Last year, once the James Shields trade was made, choosing the top prospect in the organization was easy. This year, it was a wide open race.
1. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP (44%)
Guerrieri won a vote with three main contenders: himself and the upcoming two players. It wasn't a slam dunk, unanimous kind of vote, but it was pretty comfortable.
There are two big reasons to support Guerrieri; first, his upside is pretty high, and his results as a professional have been good. He leads the Rays' organizational rankings on MLB.com.
There are legitimate red flags with Guerrieri though. rglass44 summed them up pretty nicely in a comment:
to me there is just too much unknown with him. he has the shortest track record, is the furthest away, and is coming back from the most serious injury of any of the other top tier pitchers.
Different people can value those things differently, and for many voters, his upside and performance outweighed those.
2. Jake Odorizzi, RHP (69% runoff)
In the first poll, a rough count had Odorizzi finishing behind Lee following Guerrieri. When the two went head to head, it was Odorizzi coming out on top. He's Baseball America's #1 prospect entering the 2014 season. At this point, I'm inclined to agree, but that could change when I wake up tomorrow.
A number of the other contenders probably have higher upsides than Odorizzi, but his floor is the highest. He's ML ready even if the Rays don't have a spot open for him at the moment. He's not a star, but he could pitch in the middle of the rotation, likely settling in as a fourth starter.
3. Hak-Ju Lee, SS (45%)
After falling to Odorizzi in the runoff vote, our first position player on the board gets placed with Lee. He certainly has his share of concerns; he only played in 15 games last year, and it has been a while since he performed well over a period longer than a month.
In this vote, Lee likely benefited from the pitcher vote being split between Colome and Romero. Regardless, it seems like there's just about a consensus that he's the top position player prospect in the organization. If he didn't get hurt last year, he'd be knocking on the door of the majors today.
4. Enny Romero, LHP (61%)
With two upper level pitchers left on the board, Romero earned a pretty solid win. Neither Romero nor Colome are perfect prospects, and they share one big problem that could limit their future big league role: command. Jason Parks ranked him the top prospect in the organization (Baseball Prospectus, $).
There are a couple things that could separate the pair in favor of Romero. He's left-handed which can add some value, and so far, he's been able to stay healthy. While Romero has increased his workload in each of his three seasons in full-season ball, Colome has failed to reach 100 innings in two straight seasons.
5. Alex Colome, RHP (83%)
Those durability concerns tend to lend themselves to a career in relief. Even if Colome straightens out his mechanics and throws more strikes, it doesn't matter much if he can't stay on the field. His elbow injury cost him half of 2013, but the Rays do expect him to be ready for this year.
Like Romero, Colome's upside is very high. Romero's stuff might be a tick better, but Colome's is still impressive. He has the potential for three above average pitches which gives him the arsenal to start. Health will always be the big if though.
As for the vote, Colome won in a landslide. That could indicate that to many, there's a clear top five in the organization, and only the order is up for debate. In fact, most of the debate that day centered around Brandon Guyer's future in these rankings.
6. Andrew Toles, CF (54%)
With the top five placed, the field opened up a bit. Toles emerged pretty easily though to be named the organization's second best hitting prospect. His closest competitor was another defensive center fielder, Kevin Kiermaier, with top picks Nick Ciuffo and Ryne Stanek getting a bit of support.
The ranking industry seems to be split on this. Baseball America has Toles as the number two hitting prospect too, but Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com do not, placing him behind Ciuffo. The community vote would indicate it's not particularly close though, and it doesn't seem like Ciuffo is quite on the radar for our voting fans at the moment.
In the run-off for spot number seven, Kiermaier is taking on catcher Curt Casali, an early surprise in the rankings. Both players had pop-up seasons and play key defensive positions. This is as wide open as any top 10 in recent memory.