After a full season of 2015 minor league ball, the time has come to figure out who was the best among everyone in the Rays organization. To keep it easier, we're going to do it by position, just like the real All-Star Game.
The way we'll be doing this is selecting the players who played the most games at each position for each level. Following that, there should be about seven nominees barring any extras.
The only problem with this system is that there will be notable omissions. Scott explained it best in the first post for the catchers, so I'll let him take it from here.
However, this benchmark to include players leads to some omissions, such as Boog Powell, who was not the primary at any outfield position for Montgomery or Durham due to a midseason promotion. To determine if a player merited extra inclusion, I stacked him up against the players at his position that did qualify and asked, "could a person reasonably support this player instead of the seven who did qualify?"
If the poll allows you to vote multiple times, please try not to. This is all meant for good fun and to see who you guys like best; don't be that guy.
In addition, we have a tie for catcher between Justin O'Conner and David Rodriguez. Since I can't figure out how to add a second poll to one post, please choose O'Conner or Rodriguez in the comments.
J.P. Arencibia (99 games, .227 average/.259 on-base percentage/.443 slugging, 87 hits (39 XBH), 22 home runs, 52 runs, 65 runs batted in, 3.7% walk rate, 30.9% strikeout rate in 405 plate appearances for Triple-A Durham)
Arencibia has been a journeyman most of his career, bouncing between the pros and minors. He was signed last offseason to a minor-league deal, and he has performed about as expected. His main strength is hitting homers, and he did that quite a lot, ending the season second in the International League for homers. If he finished out the year there, he could have even led the league. He was called up to the majors to play catcher and pinch hit after Curt Casali tweaked his hamstring. The one thing Arencibia has always struggled with and continued to struggle with this year is strikeouts. Per Fangraphs, that is "awful". That led him to have a very low average. He has found success in his short stint in the majors, but the strikeouts continue and have even worsened.
Jake Bauers (128 G, .272/.342/.418, 129 H (45 XBH), 11 HR, 69 R, 74 RBI, 9.4 BB%, 13.9 K% in 551 PA for Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery)
Bauers was acquired in the offseason as part of the Wil Myers trade, and he is insanely young to be in Double A (hasn't even turned 20 yet) at a -5.1 age differential compared to the average player there. He has hit for average and has flashed some power as well with the 11 home runs. His raw power is about average, but the flashes he's shown have certainly been good. His performance in Montgomery compared to Charlotte was more average (105 wRC+ compared to 142) but he improved his BABIP and batting average. He traded more contact in exchange for less power.
Mike Marjama (90 games, .302/.328/.473, 101 hits (35 XBH), 9 homers, 46 runs, 52 RBI, 3.1% walk rate, 14.8% strikeout rate in 351 plate appearances for Class A-Advanced Charlotte)
Marjama was acquired over the offseason from the White Sox for some cash. He was a catcher before, but has slid down the defensive spectrum to first base. He was 2.4 years older than the average Class A-Advanced player, but that started to show this year with his high batting average. In addition, his power has flashed with nine homers and a .171 ISO. Since he's moved to first base, the power will have to come if he wants to continue up the minor league levels. However, just getting the bat on the ball will still help a lot. This was his second year in Class A-Advanced, and he doesn't want to be there for a third year in a row.
Casey Gillaspie (79 games, .253/.334/.480, 71 hits (29 XBH), 17 homers, 40 runs, 48 RBI, 10.0% walk rate, 16.9% strikeout rate in 320 plate appearances for Class-A Bowling Green, Class A-Advanced Charlotte, and a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League)
The 2014 first-round draft pick got to see his first time in full-season baseball this year and responded pretty well. His plus raw power showed with 17 total home runs over the season. A strong showing in Bowling Green led to a promotion to Charlotte. However, a finger injury just five games into his stint there cost him a month and a half of playing time. He only had 13 games at Charlotte, but he hit just .146/.222/.268 there with a wRC+ of 51. I'm a bit concerned with his hitting after the injury, but the team isn't going to throw $2 million to the wayside; they'll get him healthy in time for next season.
Nic Wilson (45 games, .193/.253/.255, 31 hits (8 XBH), 1 homer, 7 runs, 16 RBI, 7.3% walk rate, 37.1% strikeout rate in 178 plate appearances for short-season Hudson Valley)
Wilson's season can be described with one word: STRIKEOUTS. He has just been unable to get his bat on the ball consistently. Last season he was able to hit the ball pretty hard when he could, but he didn't this year and his slugging percentage was barely above his on-base percentage. He only had one homer this season compared to 10 last year in the Appalachian league. The raw power is there, but the hit tool is off by a mile. At a position where you aren't carried by defense, the 24th-round pick needs to step up a lot. At 23 years old, the clock is ticking for short-season baseball.
Kewby Meyer (60 games, .268/.325/.395, 59 hits (18 XBH), 5 homers, 20 runs, 30 RBI, 7.0% walk rate, 12.4% strikeout rate in 242 plate appearances for rookie-level Princeton)
Meyer was a 37th round pick for the Rays, but because they have 2 rookie teams, they have room to keep late round picks like Meyer. The 22-year old performed average across the board. He didn't struggle in too many areas, but he didn't perform extravagantly either. From a late-round draft pick like him, there wasn't much of a high bar to reach.
Gilbert Marrero (35 games, .117/.222/.155, 12 hits (4 XBH), 0 homers, 6 runs, 2 RBI, 10.3% walk rate, 32.5% strikeout rate in 117 plate appearances with the GCL Rays)
Marrero had the same problem that Wilson had this year: both of them struck out a lot. Marrero showed serious regression after last season where he performed fairly well. Last season, he displayed a decent hit tool and some power, but this year he just could not find his swing at all. The power and average were both flat gone and the strikeouts were aplenty. Marrero split half the playing time with the following player as he just couldn't get his hitting together. He is fairly young at just 19 years old, but the hitting is what carries 1st baseman as I've iterated over and over again.
Devin Davis (36 games .261/.370/.339, 30 hits (5 XBH), 2 homers, 13 runs, 5 RBI, 11.9% walk rate, 23.7% strikeout rate in 135 plate appearances with the GCL Rays)
I had to include Davis in this list even though he played a couple fewer games at first base and spent some time as the DH. Davis got on base 60% more often and had twice as many hits as Marrero. Davis's profile is more of a contact hitter, and that isn't what the first baseman is known for. With this bat though, a position change could be in his future as he shows enough speed to handle a corner outfield spot. He provided above average contribution for the rookie team this year.