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Top Prospects Part VI; Outtakes

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Introduction

Well, now that we have done the best of the best within the Rays organization, it is time to rewind the tape and see who missed the cut for this year's list. These players missed the cut for one or more reason including, but not limited too

  1. Injury
  2. Lack of evident talent (scrub hitting great in the California League)
  3. Lack of stats to back up talent
  4. Poor competition level
I don't really regard short season prospects on this list as highly as I do my full season prospects, but still managed to squeeze six of them on the list. Anyways, the players I will be profiling today include Patrick Breen, Aneudi Cuevas, Shaun Cumberland, Chris Cunningham, Derek Feldkamp, Brian Henderson, Elliot Johnson, Andrew Lopez, Fernando Perez, Greg Reinhard, Brian Stokes, Wade Townsend, Mike Wlodarczyk. Sound like a lot of work? Well, it was, but not any more than an installment of the Top 25. The reason? I didn't profile the player's career, I simply say why they didn't make it, and what I think the future holds for them. After all, they didn't make the Top 25, they don't deserve a profile, or even a photo, ha ha.

Interactive Question

"Here I am, once again
Reminding you of the Interactive question
Can't deny it, can't pretend
You know you want to answer
Broken up, deep inside...
But you can still get your response in at mrprezz@gmail.com
Behind these hazel eyes"

Series
Monday-Part I; #s 25-21
Tuesday-Part II; #s 20-16
Wednesday-Part III; #s 15-11
Thursday-Part IV; #s 10-6
Yesterday-Part V; #s 5-1
Today-Part VI; Outtakes
Tomorrow-Part VII; Next Year

Overview

As mentioned above, this installment in the series does not go nearly as in-depth with the prospects as the Top 25 did. After all, we have 14 players to go through here, if I did in-depth on all 14, we'd be here all night. Further, I am not ranking these prospects. The whole theme of this series is Top 25, and ranking these 14 would undermine that set number. So no photos, no in-depth profiles, just why the player didn't make the list, and what I think will become of him.

OF Patrick Breen-A lot of you may not be familiar with Breen, but he was a dark horse candidate to make the list coming off of an .885 OPS year in Battle Creek. A 21st round pick in last year's draft, Breen showed a good amount of pop with the M-Rays last year, but missed the list because of no prior track record of doing this as a pro, as well as him not having as much talent as some others in the Top 25. Breen should be headed to Visalia and the California League, where his numbers will not let up, but my best guess is that he'll fizzle out in Double A in the coming years.

3B Aneudi Cuevas-Cuevas made the RaysBaseball Top 25 last year, but fails to make the cut this year, largely due to his ever-rising age and influx of talent that has come into the system. As an undrafted free agent signed by Houston in 1999, he has been with the Rays for several years now, putting up an OPS of below .779 only once in his four stops in three years with the Rays, including OPS' of .855 and .895 the last two years in the California League. But once you look past the Cal League stat-padding, Cuevas is just a mediocre prospect who will probably be weeded out in Montgomery.

OF Shaun Cumberland-Cumberland has had a decent, but not spectacular run in the Rays' system since being taken in the 10th round of the 2003 draft. After a slow start in Princeton, he has put up OPS' of .814 and .748 the last two years, the former in Hudson Valley, and the later in Battle Creek. From my own personal experience watching him at instructs, he had some wheels and some obvious talent. But the stats have yet to consistently bear that out, so a trip to Visalia may cure what ails him for next year's list. But Cumby has one of the higher ceilings on this list, and could possibly break into the majors and have a decent career if he harnesses his talent.

OF Chris Cunningham-Cunningham was the Rays' 12th round draft pick in 2004, but has stalled in Princeton for the first two years of his big league career, putting up OPS' of .762 and .924, pretty thoroughly taking Appy League pitching out back. He fails to make the list simply because of lack of sample size. He still has not played in a full season league, and has rocked lower level pitching...not that impressive. And that isn't his fault, he has just been developed slowly. Once we see how he reacts to a full season league, or even Hudson Valley, then we will have a better idea on how he projects.

P Derek Feldkamp-Feldkamp is our first pitcher thus far, and one with a high ceiling at that. Drafted out of Michigan in the 9th round last year, he made 23 appearances last year for Hudson Valley, posting a decent 1.23 WHIP as the 'Gades' closer. Still, he needs to work on his strikeout to walk numbers, and like Cunningham, has not played a lot, much less against decent competition. It is hard to figure how he projects at this point, but my feeling on him is that he will either be really successful and go on to a great ML career, or flame out in the low minors.

LHP Brian Henderson-Of all the players profiled so far, Henderson has got to be thee most underrated, and the one with the best chance of making the Top 25. Drafted a few years ago in the 7th round out of the University of Houston, Henderson has been very good constantly in his four stops since debuting in 2003, posting ERAs anywhere from 2.51 to 3.60. A very solid pitcher with a great K:BB, his WHIP has been inflated by a bad luck number of hits, but once that dies down, Henderson will make himself much more well-known. So why did he not make it? Essentially, the hits problem made it real hard, but as I write this, I am second guessing myself and thinking he could go as high as #23. Alas, it is too late to second guess, and I'll have to make a mental note to remember Henderson next year. But overall, I think Henderson projects as a solid middle reliever, setup man in the big leagues.

2b Elliot Johnson-I really wanted top put Johnson on this list, I really did. Not as high as RaysBaseball did by any stretch, but he was certainly 'on the bubble'. An undrafted signee out of high school, Johnson has done decently in his stops along the minor league food chain, but he has posted an OPS higher than .709 only once, .799 in-you guessed it-the California League, and he didn't really struggle elsewhere, but he missed the term "adequate" in Motgomery. So in reality, I had no real statistical reason to put him on this list, he was just a sentimental favorite that probably will end up becoming a journeyman for Triple A or Double A clubs during his career.

OF Andrew Lopez-Lopez is one of the younger prospects considered for this list, as he just turned 19 last month. Drafted in the eighth round last year, he had an impressive debut in Princeton, racking up a .325/.403/.542 line with the P-Rays, but while that is all well and good, he has only had 120 pro ball at bats, with all of them coming at the lowest rung of ball in the Appy League. In such a small sample size in such a poor competitive league, I just could not include him, and though John Matulia is similar, he just got on fire, and his early stats were just too good to pass up. As with others at his level, I can't project Lopez very well at this time.

OF Fernando Perez-A seventh round draft choice of the Rays in 2004, Perez is another speedy, toolsy outfielder in the form of Cumberland and Francisco Leandro, and barely missed joining Leandro on the list. He was drafted out of Columbia, so he is no idiot, and after an unimpressive 2004 debut in Hudson Valley, put up a decent .767 OPS in Southwest Michigan last year. He missed the list simply because of lack of "wow" stats to back up the evident talent. Like Cumberland, he could prove to be a decent ML outfielder for a few years if he can harness all that talent together.

RHP Greg Reinhard-Reinhard is another short season guy who didn't make the list simply because of sample size and competition level. Drafted in the sixth round last year out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Reinhard went 2-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts, for the 'Gades last year. He also showed a very impressive K:BB of almost 5:1. He looks like an excellent pitcher, and has a chance to make this list next year with more PT.

RHP Brian Stokes-Here is another pitcher in the mold of Henderson, except, he didn't make the Top 25 because he is already 26, and had slightly worse stats. Still, that is not to take much away from Stokes, he is still a good, solid pitcher good for an ERA between 3.20 and 4.24. He has decent K:BB numbers, and a good WHIP, and best of all-he is a starter. Overall, he is just a nice, solid product who would've had a real shot at the list had he been a few years younger, but for now, I'm sure he'll turn out to be a decent major league middle reliever for a few years.

RHP Wade Townsend-Here is the name you've all been looking to see since he was left off the Top 25. An obvious signability pick in the eighth slot last year after refusing to sign with the Orioles a year before, the Rays decided to pick Townsend instead of highly regarded pitcher Mike Pelfrey, and it cost them, as Townsend bombed to a 5.48 ERA in Hudson Valley last year in 39.1 innings. His WHIP was awful, as was his K:BB, and you don't get a free pass to this list simply by having talent and being drafted in the first round. Whatever talent Townsend has he has not shown,and I probably would not have even included him on this list of players who just missed had I not felt compelled to because other circumstances. Then, this offseason, we learned on top of it all that Townsend has shoulder problems, will need surgery, and will miss the entire 2006 season. Yeah, sorry, no Top 25 list for that. At this point, Townsend is looking like a big bust, more likely to flame out than even reach the majors, but I'll wait to make a projection later on, in 2007.

P Mike Wlodarczyk-Who won my 2005 Short Season Leagues Pitcher of the Year Award? Wade Davis? No. Jake McGee? Nope, try Mike W here. Drafted by the Rays in the seventh round of last year's draft, Wlodarczyk absolutely dominated the short season leagues, pitching to a 2.54 ERA in Princeton and a 1.90 ERA in Hudson Valley. His K:BB leveled off in Hudson Valley, but in Princeton, the number was an astounding 50:7, that is over 7:1! His WHIP also increased disturbingly with the 'Gades to 1.44, but his other stats were too good not to notice in handing out this award. I couldn't put him in the Top 25 because of ample size, competition level, and all that BS, but I sure came close.