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JT Morgan’s mid-season Top 42 Rays Prospects

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Where does Nick Bitsko fit?

This season or lack thereof definitely qualifies as unique and as such there won’t be much movement among my preseason rankings.

The major additions come from the signing their 2020 draft class.

Nick Bitsko, RHP

Nick Bitsko received a lot of helium heading into draft including a writeup at ESPN by Kiley McDaniels. Bitsko wasn’t a late riser in the traditional sense, but announced he was graduating a year early very late in the process. Scouts saw him on the showcase circuit last summer, but he wasn’t their primary focus since he was expected to be eligible for the 2021 draft. He was expected to be one of the top high school right handed pitching prospects for the class. On draft day he slid a few spots to the Rays where they jumped at the chance for this kind of upside even if it comes in one of the riskiest draft profiles.

At 17 Bitsko throws in the mid to upper 90s and flashes a plus curve as his secondary pitch of choice. He also throws a slider and changeup that could become good major league pitches with time.

Bitsko reminds me a lot of former Rays first round pick Taylor Guerrieri. Coincidentally he was also the 24th overall pick. The fastball/curveball combination is similar, but hopefully Bitsko enjoys a healthier professional career.

Scott Grauer wrote about him on the night of the draft.

Alika Williams, SS

The Rays selected Alika Williams with the 37th overall pick out of Arizona State University. Williams currently is a plus defender at the position with a below average bat that could comp to Nick Ahmed or Jason Bartlett.

The Trackman data suggests that there might be more power in the bat, but right now he doesn’t get the ball elevated enough to take advantage of the exit velocities.

Bradley Neveu wrote his draft day profile.

Ian Seymour, LHP

Ian Seymour was selected out of Virginia Tech University with the 57th overall pick.

Seymour features a 92-94 mph fastball and an above average changeup. He’s working on a curveball/slider.

Seymour struck out batters in small samples in the Cape Code League and shortened 2020 college baseball season.

Seems like the Rays type of pitcher that they can maximize like Ryan Yarbrough with a little more velocity.

I wrote about him when the Rays selected him.

Hunter Barnhart, RHP

In a draft known for the depth of college pitchers the Rays zagged picking up their second high school right hander with the 96th overall pick.

It shouldn’t shock anybody that the Rays went for another pitcher known for their fastball/curveball combo. Barnhart’s velocity ticked up in the spring to 92-93 and there might be more velocity as he develops.

Scott Grauer wrote about his selection.

Tanner Murray, IF

The Rays selected Tanner Murray out of UC-Davis with the 125th pick of the draft.

Murray played short in college, but is probably stretched at the position for pro ball. He could end up anywhere else in the infield or playing all over.

Currently Murray hasn’t shown much power, but plus bat to ball skills.

Austin Reimann wrote about him here.

Jeff Hakanson, RHP

I expected the Rays to go off the board with at least one of their picks and they didn’t disappoint. I didn’t expect they would go after a reliever.

At the time of the draft it felt like he could have been a pick to save money to sign Bitsko, but when he was signing for full slot it makes you think what do the Rays think he is capable of. Hakanson is a local who played at Tampa Jesuit High School before going to the University of Central Florida.

Hakanson features a traditional fastball/slider combination that has performed exceptionally well out of the pen. He has a high spinrate fastball that sits 92-94 that could be similar to Colin Poche but from the right side.

Victor Akintola wrote about him for DRaysBay.

Updated Top 42 Prospects

Not a lot has changed in my preseason rankings. These are my personal rankings so they won’t match up exactly with our combined top 50 prospects as run in the offseason, but I did include my thoughts in the majority of those write ups.

I moved some players up and down based on more raw guys being hurt more by the lack of minor league season and moving up some of the guys that are closer to the majors or made the 60 man player pool. Also added four of the players from the draft.

The Rays system is still as loaded as it’s ever been headlined by this generation’s greatest prospect Wander Franco.

1 Wander Franco, SS
2 Brendan McKay, LHP
3 Vidal Brujan, 2B/CF
4 Shane McClanahan, LHP
5 Randy Arozarena, OF
6 Shane Baz, RHP
7 Josh Lowe, OF
8 Xavier Edwards, SS
9 Nick Bitsko, RHP
10 Brent Honeywell Jr., RHP

11 Ronaldo Hernandez, C
12 Joe Ryan, RHP
13 JJ Goss, RHP
14 Alika Williams, SS
15 Greg Jones, SS/CF
16 Kevin Padlo, 3B
17 Taylor Walls, SS
18 Peter Fairbanks, RHP
19 Seth Johnson, RHP
20 Ian Seymour, LHP

21 Lucius Fox, SS
22 Anthony Banda, LHP
23 Hunter Barnhart, RHP
24 John Doxakis, LHP
25 Niko Hulsizer, OF
26 Moises Gomez, OF
27 Alejandro Pie, SS
28 Jhon Diaz, OF
29 Nick Schnell, OF
30 Ford Proctor, 2B

31 Michael Perez, C
32 Garrett Whitley, OF
33 Riley O’Brien, LHP
34 Tyler Frank, 2B
35 Taj Bradley, RHP
36 Curtis Mead, 3B
37 Tanner Dodson, RHP/OF
38 Graeme Stinson, RHP
39 Tristan Gray, IF
40 Resly Linares, LHP

41 Drew Strotman, RHP
42 Joel Peguero, RHP