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Tampa Bay Rays Top 20 Prospects for 2010

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Top 20 Tampa Bay Rays Prospects for 2010

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!

1) Desmond Jennings, OF, Grade A: Borderline A-, but my gut is saying to be aggressive with this one. A perfect leadoff hitter with blazing speed, great strike zone judgment, low strikeout rate, and enough power to make the pitchers respect him. Only worry is that injuries may recur.

2) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Grade A-: For many years, I was the most famous baseball-oriented graduate of Hoover High School in Des Moines, Iowa. Jeremy Hellickson has changed that. Roy Oswalt type if he avoids injury. I love the guy.

3) Wade Davis, RHP, Grade A-: I love this guy too. If Hellickson could become Oswalt, Davis could become John Lackey.

4) Matt Moore, LHP, Grade B+: Strikeouts may be fascist, but apparently I have an inner authoritarian because I love strikeouts. Command problems preclude an A-, but the sky is the limit on Moore's potential.

5) Alexander Colome, RHP, Grade B: borderline B+. Excellent stuff, just needs to sharpen his command and transition to full-season ball.

6) Reid Brignac, SS, Grade B-: Glove has really developed, bat is good-enough for him to play given the defense. No room in Tampa barring injury; would be terrific trade bait.

7) Alexander Torres, LHP, Grade B-: More strikeouts, and gets lots of grounders, too. Command needs to sharpen up for a higher grade.

8) Tim Beckham, SS, Grade B-: Still has youth and tools, but not developing the way scouts anticipated. Plate discipline and defense have become issues. It will be very interesting to see how this one pans out. . .could be anything from a B+ to a C a year from now.

9) Nick Barnese, RHP, Grade B-: Durability may be an issue, but I've liked him since he was in high school. Might not have the ceiling of the other guys, but could be a good three/four if he stays healthy.

10) Wilking Rodriguez, RHP, Grade B-: Great stuff but need to see him at a higher level than the Appy League.

11) Luke Bailey, C, Grade C+: Difficult to rank since we don't know if the Tommy John is going to impact his defense yet. Was a first round talent before he got hurt.

12) Kyle Lobstein, LHP, Grade C+: Pitchability lefty breezed through the New York-Penn League. Projects as control-oriented three/four starter, assuming he passes the Double-A test.

13) Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+: Got killed the first half of the season in Double-A, but pitched great starting in mid-July. Could break through in '10.

14) Kyeong Kang, OF, Grade C+: Underrated tools, took a big step forward with his plate discipline while hitting .307 with power in the Sally League.

15) Matthew Sweeney, 1B, Grade C+: He is a butcher at third base and needs to move to first, but I really like the bat. Nice pick up in the Kazmir deal.

16) Todd Glaesman, OF, Grade C+: Excellent tools, have to see if he can control the zone at higher levels. Could be Top Ten guy next year if he does.

17) Alex Cobb, RHP, Grade C+: Overlooked amidst all the other pitching in the system, but could develop into a nice inning-eater type.

18) Jake McGee, LHP, Grade C+: He was horrible coming back from Tommy John, and as a result it's hard to rank him. Could get back into the Top Ten easily, so monitor spring reports closely.

19) David Newmann, LHP, Grade C+: Throws strikes with good sinker and breaking stuff, knows how to pitch, career has been slowed by Tommy John and a blown knee but has always been good when healthy. Sleeper.

20) Matt Gorgen, RHP, Grade C+: Command is an issue but I like him as a sleeper relief arm.

OTHERS (Grade C): Nevin Ashley, C; Tyler Bortnick, SS; Joseph Cruz, RHP, Devin Fuller, RHP; Hector Guevera, SS; Kevin James, LHP: John Jaso, C; Jake Jefferies, C; Jeff Malm, 1B: Jason McEachern, RHP; Ty Morrison, OF; Rayner Oliveros, RHP; Jacob Partridge, LHP; Fernando Perez, OF; Zach Quate, RHP; Heath Rollins, RHP; Cody Rogers, OF; Scott Shuman, RHP.  I ended up cutting Eduardo Morlan and Shawn O'Malley for space.

I love this system.

Not just the amazing aggregation of talent at the top, but the way they run the system really impresses me. The Rays can pick good college guys with developed skills. They can pick raw high school guys and turn them into players. They have an effective Latin American operation. They don't push guys too fast: they are particularly conservative with the high school arms, letting them percolate enough at each level. They are the Anti-Mets in that regard, and it really seems to work for them. They can even pick a guy like Rayner Oliveros (released by the Royals) off the scrap heap and get something out of him.

As good as the system is at the top, there is plenty more at the lower levels. Several of the Grade C guys could develop into excellent prospects, particularly '09 high school draftees like Malm, James, Rogers, and Partridge. Hector Guevera also draws strong reviews, but I want to see what he does in North America.

Can you imagine how good of a defensive outfield Crawford/Jennings/Upton is going to be?