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Off-Day Prospecting

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With the off-day today, I figured it was a good time to take a look at our future Rays.  This is my version of the Top-20 prospects in our organization.



1.  David Price- was the #1 overall pick in 2007.  You all know the story.  Mid-90's fastball that touches 98/99.  Devastating slider that reaches 90 and a change that needs work.  Stud.  Likely the #5 starter next year for the Rays.

2.   Tim Beckham- The 2008 #1 overall pick for the Rays.  His ceiling is sky high.  His actions are praised at SS.  He's got a very strong arm.  He was consistently the best player at showcase events he attended vs. elite high school competition.  He has drawn comparisons to BJ Upton at a similar age, although unlike Bossman, scouts seem sold on him sticking at SS.  His swing is raw and was being tweaked during the season and no doubt being worked on during instructs that are currently going on.  Despite the raw swing, fear not, his wrists are amazing, which should allow him, once the kinks are worked out to hit for above-average power.   He's going to be a good one.  Expect him to spend all of next year in Columbus. 

3.   Wade Davis- has a low-90's fastball with good life that he keeps down in the zone well.  His curve is his best pitch.  It's a true out pitch.  He also throws a cutter and a change-up.  However both pitches are inconsistent.  He struggles against lefties because of that.  Both pitches are developing and have the potential to be above-average pitches.  He will spend most of the year in AAA next season working on consistency with those pitches.

4.  Jeremy Hellickson- has solid raw stuff, but the real key to his success is his command.  He works the thirds of the plate well and his absurd K/BB ratios go to show that.  He has a fastball that sits in the low-90's touching 95, with an above-average curveball and an above-average change-up.  He doesn't have a true out pitch, but with his command, it hasn't hindered him.

5.   Reid Brignac- is a going to be a starter in the big leagues at SS for a long time.  It's really amazing how far he's come defensively.  Just a couple years ago many questioned his ability to stay at SS, now he's regarded as the best defensive SS in the International league.  He's got plus range, hands and arm.  That's enough to make you a starter in the big leagues right there (ask Jason Bartlett).  But he can hit too.  He's got well above-average power for a SS (average power overall, but that power is more valuable at the SS position).  He needs a little more work on his pitch selection, but that's not a major concern long term.  He'll start in AAA next year, but if he's not traded in the offseason, expect him to be pushing Jason Bartlett for the starting job sooner than later.

6.   Jeff Niemann-sits in the low-90's but can reach 98.  He has an awesome curve, average slider (this saddens me) and a splitter which is used as his change-up.  He doesn't warm up quickly enough to work out of the pen apparently (18minutes SRQ said? Can't remember) and works painfully slow.  But his stuff is good and should be a middle of the rotation starter.  Next year he'll either be on the roster or traded as he's out of options.  I expect him to be traded, but if Kaz really is hurt, he may be our #5 starter.

7.   Mitch Talbot-sits in the low-90's with a plus change-up and average curve.  Stat heads love him, scouts are meh.  He doesn't have great stuff, but his command is very solid.  He should be a middle of the rotation starter.  Will most likely work out of the pen because of the depth on our roster.  Should start next year with the big club.

8.   Jake McGee-had Tommy John surgery, out until the middle of 09'.  When healthy, he's got a devastating fastball that reaches 100 and sits at 94-96.  A very inconsistent curve that has potential.  His change also flashes above-average with sink and fade, but again, very inconsistent.  Most likely future reliever, at least on this team.

9.  Desmond Jennings-His stock has fallen, but man what a toolbox.  If he's healthy, he's  one of the better prospects in all of baseball, but back injuries scare me.  He's had a back, shoulder and leg injury in the last year.  When healthy, he was compared to CC.  He's got the speed, defense and even better, he's got great strike-zone judgment.  Injuries are what is holding him back.  We'll see.

10.   Matt Moore-Moore was a favorite of yAk of  I was skeptical of a guy who was repeating Princeton, wondering aloud why a good pitching prospect would repeat such a low league.  Well, it turns out I was wrong.  Moore is a lefty with a good 92-94 mph fastball touching 95.  A good, late breaking curve and a change-up with good tail on it.  That's a great start for such a young prospect.  He tightened up his command significantly and I wouldn't be shocked if he skipped HV next year and made his debut in full season ball. 

11. John Jaso-Everyone knows about Jaso.  The dude can hit.  Has great strike-zone judgment and can hit for some pop.  However seeing Michel Hernandez in a Rays uniform tells me the AFRO are far from sold on his catching ability.  I'm not buying he's that bad, but we'll see.  His caught stealing percentages have gotten better so he may be able to stick.  He's getting old and the Rays are going to have to do something with him soon.

12.   Nick Barnese-throws a hard, low-90's fastball that bores down causing hitters to pound the ball into the ground.  His curve an change aren't there yet, but that fastball is what's going to carry him anyway.  He has middle of the rotation potential and will definitely be in full season ball next year.

13.   Fernando Perez- I've never been that high on him until seeing him play.  I'm not sure he'll be a regular.  He strikes out a lot, but you cannot teach speed.  And this man has speed.  Lots and lots of speed.  Nando has a little pop and good plate discipline.  His outfield defense is plus.  His arm is minus.  I moved him up a lot after seeing him play.  I really, really like this guy and hope he's on the team next year.

14. Alex Cobb-is another ground ball pitcher.  His ceiling is limited, but he's got good command of his fastball (88-91), curve and splitter (which is his change-up). His stuff isn't special, but his ability to get ground balls at an extremely high rate makes him a very solid prospect.

15.   Heath Rollins-Has been compared to Kevin Slowey of the Twins because they both have less than stellar stuff and both went to Winthrop.  But Heath Rollins is no Kevin Slowey.  Kevin Slowey is a rich mans Andy Sonnanstine.  Heath's fastball tops out at about 91 and none of his offspeed stuff is above-average.  He does have pretty good command of his pitches and is likely a future middle reliever or back-end journeyman.  He could go Andy Sonnanstine on us, but it's unlikely.  Guys like that are rare.

16. Justin Ruggiano-dominated AAA this season, but looked overmatched at the plate in the big leagues.  It's not fair to write him off based on that, but he strikes out a lot and is not likely to hit for much of an average in the big leagues.  I know we hate average, but it matters when you're not a walks machine.  He's solid in the outfield, but his lack of a plus tool anywhere will likely limit him to a role player or fringe starter on a marginal team.

17. Kyle Lobstien-  Ceiling.  He's a tall lefty with projection in his frame.  Had he progressed like scouts had hoped, he would not have reached the Rays in the 2nd round.  He's all about projection.  He's shown a good curve and change-up.  How good those become likely depends on how much velocity he gains.  He sat at 87 much of the spring during his high school season.  He has touched 92 in the past.  If he gains velocity as expected, he could skyrocket up prospect charts.   Extra velocity will help tighten his breaking pitch, making him even better.

18. James Houser-pitched very in the beginning of the season.  However a knee injury really sapped his velocity.  By the end of the season he was only touching the mid-80's.  If he doesn't regain his velocity, he will not be a prospect, but at the end of last year, he was sitting in the upper-80's and touching 92.  As a lefty with solid command and a good breaking pitch, he can get by with that.  It all depends on health.

19.   Ryan Reid-absolutely obliterated the FSL, with a 15/1 K/BB ratio.  That ratio fell apart upon his promotion to AA.  His strike-out stuff was still there, but his command was not.  It could have been adjusting to the league or it could be that he was feasting on inexperienced hitters in High-A.  He's a reliever without a huge ceiling, but has an above-average fastball and slider.

20.  Ty Morrison-is a guy who might not hit for a while.  His only real present tool is his speed and he is fast.  He's got a good arm and plays a solid CF.  His swing is pretty, he's tall and lanky with a ton of room to fill out.  He's got pretty good raw power, however that hasn't shown up in games yet.  He will take a while to develop, but has the underlying tools to develop into a starter in the big leagues someday.

Honorable mention:

Ed Morlan RHP

KD Kang  OF

Reid Fronk OF/3B

Jake Jefferies C

Ryan Royster OF