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Tampa Bay Rays Top 20 2016 PRE-SEASON prospects in review

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Blake Snell
Blake Snell
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Continuing our journey reviewing the pre-season prospect lists, we turn our attention to the Tampa Bay Rays.

REMEMBER, THIS IS THE PRE-SEASON LIST.

THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST.

THESE ARE PRE-SEASON GRADES.

DON'T BE ONE OF "THOSE PEOPLE" WHO DEMONSTRATE WHY I HAVE TO PUT UP THESE DISCLAIMERS.

Discuss current Rays events in the comments section.

This list was originally published March 5, 2016

1) Blake Snell, LHP, Grade A-: 13 starts in the majors, 3.17 ERA, 69/40 K/BB in 65 innings; holding his own certainly but needs to get the walks down to maximize his potential. I think that will happen eventually. A very fine young pitcher.

2) Willy Adames, SS, Grade B+:
Very solid season in Double-A at age 20; .268/.370/.432 with 11 homers, 12 steals, 69 walks; steady power, plate discipline, defense, youth.

3) Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Grade B+:
12-6 in 24 starts in Double-A, 3.90 ERA, 82/46 K/BB in 134 innings, 120 hits, 1.89 GO/AO; not up to past standards but solid overall, would like more strikeouts, increasing confidence he can be a workhorse.

4) Brent Honeywell, RHP, Grade B+:
102 innings between High-A and Double-A, 2.29 ERA, 108/23 K/BB, just 87 hits, confirming status as an excellent pitching prospect and a notch ahead of Guerrieri at this point.


5) Daniel Robertson, SS, Grade B:
Hitting .254/.349/.336 in Triple-A with 49 walks, 89 strikeouts in 393 at-bats; lack of power has caught up with him but still gets on base, defense very reliable at short, second, third; bat can still pick up at age 22.

6) Jacob Faria, RHP, Grade B: 25 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, combined 4.06 ERA with 152/59 K/BB, 140 innings, just 105 hits; best pitch remains change-up but his velocity has picked up over the last two years and his strikeout rate is a strong positive marker. September trial?

7) Jake Bauers, 1B-OF, Grade B-/B:
Playing Double-A at age 20, hitting .277/.373/.425; 13 homers, 67 walks, 78 strikeouts in 447 at-bats; long-term distance power remains a question but he's young and controls the zone well; there are good reasons to be optimistic.

8) Garrett Whitley, OF, Grade B-/C+:
Age 19, first round pick in 2015 from high school in New York, playing in New York-Penn League with .242/.331/.327 slash line for Hudson Valley Renegades; 16 steals in 19 attempts; hasn't tapped power yet but young, speed already plays well; high ceiling.

9) Mikie Mahtook, OF, Grade B-/C+:
Excellent in Triple-A (.333/.416/.437); terrible in majors (.132/.191/.160 in 106 at-bats) but missed a lot of time with injury; not as good as he looked last September but not as bad as he looks now; overall i think he's a .250 hitter with decent power and defense but needs to unlock soon; currently in 0-for-23 slump.

10) Richie Shaffer, 3B, Grade B-/C+:
Hitting .223/.325/.355 with 10 homers, 59 walks, 128 strikeouts in 391 at-bats in Triple-A; was much better at the same level last season; league-repeater stagnation syndrome? Haven't studied closely enough to know what's going on here; comments welcome.

11) Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Grade B-/C+:
Hitting .275/.385/.450 with 15 homers, 75 walks, 110 strikeouts in 418 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; power/patience best attributes; remains to be seen if he becomes a slugging regular or "just" a good role player; ready for a trial next year.

12) Kevin Padlo, 3B, Grade B-/C+:
Hitting .223/.359/.410 with 16 homers, 76 walks, 124 strikeouts, 14 steals in 376 at-bats in Low-A; very good glove at third base; would like to see higher average but power, patience, defense will keep him in the picture and give him development slack at age 20.

13) Justin Williams, OF, Grade B-/C+:
304 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, hitting .299/.323/.454 with 16 doubles, nine homers, 10 walks, 50 strikeouts at age 21; getting to his raw power a little more often and doesn't strike out much but OBP may never be a strong asset.

14) Chris Betts, C, Grade C+/B-:
2015 second rounder coming off Tommy John surgery, not hitting yet at .155/.333/.226 in 84 at-bats in short-season ball; 21 walks, 29 strikeouts; arm strength back enough that he's catching regularly again; drawing walks, need more data overall but this is a start.

15) Brandon Koch, RHP, Grade C+/B-:
Age 22, fourth round pick from Dallas Baptist in 2015 went on disabled list in late April.

16) Ryne Stanek, RHP, Grade C+:
97 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, combined 3.98, 107/44 K/BB, pitching in bullpen since arriving in Durham and that is his most likely role going forward; plenty of stuff but command remains inconsistent. 

17) Brandon Lowe, 2B, Grade C+:
Third round pick in 2015 from University of Maryland, hitting .243/.345/.336 with 49 walks, 67 strikeouts in 345 at-bats in Low-A; I felt he was capable of much better given college track record and a sweet swing but lack of pop holding him back.

18) Taylor Motter, OF-INF, Grade C+
:  Hitting .234/.302/.414 with 13 homers, 17 steals in 304 at-bats in Triple-A; just .188/.290/.300 with 11 walks, 19 strikeouts in 80 major league at-bats; athletic with some power and speed but erratic track record and older prospect at age 26. May still surprise in a year or two.

19) Jaime Schultz, RHP, Grade C+:
125 innings in Triple-A with 155/65 K/BB in Triple-A, 3.10 ERA; fine season; could stand to lower walk rate but strikeouts are fun and has given up just 103 hits; ready for September trial; may fit best in bullpen long-term.

20) Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Grade C+: 23 starts in Double-A and Triple-A with 2.84 ERA, 107/35 K/BB in 133 innings, 124 hits; excellent season due to command, stolen from the Twins last year for Kevin Jepsen.

OTHER GRADE C+ (interchangeable with spots 16-20), Ryan Brett, 2B; Johnny Field, OF; Patrick Leonard, 3B; Joe McCarthy, OF;Justin O’Conner, C; Adrian Rondon, INF; Jesus Sanchez, OF; Andrew Velazquez, SS; Kean Wong, 2B; Hunter Wood, RHP

OTHERS OF NOTE: Andrew Bellatti, RHP; Nick Ciuffo, C; Jake Hager, SS; Austin Pruitt, RHP (everyone wants me to cut him but I am stubborn), Enny Romero, LHP; Riley Unroe, 2B; Cameron Varga, RHP

Discuss 2016 in the comments section.