Kiley McDaniel has moved his prospect rankings to ESPN after spending a couple years at FanGraphs, splitting the prospect coverage with Eric Longenhagen for The Network.
In his inaugural ESPN Top 100($) McDaniel placed seven Tampa Bay Rays on the list including the number one overall prospect in the game Wander Franco.
1 Wander Franco, SS
30 Brendan McKay, LHP
40 Vidal Brujan, 2B
60 Josh Lowe, CF
67 Brent Honeywell, RHP
71 Xavier Edwards, 2B
88 Shane McClanahan, LHP
Wander Franco’s placement at the top has become expected as he has been at the top of most, if not all, major publications that have been published this winter. The most interesting bit of the write up is:
The Rays are absurdly deep all over the field, and some other prospects are ahead of him in terms of level and age, but when there’s a compelling reason to call him up — probably after the Super Two cutoff in June — Tampa Bay can’t afford to pass up that chance in a year when the team is almost even money to win the AL East.
In the Baseball Tonight podcast discussion published this morning, McDaniel talked about how chatter with Rays personnel has been that they are going to have Franco get playing time at second base, third base, and maybe even the outfield, in addition to his primary position of shortstop, in order to give him experience at the major league level wherever help is needed. A major injury to Willy Adames is likely the only clean path to playing time at the major league level this season, but McDaniel thinks Franco will make his debut this year sometime around the All-Star Break.
Brendan McKay and Vidal Brujan are industry consensus top 50 types and McDaniel agrees.
Josh Lowe deserves recognition for his 2019 offensive breakout, with 18 homers and 30 stolen bases in AA as a 21-year-old. He’s constantly been pushed despite not great results but showing skills. He will strike out a lot, but there’s impact tools all over the field. As a former first round pick, he has grown into what many thought he could become out of high school.
Brent Honeywell is a player that is tough to place on any list. This range (#67) feels like a hedge. He was a consensus top 25 prospect two years ago. He hasn’t seen a game mound in two full seasons after succumbing to Tommy John surgery during spring training in 2018 and then breaking his elbow while throwing a bullpen session last year. Today he threw his first bullpen that included pitches other than fastballs. We’ll need to see how the stuff returns before knowing for sure if he can live up to his previous prospect pedigree.
Xavier Edwards is the new comer to the list after coming over in the Tommy Pham trade. Edwards is very similar to Brujan with less impact contact.
Shane McClanahan is the final Ray to make the list. McClanahan was a likely top five pick heading into his sophomore year at the University of South Florida. After an up-and-down season, he dropped to the Rays with the 31st pick of the 2018 draft. In his first full season in the minors, the stuff has looked sharp. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and can hit 99 with a plus curveball. If he can’t make it as a starter he has the stuff to be an elite backend reliever.