The Tampa Bay Rays, widely credited with baseball’s best farm system, have again placed 5 prospects in Baseball America’s Top-100 for 2022, despite graduating four prospects to the majors from last year’s list. Only the Pirates and Diamondbacks (6 each) had more prospects on the list this year.
No. 8 - RHP Shane Baz
No. 44 - OF Josh Lowe
No. 56 - 2B/0F Vidal Brujan
No. 58 - RHP Taj Bradley
No. 97 - 3B Curtis Mead
In looking at these names, the first reaction is surely the shock that must ware off from not seeing Wander Franco atop the list. The only returning prospect is Vidal Brujan, who placed No. 56 overall in 2021, and No. 51 overall in 2020, making his ranking fairly consistent. Among previously ranked prospects, Brendan McKay fell off the list via injury last year, while Brent Honeywell and Joe Ryan were traded.
Shane Baz is no surprise to be in the top-ten overall, and was edged only by Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez for the top pitcher overall, despite Baz boasting an 80-grade fastball in BA’s assessment, ostensibly due to Baz having a three pitch mix at this time.
Josh Lowe lives up to his first round draft pick pedigree by finally bringing his hit tool up to a 45 and in-line with what BA needs to project major league staying power. The Rays gave Lowe a cup of coffee last year, and the expectation is that he could be ready mid-2022.
Vidal Brujan received a “swiss army knife” label from BA, with his best tool being a 70 grade run. Expectations here seem to be that the switch hitting Brujan, who is on the 40-man roster, is more of a utility player going forward.
Taj Bradley surged into the top-100 with a 1.83 ERA performance and a 60 grade fastball/slider combo that has held up across levels.
Curtis Mead may not have a clear road to the majors on defense, with there being some expectation the Rays would slot him at 1B/LF, but that shouldn’t hold back an offensive thread with 60 grades on his hit and power.
Overall, there was a strong showing from the AL East on this year’s list, with 5 of the top 10 hailing from the Rays division, with the only missing team from the top ten (Boston) slotting in at No. 15 overall. Also of note, former Rays prospect Matthew Liberatore received a No. 50 overall placement after holding his own in Triple-A despite a very young age.