Welcome to the 2017 edition of the community prospect list! For six straight years, we've held these polls to create a consensus top prospect list for the fanbase.
Here are the rules established by our previous host, Michael:
For this year's list, the rules will be the same as before. Cast a "+1" vote as a reply to the prospect listed that you think is best. The player receiving the most votes is announced the winner of the spot. Each poll will be open for voting for a two day period, and the goal is to create a top 30 list.
A few notes to remember.....
1. Please vote for the prospect that you believe to be the best. Even if the player does not have a good shot at winning, I encourage you to vote for the best prospect. Runoffs are the times to vote for the prospect you like who has the best shot of winning.
2. If you want to vote for someone who is not listed, reply "(player name) +1" to "Others." If you think someone should be added to the list, reply with their name to the comment reading "Testers." They will then be added to the pool of contenders for the next poll.
3. There are many ways in which to decide who you want to vote for. Things such as scouting reports, statistics, age relative to league, position, and pedigree should all be considered. How you weigh these will determine your pick.
4. Discussion is encouraged. Perhaps the best part of doing this list, for me, is engaging in the many conversations. It helps everyone to make a better choice, to reevaluate their take on a player, and to share their views with others.
Runoffs will take place when there is a tie in the final vote. Polls should be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
I am limiting the testers section to the first three players per vote. I may also periodically close the section if the number of players is beginning to get cumbersome.
It should be another good year of voting. Here are your initial choices:
SS Willy Adames (R/R, 6'1 180, 21 in 2017)
2016 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 568 PA, .274/.372/.430, 48 XBH, 11 HR, 13-for-19 SB, 13.0 BB%, 21.3 K%
The transition to Double-A ball is considered to be one of the toughest tests in baseball, and Adames passed it with flying colors. By cutting down on his strikeouts, he was able to show his above-average hit and power tools in games more often. He also got better at making hard contact going the other way. With average athleticism and a strong arm, he should be able to stay at shortstop during his career.
1B/OF Jake Bauers (L/L, 6'1 195, 21 in 2017)
2016 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 581 PA, .274/.370/.420, 43 XBH, 14 HR, 10-for-16 SB, 12.6 BB%, 15.3 K%
Bauers continued to be one of the more intriguing prospects in baseball in 2016. Whether or not he can play adequate defense in the outfield remains a question, and he did mostly play first base when Casey Gillaspie was promoted to Durham and Justin Williams arrived from Charlotte. With a sweet swing and great plate approach, Bauers sprays line drives to all fields. He showed improved power with the Biscuits and has to continue to do so to fit the traditional first-base profile.
1B Casey Gillaspie (S/L, 6'4 240, 24 in 2017)
2016 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 560 PA, .284/.388/.479, 54 XBH, 18 HR, 14.3 BB%, 20.9 K%
With a healthy season, Gillaspie reestablished himself as the slugger the Rays took with the 20th pick in the 2014 draft. He socks his dingers with pure strength and not bat speed, but thanks to his strike-zone judgment, he's able to jump on pitches he knows he can hit from both sides of the plate. He's not going to rack up a ton of strikeouts either. Unlike Jake Bauers, Gillaspie is limited to first base.
RHP Brent Honeywell (6'2 180, 22 in 2017)
2016 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery: 115 1/3 IP, 2.34 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 5.5 BB%, 25.8 K%
Honeywell will always be known for his screwball, but it's his complete package that makes him one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. Fans were able to see that in a standout Arizona Fall Stars Game performance when he struck out five in two innings. His mid-90s fastball can miss bats, and his other secondary pitches, a curveball, changeup and cutter, have improved.
3B Joshua Lowe (L/R, 6'4 190, 19 in 2017)
2016 statistics with the Gulf Coast League Rays and rookie-level Princeton: 214 PA, .249/.374/.405, 14 XBH, 5 HR, 17.3 BB%, 27.6 K%
Lowe's pro career got off to a poor start, but he quickly rebounded and was named a top-20 prospect by Baseball America in both leagues he played in. With good bat speed and room on his frame to add strength, he has the power projection of a classic hot-corner profile. Eventually, those strikeouts will have to come down. As a successful pitcher, he has a strong arm and has the athleticism to play in the outfield if third base doesn't work out.
CF Garrett Whitley (R/R, 6'1 205, 20 in 2017)
2016 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 292 PA, .266/.356/.379, 21-for-26 SB, 20 XBH, 10.3 BB%, 25.7 K%
After a poor pro debut and rough start to 2016, anxiety began to set in among fans in regard to Whitley, but with a July stretch of hits in eight of nine games sparked the raw outfielder to a nice finish. He's patient, but he needs to cut down on his strikeouts to tap into his offensive tools. His impressive bat speed gives him plus power potential, and he has the athleticism and arm to be an above-average center fielder.