Kiley McDaniel's recent Fangraphs Chat covered multiple Rays topics today, and I really admire the Tampa native and his opinions on prospects, so I'm sharing them with you.
When asked where he'd rank the recently acquired Daniel Robertson, whom Baseball America's Ben Badler currently has slotted at No. 39, Kiley reiterated his appraisal from the time of the trade: near the bottom of the Top-100.
Haven't lined it up yet, but looks like 90-140 range. I think he'll hit enough to be an everyday guy of some sort, but the opinions on his defense vary wildly. OAK says above avg SS, my eyes in a short look at AFL and most other teams say solid 2B, just fill-in at SS. TB liking him makes sense and I'd suspect he has good defensive metrics.
Normally this sort of opinion is not news worthy -- a possible ranking for a list that's not published yet -- but McDaniel follows with a very good point on giving teams the benefit of the doubt.
As it comes to his rankings and Future Value grades, Kiley's going to call it like he sees it as he travels around the minors. From what he's seen Robertson is a step behind the position; however, it's often the case that teams can know far more than we do, thanks to proprietary technological advances:
One of the teams I worked for had MILB defensive metrics that said Matt Carpenter could easily play 3B and probably 2B or even SS if needed (this is before he was in the big leagues) and our reports said no way he can play IF at all.
It's safe to say the Rays are relying on similar data, whatever that may be. They were early adopters of the Trackman camera system for evaluating defense, and most assuredly continue to use that data in appraising their myriad acquired middle infielders this off-season.
On the candidates themselves for the stacked Rays infield, one question came in for his thoughts on a recent claim by Jim Callis that the Rays have the highest number of "legit 2b/SS" in Robertson, Willy Adames, and Ryan Brett. McDaniel's response:
The definitely have a lot. Robertson, Rondon, Adames, Brett, Velazquez, Hager, Wong, Hak-Ju Lee, Unroe, Beckham all were on the list or just misses. If you adjust that to top 3 only, there may be another team in that mix, but TB has so many they don't have roster spots for them all to start at their preferred level/position.
On where the Rays system stacks up now, Kiley was quite positive.
I have them 13th out of 15 right now, but they're a good example of how I and I think most other scouts would rank systems. The Rays have the deepest list right now (35 deep, next closest is Cubs with 30), but have no one over a 50 FV. But if you start at 50 FV and work down, they're the deepest at almost every step along the way.
Kiley also mentioned the Rays have "a couple more guys at each step going down" than most other top clubs, but it's that high ceiling talent, that newly instated Silverman has just started targeting, that's keeping them out of the Top Ten.