Editor's note: While MLB.com released its top 100 prospects, position-specific rankings and has added new acquisitions to the organizational lists, this top prospect list is not finalized.
Ranking and following prospects is one of the most discussed and fun element in baseball. Multiple websites and networks release their very own rankings, and in the end there are always some youngsters who end up "overlooked" or "overrated". However, thanks to MLB Advanced Media and their 2015 prospect videos, we had the opportunity to review the bits about your beloved Rays prospects, and thus we hope that you will be able to settle your arguments for a while.
For reference, only the prospects without any majors experience and available video contents were considered.
As you can see, according to MLB.com, Daniel Roberston is Tampa Bay's number one prospect in 2015, followed by first baseman Casey Gillaspie and shortstop Willy Adames. Out of this top three, only one was drafted by the Rays, Gillaspie in 2014 (1st round), while Robertson and Adames were both acquired in trades. Without saying that you are not closely following every baseball organization, we thought that it would be nice to discover or look again at our most promising farm talents for the year to come.
#1 Daniel Robertson - Shortstop
Age: 20 / Career MiLB stats: .287/.373/.434 in 288 games / 2014 level: Class A-Advanced
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Daniel Robertson arrived in Tampa Bay this offseason, as a part of the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the A's. After hitting .310/.402/.471 last season in 642 plate appearances for Class A-Advanced Stockton, MLB.com identifies him as an "offensive-minded shortstop" who is going to hit for average with decent power, and also has "tremendous instincts" and a "strong arm".
According to the major league website, Robertson is the 9th best shortstop prospect in baseball right now. And recently, he was ranked as the 11th best player in the minors according to the Minor-League WAR leaderboard presented by Carson Cistulli on Fangraphs.
#2 Casey Gillaspie - First Baseman
Age: 22 / Career MiLB stats: .262/.364/.411 in 71 games / 2014 level: Class-A short-season
Casey Gillaspie was drafted by the Rays in 2014 as the 20th overall pick. In 308 plate appearances in short-season ball, Gillaspie hit for a .262 batting average with a .364 on-base percentage. MLB.com rated him as a "premier college bat" with the ability to swing from both sides of the plate. The 22-year-old will probably see more action in Class A-Advanced this year and work his way to improve his current ranking as the sixth-best first baseman prospect in baseball.
#3 Willy Adames - Shortstop
Age: 19 / Career MiLB stats: .263/.375/.411 in 185 games / 2014 level: Class A
Adames is the second youngest of the top 20 prospects listed by MLB.com and one of the most promising talent in the Rays farm system. Acquired during the mid-season in the trade that sent David Price to the Tigers, Adames had a solid year at the Class A level with a .271/.353/.429 line for 122 hits and 61 RBIs in 514 plate appearances. MLB.com sees him as one the next talent at the shortstop position with an ability to hit for average and power.
For reference, Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the best prospect in the Rays organization. Although due to his very young age, we may have to wait two or three more seasons before seeing him in the majors.
#4 Hak-Ju Lee - Shortstop
Age: 24 / Career MiLB stats: .277/.353/.371 in 535 games / 2014 level: Triple-A
Lee began his minor league baseball career when he was 18 years old and still with the Cubs organization. The Korean native has made its way through every level in the minors and finished 2014 with 93 games as the Durham Bulls shortstop with a very poor .203/.287/.276 line. Lee already had some trouble to hit for average in AA, but with his past season metrics, he may have taken a serious hit in his confidence. After playing only 15 games in 2013 due to a left knee surgery, Hak-Ju Lee will probably stay in Triple-A for a while before entering the majors.
#9 Nick Ciuffo - Catcher
Age: 19 / Career MiLB stats: .239/.292/.322 in 95 games / 2014 level: Rookie league
Let's jump a bit and go straight to Nick Ciuffo, 19 year-old catcher drafted by the Rays in 2013 as the 21st overall pick. According to MLB.com, he can hit for power and average, although the former didn't really show for now, and he is "durable behind the plate". Ciuffo is still very young and Baseball Prospectus considers him as a "prospect on the rise" with some potential and talent. 2015 may be a breakout year in the minors for him.
#10 Ryan Brett - Second baseman
Age: 23 / Career MiLB stats: .297/.354/.435 in 372 games / 2014 level: Double-A
Brett was selected in the third round of the 2010 Draft and worked his way through the Rays organization ever since. MLB.com ranks him as the 8th best second baseman prospect in 2015 with the potential to be a "top-of-the-order hitter" thanks a speed-and-contact approach at the plate. In 459 plate appearances in AA last season, Brett managed to put up a great .303/.346/.448 line and a .350 BABIP. According to the league's prospect rankings, we may see him in the majors this year.
#11 Justin O'Conner - Catcher
Age: 22 / Career MiLB stats: .232/.289/.396 in 358 games / 2014 level: Class A-Advanced and Double-A
Justin O'Conner is the second catcher in this ranking and at 22 years-old he made his debut in double-A this past season. In 21 games, O'Conner managed to bat for average (.263) but struck out a lot with 20 fans in 84 plate appearances. Nonetheless, MLB.com reckons that he has "big raw power that he has only just started to tap into" and he should be interesting to follow in 2015. Also, O'Conner has a great arm that allowed him to throw out 50% of base-stealers in 2014 according to MLB.com, which ranks him as the fifth best catcher prospect in baseball.
#13 Andrew Velazquez - Shortstop / Second baseman
Age: 20 / Career MiLB stats: .283/.356/.407 in 242 games / 2014 level: Class A
Velazquez was acquired in November in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to the Diamondbacks. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 MLB Draft by Arizona, Velazquez managed to hit .290 in his first full season in A ball. Although he is not the only shortstop prospect in the Rays organization, the team could consider a full switch for him at second base if required. Andrew Velazquez had a blast in 2014, where he averaged a .369 BABIP with a 129 wRC+, and stole 50 bases, leading the Midwest League in this category. Added to his "increased awareness at the plate", according to MLB.com, Velazquez could very well become one of the best talents in the Rays farm system.
#15 Cameron Varga - Right-handed pitcher
Age: 20 / Career MiLB stats: 3.78 ERA 6.8 K/9 2.2 BB/9 in 33.1 Innings Pitched / 2014 level: Rookie league
Varga is the second pitcher on this list who has not reached the majors yet. Drafted in 2014 in the second round by the Rays, the Florida native has a good fastball with an average velocity between 90 and 95 mph and an "easy delivery" according to MLB.com. Varga also have some power to his curveball which could become a "plus pitch". Overall, he seems to be a very interesting prospect, with great athleticism, and still some years ahead to improve his stuff in the minors.
#16 Ryne Stanek - Right-handed pitcher
Age: 23 / Career MiLB stats: 3.99 ERA 7.7 K/9 2.8 BB/9 in 58.2 Innings Pitched / 2014 level: Class A and Class A-Advanced
Stanek is the third pitcher in this list after Varga, and he is identified by MLB.com as having a "huge arm, firing above-average fastballs, a pair of breaking balls and a changeup". That's quite a selection of pitches for him that should help his development in the minors in 2015. Drafted first in 2010 by the Seattle Mariners, Stanek went on to pursue a college degree at the University of Arkansas, before being drafted again in 2013 as the 29th overall pick. In 13 IP in High-A last season, he struggled a bit with a 5.54 ERA and a poor 0.80 K/BB ratio. Yet, he is still young and could very well bounce back in 2015.
All statistics and injury records were found on Baseball-Reference, Minor League Baseball and Baseball Prospectus.