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Baseball Prospectus releases Rays Top-10 Prospects for 2023

Overall theme: Ugly swings with high rates of production.

MiLB: AUG 08 FCL Orioles at FCL Rays
Junior Caminero
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus has published their Top-10 Rays prospects for 2023. The article is behind a paywall, so we will only have limited highlights below. If you’d like to read the full report, give BP your money!

While touting the continued development of arms in the system, BPro notes this is a bat-heavy moment, which is an interesting pivot from the pitching and defense reputation the Rays may always carry:

The State of the System: The Rays have achieved one of the most Rays systems possible, as they are now loaded with infielders with unclear defensive homes that can all really hit.

On to the list.

1. Curtis Mead, IF

Overall grade: 60

First-division infielder who hits his way to a couple All-Star games [...] The Rays have little standing in his way at 1B/3B/DH, and he should arrive early in 2023 and immediately slot in the middle of the lineup.

BPro isn’t in love with Mead’s “Vogelbachian” swing, but they cannot deny the results, which have vaulted the team’s Australian corner infielder to the top of the list:

[...] he just barrels baseballs. [...] the upper minors performance—both top-line and underlying—is all there to suggest Mead is one of the best hitting prospects in the minors.

2. Taj Bradley, RHP

Overall grade: 60

Impact arm, occasional All-Star [...] Solid command and electric stuff [...] should arrive early in 2023

The Rays have long had faith in Bradley, and that has materialized in his performance over the last couples seasons well enough, but BP notes Triple-A was the first time he was “challenged... especially by experienced left-handed hitters.”

Don’t be mistaken, the pitch mix is electric with an easy mid-90s fastball, tight slider, and plus curve but he’ll need to continue to learn how to deploy it to get big-league hitters out.

3. Kyle Manzardo, 1B

Overall grade: 60

First-division first baseman, occasional All-Star [...] Finding flaws in Manzardo’s performance and future outlook is picking nits at this point.

Noting there’s “always risk with a 1B only prospect” the middle of the order potential for Manzardo is undeniable for BPro to ignore.

4. Mason Montgomery, LHP

Overall grade: 55

no. 3/4 starter [...] Montgomery has an advanced arsenal and could be in the Rays rotation by the second half of 2023.

BPro doesn’t love his mechanics but seems higher on the secondary pitches than anticipated. Either way, Montgomery should be able to ride the fastball up the ladder.

5. Junior Caminero, IF

Overall grade: 55

BPro gives Junior a Ben Zobrist comp, which is a rare compliment that vaults him into the BP top 5. The variance in the projection is high, as he’s yet to get out of Low-A, but it’s high praise nonetheless.

He can look a bit out of control at the plate at times but he’s always in control of the barrel. [...] Caminero is laying waste to the Australian Baseball League, hitting .286/.357/.571 with 10 home runs (third most) at just 18 years old.

6. Carson Williams, SS

Overall grade: 55

Like all publications, Williams gets high marks for his defense and low marks for the strikeout rate, but overall the report is positive.

Above-average left side inifielder [...] If he can stop chasing out of the zone so much, he has clear first-division starter upside.

7. Mason Auer, OF

Overall grade: 55

Auer has a sturdy frame and generates above-average bat speed and commensurate raw power [...] he punished pitchers in the zone and his overall approach is pretty advanced for A-ball.

There’s a tease of a 4-win player in the write up, but of course he’s young, so the variance is high.

he should hit enough—and be a good enough defender in a corner that it won’t push him out of an everyday role.

8. Osleivis Basabe, IF

Overall grade: 55

Above-average third baseman [...] Basabe has an all-fields approach and makes a lot of hard ground ball contact [...] Profile wise this would make him the logical heir apparent to Yandy Díaz as a hit-tool driven corner infielder without a ton of game power.

Basabe has a higher floor than some higher variance players above him on the list.

9. Willy Vasquez, IF

Overall grade: 55

Yet another above average infielder in the Rays system, he’s losing some shine due to an increase in strikeouts.

If you chase too much as a 21-year-old in Low-A, the variance is going to be high. If your contact profile is this loud at any level, the upside is going to be there.

10. Carlos Colmenarez, SS

Overall grade: 55

The 18-year old most likely to be the next uber prospect in the Rays system sneaks into the top ten as currently a “glove-first everyday shortstop.” The system is deep!

He’s an advanced defender with better batted ball data than his topline performance, but there’s nothing in his profile yet that suggests a breakout at the plate.

You may note not included above was Shane Baz, who maintains rookie eligibility in the majors. He was given honorable mention at the end of the list.

Lastly, there is Baz, who is unlikely to pitch in 2023, but could feasibly return late in the season or perhaps work out of the bullpen. It’s an absolute shame that Baz’s age-24 season will be spent on the shelf, as every indication has been encouraging that he could be another exciting rotation arm.

Finally, the list does round out with a next ten names. These each have an extensive writeup which can be read at the article itself. We’ll provide the names below:

11. Cole Wilcox, P (Low-A Charleston)
12. Kameron Misner, CF (Double-A Montgomery)
13. Cooper Kinney, 2B (DNP)
14. Brock Jones, CF (Low-A Charleston)
15. Greg Jones, SS (Double-A Montgomery)
16. Xavier Isaac, 1B (FCL Rays)
17. Ben Peoples, P (High-A Bowling Green)
18. Tristan Peters, LF (Double-A Richmond)
19. Heriberto Hernandez, OF (High-A Bowling Green)
20. Blake Hunt, C (Double-A Montgomery)