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Rays prospect report: Shane Baz is a top 10 talent

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Rays get high upside arm in the low minors to complete Chris Archer trade.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday Shane Baz was announced as the player to be named later in the trade that sent Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The initial reports were the PTBNL was a player of significance and this qualifies, a player ‘fans would know.’

There were no restrictions in trading Baz, the team’s 2017 first round draft pick, so why the wait?

The timing of the announcement seems unusual, but Shane Baz was pulled after 3.0 innings in his last start before the trade deadline on June 28. He would skip his next start and not see game action for ten days.

The delay in naming Baz likely came from the need to verify the injury was minor and to see him back on the mound.

Baz looked strong in Appalachian League

Baz is coming off his one of his best minor league starts, including last Saturday when he went 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk, while striking out six.

After that performance, Baz was named the Appalachian League Player of the Week, sharing the honor with Princeton Rays shortstop Wander Franco, his new teammate. In two starts he went 9.2 scoreless innings allowing seven hits, four walks, and struck out twelve.

Shane Baz just turned 19 years old in June and has made 20 professional starts totaling 69.0 innings with a 3.91 ERA striking out 73 (26.1%) and walking 37 (11.1%). He has a good strikeout rate, but his control has been shaky.

Baz was drafted by the Pirates with the 12th overall selection in the 2017 MLB draft. He ended up signing for $4.1MM which came just north of the assigned slot bonus.

Baseball America had Baz ranked the 11th best draft prospect. He was the second highest ranked high school pitcher on the board behind Hunter Greene who was the top ranked talent and ended up being drafted second overall by the Cincinnati Reds.

Baz is unique in that he has a deep repertoire compared to most young pitchers.

He throws a fastball that sits in the mid 90s but can touch 97-98, a cutter that he can manipulate to get slider action at time, a curveball, and a changeup that is probably his weakest offering.

Baz has the stuff that can develop into a top of the rotation arm much like the Rays first round pick from this year’s draft Matthew Liberatore but from the right side and with the addition of a cutter. There’s still a long way to go from the Appalachian League to the major leagues, but the stuff is there.

Top 100 MLB talent

Shane Baz comes in ranked #95 on the top 100, placing him 6th on the current Rays list between Liberatore and Ronaldo Hernandez.

Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniels ranked Baz #110 in their recently updated top prospect rankings, where a 50 FV is high praise for a guy with limited professional experience. They grade three future plus pitches in the fastball, curveball, and cutter with his changeup at a 50. His 30/45 command will determine how good how be can be. As seen with Blake Snell you don’t need good command if you have great stuff.

Baseball America ranked Baz as the fourth best prospect in the Pirates system in their mid-season top 10 updates. Baz was the first prospect ranked outside the top 100 on the Pirates list.

In a somewhat surprising move the Pirates saw it best to keep Baz in extended spring training before assigning him to the Appalachian League as a top high school prospect instead of sending him to full season ball. The Rays have assigned him to their Appalachian League team in Princeton.

Next year he should be moved to Bowling Green and the challenged of full season ball.

The Rays got their pieces for today in Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows in the Chris Archer trade while also getting a high upside third piece that could be an impact piece three years in the future.