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2017 DRaysBay Community Prospect No. 22

David Rodriguez is swinging a hot bat this offseason, and people are noticing

David Rodriguez hopes to carry this offseason’s success into 2017
Jim Donten

We finally have our first catcher on the list. Eventually, the Rays will have a quality, homegrown catcher. Probably.

I’ll take two testers this weekend if people are interested.

2017 Community Prospect List

Player Votes Total Percentage
Player Votes Total Percentage
SS Willy Adames 22 35 62.9%
RHP Brent Honeywell 36 37 97.3%
RHP Jose De Leon
1B/OF Jake Bauers 22 38 57.9%
1B Casey Gillaspie 24 34 70.6%
RHP Chih-Wei Hu 16 38 42.1%
3B Joshua Lowe* 20 32 62.5%
RHP Jacob Faria 24 41 58.5%
OF Jesus Sanchez 19 37 51.4%
IF Daniel Robertson 15 34 44.1%
IF Adrian Rondon 16 40 40.0%
RHP Jaime Schultz 13 43 30.2%
SS Lucius Fox 11 32 34.4%
3B Kevin Padlo 10 37 27.0%
OF Garrett Whitley 13 36 36.1%
RHP Hunter Wood 12 37 32.4%
OF Justin Williams 17 39 43.6%
RHP Taylor Guerrieri 15 31 48.4%
LHP Ryan Yarbrough 26 38 68.4%
RHP Ryne Stanek 14 35 40.0%
C David Rodriguez 14 32 43.8%
RHP Austin Franklin 10 32 31.3%
LHP Genesis Cabrera 9 30 30.0%
C Nick Ciuffo 12 34 35.3%
OF Joe McCarthy* 25 34 73.5%
C Brett Sullivan 10 37 27.0%
IF Carlos Vargas 11 36 30.6%
OF Jake Fraley 17 37 45.9%
RHP Kevin Gadea 16 36 44.4%
C Chris Betts 13 31 41.9%

C Chris Betts (L/R, 6'2 215, 20 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays and short-season Hudson Valley: 145 PA, .179/.345/.250, 6 2B, 18.6 BB%, 24.8 K%

After Tommy John surgery delayed his pro debut by a year, Betts took to the field in 2016 and had a hard time. It's not a surprise that a player who missed as much time as he did would have a hard time getting his timing down. As an amateur, he showed plus power potential with a smooth swing geared for contact. He has the arm strength to catch, but he's raw behind the plate and could eventually prove to be too big for the position.

OF Eleardo Cabrera (L/R, 5'11 195, 21 in 2017)

2016 statistics with rookie-level Princeton: 270 PA, .311/.375/.466, 7 HR, 21 XBH, 8-for-12 SB, 6.3 BB%, 27.0 K%

Cabrera burst onto the domestic-league scene in 2016 with a strong season for Princeton. He led the Appalachian League in hits, tied for the league lead in homers and was among the team leaders in many offensive categories. However, it's his strong arm and outfield defense that are his calling cards. He makes good contact and has some speed, but he has to work on his approach.

LHP Genesis Cabrera (6'1 170, 20 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green: 116 IP, 3.88 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 9.8 BB%, 19.6 K%

As one of the 10 youngest pitchers in the Midwest League, and second youngest to throw 100-plus innings, Cabrera enjoyed a solid 2016 season with the Hot Rods. According to 2080 Baseball, his fastball touches the mid-90s with a promising breaking ball and changeup. He struggled down the stretch, which could certainly be a result of fatigue, as he set a career high in innings by 86 2/3 frames. He should cut down on his walks a bit, but he wasn't hopelessly wild.

C Nick Ciuffo (L/R, 6'1 205, 22 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 242 PA, .262/.288/.297, 8 2B, 3.7 BB%, 18.6 K%

Ciuffo's defense has really come along since the Rays made him a first-round pick in 2013. He's thrown out nearly 50 percent of attempted base stealers in his career, and Florida State League managers voted him the top defensive backstop in the league in 2016. Prior to a mid-season finger injury, he was showing a little progress at the plate with a .289 average in 174 plate appearances. Despite having above-average raw power, he has only homered once since 2014. He has to tighten up his plate approach.

OF Johnny Field (R/R, 5'10 180, 25 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 491 PA, .273/.322/.453, 51 XBH, 12 HR, 16-for-24 SB, 6.1 BB%, 21.6 K%

After losing Tyler Goeddel and Joey Rickard in last year's Rule 5 draft, the Rays risked losing another right-handed-hitting outfielder this time around, but they were able to retain Field. He has already had a lot of success in the upper minors with a .776 OPS in nearly 1,000 plate appearances at Double A and Triple A. He may not stand out tools-wise, but he's a grinder who can fake it in center field and show some gap power.

OF Jake Fraley (L/L, 6'0 195, 22 in 2017)

2016 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 239 PA, .238/.339/.364, 7 3B, 33-for-42 SB, 10.9 BB%, 14.2 K%

Fraley's pro career got off to an atrocious start, but a scorching August that saw him collect 12 of his 17 extra-base hits created a much more respectable stat line. Whether he was hitting or not, he was stealing bases whenever he had the chance. He only needed 55 games to lead the entire organizations in steals. His speed also makes him a very good defender in center field. He has to maintain his patient approach at the plate and excel at putting the ball in play to fully utilize his athleticism.

RHP Austin Franklin (6'3 215, 19 in 2017)

2016 statistics with the Gulf Coast League Rays: 43 1/3 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.1 BB%, 22.7 K%

Franklin was the Rays' third-round pick from a Florida high school, and he made a good impression in his pro debut. His best pitch is an above-average curveball that helped him strike out nearly a batter an inning. With his size, he throws an average-or-better fastball in the low-90s that will generate ground balls at a nice clip. He has to develop his changeup and build up his workload, like any other young pitcher.

OF Nathan Lukes (L/R, 5'11 185, 22 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Class-A Lake County, Class A-Advanced Lynchburg and Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 487 PA, .282/.349/.414, 37 XBH, 15-for-24 SB, 8.2 BB%, 15.2 K%

Lukes was acquired from Cleveland when it traded for HBP King Brandon Guyer. He was only hit by six pitches in 2016, but he does have some other skills. He has enough athleticism to play all three outfield spots and steal some bags, but he wasn't particularly efficient in 2016. There won't be many dingers coming off his bat, but his patient, contact-oriented approach give him value at the plate.

OF Joe McCarthy (L/L, 6'3 225, 23 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green and Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 430 PA, .285/.398/.430, 32 XBH, 8 HR, 19-for-24 SB, 14.2 BB%, 15.8 K%

The Red Scare started the season with a conservative assignment to the Midwest League, but he ended up playing more games in the Florida State League with Charlotte. McCarthy spent most of the early months only playing first base, but he was back in his natural outfield spots later. He adds value in the field and on the bases with decent athleticism. At the plate, he makes good contact and really knows the strike zone. How much power he'll hit for in games remains an open question.

C Brett Sullivan (L/R, 6'1 195, 23 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green: 501 PA, .283/.314/.438, 13 HR, 47 XBH, 17-for-21 SB, 4.8 BB%, 14.0 K%

Sullivan became a catcher last offseason, but he didn't let that focus on a new position affect him at the plate. His 13 home runs tied him for 10th among all minor league catchers, and his 34 doubles were tied for first. Although he doesn't strike out much, his aggressive approach will be tested at higher levels. He threw out 38 percent of attempted base stealers in his catching debut, and thanks to his athleticism, he's making progress overall behind the plate.

SS Carlos Vargas (R/R, 6'3 170, 18 in 2017)

2016 statistics with Dominican Summer League Mariners: 256 PA, .242/.344/.391, 7 HR, 12.5 BB%, 13.7 K%

Seattle signed Vargas for $1.625 million in 2015, and he quickly made an impact in his pro debut. While he may be hard-pressed to stay at shortstop when he gets bigger, he has the power potential to profile elsewhere on the diamond. His swing is geared for power, and adding strength certainly won't hurt. If he's able to maintain a low strikeout rate when he comes to the U.S. in 2017, he'll be a dangerous hitter.