Keith Law released his Top 100 prospects today, with four Rays prospects making the list. Earlier this week, Law ranked the Rays' system 14th out of 30 MLB teams. Lets see what he thinks about the Rays' top prospects.
No. 14: Blake Snell, LHP
Snell will work with three above-average pitches: a 92-94-mph fastball that will touch 96, a very hard-tumbling changeup in the low 80s, and a big, mostly vertical breaking ball that looks as if it comes out of the sky thanks to his high three-quarters slot and ability to stay on top of the ball. His arm is quick and loose, and learning to be disciplined with that arm swing has been the biggest challenge for him.
These are fine characteristics from Law, and pleasant to read something more in depth on the new top-Rays-prospect.
Snell was the second highest southpaw on the list. Other LHP prospects: Julio Urias at No. 5, Sean Newcomb at No. 30, Steven Matz at No. 37, and Kolby Allard at No. 43
No. 35: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP
Guerrieri lost almost two years while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but his command and control seemed to come right back when he did get back on the mound full time in 2015, with only one outing all season in which he walked more than two guys. Guerrieri was 91-94 mph most of the summer, with a plus breaking ball and a changeup that flashed plus. The change is a relatively new pitch for him and he trusts it, but he needs to get more reps with it to get more consistent.
The Rays way continues as Guerrieri gains strength in his change. It's clear that Law continues to see Guerrieri has a top flight starter. Older scouting reports pegged the former first round pick with the ceiling of a No. 2 starter.
But then there's this:
Guerrieri's main problem, other than building up innings, has been some off-field issues that have dogged him since high school. At some point, it starts to say something if you refuse to follow the rules even to the detriment of your professional career. If he can keep himself out of trouble, he has ace upside, which should start to show through more in 2016 when he's no longer limited to five-inning stints
Two years ago Guerrieri failed a drug test for smoking marijuana while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Two years ago, and not a word since!
Does Guerrieri still have maturing to do before "character issues" are something in his past? Or is this merely an old impression that continues to linger?
Previously - Taylor Guerrieri Twitter Rant: "I'm sober"
No. 64: Brent Honeywell, RHP
Honeywell was a screwball pitcher in junior college, but the Rays have had him de-emphasize that pitch in favor of the more traditional changeup, which has been a clear out pitch for him so far in pro ball.
Honeywell will touch 96 mph but pitches more at 91-94, without much life on the pitch, so he has to avoid leaving it up in the zone to avoid too much hard contact. The changeup is the separator for him, a pitch that might allow him to be a big-league starter in spite of the lack of movement on the fastball.
There has been no indication that the Rays are removing the screwball from his arsenal, but it's interesting to read about the Rays throwing cold water on his signature pitch. A family trick, Honeywell is likely to have it always in his back pocket.
No. 85: Daniel Robertson, IF
Robertson's year was cut off by a broken hamate bone that cost him nearly two months and sapped all of his power even after he returned at the end of July, but once he's fully healthy, he should return to the player he was.
He had to alter his approach after coming back, since he couldn't drive the ball as well after the fracture, but took better at-bats and showed more willingness to work the count in his favor, so there might have been a silver lining to the injury.
He looks like a solid every-day second baseman who hits for average and doubles power, and there might be more OBP skill there than I previously thought.
The only non-pitching Rays prospect to make the list was Robertson, who moved down two spots from last year's rank of 83. An injury seems to be the reason for the step backward, but Law provides excellent context as to how that might have helped his game. The full write up includes his thoughts on Robertson's future as a shortstop.
The biggest omission from the list is SS Wily Adames, who has placed in the top 100 prospects lists of Scout.com, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. 1B Jake Bauers, OF Garrett Whitley, 3B Richie Shaffer, and SS Adrian Rondon could also make a case for a Top-100 as well.