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Top 50 Rays prospects: No. 19, Joe McCarthy

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Joe McCarthy is one of the best candidates for the left field job in short order, as he showed us a glimpse of his potential power surge in the second half of 2017.

No.19, LF/1B Joseph Edward McCarthy, 24 years old

Born: February 23rd, 1994 in Scranton, PA

Height/Weight: 6’3” 225 lbs Bats/Throws: L/L

Signed: by the Rays after being selected in the 5th round of the 2005 draft for $356,400

Twitter handle: @Mojo_JoeJoe31

Twitter profile statement:Outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays Organization. Former Wahoo #HBK#RWC

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 20th best Rays prospect after 2016
  • Ranked as the 17th best Rays prospect after 2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 13th
  • Low: 37th

Joe McCarthy: Abilities

  • Well above-average approach at the plate
  • Developing power
  • Great speed for his size
  • Excellent fielder with slightly below average arm strength
  • Noted for his outstanding makeup

Grades for ‘18 (Pipeline): Hit: 55 | Pwr: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 40 | Fld: 55 | Overall: 50

  • Abilities notes: McCarthy made some serious strides in many areas in 2017, increasing his hit, power, run and fielding tool marks in the process. If he hasn’t been among your noted top Rays prospects before 2018, he should be solidly among them now.

Also is apparently a great ping pong player:

Joined the Rays by way of....

The draft, as the Rays selected him 5 picks before the Yankees selected Chance Adams, before the Cardinals selected Ryan Helsley, and the Nationals selected LHP Taylor Hearn (now with Pirates).

Latest Transaction: assigned to Montgomery (Double-A) from Charlotte (A+) April 4th, 2017

Note As noted above, injury issues have precluded Joe from advancing as far as he might have to this point if he had been healthy, but he may also not have been available to the Rays in the 5th round if that were the case. After all, Baseball America had ranked him as the 46th best prospect in the 2015 MLB draft, ahead of other notables such as Triston McKenzie, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Josh Naylor.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Parents are Joe and Joanne. His father played baseball at South Carolina and was drafted three times.
  • Had back surgery in early 2015 (pre-draft), providing an opportunity to Adam Haseley to take his spot on the field — something he did his best to take advantage of.
  • While at UVa, he “reached base safely in 151 of 163 career games (career OBP of .423)”.
  • A true athlete, Joe also played football (running back/quarterback) and basketball (center) in high school.
  • In 2017, among Southern League hitters, finished among leaders in Hits (9th), doubles (3rd), triples (1st), Runs (4th), RBI (12th), BB (1st), SB (3rd), AVG (10th), BB/K (2nd), OPS (4th), Spd (2nd), wOBA (2nd), and wRC+ (2nd).
  • Joe also finished 2nd in the lowest number of swinging strikes category and hit 43.2 % FB%, both of which should help him succeed in MLB when he arrives.
  • During 2018 spring training, Joe managed to hit a HR, to steal a base, and get on base at a .400 clip, staying true to form in a tiny sample size which means little in the grand scheme of things but is nice to see nonetheless.
  • Made FanGraphs Chris Mitchell’s All-KATOH team for 2018.
  • Was compared to a Double-A version of Matt Carpenter.


Joe McCarthy 2017

GP 127
GP 127
PA 554
AB 454
Hits 129
Doubles 31
Triples 8
Home Runs 7
RBI 56
SB (CS) 20 (5)
AVG 0.284
OBP 0.409
SLG 0.434
OPS 0.843
BB% 16.2 %
SO% 17.0 %
ISO 0.150
BAbip 0.344
wOBA 0.390
wRC+ 149

Stats Notes: It’s important to note that McCarthy almost doubles his pro plate appearances by managing just 90 less in 2017 than he had received in 2015 and 2016 combined (mainly due to injury issues). With those issues now behind him, he really took off in the second half of 2017 improving his ISO to .179, wOBA to .400, and wRC+ to 157 after the all-star break.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Interesting Comparison: Max Kepler

They are both left-handed batters in the same height range (Max is 6’4” while Joe is listed at 6’3”) and both have profiles that include some power, some speed, and great patience and eyes at the plate.

While in Double-A at the same age, Max was able to manage 9 HR, 16 SB, and a BB rate (13.9 %) that was very close to his SO rate (13.1 %). Joe, in 2017 and in Double-A, managed 7 HR, 20 SB, and a BB rate (16.2 %) that was very close to his SO rate (17.0 %).

And the similarities don’t end there.

The BABIP Max managed was .359, his OBP was .416, and his wRC+ was 167. Joe managed a .344 BABIP, .409 OBP, and 149 wRC+.

Want more?

Joe happened to show the vast majority of his power after the all-star break, so how do they compare from that point onwards?

Max last 214 PA in 2015 - 65 H, 15 DB, 5 TR, 6 HR, 44 BB, 40 SO, 7 SB, 1 CS

Joe last 215 PA in 2017 - 57 H, 11 DB, 5 TR, 6 HR, 52 BB, 40 SO, 9 SB, 2 CS

The similarities are impossible to ignore, and although Joe may wind up in left field due to lesser arm strength, the fact that he has similar potential at the plate should be very intriguing to everyone.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

Rays fans should be very excited about the potential of Joe McCarthy. Along with Justin Williams, who may be on the other side of the outfield in Durham, they represent the immediate internal options available to the Rays in 2018 and beyond. Between these two, we have an intriguing mix of power and speed to go along with above-average OBP and defensive abilities. All combined, it explains why the Rays felt so comfortable in trading Steven Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson this offseason.

Despite showing us all what he was capable of in the second half of 2017, it’s understandable that doubts remain about the likeliness of his nailing down a regular job in the MLB. However, McCarthy has a much higher ceiling than most give him credit for. With his patience, hand-eye coordination, speed, and developing power, McCarthy truly does have all of the tools needed to make himself into a future star.

To get there, he’ll need to build on the strength he showed last year in Triple-A to begin the 2018 season, something that should get him a look at some point. Maintaining his versatility to get adequate playing time will also be a key, something that shouldn’t be an issue since Jake Bauers is also likely to want to do the same.

As a player that can handle both LHP and RHP, Joe should be able to get the vast majority of at bats once he makes it to The Show and I still refuse to put a ceiling on his power numbers. Having said that, if he works out as well as I’d expect, he should exceed the 20 HR with 15 SB level with high OBP and outstanding presence at the plate, something that should make him into a great 2-hole hitter.

Joe McCarthy: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 55 Rays Prospects

*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list

#55 - RP Kevin Gadea