The annual off-season community prospect list voting is under way here at DRaysBay, and here's how it's gone down so far:
#1 - Chris Archer, RHP (49%)
Right out of the gate we had a hotly contested battle between Archer and Taylor Guerrieri. While Archer battled command and control issues for most of the season, he impressed in his major-league showing (36 strikeouts, 13 walks in 29.1 innings) and appears ready to step into the #5 spot -- or at least be in the mix with Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann for the last two spots -- if the Rays deal a starting pitcher this off-season.
The case for Guerrieri, who was the Rays' top pick in the 2011 draft, revolves around a perceived higher ceiling. While it seems like Archer might not ever develop anything better than average control and command, Guerrieri made his debut by issuing just five walks in 52 innings for Hudson Valley. His stuff was down slightly from his high school days, but clearly it was more than enough to overwhelm New York-Penn League hitters as he posted a 1.04 ERA, a 2.76 GO/AO, and held opponents to a .186 average.
In the end, though, Archer prevailed because of his proximity to the majors and the fact that his pure stuff and athleticism offers a considerable ceiling as well. The Rays' top pick in 2012, Richie Shaffer, got two votes, and Hak-Ju Lee, the #2 prospect behind Matt Moore a year ago, received one vote.
#2 - Taylor Guerrieri, RHP (65%)
After the close vote for first, Guerrieri cruised to an easy win in the voting for the second spot with 24 votes to 11 for Hak-Ju Lee, the next closest player. Guerrieri's case has been made, while those shifting their vote to Lee likely did so due to his proximity to the majors and his above-average defense at shortstop. The decline of his bat -- he hit .318 in Charlotte in 2011, then .180 in Montgomery, and then .261 in Montgomery in 2012 -- is obviously a concern, and a .244/.340/.244 (not a typo, he had just one XBH) in the Arizona Fall League didn't exactly help. Of course, as a shortstop the bat tends to be secondary, and Lee does offer good defense, a strong arm, and plus speed. The fact that he's hit above .300 at two stops in his career give hope for the bat, but given that he's struggled with it for nearly a season and a half now, Guerrieri was able to easily win.
#3 - Hak-Ju Lee, SS (70%)
The Rays' top three prospects seem pretty clear, with just the order changing for many. Lee cruised to the win here while setting up an interest vote at #4: Richie Shaffer, Alex Colome, Jake Hager, Blake Snell, and Enny Romero all received at least one vote in this poll, and things should wide open pretty soon.