OF Heriberto Hernandez (R/R, 6’1 195, 22 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston: 320 PA, .252/.381/453, 12 HR, 27 XBH, 7/11 SB, 15.3 BB%, 28.1 K%
In his full-season debut, Hernandez continued to hit for a lot of power. He’s not huge, but his power is his best attribute. Just eyeballing the numbers, he was probably one of the organization’s top three-true-outcome players. His aggressive approach might hold him back at higher levels, but he does walk a lot. The Rays moved him out from behind the plate, and he only played outfield in 2021.
Heriberto Hernandez, along with Cole Wilcox, were placed on the DRB Community list via Special Elections in 2021, and placed 12 and 13 respectively. On the 2022 list the same players have moved down slightly, Wilcox likely due to injury and Hernandez likely due to his departure from playing catcher. Nevertheless, he’s a big bat and remains in the top-20.
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|
|6||SS Greg Jones||17||36||47.2%||14|
|7||2B Xavier Edwards||9||26||34.6%||9|
|8||RHP Tommy Romero||11||25||44.0%||NR|
|9||SS Carlos Colmenarez||6||23||26.1%||15|
|10||RHP Seth Johnson||7||23||30.4%||20|
|11||SS Carson Williams||16||29||55.2%||NA|
|12||LHP Ian Seymour||12||20||60.0%||29|
|13||IF Jonathan Aranda||16||26||61.5%||NR|
|14||RHP Cole Wilcox||10||23||43.5%||13|
|15||OF Kameron Misner||10||22||45.5%||NA|
|16||OF Heriberto Hernandez||8||21||38.1%||12|
|17||SS Willy Vasquez||9||25||36.0%||NR|
|18||RHP JJ Goss||8||23||34.8%||19|
On to the candidates!
IF Osleivis Basabe (R/R, 6’1 188, 21 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green: 327 PA, .284/.347/.388, 18/22 SB, 19 XBH, 8.6 BB%, 13.8 K%
Basabe was acquired from Texas in the Nate Lowe trade. He’s known for making contact, and his low strikeout rate reflected that. Every report says he has power potential, but that doesn’t show in his slugging percentage yet. He also has good speed and stole bases pretty efficiently. Defensively, he has the arm and athleticism to stick at shortstop but also showed versatility by playing different positions.
LHP John Doxakis (6’4 215, 23 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green: 102 2⁄3 IP, 3.94 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 4.6 BB%, 27.7 K%
Doxakis’ ERA was a bit high after his promotion to High A, but his numbers beneath the surface were good. He held opponents to an on-base percentage under .300, and his OPS against was significantly better than the league average. His fastball and breaking ball are just average pitches, but he has very good control. Only 15 minor leaguers with 100-plus innings had a lower walk rate.
RHP Sandy Gaston (6’3 200, 20 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays and Low-A Charleston: 50 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 16.6 BB%, 33.2 K%
That walk rate is actually a significant improvement over when he last pitched in 2019. Obviously, continued improvement is needed. He has touched triple digits and regularly pitches in the mid 90s. That kind of velocity at his age is extremely rare, but he has to make progress with some secondary pitches too.
RHP JJ Goss (6’3 185, 21 in 2022)
Rehabbed with Florida Coast League Rays in 2021
Like Taj Bradley, there were reports of big strides made by Goss during the pandemic. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury kept the righty out for most of the season. Fortunately, he’s still very young. Since he was drafted with the No. 36 pick in 2019, his stuff — from his fastball velocity to secondary pitches — has improved. In a small number of innings, he’s continued to demonstrate good control.
2B Cooper Kinney (L/R, 6’3 200, 19 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays: 47 PA, .286/.468/.371, 2/2 SB, 21.3 BB%, 19.1 K%
The Rays drafted Kinney No. 34 overall last year for his bat, and he got his career off to a nice start in a limited number of plate appearances. He makes good contact, and he showed a good plate approach. Right now, he doesn’t have a lot of power, but he has a chance to develop average or above-average power. With limited athleticism, his defensive home is a question.
C Rene Pinto (R/R, 5’10 195, 25 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 382 PA, .274/.325/.500, 20 HR, 40 XBH, 5.8 BB%, 29.8 K%
Any team could have had Pinto in minor league free agency after 2020, but he returned to the Rays. After a breakout 2021 season, he was added to the 40-man roster to keep him from hitting free agency again. He was previously a bat-first catcher and suddenly came into more power, nearly doubling his career home run total. He has an aggressive plate approach but made it work. His defense has improved.
C Ford Proctor (L/R, 6’1 195, 25 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 381 PA, .244/.381/.419, 12 HR, 27 XBH, 16.5 BB%, 26.2 K%
Ford was busy during the lost season, playing in an independent league and then Australia, all while learning how to play catcher. He skipped a level and went to Double A in 2021, and he got off to a slow start. However, over the final three months, he batted .299/.419/.522. His defense behind the plate has improved, and he can still play the middle infield, giving him uncommon versatility.
3B Austin Shenton (L/R, 6’0 205, 24 in 2022)
2021 statistics with High-A Everett, Double-A Arkansas, and Double-A Montgomery: .295/.398/.549, 14 HR, 49 XBH, 12.6 BB%, 23.4 K%
Shenton was acquired in the Diego Castillo trade, but a thumb injury ended his season pretty quickly in his new organization. Thanks to a strong plate approach, ability to make contact, and emerging power, he was able to advance quickly in his first full pro season. Eventually, he’ll need to find a defensive home. It could be third base, but any corner position could be an option.
SS Willy Vasquez (R/R, 6’0 191, 20 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays: 173 PA, .288/.382/.411, 11 XBH, 14/20 SB, 11.6 BB%, 15.6 K%
Vasquez wasn’t a notable signing when the Rays got him in 2019, but he’s quickly gaining attention. He has solid tools across the board, and his performance has been good. With decent athleticism and a good arm, he could stick at shortstop, but he’s shown versatility in the field. At the plate, he has a good approach, makes contact, and has some power potential.
RHP Colby White (6’0 190, 23 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston, High-A Bowling Green, Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham: 62 1⁄3 IP, 1.44 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 6.5 BB%, 45.0 K%
In retrospect, the Rays probably didn’t need 16 1⁄3 innings to know White was too good for Low A, or 23 1⁄3 innings to know he was too good for High A, or 13 innings to know he was too good for Double A. It’s rare for a player to see meaningful action at four different affiliates in a season. With a mid-90s fastball and above-average breaking ball, he could be a big league reliever.