In the continuation of the look back at the DRaysBay community prospect list from last season, here are prospects #31-40.
Tuesday, Kevin started the minor league portion of the 2012 season review with prospects #41-50 on last off-season's community list. Today, I'll continue with the next 10 on the list. Like he said, this is an emphasis on the results of the 2012 season, and there will be plenty of focus on the future later in the off-season.
40. Wilking Rodriguez, RHP - Despite only throwing 45 innings for Bowling Green and Hudson Valley in 2011, the Rays added Rodriguez to the 40 man roster to be sure they wouldn't lose his talented arm in the Rule 5 draft. A shoulder injury is what slowed him down last year, and he only managed 34 innings for Charlotte in 2012 before being shut down again. While there's no indication that his stuff (low to mid 90's fastball with action and potential above average curveball) has eroded, 79 innings over two years is a lot of lost development time. Combined with his small frame at 6'1 and 180 pounds, it's fair to worry about his future.
39. Jose Lobaton, C - Lobaton turns 28 in just a few days, and with the steady action he saw in the majors, he has too many at-bats to be considered a prospect now. He earned a spot on the roster behind Jose Molina with Robinson Chirinos missing in action. With the exception of the time he missed early in the year with a shoulder injury, it was a spot he held all season. His bat was below average (.222/.323/.317 in 197 PA), but with average defense and switch hitting ability, he should have a chance to stick in the majors as a back-up for a bit. There has been little rhyme or reason to his left-handed/right-handed pitcher splits, so how he fits in a lineup isn't yet clear.
38. Cody Rogers, OF - Some considered Rogers a bit of a sleeper after a 2011 season that saw him post a .725 OPS with 28 steals in 35 attempts for Bowling Green. As an older player, he has to keep proving himself at every level, and he didn't do that for Charlotte last year. Although his walk and strikeout rates (8% and 20.7% to 7.2% and 23.5%) were roughly similar and he batted .244 each season, his slugging tumbled 61 points with eight fewer home runs and 19 fewer extra base hits. He was still an efficient base stealer with 22 steals in 26 attempts, but as a corner outfielder, his bat isn't providing the value it has to for him to keep advancing.
37. Justin O'Conner, DH - At the beginning of the season, I wrote about the recent track record of minor leaguers who started their first two pro seasons in extended spring training. The focus was almost entirely on Josh Sale, but Justin O'Conner was in the same boat. While Sale eventually went to Bowling Green and hit, O'Conner was assigned to Hudson Valley, and he made minor improvements. His strikeout rate went from 39% all the way down to 28.4%, but he still batted just .223 with a .646 OPS. A hip injury prevented him from playing a single inning in the field this year, and this is just three years after having hip surgery as an amateur. He has to play in full-season ball eventually, but with the arm he has, it's fair to wonder how long it'll be until he gives pitching a go again.
36. Cole Figueroa, INF - Figueroa continued plugging away in his steady minor league career, and he finds himself knocking on the door of a potential utility role for the Rays. For the third straight season, he walked more than he struck out, and he batted .286 in 347 plate appearances with Durham after an early season promotion. He didn't play a game at shortstop in 2012, but he has 98 career games at the position. For most of his career, he's found himself on the same roster as a legitimate shortstop prospect (Drew Cumberland with San Diego and Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee with the Rays), so he's played mostly second base with some third base mixed in. He's again eligible for the Rule 5 draft, and a team could find a utility infielder who can put the ball in play with a solid plate approach appealing.
35. Marquis Fleming, RHP - Short righties with subpar fastballs and inconsistent command often hit a ceiling, and it appears that's what happened to Fleming in 2012. He started the season with Durham, but he lasted just 13 innings before he had to go back to Montgomery. He was getting lit up to the tune of an 11.8 H/9 and 6.9 BB/9 with a 4.2 K/9, and he couldn't survive on just his changeup anymore. At 26 years old, he seems to be on the path of an organizational reliever than someone who could reach the bigs as a middle reliever.
34. Luke Bailey, C - Bailey added to his laundry list of injuries in 2012 with a broken hand that cost him a couple months. This follows a wrist injury in 2011 and undergoing Tommy John surgery as an amateur. While the wrist and hand injuries frequently significantly affect hitters, they're probably not the reason he has a 5% walk rate over the last two seasons with Bowling Green and Charlotte. He's showing above average power with 14 home runs and 48 extra base hits in 141 games in that span, but he has a 29.7% strikeout rate and .226 average too. He's a bit (well, very) clumsy behind the plate and made 18 errors in 2012, but he has a strong arm and theoretically could play good enough defense to stay at the position. He's still young, but it will be difficult to keep advancing with a complete inability to make contact.
33. James Harris, OF - The Rays left fans scratching their heads when they wrapped up the supplemental round in 2011 by taking Harris, not in Baseball America's top 200 draft prospects. He's extremely athletic with upside, but he's also very raw and that was apparent in 2012 with Princeton. He only batted .182 with a .566 OPS, but he'll still be just 19 years old for the majority of next season, so it's not time to give up. His 20.1% strikeout rate is a bit too much, but he also had an 11.6% walk rate, so his plate approach isn't a total disaster. He can run and play a very good center field, but if he doesn't start hitting, none of it will matter.
32. Grayson Garvin, LHP - Garvin's season ended after 10 ineffective starts this year due to elbow surgery, and combined with medical questions just before signing last year, his future appears very murky. As a solid college arm from Vanderbilt, he was expected to offer back-end of the rotation upside with an above average fastball and some average off-speed offerings and a chance to move through the system fast, but elbow surgery is always dicey. In 46.1 innings for Charlotte, Garvin allowed 26 earned runs on 45 hits and 19 walks with 37 strikeouts. If and when he returns to the mound next year, he'll already be 23 years old and will need to perform much better.
31. Kes Carter, OF - On June 18th 2011, Carter made his professional debut in Hudson Valley's second game of the season. He would play two more games after that before going down for the season, and he missed a lot of 2012 with a hamstring injury. Not counting his rehab stint with the GCL Rays in 2012, Carter has played in just 18.6% of all possible games since he turned pro. He has five potential above average tools when he's out on the field, but Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Will Kline have better track records in that department. When he was on the field for Bowling Green, he had a .710 OPS in 158 plate appearances.
Next Tuesday, we'll shorten up the lists and do five each. Among his five prospects, Kevin will be covering two 2011 first rounders and a Futures Game participant. Hopefully he can provide some better news.