While the Seattle Mariners have seemingly single-handedly taken an axe to all the good vibes that were swirling around the Rays just a few weeks ago, here’s your friendly reminder that while 2018 may not be a season of contention for Tampa Bay, the sweet nectar of the postseason may not be that far away.
The Rays managed eight names on that list:
11 — Willy Adames
14 — Brendan McKay
25 — Brent Honeywell
38 — Jesus Sanchez
39 — Jake Bauers
93 — Matthew Liberatore
109 — Wander Franco
131 — Anthony Banda
In addition to the impressive depth, that talent is top-loaded with only the Atlanta Braves able to match the Rays with five players in the top 40 (the Braves have an incredible seven in the top 41 and 14 in the top 131).
Maybe the best part of this updated list is that these players are beginning to make their way to the actual major leagues. Willy Adames debuted in May, taking Chris Sale deep in his first game. While he is back at Triple-A for now, the buzz of a potential return-for-good is starting to heat up the further we get into the season.
Jake Bauers made his MLB debut on Thursday, and he appears to not only be up for good but a likely staple in the lineup. He went hitless in his first two games, but he has an extra-base hit in each of his past two games. If Miller Mountain had to be torn down for this to happen, I can accept it.
Other names are a little further on the horizon, as McKay is still getting his feet wet on both sides of the ball at Single-A, while Liberatore is the Rays brand new high school arm that seems likely to move a lot higher on these ranks before he makes his eventual Rays debut.
Maybe the most interesting name on the list is the very final player to make the cut, no. 131, Anthony Banda.
Banda was, of course, the top prize in the Steven Souza deal, and he made his Rays debut in 2018, tossing 14.2 innings of 3.68 ERA (3.24 FIP) ball before becoming the latest in a loooooong list of Rays to need Tommy John surgery in 2018. Clearly, the FanGraphs prospect team still finds enough to like about Banda to keep him on their top 131, as the news of his surgery was announced long before this list was made. Hopefully Eric and Kiley are on to something.
One final bit of schadenfreude considering recent events: the Mariners don’t have a single player in the top 131. Take that, ya bums.