Two of the Tampa Bay Rays’ top prospects will joining the team’s All-Star(s?) in Los Angeles in two weeks. Infielder Curtis Mead and right-handed pitcher Taj Bradley have been selected to participate in the Futures Game.
Both Bradley and Mead are among the top ranked prospects in the Rays system, with Baseball America slotting Mead in 5th and Bradley 3rd in their latest update.
The 21-year-old Mead has been an offensive force since being acquired by the Rays in November of 2019 from the Philadelphia Phillies. With the minor league season cancelled and only a handful of players being able to work out at the Rays alternate training site in 2020, Mead spent the time getting fit in his native Australia. Mead packed on 30 pounds of muscle during his time away from the game and then in the winter, played for his hometown team, the Adelaide Giants.
When Mead finally made his organizational debut in 2021, he quickly emerged as a potential breakout prospect and would solidify that status as he hit .321/.378/.533 with 15 HR between High-A and Triple-A (skipped Double-A that year). With his breakout, Mead earned a spot on the Rays 40-man roster and would be ranked as the team’s 5th best prospect entering the 2022 season.
He did start the 2022 season in Double-A but he was not there for long. He’s now in Durham and he continues to produce. Thus far in 2022, Mead is hitting .294/.391/.529 with 11 HR over 63 games.
Remarking on Mead, Baseball America says this is what to watch for:
Mead makes tons of contact, hits balls extremely hard and has the strength to drive balls out to any part of the ballpark.
Bradley is homegrown for the Rays as they selected him in the 5th round of the 2018 draft; Bradley had just turned 17 a few months prior to being drafted. His highly projectable frame enticed the Rays to take a chance on the teen. Over the past few years, that selection has seemed prescient; Bradley has carved through opposing lineups throughout the minor leagues.
A fastball that had originally peaked in the low 90’s, can now top out in the high 90’s while he has also developed a plus-slider to pair with his newfound velocity. Bradley has been able to pair improved stuff with good command, leading to excellent results on the mound.
Since the start of the 2021 minor league season, Bradley has been among the top pitchers in the minors. Over the course of 37 outings (36 starts) 168 2⁄3 innings pitched, Bradley has registered a 1.76 ERA / 3.31 FIP with a 30.8 K% and 7.4 BB% with opponents hitting just .182 off of him.
Bradley has only continued to bloom, and at just 21 years of age he is dominating in Double-A. Entering play on Thursday, July 7th, Bradley sits atop the leaderboard in the Southern League in K%, FIP, ERA, and opponent average, easily making him the best pitcher in the entire division.
Remarking on Bradley, Baseball America says this is what to watch for:
Bradley sits 95-97 mph on a fastball with late life and relies on an upper-80s slider as his primary secondary pitch. He’ll mix in an upper-70s curveball and a high-80s changeup.