This past season, the Tampa Bay Rays game within two victories of winning baseball’s ultimate prize, the World Series. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out, which of course means you just need to completely tear down your roster. You know, decline the option on one your ace starting pitchers and trade away another from some blue chip prospects. The natural way of coping with a World Series defeat.
Over the past couple of months the Rays have made a flurry of deals bringing in even more of the game’s top prospects to add to their already ridiculously talented farm system.
Heading into the 2020 season, before the pandemic rear its ugly crowned head, FanGraphs tabbed the Rays organization with FutureValues of 35+ or better. Now, as we reach the cusp of the 2021 campaign, the Rays have found a way to add six more players to the list. Three of those players boasts Future Values of 60 and of course, Wander Franco is tabbed with a Future Value of 80, the highest possible mark that can be
Instead of showing the full list of 62 players, I’ll just showcase the top ten and their placements on the list last year:
1. Wander Franco, SS (1)
2. Randy Arozarena, OF (7)
3. Luis Patiño, RHP (2, SDP)
4. Vidal Brujan, 2B (3)
5. Josh Lowe, OF (4)
6. Xavier Edwards, 2B (6)
7. Shane Baz, RHP (8)
8. Taylor Walls, SS (9)
9. Shane McClanahan, LHP (10)
10. Seth Johnson, RHP (18)
In a year without a minor league season, there wasn’t much scouts could do to merit whether a player’s potential or abilities had progressed over the year. However, several players did stand out to make vast improvement or showcased impressive results.
Randy Arozarena took the world by storm when he decided to obliterate all of the postseason offensive records. This performance has skyrocketed him up prospect charts, moving up from 7th to 2nd overall in the Rays system.
Another big mover in the right direction for the Rays was Seth Johnson. The 22 year old pitcher and Rays 2019 first round selection. Initially after being drafted, Johnson pitched in the low 90’s. However, during the instructional leagues this past October, Johnson showcased a fastball that he could routinely pump in the high 90’s with three other solid offerings to go along with his new found velocity making him a potential force to be reckoned with on the mound.
In terms of players who have just fallen off the list completely, the most unfortunate name to not appear on the prospect list Brent Honeywell Jr.
At one time, he was one of the most exciting pitching prospects in baseball, but a multitude of injuries, along with the pandemic, has completely destroyed his reputation as a prospect. There is still of course a lot of hope that he’ll regain some of his former status, but he hasn’t thrown a professional pitch since the 2017 season.
However, Honeywell is currently healthy and has a place on the Rays 40-man roster so he will get a good look during Spring Training and even has a chance of making the big league roster if he performs well.
Spring Training is right around the corner with pitcher and catchers scheduled to report in just a few weeks.
Random observations from FanGraphs
- Vidal Brujan
“Recall Ketel Marte’s progression, the underlying skills he had early in his big league career and his shortcomings. How could we have collectively anticipated that he’d transform from a light-hitting speedster shortstop into a multi-positional physical freak with a rare power/speed/patience combination? I submit that Bruján shares all of Marte’s pre-breakout traits (and has a lot in common with Ozzie Albies, too) and could take a similar leap in his mid-20s, as he progresses further into physical maturity.”
- Heriberto Hernandez
His on-paper stats, underlying TrackMan data, and my multi-year in-person visual evaluation give me a high degree of confidence that this might be a very special hitter whose hit and power combination will clear the high offensive bar in left field or first base. His little T-Rex arms enable Heriberto to be short to the baseball, but he’s so strong and rotates with such ferocity that he still hits for power. I’ve seen him make mid-at-bat adjustments to quality offspeed stuff, swinging over a particularly good splitter only to recognize the next one, located in the same spot, and rope it into the left field corner for a double
- Kevin Padlo
“Typically I’ll 40 FV this sort of player but Padlo’s power is substantial, and his swing and body transformed throughout 2019. After undergoing some swing alterations — there have been a few changes to how open Padlo’s stance is and how big his leg kick is”
- Taj Bradley
“Bradley’s instructs look moved him all the way from the honorable mention section of the list to here. After sitting 90-93 in 2019, he was parked in the 93-97 range in the Fall and showed a more consistent delivery and well-conditioned body”
- Alexander Alberto
“At age 19, Alberto is built like Mikal Bridges and unusually twitchy for a teenager with limbs this long. He has a near ideal pitcher’s frame, with a high, tapered waist and broad shoulders. He’s already sitting 92-94 with some breaking ball feel.”
- Tommy Romero
“a spin axis freak, sort of like Oliver Drake in that his ball actually spins to the left of the 12:00 axis even though he throws right-handed. This creates big vertical movement on his fastball, but Romero never threw hard enough for me to rank him (he was 86-90 in 2019). Then he showed up to instructs sitting 92-94, and at that velocity I think it might work in short stints, in a role similar to the one Josh Collementer played for a while.”
- Ford Procter
“But while Proctor played shortstop at Rice and several infield positions in pro ball, he began converting to catcher in 2020 and made a remarkable amount of progress as a defender in a short period of time, going from “bad” to “hey, this might actually work” in a span of about four weeks during instructs according to the scouts who saw him there. He’ll pop some mid-1.9s down to second base, too. The offensive bar at catcher is very low and Proctor has a chance to clear it by virtue of his bat-to-ball skills and ball/strike recognition.”