Welcome to the latest edition of the DRaysBay Community Prospect poll. Last week, we posted a preview with a description of how things work. I’ll reiterate some of the key points here:
If you’ve never seen it before, it’s quite simple, albeit it not as simple as just setting up a poll. In the comments section, there will be a selection of players available. You just have to reply to the comment with that player’s name with “+1.”
We encourage you to vote for the player you honestly feel is best, even if he doesn’t appear to have a chance of winning that vote.
Please vote using whichever criteria you prefer! If you like stats, use stats. If you like scouting reports, reference those reports. There’s no one right way to do this — that’s what makes this exercise fun.
If you want to vote for a player who is not listed, there will be an “Others” comment. Reply to that comment with the name of your selection. This is incredibly rare because there will eventually be up to 10 players to choose from, but it’s possible a player you feel strongly about slipped through the cracks.
If you want to nominate a player to be included in the next poll, reply to the “Testers” comment with that player’s name. I will often limit the number of players accepted for the next poll to prevent the list from becoming cumbersome. All players in one poll who do not win the vote are automatically included in the next poll — there is no need to renominate.
Here are your choices for the No. 1 spot.
SS Willy Adames (R/R, 6’0 200, 22 in 2018)
2017 statistics with Triple-A Durham: 578 PA, .277/.360/.415, 30 2B, 10 HR, 11-of-16 SB, 11.2 BB%, 22.9 K%
Despite a slow start in which he batted .230 with a .309 on-base percentage through two months, Adames’ 2017 season ended up remarkably similar to his 2016 campaign with Montgomery. In addition to his solid defense at shortstop, he has a plate approach that’ll allow him to bat at or near the top of a major league lineup, and he has some power potential as well. He’s knocking on the door of the majors and should be the Rays’ starting shortstop sooner rather than later.
1B/OF Jake Bauers (L/L, 6’1 195, 22 in 2018)
2017 statistics with Triple-A Durham: 575 PA, .263/.368/.412, 31 2B, 13 HR, 20-of-23 SB, 13.6 BB%, 19.5 K%
Like Adames, Bauers’ 2017 season with Durham was very similar to his 2016 with Montgomery, although it is perhaps notable that his strikeout rate was a new career high. Despite that, his hit tool is still his best, and that’s what will get him to the majors. He’s able to wait for his pitch and make good contact. His 45 extra-base hits tied a career high, and he could have average power. After two seasons of experimentation in the outfield, he seems more and more like a regular first baseman.
RHP Brent Honeywell (6’2 180, 23 in 2018)
2017 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 136 2⁄3 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.2 BB%, 30.3 K%
After returning to Montgomery to start the season, it did not take Honeywell long to earn an opportunity in the International League, where he continued to establish himself as a top pitching prospect. Only 10 pitchers with 100-plus innings struck out batters at a greater rate than he did, and only two of those had a lower walk rate. He does it with a plus fastball and impressive array of above-average secondary offerings, including his changeup, screwball and curveball.
1B/LHP Brendan McKay (L/L, 6’2 212, 22 in 2018)
2017 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 149 PA, .232/.349/.376, 4 HR, 14.1 BB%, 22.1 K% — 20 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 6.8 BB%, 28.8 K%
The Rays chose McKay with the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft, giving them the opportunity to develop a unique two-way talent. Maybe it’s not likely that he’s still pitching and hitting when he reaches the majors, but he’s talented in both roles. No one knows what will happen.
On the mound, his fastball leads a group of three above-average pitches that includes a breaking ball and changeup. He throws strikes and would move through the system quickly as a starter. At the plate, he makes good contact with above-average power potential.
OF Jesus Sanchez (L/R, 6’3 210, 20 in 2018)
2017 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green: 512 PA, .305/.348/.478, 15 HR, 48 XBH, 6.3 BB%, 17.8 K%
On a Bowling Green team filled with some of the organization’s best talent, particularly in the outfield, Sanchez stood out in all phases of the game. His .305 average was actually the lowest of his career so far. He has great hand-eye coordination and does not strike out often despite his fairly aggressive approach. He has above-average power potential, which is enough to profile in a corner outfield spot, where he’ll be a quality defender with solid athleticism and arm strength.