Prospect lists during the season are always tough. Performances fluctuate, there are new players in the mix, and you have less time to think about what you're doing, although sometimes that can be a good thing.
Nevertheless, it's list time after the trade deadline. There are draft picks and deadline acquisitions, so it's nice to see how everyone stacks up. I'll try to explain my thinking and answer questions. Preseason rank will be in parenthesis. If the player wasn't ranked, it'll say NR. If the player wasn't in the organization at all, it'll say NA.
John Town made his midseason list a couple weeks ago.
1. SS Willy Adames (4)
Adames' breakout season with Double-A Montgomery makes him a fairly easy choice here. At the plate, he's doing everything you want to see. Whether he's a shortstop or not, he owns an impact bat.
2. RHP Brent Honeywell (2)
It's a little troubling that Honeywell missed some time with elbow soreness, but if it's still bugging him now, it's not affecting his performance. Like Adames, it won't be long until he arrives at Tropicana Field.
3. 1B/OF Jake Bauers (6)
Since Casey Gillaspie departed and Justin Williams arrived with the Biscuits, Bauers has played a lot more first base, though I don't know if that says anything about his ability. Baseball America seemed pretty bullish about his play out there in its midseason update.
4. RHP Jacob Faria (7)
Faria's walk rate has climbed as he's advanced through the organization, and that is concerning. However, he has pitched well his entire career, and I expect he'll get back in the strike zone soon enough.
5. RHP Chih-Wei Hu (13)
Hu has continued to pitch well in 2016. Maybe he doesn't have super upside, but he has the pitches and control to start. There have been concerned about his body -- he's listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds -- but he looked fine to me on the Futures Game broadcast.
6. SS Adrian Rondon (14)
Rondon best exemplifies the difficulties of a midseason prospect list. After a terrible 2015, he's been killing the ball this season and looking like the player the Rays thought they were getting in 2014. What if he bats .100 the rest of the season, though? Suddenly, his OPS isn't over .900 anymore, and maybe the concerns of last year are back.
7. 3B Joshua Lowe (NA)
Lowe had no problem shaking off a slow start to his professional career and earning a promotion to Princeton. Whether it means anything or not, it's fun to see a highly touted player hit the ground running as a pro.
8. RHP Taylor Guerrieri (3)
Guerrieri's ride with the Rays has been a roller coaster. From the nebulous "makeup problems" as an amateur, to the late pro debut, to the elbow injury, to the suspension, to the long road back from Tommy John surgery, he's been in the news a lot. Generally, the results of been very good. It's a huge positive he's stayed healthy, but his 14.8 percent strikeout rate is poor.
9. SS Lucius Fox (NA)
When the Giants signed Fox in 2015, he got the biggest bonus ever for a non-Cuban international free agent. He was not seen as the best player in the class, but he does have great talent. Like Rondon, though, he's struggling in his pro debut when San Francisco assigned him to the South Atlantic League this season. Let's see what he does with a new organization in 2017. If he can run Wayne Enterprises, he can hit a baseball.
10. CF Garrett Whitley (9)
On my preseason list, I stressed patience with Whitley. His performance this season calls for continued patience. He'll still be just 20 next season, but at some point, he'll certainly have to hit.
11. IF Daniel Robertson (5)
Robertson's performance has been pretty mediocre. Thanks to his nice plate approach, his .344 on-base percentage is solid despite a low average , and he's not hitting for any power. He's still the eighth youngest player in the International League.
12. 1B Casey Gillaspie (11)
Gillaspie has been much better this season compared to 2015. His strike-zone judgment is still good, and the power you traditionally want to see from a first baseman has been there most of the season. He has just three home runs since the calendar flipped to July, though.
13. RHP Jaime Schultz (24)
Schultz has been a better pitcher this season, and he's on the cusp of the majors. However, vintage Schultz has been creeping back into the picture as of late with 18 walks in his last five starts totaling 22 innings. Maybe he's a reliever in the end, but he could continue to improve.
14. COF Justin Williams (21)
I'm still not sure what to make of Williams. It's hard to imagine a player with a walk rate as low as his can swing his way to the majors, but it's not an accident that he already finds himself in Double A as a 20-year-old. He hits for a high average and rarely strikes out, but to add consistent power to his game, he'll probably have to become more selective.
15. 3B/1B/COF Richie Shaffer (8)
Shaffer certainly doesn't seem to be the same player he was in his breakout 2015 season, and I'm not sure why. His strikeout and walk rates from his 2015 and 2016 minor league seasons are comparable, and his BABIP hasn't plummeted. For some reason, it just seems like he's not hitting the ball as hard this season.
16. RHP Hunter Wood (28)
It's a shame that a thumb injury disrupted Wood's breakout 2016 season. His walk rate was again too high in limited action after a promotion to Montgomery, but he seemed like he was settling in as a starter and maybe have a chance to succeed in that role.
17. RHP Ryne Stanek (NR)
I'd guess Wood over Stanek may raise some eyebrows. I give Wood the slight edge because he still has a chance to start, while that ship seems to have sailed with Stanek. His Futures Game appearance wasn't a good first look for a lot of people, but no one's going to pitch great every time out.
18. 3B Kevin Padlo (15)
Padlo's season certainly hasn't been consistently great, but it does appear he has fully transitioned to full-season ball compared to his 2015 go-around in the Rockies organization. It would be great if he cut down on his strikeouts and hit for a higher average. He's still very young.
19. C Nick Ciuffo (27)
Ciuffo's performance hasn't really merited a huge bump, but here we are. Since July 2015, he's batted .297, but it's an empty .297 with few walks and hardly any power. It's better than not hitting at all, and reviews of his defense continue to be very good.
20. C Chris Betts (16)
Betts is healthy and back on the field, and that's nice to see. He's dropped a little here, but I'm surprised how much he did on MLB's list -- he plummeted from 16 to 29. That seems like a bit much to me.
21. RHP Brandon Koch (18)
Koch had a very good pro debut in 2015, but he has just seven innings this season due to right arm soreness. Obviously, that's not a good sign.
22. IF Jake Cronenworth (NR)
Prior to the 2015 draft, Baseball America's report indicated Cronenworth's future would be on the mound, not in the batter's box. The Rays were clearly onto something, as he has transitioned to shortstop where he could be a good defender. He makes good contact with a nice approach and plenty of athleticism.
23. 2B Ryan Brett (21)
Tommy John surgery will keep Brett out for the entire season. With Logan Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier likely around for a while, his path forward with the Rays may be blocked anyway. Not being on the field has also become a problem for him.
24. C Justin O'Conner (17)
O'Conner is on a rehab assignment for a back injury that has kept him out all season, so it won't be an entirely lost year. He's a difference maker behind the plate, but with a serious back injury and two major hip injuries, it's probably fair to question his long-term durability. That's not even getting into his troubling plate approach.
25. OF/1B Joe McCarthy (25)
The Red Scare has continued to produce for Bowling Green and now Charlotte. He makes good contact with a great approach, and his occasional forays into center field are interesting considering his back injury from college. It would still be nice to see more power.
26. RHP Yonny Chirinos (NR)
Chirinos is the kind of player who sometimes appears on a midseason list but not a preseason one. He really came out of nowhere last year with strong performances across three levels, and he's doing it again at three levels in 2016. The BA midseason update noted he has shown improved velocity, and he's still throwing a ton of strikes.
27. RHP Michael Santos (NA)
Santos was "the other guy" in the Matt Moore trade, but he shouldn't be confused with an organizational soldier. He's missed a lot of time lately with an injury sustained when he was hit in the head by a comebacker, but when he's on the mound, he throws strikes with a nice arsenal of pitches. He could help out Bowling Green this season.
28. RHP Jose Mujica (29)
It seems like we've been talking about Mujica for a long time, and that may be true. However, he's still only 20 years old. It's been an uneven season in the Midwest League, but July was easily his best month of the season. Batters had just a .489 OPS against him, but he needs more strikeouts.
29. LHP Genesis Cabrera (NR)
Now that Blake Snell has graduated, the Rays seem a bit thin on left-handed pitching prospects, but what are you going to do? He hasn't been as effective lately, but he's a pretty little guy who eclipsed his previous career-high in innings a long time ago. Maybe he's getting tired.
30. OF Jesus Sanchez (NR)
Sanchez has continued to hit in the U.S. after dominating the Dominican Summer League in 2015. His OBP is underwhelming, but he's making good contact and showing gap power. Let's see if he can continue his growth next season, maybe with a chance to show what he can do at Bowling Green.
That's a pretty deep organization. At the end, I went with some upside. I probably could've gone with players with a longer track record for at least the last three spots, but that's what I thought was best. Who else could have been included? Probably my next five, listed in alphabetical order, are: