Junior Caminero, 3B
A few weeks into 2024, and Caminero might be considered the top prospect in baseball once the Jackson’s graduate (Holliday, O’s; Chourio, Brewers). His cup of coffee in 2023 was a well earned, if not surprising move. He has 80-grade power and exceptional bat speed, and he has surprised some evaluators with his above average hit tool. He has the makings of Tampa Bay’s third baseman of the future.
2024 DRaysBay Community Prospect List
Junior Caminero and his prodigious power was not unanimous but won handily the top spot in the first vote.
2024 DRaysBay Community Prospect List
Round 2 adds NPB signee Naoyuki Uwasawa, who signed a minor league deal with an opt-out clause that would pay up to $3.5 million at the major league level. Adding Uwasawa to our prospect voting is consistent with our approach previously with Yoshi Tsutsugo.
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Shane Baz, RHP
Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect arguably could be left off prospect lists this offseason, but we prescribe to Baseball America’s eligibility, which differs from whether rookie eligibility has been exceeded. To date, thanks to recovery from Tommy John surgery while on the major league roster, Baz has two years and 14 days of service time, which means he’ll be arbitration eligible in 2025 and a free agent in 2028. The 24-year old may be able to join the major league starters in work outs at the start of Spring Training, but is expected to be on pitch counts and limits that will slot him for the Triple-A rotation to start the year. Prior to his surgery, Baz had an elite fastball, a plus slider, and a decent change up.
Xavier Isaac, 1B
The Rays surprised many when they drafted X-man, but now it’s Isaac who is surprising the baseball world. High school first basemen rarely go in the first round like Isaac did in 2022, and even more rarely make the jump into Top 100 lists, but here we are. In his limited experience, Isaac is showing to have a major league projection in hitting and fielding, and has plenty of power developing. MLB Pipeline has Isaac ranked the top first base prospect in baseball.
Curtis Mead, 3B
Mead has nothing left to prove in the minors, even though injuries and a careful approach at the plate have made his major league appearances thus far somewhat muted. The Australian punished pitches in the zone, and has a plus hit tool that should make him a solid major league contributor. Defensively his best home is second base due to some limitations with his arm, but he can fake it on the left side of the infield with the best of ‘em.
Brayden Taylor, 3B
Taylor has the makings of a major league regular at second or third base, with a consistent hit tool to all fields (despite a pull happy swing) that should carry him to the majors with ease. He signed for $3.9 million after being selected in the first round of the 2023 draft, and evaluators are interested to see how much power he will add as a professional, and if he’ll maintain his defensive range as he matures. In the meantime, his plus arm gives him a third base projection.
Naoyuki Uwasawa, RHP
Uwasawa, who will turn 30 years old prior to Spring Training, held a 2.96 ERA last season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, the team with which he’s spent his entire professional career (3.19 ERA, 173 G). He has thrown at least 160 innings in each season dating back to 2018, with the exception of the COVID shortened 2020 (102 IP). Last year only 45 pitchers threw at least 160 innings at the major league level. Uwasawa has six pitches, with his Splitter the above average offering. He began working with Driveline in 2022 to prep for his move stateside, and elected a minor league deal with the Rays over other major league offers due to the team’s “rich history of pitching development.”
Carson Williams, SS
The Rays first round draft pick from 2021 can be summed up in six words: Power hitting every day short stop. Williams put up 19 homeruns in Class-A in 2022 and 23 homeruns in High-A in 2023, but that power came at the cost of a 32% strikeout rate in both seasons, which have some evaluators concerned with his hit tool. Then again, it’s a good thing premium short stops don’t necessarily need to hit for average to succeed. Williams should be destined for Double-A this year, where the more challenging breaking balls should let us know how legit the bat will be.