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2024 DRaysBay Community Prospect List: Vote for No. 9

Part of the return for Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot slots in at No. 8.

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Previous Winner

Jonny DeLuca, OF
AA | .279/.380/.590 (.970 OPS, 150 wRC+) 142 PA, 10 HR, 9 SB
AAA | .306/.397/.548 (.945 OPS, 125 wRC+) 184 PA, 7 HR, 3 SB
MLB | .262/.311/.429 (.740 OPS, 102 wRC+) 45 PA, 2 HR, 1 SB

Acquired from the Dodgers as the heir apparent to Manuel Margot’s roster spot, the athletic outfielder had a somewhat unexpected and rapid ascent over the past two years through the Dodgers system after signing as a $300k 25th rounder in 2019. He has an all-out swing that will remind attentive Rays fans of Jordan Luplow, but with an advantageous penchant to pull the ball with regularity. Also, don’t let the count of SB’s fool you, he has top of the charts speed. Expect to see DeLuca on the Opening Day roster.

2024 DRaysBay Community Prospect List

Rank Player Position Votes Total Percentage Last Season
Rank Player Position Votes Total Percentage Last Season
1 Junior Caminero 3B 27 28 96% 7
2 Carson Williams SS 19 35 54% 5
3 Shane Baz RHP 16 36 44% 2
4 Xavier Isaac 1B 29 37 78% 17
5 Curtis Mead 3B 27 32 84% 1
6 Brayden Taylor 3B 20 31 65% N/A
7 Yoniel Curet RHP 12 35 34% N/R
8 Jonny DeLuca OF 16 35 46% N/A
9 Dom Keegan C 18 34 53% 28
10 Santiago Suarez RHP 12 30 40% 22
11 Colton Ledbetter OF 14 35 40% N/A
12 Austin Shenton 1B 17 37 46% N/R
13 Mason Montgomery LHP 9 32 28% 10
14 Osleivis Basabe SS 10 30 33% 11
15 Chandler Simpson OF 12 29 41% N/R

DeLuca prevails over Dom Keegan. In the next poll I will be adding three candidates: Colton Ledbetter, who received a vote last round in Others, as well as teenage shortstop Adrian Santana and 80-grade speed Chandler Simpson.

Rules

There will be a selection of players listed in the comments. To vote, reply to the player’s name with a +1 in the comment. For the best voting experience, filter the comment section by Oldest.

Please vote using whichever criteria you prefer! If you like stats, use stats. If you like scouting reports, reference those reports. There’s no one right way to do this — that’s what makes this exercise fun.

If you want to vote for a player who is not listed, there will be an “Others” comment. Reply to that comment with the name of your selection. This is incredibly rare because there will eventually be up to 10 players to choose from, but it’s possible a player you feel strongly about slipped through the cracks.

If you want to nominate a player to be included in the next poll, reply to the “Testers” comment with that player’s name. We will often limit the number of players accepted for the next poll to prevent the list from becoming cumbersome. All players in one poll who do not win the vote are automatically included in the next poll — there is no need to re-nominate.

Voting will go live on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week.

Candidates

Osleivis Basabe, SS
AAA | .296/.351/.426 (.777 OPS, 95 wRC+) 426 PA, 4 HR, 16 SB
MLB | .218/.277/.310 (.587 OPS, 67 wRC+) 94 PA, 1 HR, 0 SB

La Pantera Negra emerged as the answer at short stop after the loss of Taylor Walls to injury and Wander Franco to administrative leave last season. His promotion got the Rays over the line and into the playoffs but was probably sooner than warranted. He’s reliable at a difficult position and should hit for average if given a lengthier opportunity, but may not project as a regular. That might be for the best, as Basabe’s profile may be better utilized in a utility role at given the Rays depth in the infield, but he has the upside of a starter at short. With the recently acquired José Caballero on the roster, he’ll likely be heading back to Triple-A to start the season.

Dominic Keegan, C
A | .315/.402/.475 (.877 OPS, 146 wRC+) 241 PA, 5 HR, 2 SB
A+ | .254/.367/.457 (.824 OPS, 126 wRC+) 207 PA, 8 HR, 0 SB
AFL | .315/.403/.475 (1.031 OPS) 65 PA, 3 HR, 0 SB

A four-year first baseman at Vanderbilt, Keegan is relatively new to catching, but he’s proved to be adept at receiving and has a hit tool with a major league projection, making him a rising star in the Rays system. He also knows how to take a walk, and has a chance to continue to add power. The Rays have not moved Keegan aggressively, despite his advanced hitting, sending him to both Low- and High-A in 2023, and rounding out the year with a trip to the Arizona Fall League — where scouts liked his ever improving defense, even though he only threw out 5 of 40 runners attempting a stolen base. At worst he currently projects as a bench backstop, and has a chance to blossom into a primary catcher as his defense and power continue to develop.

Colton Ledbetter, OF
Rk-A | .274/.377/.438 (.815 OPS, 117 wRC+ in A) 86 PA, 2 HR, 3 SB

A top prospect in the 2023 draft, Ledbetter fell to day two unexpectedly and the Rays scooped him up at 55th overall. A five-tool prospect with the instincts and range for center field, Ledbetter made contact in the style of Yandy Diaz in his first foray as a pro, meaning he has yet to find much loft in his power stroke now that he’s traded in his metal bat for a wooden one, despite consistent hard contact and full plate coverage with his swing. And even if that never changes, it’s a high floor profile with a safer major league projection than most prospects in the system.

Mason Montgomery, LHP
AA | 4.18 ERA, 107.2 IP (25 GS) 28.0 K%, 10.5 BB%
AAA | 2.70 ERA, 16.2 IP (4 GS) 18.8 K%, 15.9 BB%

A sixth rounder from 2021, Montgomery is a favorite over at Baseball Prospectus, ranking in the Rays organization’s top-five last year and in their Top-100 at No. 84. This season he lost some helium, especially after a few ugly starts in the second half kept him from getting his ERA under control in Montgomery, and then after only two runs allowed over three starts (16 innings) for Durham, he didn’t make it out of the first inning in his last start of the season on Sept 24. Montgomery has a lot of deception in his delivery, but it’s not one you’d want kids to emulate. He fastball has carry, as you’d expect, and his change up is a decent weapon. Paired with a slider for same handed match ups, and it’s enough to project a back of the rotation role, assuming his arm stays attached to his body. Montgomery broke down his arsenal in conversation a David Laurila interview last year.

Adrian Santana, SS
Rk | .205/.340/.256 (.597 OPS, 73 wRC+) 47 PA, 0 HR, 3 SB

Don’t let the stats above fool you, even though his bat will likely lag behind the rest of his game throughout his development. The (currently) switch-hitting Santana is a high school 2023 draft pick that was given 10 games in the Complex League to get a taste of professional life, and should slot into SS for Class-A in 2024, where his glove and speed are expected to draw rave reviews. Baseball Prospectus ranked Santana sixth in the system for his “double plus” defense, projecting him as an above average regular at short.

Austin Shenton, 1B
AA | .307/.415/.567 (.982 OPS, 157 wRC+) 306 PA, 15 HR, 0 SB
AAA | .301/.432/.603 (1.035 OPS, 158 wRC+) 271 PA, 14 HR, 0 SB

Acquired for Diego Castillo mid-2021 amidst a breakout 144 wRC+ performance in Double-A, Shenton’s bat when missing in action after his arrival to the Rays system for the rest of that season and for all of 2022 due to a hip injury that limited him to 52 games, but it came back with a vengeance in 2023. He has the look of a major league regular in a DH role if the hit tool proves true. Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, expect to see the the Rays test his left handed power stroke at the major league level in 2024.

Chandler Simpson, OF
A | .285/.358/.333 (.691 OPS, 103 wRC+) 397 PA, 0 HR, 81 SB
A+ | .326/.429/.393 (.822 OPS, 135 wRC+) 106 PA, 0 HR, 13 SB

Yes, you read that right. 94 steals, it’s 80 grade speed. Back in 2021, he also set the record wood bat Northwoods League record with 55 bags in 51 games as a second baseman. The Rays then drafted him in the Comp-B round and moved him to the outfield, where his elite speed might offer promise in center field. His slap happy approach at the plate combined with a lack of K’s give his hitting better projection than might be expected from an otherwise zero-power profile. Since the start of the 2022 season, Simpson has the 5th lowest whiff% in the minor leagues, resulting in 54 walks to his 44 strikeouts in 2023.

Santiago Suarez, RHP
RK-A | 1.52 ERA, 59.1 IP (15 G, 8 GS) 22.4 K%, 4.7 BB%

A rare 18-year old with major league projection, Suarez was the key return from the Marlins in the Xavier Edwards trade while he was a 17-year old in the DSL, making his acquisition a big win for Tampa Bay’s scouting department. After finding the complex league a breeze in 2023 (1.13 ERA, 39.2 IP), Suarez was promoted to the Class-A Charleston rotation for their playoff run (2.29 ERA, 5 starts). He has a solid frame, repeatable delivery, a curveball that already projects as major league, and plus control. He has the time to develop the rest of his repertoire, but there is also quite a bit of time before we’ll know if he’s destined for the Rays rotation.

Naoyuki Uwasawa, RHP
NPB | 2.96 ERA, 170.0 IP (24 GS) 17.8 K%, 5.9 BB%

Uwasawa, who will turn 30 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.”