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Nick Melotte's Rays Top 20 Prospects

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A new regime put an emphasis on finding up the middle talent as they imported their top three prospects within the last 12 months.

Rays short stop Daniel Robertson.
Rays short stop Daniel Robertson.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Take a sampling of my "secret sauce" if you will, and a more detailed breakdown of the process that goes into how I rank prospects.

The Grading System

My grading system will be familiar to those who keep up with college football recruiting or played the MLB2K video game series as I use a star rating system from one to five stars with half grades in between. An outline of what each level would represent looks like this, but remember these are examples and not definite.

5 star
The cream of the crop. A five star rating is reserved for the elite talents of the minor leagues. These players do not have a glaring weakness and if there is a blemish on their record, it is miniscule. Don't expect to see many of these, as this is reserved for players with the best chance to become super stars or top of the rotation stalwarts. Call this a 75-80 or A rating.

4.5 star
The rest of the elite. A 4.5 star rating encompasses players that are still elite, but not the potential mega stars a five star player would have. Receiving a 4.5 star rating means the player has all-star caliber potential with a good chance of being in a contending team's starting line up and have a long career. A 4.5 star pitcher could be generalized as a future #2 or 3 starter. Equal to 60-70 or A-/B+ type.

4 star
Garnering a four star rating means the player has the potential to be a productive major leaguer with an all-star season or two in his career. Four star players should develop into regulars in the lineup, dominant relief arms or a mid-rotation starters. This kind of player may have a true talent level higher but injuries may hold him back from reaching their full potential. Similar to a B/B- or 50-55 rated player.

3.5 star
A player receiving 3.5 stars projects to see time as starters in the majors, but more than likely on a team out of the playoff picture where a below-average season once in awhile won't kill them. Innings eating strike throwers would fall into this category, as would set up men and defensive-oriented starters. This would be a 45 or B-type of player.

3 star
Three star players are your 4th outfielders and relievers with live arms and control problems. Hitters who may lack enough tools to hold down a starting gig, futures as a platoon players, and swing men types capable of spot starting would be three star players. Recent IFA's with little or no track record usually are included here as well. A low 45/high 40 grade or C+/C type player would fall here.

2.5 star
Not every one gets to collect MLB paychecks, but some get them every once in awhile. 2.5 star players are your up and down guys who shuttle between the big leagues and AAA. September cups of coffee cielings fall here, as are the injury replacements and players riding the waiver wire. These players aren't expected to make any serious impact. 40 grade players and C type or lower organizational filler.

Anything below 2.5 stars is someone who doesn't project to be a major league player, therefore they are not mentioned.

With the grading system explained, here are the top 20 prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. All ages are for the upcoming 2015 season, and affiliates mentioned are where I project them to begin the year.

Previous Rankings and #1 Prospects

Atlanta Braves - 2B Jose Peraza

Miami Marlins - RHP Tyler Kolek

New York Mets - RHP Noah Syndergaard

Philadelphia Phillies - SS JP Crawford

Washington Nationals - RHP Lucas Giolito

Baltimore Orioles - RHP Dylan Bundy

Boston Red Sox - IF Yoan Moncada

New York Yankees - RHP Luis Severino

Tampa Bay Rays

Due to the lack of 4.5 or 5 star players and a time crunch, there will be no write-ups on the players, but feel free to comment and ask any questions you have about a particular player.

4 star

1. SS Willy Adames - 19 years old, A+ Charlotte

2. SS Daniel Robertson - 21 years old, AA Montgomery

3. CF Steven Souza - 26 years old, MLB Tampa Bay

4. C Justin O'Conner - 23 years old, AA Montgomery

5. RHSP Taylor Guerrieri - 22 years old, Low A Bowling Green

6. RHSP Brent Honeywell - 19 years old, Low A Bowling Green

7. LHSP Blake Snell - 22 years old, AA Montgomery

8. 1B Casey Gillaspie - 22 years old, Low A Bowling Green

3.5 star

9. 2B Ryan Brett - 23 years old, AAA Durham

10. RHSP Alex Colome - 26 years old, MLB Tampa Bay

11. LF Justin Williams - 19 years old, A+ Charlotte

12. SS Andrew Velazquez - 20 years old, A+ Charlotte

13. RHSP Dylan Floro - 24 years old, AAA Durham

14. CF Mikie Mahtook - 25 years old, AAA Durham

15. CF Johnny Field - 23 years old, AA Montgomery

16. RHSP Jacob Faria - 21 years old, A+ Charlotte

17. RHSP German Marquez - 20 years old, A+ Charlotte

18. LHSP Enny Romero - 24 years old, AAA Durham

19. SS Adrian Rondon - 17 years old, GCL Rays

20. RHSP Ryne Stanek - 23 years old, A+ Charlotte

Honorable Mentions (three star players, in no particular order) - 1B Jake Bauers, 1B Patrick Leonard, SS Cristian Toribio, LF Hunter Lockwood, RF Taylor Motter, 3B Richie Shaffer, CF Thomas Milone, SS Hak-Ju Lee, RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Nate Karns, RHP Hunter Wood, RHP Greg Harris, LHP Grayson Garvin, RHP Jaime Schultz, RHP Henry Centeno, RHP Nolan Gannon, RHP Burch Smith, and RHP Jose Mujica.

Tampa Bay Rays Age Pos Team Stars
1 Willy Adames 19 SS A 4
2 Daniel Robertson 21 SS A+ 4
3 Steven Souza 26 CF MLB 4
4 Justin O'Conner 23 C AA 4
5 Taylor Guerrieri 22 RHSP R 4
6 Brent Honeywell 19 RHSP R+ 4
7 Blake Snell 22 LHSP A+ 4
8 Casey Gillaspie 22 1B A- 4
9 Ryan Brett 23 2B AA 3.5
10 Alex Colome 26 RHSP AAA 3.5
11 Justin Williams 19 LF A 3.5
12 Andrew Velazquez 20 SS A 3.5
13 Dylan Floro 24 RHSP AA 3.5
14 Mikie Mahtook 25 CF AAA 3.5
15 Johnny Field 23 CF A+ 3.5
16 Jacob Faria 21 RHSP A 3.5
17 German Marquez 20 RHSP A 3.5
18 Enny Romero 24 LHSP AAA 3.5
19 Adrian Rondon 17 SS DNP 3.5
20 Ryne Stanek 23 RHSP A+ 3.5

Team Codes: AAA - Durham Bulls, AA - Montgomery Biscuits, A+ - Charlotte Stone Crabs, A - Bowling Green Hot Rods, A- - Hudson Valley Renegades, R+ - Princeton Rays, R - GCL Rays, DSL - Dominican Summer League Rays, VSL - Venezuelan Summer League Rays.