We're now nearly 66.666 (repeating, of course) percent through this year's community prospect list, and things are getting chaotic. Since Ryne Stanek took 11th place with 64% of the vote, no player has gotten more than 42%.
13. Riley Unroe, SS (23%)
At 60th overall, Unroe was the third player the Rays selected in last year's draft, and he's the third 2013 pick to appear on this list. On last year's community list, only two 2012 picks reached the top 30, and the second one behind Richie Shaffer was Andrew Toles all the way down at #26.
Unroe was getting support prior to this. At first, it really seemed to be too soon for me, but the more I bear down on research doing my own top 30, the more it makes sense to place him this high. Reports on his defense are coming back positive, and he has upside at the plate with good makeup.
14. Richie Shaffer, 3B (27%)
Shaffer placed sixth on last year's loaded community list, but his disappointing season saw him plummet to 14 in a year the farm system is not as strong. He beat out a trio of position players (plus Jeff Ames) receiving multiple votes for this spot.
With his advanced approach at Clemson (18.6% walk rate his sophomore and junior seasons), Shaffer was expected to play well with Charlotte, but instead he was a streaky player without much patience or power. He has shown flashes of his potential as a professional, and since he's a corner player, he's going to need those attributes back to become the player the Rays thought they were getting in 2012.
15. Oscar Hernandez, C (31%)
Two Triple-A position players knocking on the door of the majors received significant support, but they took a backseat to Hernandez. He first broke onto the scene in 2011 with an unbelievable offensive season in the Venezuelan Summer League, but now he's known more for his strong arm and plus defense behind the plate.
Hernandez is still very young and far away from the majors, but since he's such a good defender at a premium position, he has a relatively high floor compared to other young players just breaking into full-season ball. He's not as much of an unknown as he was at this time two years ago, so I think it's okay to feel more comfortable placing him this high.
16. Tim Beckham, SS (36%)
For the second straight year, Beckham claims the #16 spot on the community list. It's also another year in which the community ranks him lower than Baseball America, reflecting the growing skepticism of his future role in the big leagues.
To be fair, a lot of that is driven by the torn ACL he suffered in the off-season. A history of similar injuries would indicate he's probably going to miss all of 2014 which is obviously not good for any prospect. Concerns about Beckham's up-the-middle range won't be going away with this injury, and he'll have to show he can come back strong in 2015.
17. Brandon Guyer, OF (100%)
Last week in a separate article, there was some discussion of Guyer's prospect status. He was not on Baseball America's top 30. I consulted their handbook to see if he was considered graduated, but he wasn't on last year's top 30 either. I consulted last year's handbook to see if he was considered graduated, but he was simply listed as "dropped out".
That was coming off a season almost entirely wiped out with a shoulder injury, so it would've made sense for him to get back on the list after returning to Durham with a good season. He dropped out for baseball reasons, and I'm personally leaning toward not including him. I understand those that say he's more certain to have ML value than many others in the organization, but for the purposes of this list, I'd rather stick with younger players.
18. Jake Hager, SS (39%)
After Beckham and Guyer, the community returned to the lower minors with Hager despite his down season. A bit of a tier seems to be developing among positions players; no others received more than one vote. Instead, it was Bowling Green's Jeff Ames starting to mobilize more support. Other players never seemed to develop much traction.
Despite that down season, according to Bill Ballew's scouting report for the BA Handbook, the Rays are still confident enough in him that he'll be assigned to Double-A Montgomery next season. I touched on this last week. Maybe his injury had a significant effect on him. Either way, the Rays have always felt he can pick things up and make adjustments quickly, and they'll be counting on that in 2014.
19. Blake Snell, LHP (27%)
Ames was previously receiving most support among pitchers, but Snell ended up passing him with the support of Hager's prior backers. Choosing between the two pitchers makes for an interesting debate because they pitched at the same level in 2013.
For Snell, the reports on his stuff seem to be in his favor, and the strikeout rate reflects that: 23.7% this year for Snell compared to 18.0% for Ames. Snell's also a lefty and has youth on his side. He also comes with more risk though, and his walk rate of 16.3% is nearly twice Ames' at 8.2%.
In the final third of the voting, the winning percentages probably aren't going to be getting any higher. Voters will be working to get their sleepers in, whether they're lottery tickets or upper-minors higher floor players.