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Rays top 50 prospects review: Nos. 21-30

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With breakout hitters for Bowling Green and major league pitchers, this was a productive part of the list.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays
Moving forward, Diego Castillo will be a key part of the Rays’ bullpen
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, we’re reviewing our preseason top-50 prospects list. This group of players includes two of their top position-player prospects and a number of pitchers who have arrived in the majors.

Prospects 41-50
Prospects 31-40

No. 30 SS Jermaine Palacios: .217 BA/.269 OBP/.306 SLG, 27 XBH, 8/16 SB, 19.4 K%, 6.5 BB% in 448 PA for Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery

Acquired in the Jake Odorizzi trade, Palacios started the season in Double A despite subpar results at the end of last season in the Florida State League. He struggled and was sent back to the FSL. After an initial hot stretch, he cooled off again and finished the season with dismal numbers.

Had he had a better season, he would be in the discussion to be added to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

No. 29 LHP Resly Linares: 3.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 28.2 K%, 7.3 BB% in 84 13 IP for Class-A Bowling Green

Linares was a breakout candidate for some this season. For others, he was already a top-10 prospect in the organization (Baseball Prospectus $). He had a rough 2018 debut, but he followed that with seven no-hit innings and had an impressive season. After missing 1 12 months, he was even better, limiting batters to a .612 OPS over 70 13 innings.

The lefty’s stock is obviously up. The next step for him is to build up his workload at higher levels.

No. 28 SS Jelfry Marte: .281 BA/.317 OBP/.314 SLG, 4 XBH, 7/11 SB, 15.8 K%, 3.6 BB% in 165 PA for Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays

Marte was a late addition for the Rays after his prior agreement with the Twins was voided. His performance matched the scouting report (Baseball America $), which said he’s mostly a singles hitter. He batted .281, but he only hit singles and didn’t supplement those singles with walks.

That’s something to build on for the 17-year-old shortstop. He’ll have to get stronger and hit the ball harder in the future.

No. 27 RHP Jaime Schultz: 5.75 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 33.9 K%, 13.5 BB% in 36 IP for Triple-A Durham — 5.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 28.0 K%, 13.6 BB% in 30 13 IP for Tampa Bay

After missing most of the 2017 season, Schultz was back for a full season in 2018, and he spent quite a bit of time in the majors. Now a full-time reliever, his strikeout rate increased a little bit, but he still had trouble throwing strikes, especially early in the season. Prior to making his major league debut, his strike rate with Durham was just 56 percent.

The righty clearly has the stuff to succeed in the majors, but at 27 years old, improved control and command cannot elude him much longer.

No. 26 RHP Diego Castillo: 1.03 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 33.0 K%, 7.2 BB% in 26 13 IP for Triple-A Durham — 3.18 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 29.3 K%, 8.1 BB% in 56 23 IP for Tampa Bay

Castillo dominated Durham to start the season and earned a promotion to the majors, where he quickly proved to be an effective weapon out of the Rays’ bullpen. He was sometimes used as an opener as well and often had multi-inning appearances. His slider can be unhittable.

The righty had graduated from prospect status.

No. 25 C Ronaldo Hernandez: .284 BA/.339 OBP/.494 SLG, 21 HR, 42 XBH, 10/14 SB, 15.4 K%, 6.9 BB% in 449 PA for Class-A Bowling Green

Like with Linares, BP was ahead of the curve with Hernandez, ranking him as the No. 5 prospect in the organization, even before his strong 2018 season with Bowling Green. Per BA ($), his 21 homers were second among minor league catchers. He did that despite not hitting any home runs in April and just three in May. Compared to his impressive 2017 season with Princeton, his walk and strikeout rates were virtually the same, and his power increased.

He’s now arguably a top-100 prospect in baseball. The Rays have been hoping for long-term, homegrown catcher for a while, and they could soon have one.

No. 24 RHP Ryne Stanek: 1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 42.5 K%, 15.0 BB% in 9 23 IP for Triple-A Durham — 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 30.8 K%, 10.3 BB% in 66 13 IP for Tampa Bay

Since being moved to the bullpen in the minors, Stanek has had success, but his brief major league stint in 2017 was underwhelming. He was back in the minors to start 2018, but once he was called up, he was up for good. As a reliever and an opener, he had a strong season, striking out a lot of batters and reducing his walk rate from his previous call-up.

With his hard fastball and impressive splitter, the righty has found his place in the big leagues.

No. 23 2B Vidal Brujan: .320 BA/.403 OBP/.453 SLG, 9 HR, 41 XBH, 55/74 SB, 12.4 K%, 11.5 BB% in 548 PA for Class-A Bowling Green and Class A-Advanced Charlotte

Like Hernandez, Brujan had no problem making the transition to full-season ball. He was again a classic top-of-the-lineup hitter — making a lot of contact, always getting on base, and then using his speed to make a difference. So far in his career, he’s walked more than he’s struck out.

The next steps for him are to get a little stronger and continue to improve his defense. The discrepancy in his left/right splits may be worth monitoring. The switch-hitter had a .938 OPS batting left-handed and a .677 OPS with a .044 ISO batting right-handed.

No. 22 RHP Chih-Wei Hu: 4.66 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 20.7 K%, 6.3 BB% in 102 13 IP for Triple-A Durham — 4.15 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 24.0 K%, 6.0 BB% in 13 IP for Tampa Bay

Hu returned to the rotation in the minors, and he had an up-and-down season. His strikeout and walk rates were still adequate, but he allowed quite a few extra-base hits, including 14 home runs with Durham. He also generally did not last deep into games, exceeding five innings just twice — in consecutive starts, no less.

As the Rays showed in 2018, starters will no longer be condemned for not pitching deep into the game every time out. Perhaps they will be able a role that suits the righty — who will be just 25 — in 2019.

No. 21 RHP Yonny Chirinos: 5.28 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 23.7 K%, 5.3 BB% in 30 23 IP for Triple-A Durham — 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 20.3 K%, 5.8 BB% in 89 23 IP for Tampa Bay

For years, Chirinos was one of the best pitchers in the organization despite not having overpowering stuff. In 2018, he was named to the Opening Day roster and got his chance in the majors. After a stint on the DL and assignment to Durham, he was particularly successful when following an opener, always throwing a lot of strikes.

No longer a prospect, he’ll look to build on that success in his sophomore season.

Videos from Emily Waldon and 2080 Baseball