Keith Law is releasing his prospect rankings this week, his Rays top ten will drop tomorrow, but today it's the Top 100 rankings for all of baseball.
After repeating his Rays farm system ranking of 23rd this off-season, and discrediting the trades made by the Rays front office with perceptibly poor drafts between 2008-2011, it should be no surprise he's not high on Rays prospects. He names two, and the placement is interesting.
Justin O'Conner's 8-grade arm behind the dish earned him the highest placement among Rays prospects, echoing the sentiment of Kiley McDaniel that O'Conner may be a serious contributor to the Rays among a core group of high upside prospects, and the other player listed was INF Daniel Robertson from the Ben Zobrist trade. Both place in the bottom 25, with Law failing to mention young stud Willy Adames, or the better-than-Myers-projection owner Steven Souza.
No. 78 - Justin O'Conner, C
After making a comparison to Padres prospect Austin Hedges, who is known for his plus-plus defense behind the plate, Law praises his superior arm then follows with some skepticism about his power-first bat. Of course, as a catcher, there's wiggle room in whether that's necessary to rise to the majors, and likely how he comes out as the highest ranked Rays prospect:
O'Conner projects as more of a .220-.230 hitter, but with 15 or so homers, and his defense will play every day in the big leagues. There is still room [to] become more selective [at the plate].
We profiled O'Conner's swing in depth last week in the first iteration of our Swing Mechanics series, as led by hitting coach Curt Wilson. You can read everything you need to know about O'Conner's swing here.
No. 83 - Daniel Robertson, SS
Law has a lot more to say about Robertson, and despite a slight discredit for an inability to stick at short stop at the major league level, he appears to see much in the vein of Zobrist in the most recent Rays acquisition:
Robertson has a short, direct swing that starts with an open stance and barely transfers his weight; he doesn't have much rotation in his swing and is likely to be a line-drive hitter with below-average power, making a lot of contact and getting on base at a high clip given his strong walk rates so far in pro ball.
He has earned praise for his baseball acumen since high school, and if the Rays choose to make him a multi-position player, as they did with Zobrist, Robertson should be more than capable of handling it. Guys who project for a .400 OBP are pretty valuable commodities, and you can see from this ranking how rare Robertson's skill really is.
Law also notes that Robertson run grade and foot work are below expectations for short stop, but says he has the necessary arm to play third, and the hands to play either side of the infield.
And that's it! We'll have to wait for tomorrow to read his thoughts on Steven Souza and Willy Adames.