Last year when Rays Prospects stopped updating regularly, we brought the writers' top 30 prospect poll to DRaysBay. This week, you'll get four individual top 30 lists followed by the combined list on Friday. Matrices of industry professional prospect lists already exist, but the amateurs among us have opinions too, and everyone processes information differently.
I had a really hard time with this list. At one point, I had it completely finished, and then I broke one of my bigger rules; I looked at it, hated it and started all over. I suspect the problem was the talent in the system because I do an annual top 30 list for another organization and did not have this issue.
I think we're going to see a lot of variation in the lists this year. The system this year feels like it's more muddled than in any previous year I've done this, and there should be plenty of different takes. Player ages in 2014 are in parenthesis.
1. Jake Odorizzi, RHP (24) - Among industry lists, three different players in the organization have been listed number one. I prefer Odorizzi because he's healthy, major league ready and has decent upside. We'll get a good look at him right out of the gate with Jeremy Hellickson's injury.
2. Hak-Ju Lee, SS (23) - Even after his down 2012 season, I remained higher on Lee than most. If he complete regains his range from last year's knee injury, he has a chance to impact the game in the field, on the bases, and at the plate.
3. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP (21) - I would probably have Guerrieri at the top of the list without the elbow surgery, even if he would've missed the first 50 games with his suspension. Even if Tommy John surgery isn't the career altering disaster it used to be, missing an entire season of starts is still a big setback.
4. Enny Romero, LHP (23) - Romero's stuff gives him perhaps the best upside in the organization, but his command problems cause him to come with significant risk. He's still young though, so he has a chance to throw more strikes and remain in a rotation long-term.
5. Alex Colome, RHP (25) - Colome comes with all the same risks Romero does, but he adds a couple years and a more extensive injury history. Even if he ends up in the bullpen, his plus stuff will allow him to make an impact as long as he stays healthy.
6. Ryan Brett, 2B (22) - After returning from his suspension to start 2013, Brett tore up the Florida State League to earn a promotion to Montgomery. He didn't hit as well there, but he can make consistent contact with a good approach, runs well and can field his position.
7. Nick Ciuffo, C (19) - Ciuffo's upside is as high as anyone's on this list, he's just lacking much pro experience. None of his tools stand out, but with the exception of the run tool, they could all be average or better. He has talent at and behind the plate.
8. Andrew Toles, CF (22) - Toles can change games with his speed on the bases and in center field. As he rises through the system, his pitch recognition will be tested more and more, and he has to improve that. He has been good in his career so far, but there's still some risk here.
9. Kevin Kiermaier, CF (24 )- Just a few days ago, the Baseball Prospectus prospect team rated Kiermaier as the best defensive outfielder in the minors ($). If he can hit just a little bit, he's going to have quite a bit of value to the Rays very soon.
10. Matt Andriese, RHP (24) - With over 134.2 innings of experience in the upper levels, Andriese is pretty close to the majors. His upside isn't incredibly high, but he throws strikes, generates ground balls and has had success in some tough pitching environments.
11. Nate Karns, RHP (26) - Karns has bounced back nicely from labrum surgery earlier in this career, and that put him a little bit behind on the development curve. If he can improve his changeup and breaking ball command, he has a pretty solid ceiling in the rotation.
12. Ryne Stanek, RHP (22) - Stanek will probably miss half the season after off-season hip surgery after not appearing in any games last year. When he's healthy, his fastball and breaking ball are two impressive pitches, but he's going to have to come back and clean up his mechanics to remain a starter.
13. Oscar Hernandez, C (20) - Hernandez initially got on the map with an incredible season at the plate in the Venezuelan Summer League, but now he's establishing himself as a really nice defensive catcher. He's pretty far from the majors, but he's a big part of the great depth the Rays suddenly have at catcher.
14. Curt Casali, C (25) - There seems to be a pretty big disconnect between fans and the industry on Casali's prospect status. To me, he looks pretty solid. He's hit so far in his pro career, he handled some good pitchers at Vanderbilt and is improving his defense.
15. Tim Beckham, SS (24) - His performance in his career has been good, not great, but Beckham has at least reached the majors. It's a shame that he'll be missing this season with his knee injury. He's looking more and more like a future utility player, and hopefully he can play an adequate shortstop upon his return.
16. Richie Shaffer, 3B (23) - Shaffer is going to have to hit much better than he did last year to justify this ranking. He was a first round pick and very good amateur player, so I don't want to write him off too quickly. His power so far has been underwhelming.
17. Jose Mujica, RHP (18) - It's time to start playing the lottery tickets without much experience. Mujica has a ton of developing to do, but it was nice to see him come to the states throwing strikes. The Rays' big investments in Latin America in 2012 could pay off.
18. Jose Castillo, LHP (18) - Castillo will always be linked with Mujica because they were high profile pitchers signed during the same week. To be honest, for now I have a hard time separating them. He ran into some BABIP issues in his pro debut.
19. Jake Hager, SS (21) - Hager still has youth on his side, and I'm not willing to throw in the towel yet. His season was obviously a disaster, but before his shoulder injury, it was kind of average or holding serve. Going to Montgomery will be a tough jump, but I think he can succeed.
20. Riley Unroe, SS (18) - Unroe is a promising player who had a nice pro debut last year. He can field his position and could hit a bit too. He has the potential to be a lot higher on the list at this time next year, and I know a lot of fans are already at that point with him.
21. Tyler Goeddel, 3B (21) - Goeddel kind of stagnated last year repeating the Midwest League, but he still has the tools. With his athleticism, I wonder if he might move around the diamond more in 2014 and play positions besides third base. He has to make better contact.
22. Blake Snell, LHP (21) - Snell has the stuff to place much higher on this list (like he did last year), but his walk rate was sixth highest in the minors among pitchers with more than 90 innings. Two of the pitchers higher than him have reached the majors (Andy Oliver and Maikel Cleto), but hopefully Snell can do a little better than that.
23. Mikie Mahtook, OF (24) - Like Goeddel, Mahtook didn't improve at all in his second tour at the same level. It's hard to see him ever being an everyday player at this point, but he could still become a decent option off the bench who could at least moonlight in center field and steal some bases.
24. Grayson Garvin, LHP (24) - Garvin hasn't pitched much since becoming a professional, but if his stuff is close to its pre-Tommy John surgery levels as the Baseball America handbook suggests, he warrants consideration. If he's healthy, he could move quickly with his pitchability.
25. Jeff Ames, RHP (23) - I suspect I'm lower on Ames than most. The results with Bowling Green were still good, but his strikeout tumbled to 18.0%. The handbook says he has a plus slider which should be getting some whiffs, but it didn't happen in 2013. He has to improve his changeup, or he'll be ticketed for the bullpen.
26. C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP (24) - Riefenhauser has a high probability of success, but he's the only no doubt reliever on this list. With his fastball and breaking ball, he struck out over 40% of lefty batters he faced in 2013, and he's had success as a reliever against righties too.
27. Dylan Floro, RHP (24) - The Rays drafted Floro twice, and it looks like their persistence could pay off. He moved quickly in his full-season debut by throwing a ton of strikes and generating ground balls. With his rough mechanics and average fastball, he could end up in the bullpen, but we'll see.
28. David Rodriguez, C (18) - Along with Mujica and Castillo, Rodriguez completes the trio of big international signings by the Rays in 2012. He wasn't ready to come to the U.S. like the two pitchers, but he performed very well, albeit in perhaps the friendliest park for hitters in pro baseball.
29. Jake Faria, RHP (20) - Despite the strong season, there isn't much industry buzz around Faria. Maybe his stuff can't live up to the strikeout rate, or maybe with his changeup, he's just too advanced for short-season hitters. I hope he's tested with an assignment to Bowling Green.
30. Andres Gonzalez, RHP (20) - It's probably a bit too aggressive to have a young pitcher with 40 innings of experience on here already, but those innings in the Gulf Coast League were really, really good for Gonzalez. I'm not the first here on the bandwagon though.