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Where the Top Prospects are Headed - And What to Expect

Matt Moore with Bowling Green via <a href=""></a>
Matt Moore with Bowling Green via

Quick note: Minor league season begins tonight, I'll be liveblogging the action over at The big-leaguers play an afternoon game in Chicago, so stop by RP after the big-leaguers play this afternoon for some prospect talk!

The minor league rosters are out, so here's where you can find all the players from BaseballAmerica's Rays Top 30 list and what to expect from them this year:

1. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay - Well, no surprise here. A spring training injury slowed him down, but he's good to go for the season and was impressive yesterday against the Angels.

2. Matt Moore, LHP, Montgomery - The minor league strikeout king opens the year as the Biscuits' ace, but after spending full seasons at Bowling Green and Charlotte could move up to Durham later in the year if he shows his command improvements were for real.

3. Desmond Jennings, OF, Durham - The injury bug hit minor-league camp hard this spring, but Jennings opens the year healthy. Unlike last season, when he was dealing with the effects of a sprained wrist, he'll look to get off to a hot start and possibly hit his way to the majors this summer.

4. Chris Archer, RHP, Montgomery - Archer finished last season in the Southern League in the Cubs organization, so if the plan is to get him a year in double-A, he'll be ready for a promotion to Durham around mid-season (not unlike Hellickson in 08-09). If his command and control don't take a step forward, he could be with the Biscuits all year.

5. Jake McGee, LHP, Tampa Bay - The power lefty opens up the year in the bullpen, and barring something goofy happening that would require the Rays to stretch him out, will spend the season there.

6. Alexander Colome, RHP, Charlotte - Big shoes to fill as Charlotte's #1 starter, but Colome has the arm for it. If he translates his plus stuff into more dominating results this year, a late-season push to Montgomery is possible.

7. Alex Torres, LHP, Durham - Torres led the Southern League in strikeouts last year... but also in walks. He gets the bump to Durham, but he remains far from a finished product and will likely require at least one full season in triple-A before he's ready for the bigs.

8. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Charlotte - Lee will start the year on the disabled list as he's batting chicken pox, but he'll be back in two weeks. Unless he unexpectedly mashes, he'll spend the year in Florida.

9. Josh Sale, OF, Extended Spring Training - With no pro experience, Sale making a full-season roster out of March was a long-shot. It's possible he winds up in Bowling Green eventually this season, but more likely will be with Princeton or Hudson Valley.

10. Justin O'Conner, C, Extended Spring Training - Same story as Sale, except with Luke Bailey at BG, he almost certainly won't get any full-season time in 2011. He had minor hip surgery in the off-season and battled a sore arm in spring training.

11. Drew Vettleson, OF, Extended Spring Training - See Sale, Josh and O'Conner, Justin. The three 2010 first rounders will probably have to wait until next year to make their full-season debuts. Princeton or Hudson Valley in 2011.

12. Brandon Guyer, OF, Durham - Had a career year last season in his second tour of the Southern League. He struggled in his first shot at double-A and may do the same in triple-A with an approach that can get too aggressive.

13. Jake Thompson, RHP, Charlotte - He has big-time stuff and was successful last season after an inconsistent college career, but his strikeout numbers haven't yet lived up to the scouting reports. If the Ks tick up, he has the command to move quickly up the ladder.

14. Enny Romero, LHP, Bowling Green - Romero dominated the Appalachian League a year ago, and he'll anchor a not-very deep Bowling Green rotation. Getting a full season in at low-A ball is essentially a requirement for Rays pitchers, so even if he dominates, he may only get a start or two in Charlotte late in the year.

15. Nick Barnese, RHP, Montgomery - He'll play second banana to Matt Moore again, but he had a strong spring and is a breakout candidate. The development of his secondary pitches is key, and he'll get a full year with the Biscuits to refine them.

16. Ty Morrison, OF, Charlotte - One of my personal favorites, Morrison will be starting the year on the shelf with a bum shoulder. He should be back in early May and patrolling centerfield for the Stone Crabs the rest of the way.

17. Braulio Lara, LHP, Bowling Green - He's older than Romero but brings comparable stuff to the table and gives the Hot Rods a formidable southpaw duo atop the rotation. He'll play the season as a 22-year-old, and we'll see if he adheres to the organizational norm of a full season in low-A.

18. Robinson Chirinos, C, Durham - Probably the break-out player of the spring, Chirinos will handle the Durham staff as he continues to refine his defense. He's raked the past two seasons, including a (very) brief showing with the Cubs triple-A squad last last year.

19. Tim Beckham, SS, Montgomery - I think enough words have been written about him. He's been moved aggressively through the system, and faces another test as a 21-year-old in double-A. I'd expect him to play shortstop the entire year, but questions about his defense won't go away.

20. Alex Cobb, RHP, Durham - Without elite stuff, he has to show he has enough in his arsenal (and can command it) to get more advanced hitters out. His strikeout rate his risen as he's come through the system; if it stays over 8.0 K/9 he should get a bullpen audition in September.

21. Luke Bailey, C, Bowling Green - He had a rough time getting anything going in the GCL last season, but now two years removed from Tommy John surgery has earned a full-season roster spot. It's a surprisingly aggressive assignment, but he has the tools to handle it.

22. Yoel Araujo, OF, Extended Spring Training/Dominican Summer League - I'm not sure Araujo, signed for $800,000 last summer, will even be in the States at all this season. He'll play with the DSL Rays when they start up at the end of May.

23. Joseph Cruz, RHP, Montgomery - If Barnese is second banana, I guess that makes Cruz third. His stats have been solid, not dominant, but he's touched 96 mph on the gun. He needs to be more consistent, as his stuff has flattened out in some starts in the past.

24. Zach Quate, RHP, Montgomery - He'll serve as the Biscuits closer and try to avoid hitting the same wall that Matt Gorgen and Ryan Reid (who, like Quate, dominated the FSL) ran into when they got to double-A. He relies on movement and deception more than velocity.

25. Todd Glaesmann, OF, Bowling Green - Big on tools, but not so much on production so far in his career. Like Bailey, it's a mild surprise that he made a full-season roster. He needs to tighten up his approach and improve on his 13-to-70 walk-to-strikeout rate.

26. Derek Dietrich, SS, Bowling Green - He played shortstop at Georgia Tech, but will probably have to move as a pro. That may have to come down the road, though, and he seems most suited to handle the position for the Hot Rods in 2011.

27. Ryan Brett, 2B, Extended Spring Training - Like the other 2010 high school draftees, Brett is headed for a short-season team. He hit well in his debut with the GCL Rays a year ago, and is likely to join up with Sale, O'Conner, and Vettleson in either Hudson Valley for Princeton.

28. Scott Shuman, RHP, Charlotte - Another of my personal favorites, Shuman has bigger stuff than the pitcher he's replacing as Stone Crabs' closer (Zach Quate). His fastball and slider are big league-caliber pitches, and if he's able to command them well, he should be promoted at least once in 2011.

29. Wilking Rodriguez, RHP, Bowling Green? - Rodriguez will start the year on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, and my guess is he heads to Charlotte rather than Bowling Green upon his return after spending 2010 with the Hot Rods.

30. Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Bowling Green - He had arguably the best debut of any Rays draft pick outside the top 10 rounds and is a nice sleeper with solid tools across the board. He could turn into the class of 2010's version of Tyler Bortnick.