MLB.com released their Top 100 prospects for the 2015 season last night on the MLB Network, and three Rays joined the ranks, all in the bottom half. This weekend's release concludes a run of Top 10 per position rankings that included a few Rays as well.
61. Justin O'Conner, C
Joining the high marks of Keith Law and Kiley McDaniel is this highest-praise for the Rays catching prospect with the killer arm. Prior to the release of these rankings, O'Conner was not expected to leapfrog his fellow prospects on MLB.com's list, so this is a pleasant surprise.
Scouting Grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 80 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
O'Conner has big raw power that he has only just started to tap into. He's an aggressive hitter, and his pop comes with a lot of swing-and-miss. [...]
O'Conner has quickly become an elite defender behind the plate. He has top-of-the-scale arm strength and [...] His defense lessens the pressure on his bat, but he'll still need to prove he can consistently hit advanced pitching to reach his ceiling in the Major Leagues.
These are respectable grades for his batting profile. A tick more power, if proven at higher levels, could easily push him into the 40-50 range on the list.
O'Conner ranked fifth among the prospects at his position, just behind Austin Hedges.
66. Daniel Robertson, SS
At this point there's a definite trend. While fellow SS prospect WIlly Adames is also a key prospect in the system, Robertson has received a higher rank across the board.
Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Robertson employs a mature approach at the plate. He has a short swing, uses the whole field to hit and is adept at working walks. His bat speed and feel for hitting give him solid power potential that he's already started to tap into.
A below-average runner, scouts have long viewed Robertson as a candidate to move to second or third base. But he's proved to be a steady defender at shortstop, thanks to his instincts, arm strength and soft hands.
Among short stops, MLB.com also ranked Robertson ninth best at his position, noting "he has a chance to stay at short, something few would've predicted when he was drafted in 2012." That is not the popular opinion.
77. Willy Adames, SS
How much is there to know about Adames? When he was acquired, the general consensus was "who?" -- and the result was either excitement based on the player's age and ability to perform, or skepticism over his profile.
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
The 18-year old caught the attention of scouts as he held his own against the more experienced competition. [...]
Adames has a disciplined approach at the plate, showing a willingness to work the count. He already shows some power thanks to his quick wrists and he could be a solid hitter if he can continue to improve his pitch recognition.
Scouts like Adames' present defensive skills, especially his arm strength and hands. He is only an average runner, however, and could end up moving to second or third base if he loses a step as he physically matures.
Overall, the rather young short stop comes in 11th at his position, with White Sox prospect Tim Anderson standing between him and Robertson. It's that "could end up moving to second or third base" thing that keeps him so low.
Interestingly, there are several 18-year old short stops in the Top 10 list, but most of them are more "true" to the position.
Other Top 10 Rays
As mentioned above, the Rays had a few players ranked among the Top-10 prospects at their position, despite not cracking the Top 100.
Casey Gillaspie, 1B
Going into the off-season, Gillaspie was ranked second in the organization by MLB.com, but his drop in the standings is more a testament to other players grading higher than before, as opposed to him getting lesser votes of confidence.
Gillaspie will remain in the Rays' top ten prospects, and for his position he ranks sixth among first basemen as the best college hitter in last year's draft. The Rays 2014 first round draft choice was drafted 20th, switch hits with power, and could hit for average as well.
For context, he ranks two slots ahead of loved, likely DH prospect Dan Vogelbach.
Ryan Brett, 2B
This is a more curious ranking, as many of the short stops who rank so highly could move to his position. Still, as a player locked in to second base, Brett ranks eighth in the minors. Quick swing, quick hands, a lot to like.
He's right behind Sean Coyle (BOS), Devon Travis (TOR), and Rob Refsnyder (NYY) at 5-6-7 on the list. All four players will head to Triple-A next season as an interesting class of second basemen advancing together on pace.
Conspicuously not mentioned anywhere above is OF Steven Souza, Jr., the top prospect in the system for Baseball America, and a player projected to perform better than a certain Wil Myers next season.