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Prospects the Rays need to place on 40-man roster next winter

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Is there too much of a good thing in the Rays farm system?

St Louis Cardinals v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Rays have the third ranked farm system, according to MLB.com’s rankings, but that blessing could be a curse if the Rays don’t start dealing from their depth.

MLB.com Top 30 that will be Rule 5 eligible:

1. RHP Brent Honeywell (Triple-A; No. 14 overall)

5. 1B/OF Jake Bauers (Triple-A; No. 84 overall)

10. 1B Casey Gillaspie (Triple-A)*

11. OF Justin Williams (Double-A)

16. LHP Genesis Cabrera (High-A) — Maybe! We’re not sure, as he signed late and aspects of the rules depend on if he was assigned to a team in 2013...

20. RHP Yonny Chirinos (Triple-A)

24. LHP Ryan Yarbrough (Triple-A)

26. C Nick Ciuffo (Double-A)

It’s easy to imagine each of the first five prospects listed above being protected, while the others may result in excellent trade bait in the months to come.

But that’s not all. The Rays farm has several players coming up that will need protecting on the 40-man roster if the team intend to keep them long term.

Triple-A Durham Bulls

LHP Kyle Bird

UTIL Ryan Brett

RHP Diego Castillo

OF Johnny Field

OF Cade Gotta

INF Jake Hager

INF Patrick Leonard

INF Kean Wong

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits

RHP Greg Harris

UTIL Grant Kay

C Justin O'Conner

RHP Jose Mujica

UTIL Michael Russell

INF Ryan Unroe

UTIL Andrew Velazquez

High-A Port Charlotte Stone Crabs

OF Tommy Milone

LHP Travis Ott

RHP Michael Santos

Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods

C Jonah Heim

The upcoming Rays schedule is absolutely brutal, but the good news is that if they want reinforcements for that stretch, the team has plenty of pieces to deal from.

However, regardless if they use these players now, the 2018 protection list is going to be nuts.

Tampa Bay is typically quiet at the trade deadline, but they might as well move a few pieces now while players like RHP Yonny Chirinos and 1B Casey Gillaspie hold value.

*UPDATE - 11:00 AM, July 27, 2017

The Rays have traded 1B Casey Gillaspie to the Chicago White Sox for LHP Dan Jennings.