RHP Taj Bradley (6’2 190, 21 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green: 103 1⁄3 IP, 1.83 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 7.8 BB%, 31.0 K%
During the lost season, there were stories about Bradley’s improving stuff and breakout potential. He proved to be one of the best pitchers in the minors, living up to the hype. He led the minors in ERA among pitchers with 100-plus innings. He did it with a plus fastball and slider, an improving changeup, and pretty good control. Not bad for a fifth-round pick.
Bradley made a well deserved leap in the prospect rankings from the bottom half of the 2021 DRaysBay Community Prospect list to No. 4 in 2022.
2022 Community prospect list
|1||RHP Shane Baz||24||28||85.7%||6|
|2||OF Josh Lowe||16||34||47.1%||8|
|3||IF/OF Vidal Brujan||23||36||63.9%||3|
|4||RHP Taj Bradley||19||27||70.4%||26|
|5||IF Curtis Mead||20||28||71.4%||40|
Bradley’s victory should not be a big surprise here, as he was added to Baseball America’s Top-100 last September and won MiLB’s pitcher of the year award for 2021:
Here are the next candidates:
2B Xavier Edwards (S/R, 5’10 175, 22 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 337 PA, .302/.377/.368, 19-for-30 SB, 13 2B, 16 XBH, 10.7 BB%, 12.5 K%
After missing the first month of the season on the injured list, Edwards was as advertised in his first season playing games in the organization. He hit a ton of singles, demonstrated a good plate approach, and showed enough speed to steal bases. There was almost no power to speak of, although he did hit a homer in the postseason. He didn’t play an inning at shortstop but did play a fair amount of games at third base.
SS Greg Jones (S/R, 6’2 175, 24 in 2022)
2021 statistics with High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery: 317 PA, .270/.366/.482, 14 HR, 26 XBH, 34/36 SB, 10.4 BB%, 30.3 K%
Jones has some of the best tools in the organization, and he showed them when he was healthy in 2021. He stole a base nearly every other game he played and was only caught twice. He also showed off impressive power potential for a middle-of-the-diamond player. However, the strikeouts will need to come down. Defensively, he has the athleticism and arm to play anywhere, but center field might be his best fit.
IF Curtis Mead (R/R, 6’2 171, 21 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston, High-A Bowling Green, and Triple-A Durham: 458 PA, .321/.378/.533, 55 XBH, 15 HR, 11-for-15 SB, 7.4 BB%, 15.5 K%
Rather than risk losing him for nothing in the rule 5 draft, the Rays traded lefty Cristopher Sanchez to the Phillies for Mead in 2019. Among prospects with 400-plus plate appearances, he was 10th in average, and he led the minors in doubles. He has good power potential but doesn’t have to sell out for it — he makes consistent, hard contact and rarely strikes out. His future defensive home is a question, but his bat plays in a lot of places.
RHP Tommy Romero (6’2 225, 24 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 110 1⁄3 IP, 2.61 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 7.1 BB%, 33.3 K%
Romero remained one of the best statistical pitchers in the minors in 2021. He was tied for 19th in strikeouts, and he maintained his impressive control. With a low-90s fastball and average changeup and breaking ball, he should get his chance in the majors soon. In the roster shuffling leading up to the rule 5 draft deadline, the Rays opted to add him to the 40-man roster.
RHP Cole Wilcox (6’5 232, 22 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston: 44 1⁄3 IP, 2.03 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 2.9 BB%, 29.9 K%
Wilcox impressed in his pro debut, but he had Tommy John surgery in September and is likely missing the entire 2022 season. When he pitched, he worked with a mid-90s fastball and plus slider. His changeup needs improvement. He showed drastically improved control from the start of his college career.
SS Carson Williams (R/R, 6’2 180, 19 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays: 47 PA, .282/.404/.436, 5 XBH, 2/4 SB, 12.8 BB%, 27.7 K%
Williams was the Rays’ top pick in the 2021 draft, and he had a nice debut in a limited number of plate appearances. He has a nice all-around toolset, and all five tools could be average or better, led by his arm for the left side of the infield. He could stay at shortstop. If he doesn’t, his power potential would allow him to profile at other positions. He also has decent speed.