system and the James Shields trade made it even stronger.