As I said in the last article, there are some talented young players down in the low minors. They may be a couple/few years away, but there are a few names that you might want to familiarize yourself with.
Manny Sanchez is a versatile player in the way that he can hit anywhere in the lineup. After a modest previous season at Bowling Green, Sanchez was given the opportunity to play in Advanced A ball. This year he has struggled quite a bit hitting near the Mendoza line and not getting on base a whole lot. It looks like he will be here next season too if the Rays decide to keep him with the Charlotte.
Jake Fraley is one of the younger guys after being drafted by the Rays in 2016. Last year, Fraley did not hit for a great average, but was able to make up for that with a good OBP. This year, Fraley has struggled hitting .165 and seeing the OBP go down significantly. He still has time to turn it around, but it looks like he will be in Charlotte again if the Rays decide to keep him.
Thomas Milone was recently reassigned to the Stone Crabs a few days ago. His numbers this season are fluctuated due to his 3 AB’s. He was with Charlotte last year and struggled to get going with a slash line of .206/.291/.282. He hopes after a good 1-3 start in his first game back that he can produce and eventually get promoted.
Angel Moreno is a CF who is able to hit anywhere in the lineup, but likes to hit second where he does much of his damage. Last year at Bowling Green he struggled heavily hitting .228. But once he was promoted to Charlotte he started hitting better (20 points better). He is not a power hitter so getting the average up is going to be a huge step for him. He most likely will stay with Charlotte next upcoming season, but could see a promotion if he can improve upon his average.
David Olmedo-Barrera was drafted in 2015, by the Rays, and enjoyed success his first two years. As a middle to bottom half of the lineup hitter, he .288 and .311 in his first two years respectively. Olmedo-Barrera was also able to get on base a good chunk of the time during his years with over .340 OBPs. This season hasn’t gone exactly to plan where we have seen his average drop to .205 and OBP drop almost 100 points. Due to his prior success, he should be back at Charlotte next year with an opportunity to prove that he can get back to his prior years.
Ryan Boldt is a CF who played on the short season team a year ago. Although his numbers were not stellar, he showed some worth and was promoted to Charlotte. Boldt has solidified himself as a middle of the lineup hitter, this year, and has improved at a higher level. He is hitting .245 this season with a few flashes of his speed (racking up 2 triples). Since he is not a power hitter, he will need to improve upon his average if he wants to continue to be promoted.
Jesus Sanchez is one of the exciting prospects we like at DRB. Sanchez is a young, raw, talent that has big power capabilities. Since his entrance to the minors in 2015, he has hit well over .300 and is hitting for power. He also has gotten on base a ton, as evidence by his high OBPs. This year, at Bowling Green, Sanchez has continued his success with a slash line of .271/.327/.471. On top of that, Sanchez has 6 homeruns, 4 doubles, and 3 triples (good for 34% of his hits going for extra bases). Sanchez is a great prospect that will continue to get his promotions if he continues to showcase his great tool set.
Eleardo Cabrera, like Sanchez, enjoyed success at the lower levels of the minors. He hit close or over 300 in his time before Bowling Green, while having high OBPs. Cabrera has recently struggled hitting .209 and seeing the OBP fall tremendously. He has recently settled into the 9 spot, which is good for him because he is speedy and the average is not deserving of a higher spot. He will most likely stay here in Bowling Green to improve upon his hitting before he can move up to the next level.
Garrett Whitley did not have much success at the lower levels of the minors, but showed flashes of ability to get promoted to where he is now. He started last season at Hudson Valley and was hitting decently well (.266 BA). This led to his promotion to the Hot Rods, where he has now recently struggled. He has not struggled or had as much of a drop off as Cabrera had, but nonetheless he has struggled. He is going to have to improve upon his low average to get any kind of promotion in the future.
Josh Lowe had been consistent in his first year. As a coach you know exactly what kind of hitter he is, and what you’ll get from him. After bouncing around from the Rays GCL team and Rookie ball, he averaged a modest .249 average, as well as hitting 5 homeruns. Although not the best, you knew that he was an average hitter with some flashes of power. With the Hot Rods, he has struggled though. The average is now closer to the Mendoza line and has struck out almost as much as he did all of last season with 50 less AB’s. He will most likely stay at Bowling Green if the Rays decide to keep him, so he can work on decreasing his strikeouts and getting the average up to something more respectable.
Short Season and Rookie Ball Rosters
Oscar Rojas is a LF who had a rollercoaster season in 2016. He started out with Rookie Ball in Princeton. While he was there, Rojas was exceptional with a slash line of .318/.372/.477. He was given a promotion mid-season and joined Hudson Valley where those numbers shrunk significantly. Due to that, the Rays are giving him a chance this season, at the same level, to try and improve upon his atrocious stats.
Angel Perez is a RF who started out last season a class higher. His issue was he struggled hitting under .200 with terrible OBP and Slugging. He was demoted mid-season last year and was able to fix those terrible stats by posting a slash line of .275/.318/.392. He will start out this season back with the short season squad to prove that he can sustain the success.
Dayron Varona started off his minor league career with large success. Once he hit AAA though, the numbers started falling. In 2016, with Durham, he wasn’t hitting for a great average. But he was hitting homeruns. Now, in 2017, he started the season with Durham again. But this time, his average continued to fall to a bad .219 average. Varona was then given a huge demotion in Hudson Valley. He will have to tear it up back at Hudson Valley to get back into the spotlight.
Issac Benard is the only true left fielder at Princeton. He was drafted in 2016 by the Rays racking up pretty decent stats within his 110 AB’s. He hit .255 while having a good OBP of .352. He did demonstrate some flashes of power with 3 homeruns and 3 doubles, but is not considered a power hitter, as of evidence of his lower slugging %. He is back in Princeton for year two to improve upon his stats.
As many of you can see, these prospects still have some improving to do, but many of them, especially Sanchez, have great potential to be a great major league player.
Like the high minors, the low minors is full of depth with players that will continue to develop. If a big-time athletic outfielder were to fall in their lap, they would most likely take the players (as they have done before).
All of this has been to say: if you’re wondering what the Rays will do early in the draft in 2017, I would not expect them to be taking many outfielders.