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John's preseason top-30 prospect list for 2016

johntown99's take on the Rays' farm system

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After you all compiled the DRaysBay community prospect list, it is now our turn to share our top 30 lists. I won't digress too much, so here is my ranking of the system after poring through the lists of numerous others.

  1. LHP Blake Snell
  2. RHP Brent Honeywell
  3. SS Willy Adames
  4. RHP Taylor Guerrieri
  5. 1B/OF Jake Bauers
  6. OF Garrett Whitley
  7. SS Daniel Robertson
  8. RHP Jacob Faria
  9. 1B Casey Gillaspie
  10. OF Mikie Mahtook
  11. 3B Richie Shaffer
  12. OF Justin Williams
  13. 2B Ryan Brett
  14. RHP Chih-Wei Hu
  15. C Chris Betts
  16. C Justin O'Conner
  17. RHP Jaime Schultz
  18. 3B Kevin Padlo
  19. RHP Brandon Koch
  20. SS Taylor Motter
  21. SS Adrian Rondon
  22. RHP Ryne Stanek
  23. RHP Hunter Wood
  24. LHP Enny Romero
  25. RHP Jose Mujica
  26. OF Johnny Field
  27. SS Jake Hager
  28. RHP Andrew Bellatti
  29. 3B Patrick Leonard
  30. OF Joe McCarthy
Just Missed:
  • 2B Kean Wong
  • C Nick Ciuffo
  • SS Riley Unroe
  • SS Andrew Velazquez
  • RHP Cameron Varga

Positional Breakdown

  • LHP: 2
  • RHP: 9
  • C: 2
  • 1B: 2
  • 2B: 1
  • SS: 4
  • 3B: 3
  • OF: 5 (6 w/ Bauers)

Analyzing My Process

Since this is my first time doing a Top 30 for DRaysBay, the editors and myself think I should describe how I go through ranking prospects. If learning that sounds boring to you, go on ahead and skip this section of the article.

As I've said before, I read and digest multiple prospect lists from multiple outlets before I compile my own list. I make notes in my head of where players are ranked in other places along with whether or not I agree with the lists. In addition, I set up my own tiers of player talent, so I have a base of how to categorize the players. This way I can compare players in more specific groups rather than as a whole. I will often end up considering more than just 30 players so I get a broader list.

When it actually comes to organizing the throng of players in the system into a Top 30, I first sort the players I'm considering into my aforementioned categories. From there I have to take a more precise look to really hone in my list.

I often look at stats from the previous season (especially if they were promoted) and analyze where the player succeeded versus where they lacked. While wRC+ is my go-to stat to analyze hitters, I often put heavy stock into K% and BB%. Plate discipline is one of the under-appreciated skills for hitters, and many tools require strong discipline. For pitchers, strikeout and walk rates are also key in my rankings, as both illustrate a pitcher's performance one-on-one with the batter.

Obviously tools come into play in determining who the best prospects are. Personally, I view plate discipline(as noted before) and the ability to make consistent contact as paramount for position players. Without either of those, a hitter will struggle immensely to reach the majors. With pitchers, I want them to have at least solid control above all else so they can build their pitches from there.

As a whole, I would rather see a balance of tools (Chih-Wei Hu) than one tool carrying you (Justin O'Conner). While tools may indicate the general area of the list a player would fall, I often end up falling back on stats when I have to make a final choice between two players.

General Notes on the Rays System

The strongest two positions in the system are pitcher and outfielder, which we all knew by now. There are strong pitchers throughout the Top 30, with consensus No. 1 Blake Snell leading the charge. In addition, first baseman Jake Bauers could end up in the outfield, only boosting his value. Look for Justin Williams to have a breakout this year. He had a monster winter in the Australian League, and that momentum could continue to this spring.

Shortstop is another position to like, with strong options throughout the system. They are very spread out through the minors as well, from young players like Adrian Rondon in the short-season leagues to Taylor Motter poised to join the major-league club very soon.

I see catcher as the biggest hole ahead of second base since there is far more uncertainty behind the plate. Ryan Brett is ready to break into the majors and Daniel Robertson could see a switch to second, providing some added depth to the position. On the other hand, Chris Betts is the best catching prospect in the system but has yet to play a game. In addition, while Justin O'Conner has a cannon of an arm, it will be hard to justify promoting him if he continues to struggle hitting.

Four players from the 2015 draft made it onto the list. First- and fifth-round outfielders Garrett Whitley and Joe McCarthy slide in at Nos. 6 and 30, respectively. The aforementioned second-rounder Betts also made the cut. We will have a better idea of how he looks after we see him in some games this summer. Finally, I like righty Brandon Koch's stuff a lot, but his ceiling is only so high as a reliever, so it's hard to move him higher on this list.

The Rays system ranked in the mid-teens across most outlets. They may fall as top prospects graduate to the majors, but the development of younger players could keep the system from dropping. In addition, the draft should add more talented young players to the system. 2016 will be a fun year to keep track of the system.