While the MLB owners and players still need to settle their differences, the minor league season is slated to begin on time. Given that, let’s take a look into the Rays minor league teams and get an idea what to expect from each of the four affiliates.
If you are unfamiliar with the Roster Resource tab on FanGraphs.com, I highly recommend checking it out as there are numerous useful features to dig into. One of them is a full minor league roster projection for all 30 organizations, and to coincide with the Top-30 prospect list, here’s Tampa Bay’s projection.
This piece presents the projected rosters for each Rays minor league team via Roster Resource (the projections are not my own), and I included some notes and observations about each level.
Top-30 prospects are italicized.
Durham Bulls (AAA)
Catchers: Rene Pinto, Ford Proctor
Infielders: Jonathan Aranda, Xavier Edwards, Esteban Quiroz, Jim Haley, Miles Mastrobuoni, Tristan Gray
Outfielders: Josh Lowe, Cal Stevenson, Ruben Cardenas, Ryan Boldt
Pitchers: Shane Baz, Tommy Romero, David Hess, Jayden Murray, Caleb Sampen, Colin Poche, Jalen Beeks, Jeffrey Springs, Brendan McKay, Calvin Faucher, Chris Mazza, Dusten Knight, Joel Peguero, Phoenix Sanders, Tyler Zombro, Justin Sterner, Jack Labosky, Cristofer Ogando, Colby White
Quick Notes and Observations
- Rene Pinto, Ford Proctor, Jonathan Aranda, and Josh Lowe are all hitters who are currently on the Rays 40-man roster, which means some of them they may not be in AAA for long if a big league opportunity arises.
- For those wondering where Vidal Brujan is, FanGraphs currently has him projected on the MLB bench.
- Xavier Edwards is a name to watch, as he is Rule 5 eligible at the end of 2022 and is behind a lot of quality infielders on the depth chart. Will he force his way into the mix this year? Or will he play his way into a trade?
- Colin Poche, Jalen Beeks, Jeffrey Springs, and Brendan McKay are all coming off of major injuries but may have a chance at making the MLB team if they’re effective in spring training.
- It is a possibility that Shane Baz begins 2022 in AAA (see McClanahan and Patino last year), but he shouldn’t be down for long.
- Tommy Romero, Jayden Murray, Calvin Faucher, and Colby White are all interesting pitching prospects to watch and may have the potential to impact the big league team this year.
- There aren’t any true shortstops on this roster as things stand today. It probably makes sense for the Rays to sign a shortstop to a minor league deal in case an injury to one of Walls or Franco occurs.
Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
Catchers: Blake Hunt, Logan Driscoll, Erik Ostberg
Infielders: Dillon Paulson, Evan Edwards, Brett Wisely, Connor Hollis, Curtis Mead, Tyler Frank, Austin Shenton, Jacson McGowan, Greg Jones, Alika Williams
Outfielders: Kameron Misner, Grant Witherspoon, Jordan Qsar, Niko Hulsizer, Hill Alexander
Pitchers: John Doxakis, Michael Mercado, Jacob Lopez (INJ), Evan McKendry, Zack Trageton, Tanner Dodson, Evan Reifert, Carlos Garcia, Trevor Brigden, Christopher Gau, Dalton Moats, Trey Cumbie, Chris Muller, Miller Hogan, Mikey York
Quick notes and observations
- This might be the most powerful collection of outfielders in all of minor league baseball. Every one of them is a three-true outcomes type of player with huge power.
- 10 infielders is likely a few too many for one roster, players such as Tyler Frank and Jacson McGowan are probably candidates to begin the year in High-A rather than AA.
- Blake Hunt was one of the most notable prospects left off the 40-man roster this offseason. If there is a Rule 5 draft this season, he may be a candidate to be selected.
- Jacob Lopez looked very good in the beginning of last season but underwent tommy john surgery in August of 2021. He was also rule 5 eligible this year but was left off the roster.
- Tanner Dodson, Evan Reifert, and Christopher Gau are all power relief prospects with big strikeout numbers.
- John Doxakis and Michael Mercado are both Rule 5 eligible in 2022 and were mentioned in Keith Law’s Rays top prospects rankings this winter.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (A+)
Catchers: Roberto Alvarez, Matt Dyer, Luis Trevino
Infielders: Ronny Simon, Gionti Turner, Abiezel Ramirez, Johan Lopez, Tanner Murray, Osleivis Basabe, Pedro Martinez
Outfielders: Heriberto Hernandez, Diego Infante, Garrett Hiott, Beau Brundage
Pitchers: Seth Johnson, Ian Seymour, Taj Bradley, Ben Brecht, Jose Lopez, Franklin Dacosta, Graeme Stinson, Audry Lugo, Aneudy Cortorreal, Andrew Gross, Jeff Hakanson, Ian Leatherman, Brayden Theriot, Joe LaSorsa
Quick notes and observations
- An interesting note about this roster is that many of these hitters have been acquired in recent trades: Hernandez and Basabe (Nate Lowe trade), Ronny Simon (Jordan Luplow trade), Matt Dyer (Rich Hill trade), Pedro Martinez (Jose Martinez trade).
- Two performers who don’t get much prospect love: Diego Infante and Tanner Murray are not ranked on many (if any at all) public Rays prospect lists, but each had very strong 2021 seasons offensively.
- The starting pitcher trio of Seth Johnson, Ian Seymour, and Taj Bradley is an exciting bunch, all of them posted an ERA below 3.00 and a K% greater than 28% in 2021. They each have a solid chance at reaching the upper minors in 2022.
- Ian Leatherman was the only Rays player picked in last year’s draft who played above the complex level in 2021. He recorded the final out in the championship game for low-A Charleston last year.
Charleston RiverDogs (A-)
Catchers: Michael Berglund, Kenny Piper
Infielders: Kyle Manzardo, Alexander Ovalles, Bobby Seymour, Jelfry Marte, Carson Williams, Willy Vasquez
Outfielders: Nick Schnell, Dru Baker, Shane Sasaki, Mason Auer, Patrick Merino, Estanli Castillo
Pitchers: Cole Wilcox (INJ), JJ Goss, Antonio Jimenez, Victor Munoz, Sandy Gaston, Matthew Peguero, Nathan Wiles, Mason Montgomery, Logan Workman, Patrick Wicklander, Austin Vernon
Quick notes and observations
- A number of hitters picked by the Rays in the 2021 draft are being projected into the Charleston lineup in Kyle Manzardo, Bobby Seymour, Carson Williams, Dru Baker, Kenny Piper and Mason Auer. This would be an aggressive assignment for Williams, as he was drafted out of high school and is still just 18 years old.
- Mason Montgomery, Logan Workman, Patrick Wicklander, and Austin Vernon are all pitchers who were picked in the 2021 draft and all pitched extremely well during their first stints in the organization last year.
- Cole Wilcox had a tremendous start to his 2021 season, but unfortunately underwent Tommy John surgery in September.
- JJ Goss, the 36th overall pick in the 2019 draft, has only thrown 27.1 innings in the Rays organization so far, but all reports indicate that he will be fully healthy to start the 2022 season.
- Antonio Jimenez and Victor Munoz are two international signings who have performed well in the complex league over the past few years. They will have the opportunity to put themselves on the prospect map with strong performances in full-season ball this year.
- Carlos Colmenarez, Cooper Kinney, and Nick Bitsko are all DRaysBay top-30 prospects who are projected to be in rookie ball next season per Roster Resource.