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.
In a mild surprise, 2019’s 36th overall pick JJ Goss ranks higher than 2020 first round draft pick Nick Bitsko (who has been a candidate every edition of the voting thus far). Bitsko, of course, had surgery recently but can be otherwise approximated to newly acquired Cole Wilcox from a prospect evaluation perspective.
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|
On to the voting! Who will round out the top-20?
IF Osleivis Basabe (R/R 6’1 165, 21 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Arizona League Rangers and short-season Spokane: 176 PA, .323/.352/.398, 5 3B, 7 XBH, 7/9 SB, 4.5 BB%, 11.9 K%
Basabe was acquired alongside teammate Heriberto Hernandez in the trade that sent Nate Lowe to Texas. He’s a different player though. He’s a high-contact hitter who rarely strikes out. He’s also a good athlete with a good arm who can play across the infield and could play center field if necessary. Although he makes hard contact, in-game power hasn’t been there yet.
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.
RHP Sandy Gaston (6’3 200, 19 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays: 27 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 20.9 BB%, 24.0 K%
Thanks to his great velocity, Gaston was able to earn a $2.61 million bonus from the Rays. He’s been able to touch triple digits for a couple years now, but the rest of his game needs significant refinement. He could cut his walk rate in half, and it may still be too high. He also throws a curveball and changeup.
RHP Seth Johnson (6’1 200, 22 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays and rookie-level Princeton: 17 IP, 2.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 4.3 BB%, 23.2 K%
Johnson was a huge riser last spring as a fairly new convert to pitching after having little success as a hitter. He reportedly stood out in the instructional league in 2020. According to Baseball America, he’s shown improved fastball velocity and a better slider ($). 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.
3B Kevin Padlo (R/R, 6’2 205, 24 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 432 PA, .265/.389/.538, 21 HR, 53 XBH, 12/16 SB, 15.7 BB%, 26.9 K%
Padlo broke a hamate bone in 2017, and it took him until the 2019 season to get back on track. He’s always had power potential, and he started showing it in games. His average wasn’t bad, and he posted a high walk rate. He’s a good defender at third base and has spent time at both first base and second base, which he was able to do with his athleticism. He was at points on the team’s taxi squad in 2020 but didn’t appear in any games.
SS Alejandro Pie (R/R, 6’4 175, 19 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Dominican Summer League Rays 1: 253 PA, .289/.361/.342, 24/32 SB, 11 XBH, 4.3 BB%, 18.2 K%
Pie was one of the Rays’ top two signings in the 2018-19 international period, and he was decent in his pro debut — although his 5.9 HBP% is likely unsustainable. Despite his size and potential for growth, he could stick at shortstop thanks to his athleticism. If not, he has the arm to play anywhere on the field. With that size comes power potential, but he hasn’t shown much of it yet.
IF Esteban Quiroz (L/R, 5’6 199, 29 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Triple-A El Paso: 366 PA, .271/.384/.539, 19 HR, 44 XBH, 14.2 BB%, 22.4 K%
Quiroz was acquired in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to San Diego. He’s not very big, but he’s hit for a lot of power in affiliated ball — 26 homers and 57 extra-base hits in 128 games since the Red Sox signed him prior to the 2018 season. He gets on base with a good walk rate. He’s played a few different positions, but it will be his bat that carries him.
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.