After a long run on hitters, we suddenly have a pitching streak.
There were six players put up for nomination on the previous poll. I will be introducing them two at a time over the next three polls and closing testers in the meantime.
1. LHP Blake Snell (95.2%)
2. SS Willy Adames (59.1%)
3. 1B/OF Jake Bauers (60.6% in runoff)
4. RHP Brent Honeywell (50.0%)
5. RHP Taylor Guerrieri (57.5%)
6. SS Daniel Robertson (64.3%)
7. RHP Jacob Faria (69.0%)
8. 3B (64.9%)
9. OF Garrett Whitley (44.7%)
10. OF (39.0%)
11. 1B Casey Gillaspie (42.1%)
12. OF Justin Williams (56.4% in runoff)
13. UT Taylor Motter (42.1%)
14. SS Adrian Rondon (54.1%)
15. C Chris Betts (63.2%)
16. LHP Enny Romero (51.5%)
17. RHP German Marquez (56.7%)
2B Ryan Brett (R/R, 5'9 180, 24 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Triple-A Durham: 354 PA, .247/.288/.354, 24 XBH, 4-for-7 SB, 4.2 BB%, 18.1 K%
2015 statistics with Tampa Bay: 4 PA, 2 H, 1 BB
Brett made his big league debut early in the season before injuring his shoulder and joining scores of teammates on the DL. Whether it was the injury or not, he was not the same player when he returned, posting career worsts across the board. If it was just a blip, he has quick hands to make good contact with a decent plate approach to help him get on base. He's a good runner, adequate defender and saw time in center field with Durham.
OF Johnny Field (R/R, 5'10 195, 24 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 491 PA, .255/.329/.447, 51 XBH, 14 HR, 18-for-21 SB, 7.3 BB%, 22.2 K%
Even as a less-reputed prospect, Field has enough tools to succeed in games. While Field has about average speed, he has the natural instinct to play center field nonetheless. He also succeeds on the basepaths even with his lack of plus speed, converting a majority of his stolen base attempts. The bat speed is decent, but he really flashed some power this season. Most scouts see Field as a fourth outfielder, but if he keeps performing well in games he could elevate his stock.
RHP Chih-Wei Hu (6'1 230, 22 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte, Class A-Advanced Fort Myers and Triple-A Rochester: 109 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.9 BB%, 22.0 K%
Hu was one of two righties acquired from Minnesota in July's Kevin Jepsen trade. Despite a blender mishap that cost him a start, he performed well for two different Florida State League affiliates. His average fastball -- and really, his entire arsenal -- plays up thanks to his advanced command. His secondary offerings include an average palmball, so Brent Honeywell is not the only pitcher in the organization with a unique pitch.
RHP Brandon Koch (6'1 205, 22 in 2016)
2015 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 32 1/3 IP, 3.06 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 3.9 BB%, 36.4 K%
Koch was the first pitcher the Rays drafted in 2015. The former Dallas Baptist closer was actually better than expected. While he walked a lot of batters in college with his high-effort delivery, he cut down on his free passes as a professional. With a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider, he has the stuff to pitch in the back of a major league bullpen if he's around the strike zone.
3B Patrick Leonard (R/R, 6'4 225, 23 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 514 PA, .256/.350/.408, 45 XBH, 10 HR, 11-for-14 SB, 10.5 BB%, 25.1 K%
After a slow start, Leonard recovered and finished with another solid campaign. He has above-average raw power, but he is yet to top the 14 home runs he hit in a short-season league in his pro debut with theseveral seasons ago. He swung and missed too much in 2015 and may be held back by mediocre bat speed, but a move back to third base helped his value.
C Justin O'Conner (R/R, 6'0 190, 24 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 444 PA, .231/.255/.371, 39 XBH, 9 HR, 10-for-12 SB, 2.9 BB%, 29.1 K%
After a breakout 2014 season at the plate, O'Conner struggled in 2015 as Double-A pitchers took advantage of his aggressive plate approach. While he has power potential, he has a hard time just making enough contact in games to show it. Still, he has a chance to make the majors thanks to his 80-grade arm and improving overall defense behind the plate.
RHP Jaime Schultz (5'10 200, 25 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 135 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 15.4 BB%, 28.7 K%
Baseball America's Hudson Belinsky raved about Schultz's stuff earlier this offseason, noting, "we're talking upper 90s with really good spin in his back pocket." His impressive strikeout rate certainly reflects that. However, it's impossible to talk about him without looking at that walk rate as well. He walked seven batters in back-to-back games in July, but an 11.7% walk rate over his final eight appearances offers hope of improvement in 2016.
RHP Burch Smith (6'4 215, 26 in 2016)
2015 statistics: Did not play
A forearm injury and eventually Tommy John surgery made 2014 and 2015 lost seasons for Smith. Acquired in the Jake Bauers trade, when he pitches, Smith owns a low-90s fastball and a good changeup. Early in his career, he developed a reputation as a strike-thrower.
RHP Cameron Varga (6'2 189, 21 in 2016)
2015 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 57 2/3 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 4.5 BB%, 16.1 K%
Despite being one of the older prep pitchers in the 2014 draft, Varga has significant upside. His strikeout rate did not reflect it, but he has good stuff with a pair of potential plus pitches in his low-90s fastball and breaking ball. He's also an athlete who already throws a lot of strikes. His changeup is a work in progress as he gets ready to take on full-season ball in 2016.
IF Andrew Velazquez (S/R, 5'8 175, 21 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 203 PA, .290/.343/.360, 11 XBH, 5-for-13 SB, 7.4 BB%, 26.1 K%
Velazquez came over with Justin Williams in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to Arizona, but a broken hamate cost him a large part of the season. Whether it was the injury or not, he was not the same player in 2015. Most notably, he was poor on the bases, and his walk rate went down while his strikeout rate went up. After playing the outfield as an amateur, as a professional he's seen time all around the infield.
RHP Hunter Wood (6'1 175, 22 in 2016)
2015 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green and Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 106 1/3 IP, 2.20 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 6.1 BB%, 27.6 K%
Wood started the season piggybacking Brent Honeywell's starts, and his own great performance earned him a promotion to the Stone Crabs and a permanent spot in the rotation. Part of his success can be attributed to the improvement in his control, as he cut his walk rate significantly from a tough stint with Bowling Green in 2014. In the Arizona Fall League, his fastball averaged 94 mph, and his breaking ball has been described as plus (BA $).