6. Nate Karns, RHP
Two days after I posted the third recap, the Rays made their trade with the Nationals and acquired Karns. In the writers' poll, I was the low man on him, but I see the case for ranking him this high. He shares some similarities with Enny Romero and Alex Colome, whom I ranked much higher. Karns has an injury history and may not remain a starter, and his upside is in the ballpark of those two as well.
21. Jose Mujica, RHP (25%)
Drew Vettleson was Mujica's biggest competitor, but the rest of the field split enough votes that no runoff was required. I'd like to see him a bit higher, but it's a reasonable landing spot for a player with 32 professional innings. With the glacial pace the Rays move pitching prospects, it could take a couple years to really have a significant workload.
22. Jeff Ames, RHP (34%)
With one lower minors arm out of the way, Ames was finally able to generate enough support to come out on top. Riefenhauser had been jockeying for second along with Ames in recent votes, but it makes sense to me that Mujica supporters would be more likely to prefer Ames to Riefenhauser.
23. Josh Sale, OF (36%)
This was the first vote to occur during/after the trade that sent contenders Vettleson and Felipe Rivero to Washington. Vettleson had been the leading hitter in recent votes, and when he was no longer an option, the support shifted to a fellow Washingtonian drafted in 2010.
He wasn't on my personal list, but with some of the highest upside in the system, Sale is the kind of player that belongs at the end of these lists, even with the clear risks involved in a player that missed an entire season. If he steps on the field and plays the way he's capable of, this low ranking is going to look ridiculous. Obviously in his career, that's a big, big if.
24. C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP (42%)
After a handful of lower level, higher upside players in a row, the safer Riefenhauser earns his spot. Where relievers should be on top prospect lists is often a point of contention. Overall, they have less value than everyday players or starters, and it can be tough to balance that against the stats and higher probability of success.
I think this is an appropriate spot for Riefenhauser. Maybe he doesn't have the stuff to be a traditional late inning reliever, but his fastball and slider are two potential plus pitches, and he should be able to give the Rays some quality innings this year.
25. Mikie Mahtook, OF (39%)
There was some earlier talk about Mahtook's place in the organization. What's his floor? What's his ceiling? How can the discussion be spun back to Brandon Guyer?
At this point, Mahtook is hanging on by a thread in these rankings, likely benefiting from being a former first round pick. His 737 plate appearances in Double-A have just been okay and not at the level an everyday corner outfielder has to be. He probably also doesn't have the defense to be an every day center fielder, so it's more likely that he becomes a fourth outfielder that can fill in at all three spots.
26., LHP (22%)
Castillo is one of the more interesting lottery tickets in the system with a big bonus and a lot of potential. He clearly belongs on this list. I actually had him quite a bit higher, betting on his ceiling.
What interests me is the big separation between him and Mujica. I had them back to back, as did two of the other three writers in our poll. Keith Law did too ($). Mujica did perform better than Castillo in 2013, but I don't think we've seen enough to distinguish both of them by that much yet. For the record, they were separated by two additional spots in Baseball America's rankings.
27. Grayson Garvin, LHP (36%)
Garvin didn't face significant opposition from any other pitchers. Dylan Floro was the closest, but he wasn't particularly close. Garvin has the benefit of being a former first rounder, but both pitchers come with some element of risk. Garvin already has a Tommy John surgery on his resume, and Floro has questions about his mechanics and arsenal depth.
This is roughly where I had him on my list, and I'll admit I had a tough time placing him. He's missed a lot of time with his elbow injury, and his performance has been spotty (perhaps due to the elbow). BA reported that he was showing improvement in the Arizona Fall League ($), and if that's to be believed, he could take a nice step forward this season.
28. Tyler Goeddel, 3B (29%)
Despite a stagnant second season in the Midwest League, Goeddel was able to remain in the top 30, surviving as the last position player to make the cut. The resurgent Justin O'Conner was his closest competition on the position player side, and no other batter got a single vote.
I have Goeddel a bit higher, and while it would've been really nice to see him improve on his performance repeating a league, I think it's important to note that he wasn't bad with Bowling Green, but average. He certainly has areas to improve in, especially when it comes to making contact, but I still think he can break out.
29. Jacob Faria, RHP (30%)
Faria seems like a player that's frequently going to rank higher on fan lists compared to the industry. Statistically, he was a very impressive performer in 2013, but the reaction in baseball seemed to be lukewarm (BA, $). He wasn't in the BA top 30, and there just hasn't been any off-season buzz as a potential breakout player.
Obviously that's not a perfect measure of a prospect's stock, and since he still hasn't hit a full-season league, maybe there just haven't been enough eyes on him yet. If Faria continues to pitch effectively, it's going to be hard to continue writing it off.
30. Kirby Yates, RHP (35%)
To wrap up the list, the community went back to a safer, upper minors player in Yates. It's not necessary to rehash the reliever discussion from a few paragraphs ago. His strikeout rate is impossible to ignore, and his career going from signing as an undrafted free agent to top 30 prospect is a good story. If the Rays need a power righty in the bullpen at any point in the season, Yates could be their man.