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2018 DRaysBay Community Prospect No. 14

Austin Franklin became the third full-time pitcher to join the list.

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: JUL 28 East Coast Pro Showcase
Austin Franklin pitches in a Mets uniform at the Yankees’ stadium
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

I thought the last vote was interesting. It produced our first majority in quite some time, and it’s because no race developed. Wander Franco won the prior poll with 13 votes, and Austin Franklin improved his vote count by 10. Tobias Myers, who finished third in the Franco win with five votes, did not increase his share at all. Just one of the 10 nominated players did not receive a vote, which is rare in this.

2018 Community prospect list

Rank Player Votes Total Percentage Last season
Rank Player Votes Total Percentage Last season
1 RHP Brent Honeywell 24 33 72.7% 2
2 SS Willy Adames 23 24 95.8% 1
3 1B/LHP Brendan McKay 16 34 47.1% N/A
4 OF Jesus Sanchez 26 35 74.3% 9
5 1B/OF Jake Bauers 29 39 74.4% 4
6 OF Justin Williams 24 35 68.6% 17
7 IF Christian Arroyo 19 38 50.0% N/A
8 OF Garrett Whitley 15 36 41.7% 15
9 LHP Anthony Banda Special election N/A
10 RHP Jose De Leon 15 33 45.5% 3
11 OF Joshua Lowe 13 30 43.3% 7
12 SS Lucius Fox 16 36 44.4% 13
13 SS Wander Franco 13 35 37.1% N/A
14 RHP Austin Franklin 17 33 51.5% 22
15 RHP Tobias Myers 11 32 34.4% N/A
16 2B Nick Solak Special election N/A
17 RHP Michael Mercado 7 27 25.9% N/A
18 1B/OF Joe McCarthy 9 33 27.3% 25
19 2B Brandon Lowe 7 31 22.6% N/R
20 RHP Chih-Wei Hu 8 28 28.6% 6
21 RHP Jaime Schultz 9 32 28.1% 12
22 C Ronaldo Hernandez 11 30 36.7% N/R
23 RHP Diego Castillo 9 25 36.0% 50
24 RHP Yonny Chirinos 12 28 42.9% 41
25 2B Vidal Brujan 10 28 35.7% N/R
26 RHP Ryne Stanek 8 25 32.0% 20
27 LHP Resly Linares 7 26 26.9% 47
28 LHP Genesis Cabrera 12 27 44.4% 23
29 3B Kevin Padlo 9 27 33.3% 14
30 LHP Ryan Yarbrough 13 29 44.8% 19
31 LHP Brock Burke N/R
32 RHP Drew Strotman N/A
33 SS Jermaine Palacios N/A
34 C Brett Sullivan 26
35 C Nick Ciuffo 24
36 OF Ryan Boldt 38
37 IF Carlos Vargas 27
38 3B Adrian Rondon 11
39 LHP Travis Ott 40
40 RHP Curtis Taylor N/A

RHP Diego Castillo (6’3 240, 24 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 71 23 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 6.8 BB%, 30.6 K%

Except for a spot start in July last season, Castillo has been a reliever his entire professional career. He was already 20 when the Rays signed him in 2014, making him extraordinarily old for an international free agent. It cost just $64,000 to sign him, and that appears to be a bargain. His fastball has been recorded as high as 101 mph, and he has a good breaking ball to go along with it. He was added to the 40-man roster in November and could help the bullpen in 2018.

RHP Yonny Chirinos (6’2 170, 24 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 168 13 IP, 2.73 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 4.0 BB%, 21.7 K%

Once again, Chirinos was one of the most effective pitchers in the organization, and this time, the Rays wouldn’t risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft, adding him to the 40-man roster. In 474 13 career innings, including 55 in the offensively inclined Venezuelan Summer League, he owns a 2.75 ERA. His strikeout rate improved five percent last season. Piecing together tidbits on him from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus ($), he throws a low-90s fastball with a slider and splitter.

C Ronaldo Hernandez (R/R, 6’1 185, 20 in 2018)

2017 statistics with rookie-level Princeton: 246 PA, .332/.382/.507, 5 HR, 28 XBH, 6.5 BB%, 15.9 K%

Hernandez is the latest in a long line of promising young catchers in the Rays’ organization. He was 20th in the Appalachian League in OPS, but only three players in front of him were also under 20 years old. He has impressive power potential, and despite still being such a young player, he’s already showing it in games with all the doubles he hit. He makes good contact with a nice plate approach. He has a good arm and the ability to stay behind the plate.

RHP Chih-Wei Hu (6’0 220, 24 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Tampa Bay: 10 IP, 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 10.0 BB%, 22.5 K%
2017 statistics with Triple-A Durham: 61 2/3 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.8 BB%, 22.9 K%

After three starts with Durham in 2017, Hu was called up to make his major league debut out of the bullpen in late April. The Rays liked him in relief, and that’s the role he stayed in when he was soon sent back to the minors. He continued pitching effectively, although his strikeout rate didn’t jump as it does for many pitchers making that switch. In the majors, his fastball averaged 93.5 mph, and he also leaned on his changeup, evaluated by Baseball America ($) to be the best in the organization.

2B Brandon Lowe (L/R, 6’0 185, 23 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery: 468 PA, .298/.375/.493, 11 HR, 54 XBH, 10.5 BB%, 19.4 K%

Lowe was a third-round pick in 2015, but his professional debut was delayed until 2016 due to an injury he sustained at Maryland. He was OK in 2016, but he really broke out in 2017. He was fourth among primary second basemen with 400 plate appearances with a .867 OPS, according to the FanGraphs leaderboard. He makes good contact with a solid approach, and he has nice pop for a second baseman with gap-to-gap power. He can hold his own at the position in the field.

1B/OF Joe McCarthy (L/L, 6’3 225, 24 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 553 PA, .284/.409/.434, 7 HR, 46 XBH, 20-of-25 SB, 16.3 BB%, 17.0 K%

In 2016, between Class-A Bowling Green and Class A-Advanced Charlotte, McCarthy batted .285 with a .398 on-base percentage and .430 slugging percentage, very similar to his 2017 statistics with the Biscuits. The Red Storm has the athleticism to play well in the corner outfield positions, although he split his time pretty evenly between the outfield and first base in 2017. He makes good contact with the best plate approach in the organization. If he has any more power, now would be the time to showcase it.

RHP Michael Mercado (6’4 160, 19 in 2018)

2017 statistics with the Gulf Coast League Rays: 21 13 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 4.7 BB%, 16.3 K%

Mercado, the 40th overall pick in last June’s draft, was the second-highest Rays pick to sign after they couldn’t reach an agreement with Oregon State’s Drew Rasmussen, who ended up having Tommy John surgery for a second time. It will take some time for him to get stronger, which will improve his fastball velocity. What he offers now is nonetheless impressive. He throws strikes, and his best pitch is a potential plus curveball.

RHP Tobias Myers (6’0 193, 19 in 2018)

2017 statistics with short-season Aberdeen and short-season Hudson Valley: 56 IP, 3.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 4.4 BB%, 31.9 K%

The Rays received Myers in the Tim Beckham trade at last year’s deadline, and he had some tremendous performances with the Renegades, including one with 10 strikeouts and no walks in 5 23 innings. He was the fifth-best pitching prospect in the New York-Penn League, according to Baseball America ($). He throws a lot of strikes with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and an impressive curveball. Although he is a smaller righty, he did generate a decent groundball rate.

3B Kevin Padlo (R/R, 6’2 205, 21 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 259 PA, .223/.324/.391, 6 HR, 22 XBH, 13.5 BB%, 23.2 K%

In his second season in the organization, Padlo struggled, but the hamate injury he sustained in May could be a significant mitigating factor. That injury is known to sap power from a player, and his .082 ISO in the Arizona Fall League would certainly suggest that. He’s known for his power potential, but he’ll have to cut down on his strikeouts to tap into his power in games more often. For a big guy, he’s not a bad athlete and fields his position well.

RHP Jaime Schultz (5’10 200, 27 in 2018)

2017 statistics with Triple-A Durham: 11 23 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.0 BB%, 42.0 K%

Schultz almost certainly would’ve made his big league debut in 2017 had a persistent groin injury not sidelined him for much of the season. It was not the first groin injury of his career. In his limited work with Durham, he pitched out of the bullpen for the first time, and he was electric, striking out more than two batters out of every five he faced. If he throws strikes with his mid-90s fastball and plus breaking ball, he can be a dominant reliever.