As we wait for the winter meetings to begin and for both the free agent and trade market to get going, we DRB writers are putting our heads together to create our DRB Rays Top 50 Prospect list.
Our goal here is to provide perspective on the Rays organizational depth, both updating our readers on some familiar names, and highlighting a few newcomers. With this series, we’ll refresh our assessments of the ranks and get set for the 2018 season.
The aim is to publish five prospect posts per week, for a process expected to take up to 10 weeks in total. We’ll be creating a reference page to provide an easily accessible overview.
To kick things off, we’ll start with a guy whose star fell thanks to a year lost to injury. He did make the cut, however, despite not throwing a regular season pitch last year, somewhat of a feat in itself!
No.55, Kevin Joel Gadea , RHP, 22 yrs old
Born: December 6th, 1994 in Nicaragua
Height/Weight: 6’5” 240 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R
Twitter handle: @kevin_gadea32
Baseball America Rankings
- Pre-2017: Ranked 25th among Rays prospects
*Did not make Fangraphs pre-2017 Top 31 Rays prospects
DRB Writers ranking
- High: 47
- Low: 51
- Average: 49.5
Kevin Gadea: Abilities
- Fastball: 91-95 MPH
- Change Up: Mid-80s (flashes plus)
- Curve: Upper 70s
- Control: Has been noted by BA as “impeccable”
- Abilities: Not only does he have the stuff to keep hitters off balance and to miss bats, but his makeup and confidence are what allowed the Rays to consider moving him from A ball to MLB in one swift move.
Joined the Rays by way of....
Selected 4th overall in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, from the Seattle Mariners, on Dec 8th 2016.
Chaim Bloom on Gadea when acquired, “You're looking at a guy that is a starter profile that has a chance. He's got a good foundation in place with the size and delivery and ability to command the fastball and is a strike-thrower and that also has a good chance to stick, which is what you need these guys to do to be able to help a 'pen now as we bring him along."
As noted when acquired, “Taking Gadea was a bit out of character for a team that prides itself on drafting and developing its own starting pitchers. For the bullpen, the Rays tend to seek major-league veterans.”
Latest Transaction: Gadea (elbow) was activated from the disabled list and outrighted to Triple-A Durham on Sunday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (10/8/2017)
Facts, Honors, and Awards
- Has a home in Chinandega, in the North-West of Nicaragua, population 134K
- Gadea began as a third baseman before converting to the mound late in his amateur career on the recommendation of Mariners Nicaragua scout Luis Molina.
- Has been well received within the Rays organization as a whole as pointed out from this quote (translated from Spanish)
- The article linked above also points out an important fact in reference to Gadea. If the Rays can meet the requirement of at least 90 days on the active roster in 2018, the Rays will have full control of him and will be able to keep him in the minors for more development.
- His last Tweet was a Retweet of the following in February 2017,
The pitcher highlighted today by #Rays Kevin Cash was Kevin Gadea, who was throwing in front of an MLB manager for the first time.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) February 14, 2017
Obviously things didn’t turn out as most would of liked from that point onwards.
- You can read up on how things shook out for him last spring here.
- His selection in the Rule 5 draft should act as a major indication of just how much faith the Rays had in his talents at the time, which is explained well by Chain Bloom in this quote
"You go from A ball and now you're in major-league spring training with a chance to make a team," Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said. "It's got to be kind of a wild experience."
Wild, yes, but also indicative of how impressed the Rays scouting must have been with his stuff.
Kevin Gadea 2016 (AZL & MWL)
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Stats Notes: Over his 225.1 innings in the minors over 4 seasons, Gadea has only allowed 201 hits, walked 62, and struck out 228 hitters, good for a 1.17 Whip.
Also took part in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier for Nicaragua in 2016, albeit only for 2 IP (1 hit, 1 BB, 1 K).
Interesting Comparison: Brad Boxberger
- Although they differ in size (Gadea has 3 inches on Boxy), both work their FB between 91 and 94 MPH, touching 95 MPH, and both are relievers who can use the change as a strike out pitch. Gadea’s change up has been graded by Baseball America as “above-average and flashes plus”.
- BA also talk up his plus control, which bodes well for a back-of-the-pen reliever who can handle closing opportunities well if ever given the chance.
Notes for 2018 and beyond
Gadea will remain a polarizing prospect until he puts in a full season and gets to show the world what he’s capable of. Some will point to his past and say it’s indicative of what he’s capable of in the future, others will remain skeptical due to long-lingering health concerns.
Few would claim, however, that Gadea doesn’t have the talents to make it to MLB and be an effective - if not dominant - reliever if he can get healthy and attaint the experience he needs.
In 2016, LoA LHB only managed a .222 average against him, and RHB only managed .213. His 11 BB to 72 K ratio in only 50 innings there was outstanding that year and an indication of how effectively he commanded his pitches and was able to keep them off balance.
That was LoA. If Gadea is healthy to begin the season, and remains with the Rays, it’s likely he’ll get a shot to begin the year in Charlotte (HiA) (Topkin recently noted he was “likely headed to Class A”) where he can continue to be monitored closely health wise. A strong first half could get him promoted quickly to AA, and he could move quickly enough to get a shot at AAA by season’s end.
While it’s possible that he reaches MLB in 2018 if all of the stars align, a more likely scenario has the Rays getting Gadea healthy again with the experience he needs up to the AAA level and ready to produce for them in 2019 and beyond.
Gadea’s 50th spot ranking on our list is a wildcard vote reflecting our hopes that he’ll get a chance to prove himself. With the talents required to succeed, health alone stands between him and a shot at The Show. We’ll be cheering for him to get healthy this season and become a prominent part of the Rays pen in 2019 and beyond.
Before we move onto #49, here’s a short Spotlight Video on Gadea.
Kevin Gadea: Spotlight Video
Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 50 Rays Prospects
*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list
- #25 - C Ronaldo Hernandez
- #26 - RHP Diego Castillo
- #27 - RHP Jaime Schultz
- #28 - SS Jelfry Marte
- #29 - LHP Resly Linares
- #30 - SS Jermaine Palacios
- #31 - C Nick Ciuffo
- #32 - RHP Michael Mercado
- #33 - INF Jake Cronenworth
- #34 - 2B Brandon Lowe
- #35 - RHP Curtis Taylor
- #36 - OF Ryan Boldt
- #37 - RHP Jose Mujica
- #38 - 3B Adrian Rondon
- #39 - 3B Carlos Vargas
- #40 - LHP Brock Burke
- #41 - SS Zach Rutherford
- #42 - RHP Hunter Wood
- #43 - 2B Tristan Gray
- #44 - CF Jake Fraley
- #45 - C Brett Sullivan
- #46 - LHP Travis Ott
- #47 - RHP Mikey York
- #48 - RP Brandon Koch
- #49 - UT Luis Rengifo
- #50 - RP Ian Gibaut
- #51 - INF Taylor Walls
- #52 - 2B Jonathan Aranda
- #53 - P Jhonleider Salinas
- #54 - C Chris Betts
#55 - RP Kevin Gadea