C Ronaldo Hernandez (R/R, 6’1 185, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 427 PA, .265/.299/.397, 9 HR, 31 XBH, 4.0 BB% 15.2 K%
Although he hasn’t played above A ball, Hernandez spent time on the Rays’ taxi squad and was in the postseason player pool, which could be a sign that the organization trusts his defensive improvements. He’s still a bat-first catcher with power potential, but he needs to work on his plate approach. He rarely strikes out, but more patience could lead to higher-quality contact.
There probably won’t be a lot of movement on prospect lists this offseason, but Brent Honeywell Jr. and Ronaldo Hernandez did manage to swap spots on this one.
2021 Community prospect list
|1||SS Wander Franco||24||39||61.5%||1|
|2||OF Randy Arozarena||33||33||100.0%||9|
|3||IF Vidal Brujan||20||34||58.8%||3|
|4||RHP Luis Patino||Special||election||N/A|
|5||LHP Shane McClanahan||11||29||37.9%||6|
|6||RHP Shane Baz||19||28||67.9%||4|
|7||DH/LHP Brendan McKay||19||31||61.3%||2|
|8||OF Josh Lowe||9||27||33.3%||5|
|9||IF Xavier Edwards||14||34||41.2%||8|
|10||IF Taylor Walls||10||28||35.7%||15|
|11||RHP Brent Honeywell Jr.||10||27||37.0%||11|
|12||C/OF Heriberto Hernandez||Special||election||N/A|
|13||RHP Cole Wilcox||Special||election||N/A|
|14||SS Greg Jones||13||25||52.0%||12|
|15||SS Carlos Colmenarez||Special||election||N/A|
|16||C Blake Hunt||Special||election||N/A|
|17||RHP Joe Ryan||14||25||56.0%||13|
|18||LHP Josh Fleming||11||21||52.4%||26|
|19||RHP JJ Goss||8||25||32.0%||16|
|20||RHP Seth Johnson||15||25||60.0%||24|
|21||RHP Nick Bitsko||10||25||40.0%||N/A|
|22||3B Kevin Padlo||17||27||63.0%||14|
|23||SS Alejandro Pie||6||20||30.0%||31|
|24||SS Alika Williams||7||18||38.9%||N/A|
|25||IF Osleivis Basabe||6||17||35.3%||N/A|
|26||RHP Taj Bradley||5||18||27.8%||22|
|27||C Ford Proctor||5||18||27.8%||40|
|28||RHP Drew Strotman||12||20||60.0%||32|
|29||LHP Ian Seymour||6||17||35.3%||N/A|
|30||LHP John Doxakis|
|31||IF Esteban Quiroz|
|32||OF Jhon Diaz|
|33||IF Pedro Martinez|
|34||OF Nick Schnell|
|35||RHP Michael Mercado|
|36||SS Abiezel Ramirez|
|37||RP Ryan Thompson|
|38||RHP Sandy Gaston|
|39||LHP Michael Plassmeyer|
|40||IF Curtis Mead|
|41||OF Niko Hulsizer|
|42||OF Moises Gomez|
RHP Nick Bitsko (6’4 220, 19 in 2021)
Drafted in 2020
For the third straight season, the Rays took a high school pitcher in the first round, even when the rest of the industry is trending the other way. Bitsko was considered a top prospect for the 2021 draft, but he reclassified and got drafted a year earlier. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and his curveball is a potential plus pitch. His changeup has potential, and he should be a strike thrower. Bitsko recently required shoulder surgery “to repair a labrum issue,” but the extent of the injury is not known.
LHP Josh Fleming (6’2 220, 25 in 2021)
2020 statistics with Tampa Bay: 32 1⁄3 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 5.4 BB%, 19.2 K%
Fleming has pitched pretty well in his pro career, and he earned a chance to make his major league debut in 2020. He made appearances in the ALCS and World Series. Baseball America rated his changeup as the best in the organization, but among his secondary pitches, he used his slider more in the majors. He has always thrown a lot of strikes, and he continued to do so with the Rays.
RHP JJ Goss (6’3 185, 20 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays: 17 IP, 5.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.8 BB%, 22.5 K%
Goss improved throughout the spring in his draft year, and that led to the Rays selecting him with the No. 36 pick in 2019. His stuff got better. His velocity improved, and his breaking ball and changeup were sharper. Reports from 2020 indicate that trend has continued (Baseball America $). In addition, he was considered one of the best strike throwers in his draft class (BA $). With his athleticism, he should continue to throw strikes.
RHP Seth Johnson (6’1 200, 22 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays and rookie-level Princeton: 17 IP, 2.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 4.3 BB%, 23.2 K%
Johnson was a huge riser last spring as a fairly new convert to pitching after having little success as a hitter. He reportedly stood out in the instructional league in 2020. According to Baseball America, he’s shown improved fastball velocity and a better slider ($). Because of his lack of experience, he was probably among the prospects most affected by the canceled season, but it sounds like he didn’t waste his summer.
SS Greg Jones (S/R, 6’2 175, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 218 PA, .335/.413/.461, 19/27 SB, 18 XBH, 10.1 BB%, 25.7 K%
Jones may have been considered raw coming out of UNC Wilmington, but he got his pro career off to a great start. He was third in the New York-Penn League in average, second in on-base percentage, and seventh in slugging percentage. His best tool is his speed. He may never hit for much power, but he should take good at-bats and get his bat on the ball to make use of his speed. He was a late addition to the team’s alternate site in 2020.
RHP Joe Ryan (6’1 185, 25 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green, Class A-Advanced Charlotte, and Double-A Montgomery: 123 2⁄3 IP, 1.96 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 5.6 BB%, 38.0 K%
Ryan came out of nowhere in 2019 and was one of the best pitchers in minor league baseball, and he was at the alternate site in 2020. He leans heavily on a fastball that batters have a hard time picking up, and he finished second in the minors in strikeouts. His velocity may only be above average, but he commands his fastball well and throws a lot of strikes. His changeup can be above average, and he has to improve his breaking ball.
SS Alika Williams (R/R, 6’2 180, 22 in 2021)
Drafted in 2020
Williams was one of the top defensive infielders in the draft, and sticking at shortstop shouldn’t be an issue. On a team with the best college baseball players in the country, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 8 prospect (BA $), noting he had surprising success at the plate. He walked more than he struck out at Arizona State, but the pop he showed with Team USA was unexpected.