For a pretty unoriginal idea, I thought I’d set up a poll for readers to vote for the best player and pitcher of each month in the Rays organization. I narrowed the choices down to two options per affiliate. Once the short-season leagues start, it’ll probably be one player per affiliate with a wild card option.
Obviously, there may be some tough omissions, so I left an option for other if there’s someone you feel I really made a mistake not including. For pitchers, I tried to include a few relievers so it’s not just starters.
Please vote using whatever criteria you want to. If you prefer a top prospect gets extra credit, vote that way. If you don’t care about a player’s prospect status, ignore his prospect status. It’s all for fun.
IF Michael Brosseau: 68 PA, .317 BA/.368 OBP/.508 SLG, 10 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Brosseau signed with the Rays as an undrafted free agent in 2016. The former Oakland start succeeded with the Gulf Coast League, and he has continued that with Bowling Green to start 2017.
C Nick Ciuffo: 84 PA, .264 BA/.357 OBP/.444 SLG, 9 R, 10 XBH, 4 RBI
I’m not sure if Ciuffo can keep up this line with Montgomery if he keep striking out as much as he has been, but strikeouts or not, he has never had a full month nearly as good as his April to start 2017.
SS Jake Cronenworth: 102 PA, .388 BA/.490 OBP/.506 SLG, 20 R, 7 XBH, 4/5 SB
Cronenworth hit in all 21 games he played for Charlotte in April, playing much better than his brief time with the Stone Crabs in 2016. His hitting streak dates back to the final three games of last season.
OF Granden Goetzman: 74 PA, .375 BA/.392 OBP/.667 SLG, 13 R, 11 XBH, 19 RBI, 4/6 SB
Goetzman, one of the early picks in the big 2011 draft, battled injuries early in his career and never really performed too well. His hot start this season is probably BABIP-fueled, but he was great in April.
3B Patrick Leonard: 95 PA, .412 BA/.474 OBP/.553 SLG, 17 R, 8 XBH, 17 RBI, 5/5 SB
Leonard’s April with Durham probably could not be more different than his poor start in 2016. His .500 BABIP will likely come down at some point, but I’m still a bit surprised he’s not moving around the diamond more to prepare for a future role in the majors.
2B Brandon Lowe: 81 PA, .368 BA/.469 OBP/.588 SLG, 19 R, 11 XBH, 8 RBI
Lowe, a former third-round pick, was an under-the-radar performing last season. In 2017 with Charlotte, he’s walking more than he’s striking out, and so far he’s showing quite a bit more pop than he did in his pro debut last season.
OF Jesus Sanchez: 80 PA, .297 BA/.350 OBP/.514 SLG, 13 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI
On a Bowling Green team pretty deep in the outfield, it’s Sanchez performing the best so far. He’s hitting well as he has his entire pro career so far, he’s walking more, and his strikeouts remain manageable.
2B Riley Unroe: 64 PA, .339 BA/.413 OBP/.500 SLG, 8 R, 5 XBH, 7 RBI, 3/3 SB
Unroe has never really produced much, but his April with the Biscuits was pretty good. His strikeout rate is higher than usual, but so is his power so far, even though he may not hit two triples every month.
RHP Peter Bayer: 14 2⁄3 IP, 1.23 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 42.6 K%, 5.6 BB%
He’s 23 and only in the Midwest League right now, but Bayer is interesting for all the success the 2016 ninth-rounder has had so far in his career. His control was not nearly this good in his amateur career.
RHP Jacob Faria: 25 2/3 IP, 3.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 35.8 K%, 11.9 BB%
Faris is still walking too many batters in his second season with Durham, but that strikeout rate is impressive. Only eight pitchers in the minors with 20-plus innings strike out batters at a higher rate.
RHP Mike Franco: 24 1/3 IP, 0.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 22.6 K%, 7.5 BB%
Nearly all of Franco’s pro career has been in relief, but he has been outstanding to start the season in Montgomery’s rotation. Naturally, his strikeout rate isn’t as high pacing himself over more innings, but he’s still doing a great job keeping the ball in the park.
RHP Ian Gibaut: 10 1⁄3 IP, 2.61 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 44.7 K%, 2.6 BB%
Gibaut allowed runs in two of his seven appearances with Charlotte and Montgomery in April, but if he keeps striking out as many batters as he is, opportunities to score against him will be few and far between.
RHP Greg Harris: 24 IP, 1.88 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 26.9 K%, 4.3 BB%
Harris has been a consistent performer since being acquired for the Rays, and that has not stopped since his bump up to Montgomery to start 2017. His decreased walk rate to start the season is very encouraging.
RHP Brent Honeywell: 28 1⁄3 IP, 4.13 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 30.6 K%, 6.3 BB%
Honeywell had a rough time in his most recent start with Durham, but I still felt the team’s best pitching prospect merited inclusion. A numbers game kept him in Montgomery to start the season, and so far, he’s shown he belongs with the Bulls.
LHP Dalton Moats: 11 2⁄3 IP, 2.31 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 31.1 K%, 0.0 BB%
A reliever all the way, Moats has been effective since the Rays drafted him in the 15th round last draft. Oddly enough, the Bowling Green lefty has allowed six hits — four for extra bases — to lefties this season and only two hits total to righties.
RHP Jose Mujica: 31 IP, 2.03 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 12.1 K%, 4.8 BB%
Mujica got a seven-figure bonus in in 2012, and some injuries at the upper levels got him a quick promotion to Montgomery this season. Rather than struggle in the Southern League as a 20-year-old, he has flourished.