“When we saw Burch in September, he was a major league pitcher. Obviously everybody saw him in the fall league and saw what he can do. It’s an upper 90s fastball and it's a plus changeup he’ll use in any count with a solid breaking ball," Royals pro scouting director Gene Watson said.
I’m not going to criticize the Rays too much for doing what they think is right regarding a player’s development and then deciding, with all the information they have, that they don’t want to protect him, but I do wonder if maybe, just maybe, sending guys you might want to sneak through the Rule 5 draft to the AFL is a bad idea.
Rays Radio has audio from Chaim Bloom on the Rule 5 draft. He says the Rays are happy to see Smith get the chance in KC. Give it a listen.
Speaking of prospects, the Baseball Prospectus Rays Top-10 prospects list is out. It’s got a ton of good information. It’s also behind the pay wall, so I’m not going to share too much of the BP folks’ good work. But here’s a teaser. In their ranking of Lucius Fox as the Rays number eight prospect, BP said Fox has no power. But in the “second opinion” section, Javier Barragan argued with that characterization:
Fox is never going to be a home run hitter, but that doesn’t mean he has to be devoid of power. We’ve seen many hitters, including guys we never thought would hit for power, elevate the ball more often and find extra bases in their swings, even if they aren’t home runs. Fox is just 20 years old and still filling out physically. He’s got an athletic body and even he never truly “bulks up,” he can add some good weight to be able to get the ball into the gaps, if not over the fence. Should he find those gaps more consistently, Fox goes from a glove-first shortstop who creates value with his legs to…well, still those things, but the gap between the glove and the bat is smaller, which could raise the value considerably and make him less of a one-dimensional player. It’s easy to look at Fox’s numbers and current frame and have doubts but we shouldn’t ignore that, even if they’re not likely, changes to his physique and swing could raise his ceiling considerably.
Meanwhile, Marc Topkin wrote about how nothing happened with the Cardinals . . . yet. The more interesting report is that Jonny Venters will continue his comeback attempt with the Rays. Will be with them again this Spring.
And finally, former-Ray sightings:
Sources: #Indians agree to minor-league deal with Melvin Upton Jr.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2017
And Steve Cishek will go to the Cubs.