Eric Longenhagen and Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs compiled information from various sources, including some of their own, and released their “Top 31 Rays Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays” list.
In an effort to get everyone over there to read through the details, I’ll only note the list below with the MLB.com and BA rankings next to each player’s name (NA if not ranked). I’ll also add a note or two about the ranking. Overall, this is a very solid list that has a few risky picks, so it’s worth the read through.
1 Willy Adames (MLB.com 1, BA 1)
- Unanimous, let’s move on.
2 Brent Honeywell (MLB.com 2, BA 2)
- Unanimous, let’s move on.
3 Jose DeLeon (MLB.com 3, BA NA - pre-trade)
- We’ll believe that BA would of had him 3rd (or so), let’s move on!
4 Jesus Sanchez (MLB.com 7, BA 7)
- Absolutely love the aggressive ranking here. I still have Bauers ahead of him, but that’s a great ranking.
5 Jake Bauers (MLB.com 4, BA 4)
- Should be spot ahead, but solid.
6 Josh Lowe (MLB.com 6, BA 6)
- Unanimous, let’s move on.
7 Chih-Wei Hu (MLB.com 8, BA 5)
- Fits between BA and MLB.com, and I like this ranking better. You don’t win the SL RHP of the year for no reason, and he belongs among the best.
8 Lucius Fox (MLB.com 14, BA 16)
- First shocker of the list. I’m a believer that in 2017 we’ll see Fox come around some, but I’m not sure I’d have him in the top 8. A few spots too high, but I appreciate the confidence.
9 Casey Gillaspie (MLB.com 5, BA 3)
- That Fox is ahead of him is a head-scratcher, but they substantiate it by saying “There’s inarguable raw power and patience here, but questions remain about how much Gillaspie is going to hit.” After watching him this spring, there’s little doubt that he’ll hit enough to tap into his power from both side of the plate.
10 Adrian Rondon (MLB.com 13, BA 14)
- This ranking is solid and is about where Rondon should rank.
11 Garrett Whitley (MLB.com 11, BA 10)
- My 2017 breakout candidate, Whitley’s set to turn some heads and it seems everyone keeps him in this spot waiting for that breakout to happen. May be in top 3 next year.
12 Daniel Robertson (MLB.com 17, BA 15)
- A little aggressive here as there was still some higher ceilinged talent to get to.
13 Austin Franklin (MLB.com 12, BA 11)
- Solid ranking, let’s move on!
14 Justin Williams (MLB.com 10, BA 9)
- Being a little more patient than other outlets who believe in the bat with Williams.
15 Jacob Faria (MLB.com 9, BA 8)
- This is about where Faria should be as he seems to be wavering between the SP and RP role at this point.
16 Ryne Stanek (MLB.com 16, BA 13)
17 Jake Fraley (MLB.com 25, BA 23)
- Fairly aggressive in comparison to other networks here, and there’s a good case for having Padlo and others ahead of Fraley, but it’s alright, really.
18 Diego Castillo (MLB.com NA, BA NA)
- Now things get really interesting. They note that “He was 96-100 with his fastball in the Arizona Fall League with a short but sharp upper-80s slider in the 84-88 mph range.” Ok, but there’s no way he belongs at 18 imo. This is a head scratcher.
19 Chris Betts (MLB.com 26, BA 26)
Still believing the hype in Betts, and I’m alright with that. This season will be so telling for him that this ranking makes sense.
20 Resly Linares (MLB.com NA, BA 30)
This is how they sell Linares being ahead of Padlo & co: “Linares is a projectable and quick-armed lefty with a fastball that currently resides in the 87-92 range and some breaking-ball feel. He’s still very thin, especially for a 19-year-old, but should grow into at least a bit more velocity as he matures.” That’s two guys in the top 20 that should be pushed back 6-7 spots imo (Castillo and Linares).
21 Michael Santos (MLB.com NA, BA NA)
- Rays fans may not know much about Santos, but there’s a lot to like in this arm. GreenJackets pitching coach Clay Rapada noted in May 2016 that "Santos' reputation is that of a strike-thrower," Rapada said. "He came into the organization with that rep and it's continued at this level. He's a really good ground-ball pitcher, but again, tonight he changed eye levels, which made his changeup and 12-to-6 curveball much more effective." He’s one of my favourite surprises in this group, so I like that he’s ranked here (might be a little high, though).
22 Kevin Padlo (MLB.com 19, BA 19)
- Still has to prove he can hit for average before everyone shows him more love. Solid ranking.
23 Taylor Guerrieri (MLB.com 18, BA 17)
- Somewhat more pessimistic that other outlets, they note: “There just isn’t as much arm acceleration here as there used to be, and the curveball is lacking the same depth and bite that once made Guerrieri such a desirable prospect, now profiling closer to average.” Agreed.
24 Hunter Wood (MLB.com 27, BA 27)
- They note how excellent his value will be whether he winds up in the 5th spot in the rotation or in the pen (I lean heavily towards RP).
25 Jaime Schultz (MLB.com 15, BA 12)
- Definitely a head scratcher here. They’re fairly critical of his delivery and note “It’s setup stuff, but middle-relief command.” This is one I have to completely disagree with simply because I believe a few tweaks can get him to where he needs to be, particularly as a RP. With his stuff, there’s closing material in that arm and makeup. Just as they projected future improvements with Fox and Rondon, they should have recognized the same with Schultz.
26 Greg Harris (MLB.com 28, BA 18)
- He’s in my top 20 as the most unheralded Rays prospect, so this is alright.
27 David Rodriguez (MLB.com 22, BA 24)
- Nailed the write up on D Rod, so have a look.
28 Jose Alvarado (MLB.com NA, BA 28)
- They may have landed a nickname when they say he has “monster stuff from the left side with a 95-99 MPH fastball and comfortably plus curveball”. This is one arm that may move quickly enough to make an impact as early as 2017, but more likely 2018.
29 Brandon Koch (MLB.com NA, BA NA)
- Hip issues are not kind to pitchers. I hope he stays healthy, because if he does this ranking was light.
30 Ryan Boldt (MLB.com 30, BA 22)
- Honestly, I didn’t understand the Rays drafting him.
31 Jhonleider Salinas (MLB.com NA, BA NA)
- Talk about going off the board!!! And it’s a great heads up addition to the board, as he was likely the less talked about but higher ceilinged return from the Brandon Guyer deal.
The most glaring omissions are OF/1B Joe McCarthy, C Nick Ciuffo, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, RHP Kevin Gaeda, RHP Austin Pruitt, and LHP Genesis Cabrera.
While I noted some beefs with the list above, I do appreciate the risks it takes and how it includes a few “off the board” guys. So often the main channel lists seem like safe bets that it can make for a mundane look through the system.
That’s why I believe this list is solid. Not only do they take the time to explain each ranking, but they made some risky decisions and may wind up pointing to a few gems others overlooked.