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

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Top 20 PRE-SEASON Devil Rays Prospects in Review

This is the PRE-SEASON list. That means it was generated BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED and that the grades were PRE-SEASON. Anyone complaining about the grades based on 2006 performance will be smacked up the side of the head with a Jason Standridge autographed baseball.

1) Delmon Young, OF, Grade A
Hitting .374/.396/.496 in 35 games for Durham, with 15 steals in 17 attempts. Will the fallout from the bat-flipping incident and suspension hurt his career? Probably not if he pulls out of it now.

2) Wes Bankston, 1B-3B-OF, Grade B+
Hitting .272/.323/.391 in 40 games for Double-A Montgomery, out with a strained oblique most of the year. Main question at this point is where he will fit defensively. I don't buy the third base thing.

3) Jason Hammel, RHP, B
Hit hard in two starts for the D-Rays, was 3-7, 4.97 in 15 starts for Durham. No reason to think he will pitch better in the short run though in the long run he remains a potentially useful pitcher.

4) Wade Davis, RHP, B
Breakthrough candidate is breaking through, currently 4-6, 2.60 in 16 starts for Southwest Michigan, 101/41 K/BB in 83 innings, just 3 homers allowed. Needs better control but has plus stuff and can dominate.

5) Elijah Dukes, OF, B
One hell of a player (.291/.395/.509 at Durham), but one hell of a discipline problem. At this point he could develop into anything. . . a superstar, a journeyman, or a guy in jail.

6) Jeff Niemann, RHP, B
Just back on the mound after shoulder rehab. No way to know what will happen at this point.

7) James Houser, LHP, B
6-4, 3.93 in 16 starts for Class A Visalia, 73/27 K/BB in 92 innings. Decent numbers, though not spectacular. It will be very interesting to see how well he does (or does not) adapt to Double-A when the time comes.

8) Chris Mason, RHP, B
8-3, 3.46 in 15 starts for Visalia, 71/23 K/BB in 91 innings. Decent numbers, not spectacular. Like Houser, Mason will have to prove himself in Double-A but has done enough so far to definitely earn the chance.

9) Jamie Shields, RHP, B-
4-1, 4.39 in seven starts for the Devil Rays, 38/16 K/BB in 41 innings. Not bad at all and is worthy of staying in the rotation the rest of the year.

10) John Jaso, C, B-
Hitting .322/.371/.455 in 54 games for Visalia. I'd like to see more homers (just 4 so far) but overall he is doing well.

11) Chuck Tiffany, LHP, B-
Posted a 6.89 ERA in four starts for Montgomery before going on the DL with a sore shoulder. At this point health is the main question.

12) Reid Brignac, SS, C+
Hitting .337/.391/.560 for Visalia, with 20 doubles and 15 homers in 76 games. Bat looks like it is definitely coming around, a fine hitting prospect.

13) Shawn Riggans, C, C+
Hitting .295/.358/.471 for Durham. Chance in the majors will come soon, or at least it deserves to.

14) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, C+
Just activated from extended spring training, has a 1.29 ERA in three starts for Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League, with a 14/4 K/BB. Went to my high school, so I am rooting for him.

15) Andy Sonnanstine, RHP, C+
7-6, 3.26 in 17 starts, 83/20 K/BB in 110 innings, 96 hits allowed for Montgomery. Looks like he will pass the Double-A Finesse Pitcher Acid Test.

16) Jacob McGee, LHP, C+
6-6, 2.69 in 17 starts, 117/44 K/BB in 90 innings for Southwest Michigan. Control needs work but I LOVE his K/IP ratio. Keep a close eye on this one.

17) Andrew Lopez, OF, C+
Hitting .306/.390/.583 in his first 10 games for Princeton in the Appy League. Intriguing young bat.

18) John Matulia, OF, C+
Hit just .196 in 55 games for Southwest Michigan, resulting in demotion to Hudson Valley where he is 14-for-42 (.333) so far. Young enough to rebound certainly.

19) Mike Wlodarczyk, LHP, C+
6-6, 2.99 in 16 starts for Southwest Michigan, 71/30 K/BB in 90 innings. His K/BB doesn't look that hot, but he's given up just ONE homer all year. Need to see more at higher levels but intriguing.

20) Matt Walker, RHP, C
2-2, 1.54 in four starts for Southwest Michigan. Sample size too small at this point but he has pitched well.

Comment:
My main concern at this stage is the discipline problems with Young and Dukes, as well as B.J. Upton's drunk driving thing. It seems likely that the problem with Young and Upton is simple immaturity and will ease with time, but Dukes' problems appear more serious, which is unfortunate. There is a lot of talent in this system, with a surprising amount of pitching depth. McGee looks like a real sleeper, and you know I love Davis.