It's been a wild offseason for the Rays, and not just at the big-league level. 11 players on my top 30 were not in the organization at the start of last season, and another five were not ranked on my list at the start of 2014.
Limiting the list to 30 prospects was tough too. There were quite a few players I really wanted to fit on a list, but there just was not enough room. The depth has certainly be bolstered. I think that it is fair to say the Rays do not have star-level talent like an Evan Longoria or David Price, but obviously those players are very difficult to come by.
1. SS Daniel Robertson (Last year: NA/community: 1)
Robertson is the Rays' kind of player. He has the athleticism to be a versatile infielder, he can hit, and he knows what he's doing at the plate. His performance at every level so far has been good, and I expect that to continue at Montgomery.
2. C Justin O'Conner (NR/7)
I flat out missed on O'Conner last season. Others were more patient than me, and they were rewarded with his best season to date. I certainly do not expect him to only strike out in 8.3% of his plate appearances like he did in the Arizona Fall League, but maybe he can get below 20% in games that count.
3. SS Willy Adames (NA/2)
Adames could certainly rocket up this list. His performance as an 18-year-old in full-season ball last year was impressive. He struck out too much, but I am not going to lose my mind over a flaw a high school-aged kid had in the Midwest League.
4. OF Steven Souza (NA/3)
To be honest, I still do not think much of the Wil Myers trade. I do like Souza a bit though. He has been great on the field, and he has some tools too.
5. RHP Taylor Guerrieri (3/4)
While overall depth in the system has improved, a lot of that is on the position player side. Guerrieri is coming off a lost season, but if he can stay on the mound and develop some kind of workload, he could be an impact arm.
6. 2B Ryan Brett (6/6)
If he just walked a little more, Brett would be an ideal leadoff hitter in the old and new-school styles. He puts the ball in play and can run the bases. His power is better than most players his size, and he brings energy to the field.
7. SS Andrew Velazquez (NA/12)
The return for the Jeremy Hellickson trade was better than I expected. Even though both Velazquez and Justin Williams are not yet in the upper levels, Velazquez probably could have performed well with a more challenging assignment.
8. RHP Brent Honeywell (NA/9)
I would have to imagine Honeywell's performance after being drafted was among the best in the 2014 draft class. With an array of pitches and ability to throw strikes, he immediately became one of the more intriguing arms in the system. His pro-baseball bloodlines probably helped him develop the finer points of pitching.
9. RHP Alex Colome (5/5)
Now out of options, Colome is in a make-or-break year. I would like to see him earn a spot in the rotation to start the season to see what he has. Even if it is likely that he becomes a reliever, it would still be prudent of the organization to see what he has in an extended stint.
10. 1B Casey Gillaspie (NA/10)
If Gillaspie is the player the Rays think he is, they would have another middle-of-the-order power hitter, which they could really use. His first few weeks in pro ball were poor, but in the end, he posted a respectable line for Hudson Valley.
11. LHP Enny Romero (4/11)
Overall, 2014 was not kind to Romero, but there were still slight improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. His stock is certainly down as it is fair to start losing patience with him, but I do not think that merited the huge drop he saw in some national rankings.
12. SS Adrian Rondon (NA/8)
Rondon is one guy who certainly could have star-level talent, but I would like to see him in a U.S. box score before putting him higher. If this list was purely based on ceiling, it is entirely possible he would be at the top.
13. LHP Blake Snell (22/14)
I like Snell, and he could easily be a bit higher. He made strides in earning the promotion to Charlotte in 2014. He still has to hit the strike zone more often, but his stuff is better than most on this list.
14. OF Mikie Mahtook (23/15)
Mahtook's breakout 2014 campaign gives the Rays another outfield option. He can play all three outfield positions, run a bit, and his energy is great to have in the clubhouse. At the plate, he offers solid power, and he punished lefties with Durham.
15. RHP German Marquez (NR/19)
This is perhaps a bit bullish, but there is no question that Marquez is on the rise. He works with at least two above average pitches, and he throws a lot of strikes for a young arm. He is a bit on the small side though, so how well he can handle an increased workload is something to keep an eye on in future seasons.
16. LF Justin Williams (NA/16)
Williams is such an interesting player. It is not easy to think of a player whose pre-draft profile is so much different than the results at the beginning of his pro career. He is likely not an all-or-nothing slugger, nor a high-contact slap hitter. When he settles in somewhere between those two, he could be a very good hitter.
17. RHP Nathan Karns (11/13)
At 27 years old, it is time to see what kind of role Karns fits in. He is certainly in the mix for the Rays' rotation this spring, but it is certainly a fair question if he can still develop what he needs to to be a big-league starter.
18. C Nick Ciuffo (7/17)
After getting over an illness last season, Ciuffo improved at the plate. Entering his second full season, his bat has to start catching up to his defense. As the Rays have seen with another catcher in the organization, that can take time.
19. SS Hak-Ju Lee (2/27)
Lee has to be significantly better this season. It is his second season back from surgery, and he has to perform now. Players with his defense often carve out roles in the majors, but the Rays probably had higher expectations for him than a 25th man.
20. SS Jake Hager (19/24)
Hager had another solid season with Montgomery, and he enters an interesting logjam in Durham's infield in 2015. It is possible he returns to Montgomery, not because of anything he did wrong, just because of the depth the Rays have.
21. 3B Tyler Goeddel (21/NR)
Goeddel not making the cut for the community list surprised me. He has performed well, and he has athleticism and tools. I felt like no matter how one prefers to evaluate players, he has something to like. He has a lot to work on, but his play has been steady.
22. SS Tim Beckham (15/30)
Beckham enters 2015 in circumstances similar to Lee's. It is hard to find anything positive to say about his 2014 season, and now is time for him to perform.
23. OF Boog Powell (NA/21)
I am still skeptical of Powell. His performance at every level in 2014 was strong, but he has to improve his baserunning and prove his PED suspension is behind him.
24. 1B Patrick Leonard (NR/25)
Leonard is a player I would like to have higher, but the professionals who do this for a living dissuaded me. He was good in 2014, but maybe not good enough to sustain a .280 average with the power he had in his professional debut with Kansas City.
25. OF Johnny Field (NR/NR)
This could certainly be too high for Field. It feels aggressive even to me. He is a grinder type who has not played above Class A-Advanced yet, and usually I am firmly in the "wait and see" camp for a player like this.
26. 2B Kean Wong (NR/22)
Even if Wong remains a singles hitter limited to second base, he can still have value, and that is not necessarily all he will be. The way he has just hit since becoming a professional is impressive.
27. RHP Ryne Stanek (12/20)
Stanek is entering a huge season. Health problems have dogged him in recent seasons, and he has to get past that and develop his workload. He could easily rocket up this list if he returns to the form he showed early in his career at Arkansas.
28. RHP Matt Andriese (10/NR)
I did not initially have Andriese on my list, but I came around on him a bit during the community list discussions. I do have some concerns about how he pitched in 2014, but a potential big-league starter so close to the majors has value.
29. 1B Jake Bauers (NA/23)
Bauers is a player I am not totally sold on. I really wish he had some more power since he has to play first base, but he clearly has some ability that has already translated into pro performance. Not every player has to fit the same profile.
30. RHP Jose Dominguez (NA/26)
Usually, there are more surefire relievers in these lists. The depth in the organization really knocks Dominguez down though. His velocity is some of the best in pro baseball, and with his breaking ball, he has late-inning potential.
This is just scratching the surface of the depth the Rays have. There are names not on here that I wish I had room for: Granden Goetzman, Andrew Toles, Cristian Toribio, Thomas Milone, Riley Unroe, Cameron Varga, Mike Montgomery, C.J. Riefenhauser and Dylan Floro are among them.
I have 20 hitters here. I am sure the Rays would like to improve their pitching depth, and since they are probably done trading for prospects for at least a few months, the draft is the likely avenue to do that.