clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Scott's preseason top-30 prospect list for 2016

After the community has spent months voting, I will now post my list individually like there's something inherently special or interesting about it

The caption that comes with this photo in the editor identifies Taylor Motter as the right fielder, but this looks an awful lot like the infield
The caption that comes with this photo in the editor identifies Taylor Motter as the right fielder, but this looks an awful lot like the infield
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The community has weighed in at the polls, and now several writers will share their personal top-30 lists throughout March.

Usually when I do this, there are one or two players whose placement makes me nervous when it comes time to publish. This year, though, I think what I put together is pretty mainstream without wild outliers. Maybe Velazquez is too high, or maybe I don't give Bellatti enough credit for being major league ready. The seemingly large separation between Whitley and Betts-- who were both first-round talents-- does seem kind of big, but that's for you to pick apart if you'd like.

1. LHP Blake Snell (Last season: 13/community: 1)

Snell is an easy choice for the No. 1 spot. He has a high ceiling and could be major league ready today. Only the best prospects can check both of those boxes.

2. RHP Brent Honeywell (8/4)

The new Rays regime seems to be more aggressive promoting prospects in-season, and Honeywell was one of those players. After a slow start with Charlotte, he quickly returned to form.

3. RHP Taylor Guerrieri (5/5)

It was great to see Guerrieri back on the mound in 2015 following his Tommy John surgery rehab. His stats were great, but can he sustain it facing bigger workloads throughout a season?

4. SS Willy Adames (3/2)

It's hard to pin down exactly who Adames is. Is he a shortstop? Will he make enough contact? Will the power come? I'll bet on him in 2016 in what will hopefully be a healthy season in a more favorable offensive environment.

5. SS Daniel Robertson (1/6)

After coming back from a broken hamate, Robertson batted .279 with a .392 on-base percentage. He needs his modest power to return in 2016.

6. 1B/OF Jake Bauers (29/3)

Bauers does not fit the conventional first base profile, but it's impossible to ignore how well he performs against pitchers much older than him. Reaching Double A as a 19-year-old puts him in rare company.

7. RHP Jacob Faria (NR/7)

Faria was always a solid performer, but he broke out in a big way in 2015. In half a season with Double-A Montgomery, he struck out over 30 percent of opposing batters.

8. 3B/1B/OF Richie Shaffer (NR/8)

From O'Conner last season to Shaffer this season, I seem to be too quick to write off top picks that have been disappointments. Shaffer had a major rebound in 2015, and his right-handed power is a rare commodity.

9. CF Garrett Whitley (NA/9)

Whitley did not have a perfect transition to professional baseball after the Rays drafted him with the No. 13 pick in 2015. Patience is key as he learns to translate tools into in-game production. It may not happen immediately.

10. OF Mikie Mahtook (14/10)

What to make of Mahtook's 2015 season? His power in the majors was unbelievable, but his second season in Triple A was underwhelming. In a crowded outfield, he may have to perform over an entire season to break through.

11. 1B Casey Gillaspie (10/11)

A broken finger made it difficult to judge Gillaspie's season. He had no problem in the Midwest League, as should be the case for any experienced, highly touted college hitter. He needs that kind of performance in 2016.

12. IF Andrew Velazquez (7/24)

I admit that I may be giving Velazquez too much of the benefit of the doubt for past performance. While he was hurt, I'm not sure how a hand injury causes him to go from 50 steals in 2014 to five in 2015.

13. RHP Chih-Wei Hu (NA/20)

There are some concerns that Hu's body-- listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds-- will prevent him from starting. I'm more interested in his solid arsenal and strong performance throughout his professional career to date.

14. SS Adrian Rondon (12/14)

Rondon's 2015 season proves how difficult pro ball can be. Everyone seems to believe his outstanding tools are still there, but the Gulf Coast League may have been too much as a 16-year-old.

15. 3B Kevin Padlo (NA/17)

There is no question that Padlo's short-season stats put him in pretty elite company. His first crack at full-season baseball did not go well, but he should be more prepared for his second chance this season.

16. C Chris Betts (NA/15)

Betts' bat behind the plate gives him All-Star potential, and if he does have to change positions, his bat should still play anywhere. It's too bad Tommy John surgery delays his pro debut until later this season.

17. C Justin O'Conner (2/19)

O'Conner's aggressive plate approach hurt him in a disappointing 2015 season. His defensive tools will get him to the big club, but he may just not hit enough to play regularly.

18. RHP Brandon Koch (NA/22)

As far as relief prospects go, Koch is pretty impressive. Everyone knew about his back-of-the-bullpen stuff, but he pounded the strike zone more than expected in his professional debut in 2015.

19. LHP Enny Romero (11/16)

It seems like Romero's results never quite match his stuff. It was always easy to compare him to Alex Colome, and maybe like Colome, a relief role will suit him better.

20. RHP Andrew Bellatti (NR/21)

Bellatti was always in the weeds of prospect status with good minor league performances, but improved fastball velocity in 2015 really got him on the map. Cheap, quality relief is always important to the Rays, and he could provide it.

21. OF Justin Williams (16/12)

Can Williams make his aggressive plate approach work? The good news is that he doesn't strike out a ton, so maybe if he can wait for his pitch a little more often, he can tap into his raw power.

22. 2B Ryan Brett (6/18)

Brett made his major league debut in 2015, but his disappointing season overall was almost under the radar in prospect talk. He struck out more, walked less, hit less and hit for less power than usual, but hopefully that can be chalked up to the major shoulder injury he sustained early in the season.

23. UT Taylor Motter (NR/13)

I could certainly be undervaluing Motter here. He'll play wherever his manager pencils him in at, and if he keeps hitting and running the bases the way he has, Kevin Cash will eventually want him in the lineup as much as possible.

24. RHP Jaime Schultz (NR/27)

Schultz's stuff is among the best in the organization. He can certainly be an impact arm, maybe even as a starter, but I'd like to see a sustained period of mostly working in the strike zone before I rank him higher.

25. OF Joe McCarthy (NA/28)

If the Red Scare develops, it wouldn't be the first time the Rays were beneficiaries of a college injury affecting the draft stock of a prospect from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He's a good athlete with a nice plate approach, but the Rays hope is back is healthy and some power returns to his swing.

26. OF Johnny Field (25/25)

Field was not quite the same player he was in 2014, but then again, it would've been hard to play that well again. Despite that, his power, speed and ability to play every outfield spot give him nice value.

27. C Nick Ciuffo (18/NR)

Earlier, I said that I'm trying to be more patient with highly touted players not performing well. That said, time has to be running out for Ciuffo. He's doing what he has to defensively, but at some point, he needs to show progress with his bat.

28. RHP Hunter Wood (NR/23)

This could be a bit low on Wood. His strikeout rates have always been impressive, and improved control has gotten him on the map. Just based on stuff, he could be ranked higher, but his track record in the rotation is still pretty short.

29. RHP Jose Mujica (NR/NR)

The Rays had to pay quite a but of money to secure Mujica several seasons ago, but their investment might be paying off. His strikeout rate with Bowling Green was not what it has to be, but he's still not even 20. He throws strikes with nice stuff.

30. 3B Patrick Leonard (24/29)

Tyler Goeddel's move to the outfield last season gave Leonard a chance to move back to third base, increasing his value. The Rays would love to see the power he showed in his pro debut in 2012 come back.


Taking a bird's-eye view of the organization, I think the bats are a little deeper with 19 hitters in my top 30 compared to obviously 11 pitchers. That said, the trio of Snell, Honeywell and Guerrieri at the top is strong and stacks up well compared to a lot of other clubs.

In regards to the pitching, it seems like the "second tier", if you will, is a bit thin. I'd put Hu there, and German Marquez would have been. At the end of this season, arms like Wood, Mujica, Varga or even Garrett Fulenchek could be there. Some would argue Fulenchek already is, and I don't have a problem with that.

As I alluded to in some of the comments, I'm trying to be more patient with higher picks having disappointing seasons. I feel like I've been burned by impatience with guys like O'Conner and Shaffer in back-to-back years. I know some people don't like that because a player's merits should be determined on the field and not in a signing bonus, but generally I think teams know what they're doing, which means there's a reason a player who is drafted high or gets a bigger bonus.

Of course, that can reach the point of silliness-- see Mark Appel for one example. He's not the No. 1 guy anymore. No one should be expecting that from him at this point. However, everything's not going to click right away for every talented player, high school, college or overseas. Maybe it takes a Whitley or Rondon longer for things to click like O'Conner or Shaffer.

This is a deep organization. If you're looking for some players that just missed, how about Greg Harris, David Rodriguez, Jesus Sanchez, Riley Unroe or Cameron Varga?