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Rays Prospects Review: Bowling Green and Port Charlotte - April 2017

Mostly highlights surround the lower parts of the Rays system at the moment, with a few lowlights to walk through

Photo by Cliff Welch

In order to keep you all up-to-date on the minors, we’ll go through the system a level at a time, beginning with Bowling Green (LoA) and followed by Charlotte (HiA) in this piece. We’ll knock out Montgomery (AA), and finally Durham (AAA) in the next piece - so look for that to come out soon.

The most notable positive performances will be noted (aiming for 5 when possible) and the biggest struggle will also be noted. Hopefully it hits the spot and quenches the thirst for knowing what’s happening overall in the Rays system on a monthly basis.

Bowling Green Hot Rods | MWL | 10 - 12 record

BG seemed to be headed for a .500 or even winning record to end April when the last week began, but a 3-game losing streak took care of that. If you had to sum up the month for the Hot Rods, it would be “great pitching overall with some streaky hitting mixed in”.

BG Pitching - Top 5

Brock Burke - remember that name, because this 20 year old southpaw has really turned it on since getting promoted to LoA. He’s shown us way more polish than most expected from him so far this year, and he’s been able to work his way out of jams while missing bats AND getting hitters to put the ball in play without solid contact.

  • 21 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 0 HR, 11 BB, 20 SO
  • 0.86 ERA, 1.05 Whip

Peter Bayer - 23 year old RHP with size, he’s been on my radar for a while now and don’t let the age at the level fool you. He was a 2016 pick that could move quickly towards AA if he continues the hot hand. Just look at that BB/SO ratio....

  • 14.2 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 23 SO
  • 1.23 ERA, 0.89 Whip

J.D. Busfield - like Burke, he’s made the most of his promotion from Hudson Valley and could get a taste of Charlotte before the season’s out if he keeps this up.

  • 16 IP, 15 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 15 SO
  • 1.69 ERA, 1.19 Whip

Travis Ott - finally made the jump to LoA after 3 years spent in short season ball and his last 2 starts have been very encouraging, going 6 strong in each. Of note is that LHB haven’t been able to touch him so far as he’s struck out 11 of them in 7.1 IP total. May ultimately find a role as a LHP reliever.

  • 18.2 IP, 17 H, 9 ER, 1 HR, 8 BB, 17 SO
  • 4.34 ERA, 1.34 Whip

Dalton Moats - who you say? Well, meet the latest southpaw in the Rays systemto earn a must watch tag - albeit as a RP option, he could move quickly. He has tremendous potential and may turn out to be one of the steals of the 2016 draft for the Rays who took him in the 15th rd and signed him for only $50,000.

  • 11.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 14 SO, 1 Save
  • 2.31 ERA, 0.69 Whip

BG Pitching - Struggling

Adrian Navas - has walked a whopping 17 throw 22 IP but finally put up a more efficient start his last time out (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO).

Roel Ramirez - earned a quick promotion to Charlotte but has allowed 5 ER in 5 IP since getting there.

BG Hitting - Top 5

Jesus Sanchez - everyone’s favorite prospect rankings mover has shown why with his LoA start, outshining others to lead this team in extra-base hits (8), HR (3), RBI (14), TB (38), and is 2nd in OPS (.864). And this after a slow start that saw him manage only 6 hits through his first 7 games. Best of all, he’s shown the patience to earn a walk with 6 so far after earning only 9 in over 200 AB last season. Through his last 10, he’s hit .341 and he could be the first to move to HiA if this trend continues.

  • 74 AB, 22 H, 3 DB, 2 TR, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 38 TB
  • 6 BB, 16 SO, .297/.350/.514

Nathaniel Lowe - as hot as Sanchez has been at the plate, Lowe has actually outhit him (by 2). With everyone’s focus being on 1st rd selection Josh Lowe, they may be overlooking the Lowe to watch. With a .329/.388/.425 line, he has definitely shown the batting abilities the Rays are looking for, but what’s lacking is the power to profile well as a 1B, which is where he’s played since being drafted in the 13th rd of the 2016 draft.

  • 73 AB, 24 H, 4 DB, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 31 TB
  • 9 BB, 16 SO, .329/.388/.425

Michael Brosseau - has led the way along with N. Lowe and Sanchez to provide some consistency at the plate. While he’s already 23 yrs old in LoA, this is his first shot at the level and he’s making the most of it and profiles very well as 2B with power, where he’s spent half of his time so far in 2017.

  • 63 AB, 20 H, 4 DB, 1 TR, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 32 TB
  • 3 BB, 11 SO, 1 SB, .317/.368/.508

Rene Pinto - after an extremely slow start (3 hits in first 26 AB) he’s been able to turn it around and has hit .405 through his last 10 games. He’s now shown us some power (4 extra-base hits in last 8 games), now we’re just hoping to see some patience (only 2 BB overall). Getting more comfortable with every game, he’s one catcher to watch in the Rays system going forward.

  • 58 AB, 16 H, 3 DB, 1 TR, 7 RBI, 21 TB
  • 2 BB, 15 SO, .276/.317/.362

Miles Mastrobuoni - he’s seen time both at SS and at 2B so far in 2017 and he’s been able to add to his sound defensive play with the bat. While the lack of power will always be an issue for Miles, he could be an OBP pest that provides support in a utility role.

  • 57 AB, 16 H, 1 DB, 6 RBI
  • 9 BB, 14 SO, 3 SB (1 CS), .281/.368/.298

BG Hitting - Struggling

Josh Lowe - although some have been over the moon about his potential, there are some things to worry about in Josh’s case. The hitting tool stands out as the biggest worry based on 2016 and thus far in 2017. After striking out more than half the time so far in 2017, we’re certainly hoping he turns things around going forward.

  • 64 AB, 12 H, 2 DB, 1 HR, 6 RBI
  • 6 BB, 35 SO, .188/.257/.266

Charlotte Stone Crabs | MWL | 9 - 14 record

Their record at home is puzzling as they’ve only managed 4 wins through 14 home games, but they’ve managed a 5-5 record over their last 10 games, so they may be turning things around. If there’s one thing that’s hurt them more than anything, it’s the lack of situational hitting behind the top of the order guys.

CSC Pitching - Top 5

Genesis Cabrera - after what was a horrible start to the season (10 ER in 5 IP through 2 starts), the young lefty (20) has shown why he was promoted to HiA at a young age. Allowing only 1 hit through 5 IP in his third start set the tone and he’s gone 6 strong in both his next starts. While you’d like to see him miss more bats, the 3 BB allowed through his last 17 IP is extremely encouraging.

  • 22 IP, 20 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 15 SO
  • 5.32 ERA, 1.27 Whip

Michael Santos - he’s only started 1 game, but it was of high enough quality to land him on this list. Part of the returns for Matt Moore from the Giants, Santos started 2017 in relief and has three spotty outings that throw off the stats you see below (hit wise). His first start of 2017 saw him allow 5 hits through 6 IP, walking 1 and striking out 2. We’re anxious to see if he can build on that start.

  • 18.2 IP, 22 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO
  • 2.89 ERA, 1.34 Whip

Ian Gibaut - most of us didn’t think he’ll be in Charlotte long as he’d shown enough dominance to warrant a move to Montgomery, and we were right. He’s only allowed ERs in 1 of 7 outings so far in 2017, striking out 17 in only 10.1 IP while walking only 1. He earned 2 saves in 3 opportunities while in Charlotte, but blew his only save opportunity in Montgomery so far. Likely to continue moving quickly if he builds on his successes, he’ll be in Montgomery’s profile next time around.

  • 7 GP, 10.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 17 SO
  • 2.61 ERA, 0.77 Whip

Drew Smith - the PTBNL from the Mikie Mahtook trade with Detroit (finalized April 28), Smith’s previous system HiA stats will be used here. Now 23 yrs old, the 6’2” 190 lbs RHP has yet to make his debut in Charlotte but we’re looking forward to seeing what he has to offer.

  • 11.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 12 SO
  • 0.77 ERA, 0.69 Whip

Blake Bivens - still just 21 yrs old, many have overlooked Bivens and his potential as a starter. If we take out the one start where he allowed 12 hits and 5 ER in 7 IP we get a much better sense of how he’s pitched overall in 2017. That would give him 19 IP, 23 H, 8 ER, 7 BB, and 19 SO in those 4 starts. While he’s still allowing too many hits, he’s also showing he can miss some bats.

  • 26 IP, 35 H, 13 ER, 8 BB, 25 SO
  • 4.50 ERA, 1.65 Whip

CSC Pitching - Struggling

Michael Velasquez - it may not be long before this 24 yr old is replaced in Charlotte’s rotation after what he’s shown us in 2017. There just aren’t many positives to draw from so far and he’s getting knocked around through the majority of his starts, but he did show some life his last time up (Apr 30th) when last 6 innings and only 1 BB. That may have bought him a few starts, so we’ll see if he can add to that in May.

  • 27.1 IP, 38 H, 17 ER, 5 HR, 10 BB, 10 SO
  • 5.60 ERA, 1.76 Whip

CSC Hitting - Top 4

Jake Cronenworth - quite possibly the best hitting performance throughout the Rays system came from Cronenworth who is putting together a portfolio of such performances. The hit streak is noted in the Tweet above, and his 43 TB surpass the total put up by Sanchez in BG. He’s chipped in nicely with 7 extra-base hits (4 DB and 3 TR) despite not hitting a HR yet. Most noticeable are his 15 BB, 4 SB, and outstanding range at SS. He may very well find his way to Montgomery before June if he keeps this pace up.

  • 85 AB, 33 H, 4 DB, 3 TR, 0 HR, 41 TB, 2 RBI
  • 15 BB, 18 SO, 4 SB (1 CS). .388/.490/.506

Brandon Lowe - how Lowe can you go? The Rays have 3 prominent Lowe prospects, and Brandon may be the least known of the 3 but deserves your attention after an outstanding April performance. His 1.030 OPS is the second best in the FSL and he is second to only Cronenworth in OBP. The fact that he only has 4 RBI despite hitting .371 through his last 10 GP tells you how the rest of the team has been hitting, something that makes his and Jake’s performances even more impressive.

  • 68 AB, 25 H, 8 DB, 2 TR, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 40 TB
  • 13 BB, 9 SO, 2 SB, .368/.469/.588

Ryan Boldt - one of the only bats to appropriately support Lowe and Cronenworth in the lineup has been Boldt. After a slow start to 2017, he’s hitting .341 through his last 10 games and now boasts a decent .760 OPS. I’m still expecting more power from someone who profiles as a corner outfielder (due to KK’s presence in TB), but he’s starting to show some hitting ability which is encouraging.

  • 78 AB, 22 H, 5 DB, 1 TR, 1 HR
  • 4 BB, 16 SO, 3 SB (0 CS), .282/.318/.410

Brett Sullivan - with the move to catcher now solidly past him, Sullivan has shown us some power with an impressive 8 doubles and 2 triples in April. Perhaps more impressive and most notable, however, is the fact that he’s only struck out 6 times so far - quite a feat through 76 ABs! He’s caught 28% of base runners so far, if you’re wondering (5 of 18 CS).

  • 76 AB, 22 H, 8 DB, 2 TR, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 34 TB
  • 3 BB, 6 SO, .289/.309/.447

CSC Hitting - Struggling

Jake Fraley - injury woes slowed Fraley so far in 2017, due to a HBP and possibly more. He has been taking BP and should be back soon. When he has played, he surely didn’t seem like himself, managing only 1 highlight (a HR) while putting up a woeful .132/.171/.211 line. After stealing 33 bases in 2016, most expected to see him fly in 2017, but he’s yet to steal a base so far. We’re looking forward to seeing him return to form soon.


There’s a lot to like about what we’ve seen so far out of the Hot Rods and Stone Crabs, and it’s nice to see how diverse the sources of those top performances are. You’ve got some highlights from players obtained in the international market (Sanchez, Cabrera, Pinto), some from the Rays drafts (Cronenworth, Boldt, N. and B. Lowe), and some through trade (Santos, Smith).

There have already been a few promising promotions, including Nathan Lukes who’ll be highlighted in our upcoming AA/AAA piece, and likely more to come. We’ll keep you posted on those and look for our May summary to see how things change between now and then.