Dynasty: Tampa Bay Rays 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Hunter Denson ranks the top 50 prospects in the Rays system.

The Rays have managed to assemble an incredible amount of talent in their farm system, led by uber-prospect Wander Franco. Their system is deep and includes several players who are close to making an impact at the highest level for a team that has won 90 or more games for two straight seasons.

 

1. Wander Franco, SS

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: High-A

What to write about consensus number one prospect Wander Franco that has not already been written? Franco can flat out rake and would still be considered an elite prospect even if you only considered his worst production in each offensive category (All career lows: .318/.390/.464, .396 wOBA, 155 wRC+). He has an incredible approach at the plate (7.4% K% is his career-high at any level) and his walk rate has consistently eclipsed his strikeout production at every turn. Did I mention he only just turned 19 in March? Here is a short (and I do mean really short) list of players younger than 19 who have generated at least a 130 wRC+ in A+ since 2013:

Name Year Age AVG OBP SLG ISO wOBA wRC+
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 2017 18 0.333 0.450 0.494 0.161 0.434 179
Wander Franco 2019 18 0.339 0.408 0.464 0.125 0.396 157

Yep, Wander Franco and Vladito. If you open that list up to include 19-year-olds, you get a more representative list:

Name Year Age AVG OBP SLG ISO wOBA wRC+
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 2017 18 0.333 0.450 0.494 0.161 0.434 179
Wander Franco 2019 18 0.339 0.408 0.464 0.125 0.396 157
Byron Buxton 2013 19 0.326 0.415 0.472 0.147 0.406 155
Bo Bichette 2017 19 0.323 0.379 0.463 0.140 0.384 145
Carlos Correa 2014 19 0.325 0.416 0.510 0.185 0.407 144
Heliot Ramos 2019 19 0.306 0.385 0.500 0.194 0.393 143
Jake Bauers 2015 19 0.267 0.357 0.433 0.166 0.374 142
Ronald Acuna Jr. 2017 19 0.287 0.336 0.478 0.191 0.370 135
Jo Adell 2018 19 0.290 0.345 0.546 0.256 0.384 135
Jahmai Jones 2017 19 0.302 0.368 0.488 0.186 0.379 131
Addison Russell 2013 19 0.275 0.377 0.508 0.233 0.386 131
Cody Bellinger 2015 19 0.264 0.336 0.538 0.274 0.372 130
Luis Urias 2016 19 0.330 0.397 0.440 0.109 0.379 130

While some of the names here are less exciting, seeing Wander outperform names like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Cody Bellinger (plus Jo Adell, Bo Bichette, and Carlos Correa) under similar circumstances should make you salivate, even just for comparison’s sake.

Franco has all of the tools you need to dominate at the highest level, garnering particular acclaim for his hit tool (rated at 80 on both FanGraphs and Baseball America), though his power (60 raw power, 60 game power on FanGraphs; 60 power on Baseball America) and speed (60 on FanGraphs, 50 on Baseball America) were strong as well. He also plays his position well and is unlikely to shift off of shortstop down the road.

He is still growing into his power (ISO had dipped at each level; GB% has risen at each) and figuring out what to do on the bases (18/32 in 2019), but the potential here is for him to become an elite player at a premium position for many years to come.

ETA: 2021

 

2. Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Double-A

Brujan has come a long way since signing for $15,000 as an international free agent in 2014, and he’s one of my favorite prospects in the Rays system. He pairs a strong approach at the plate (13.3% K%, 7.7% SwStr% in High-A; 15% K%, 6.4% SwStr% in Double-A) with elite baserunning skills, as evidenced by his 48 stolen bases in 2019 (78.7% success rate). Like other speedsters in this system, power will never be a huge part of his game, though the switch-hitter has some sneaky pop when batting lefty.

Luckily, that will not matter too much at second base. He struggles against left-handed pitchers (.202/.286/.266 vs LHP as RHB in 2019) and needs further development there. Brujan should be a game-changing threat at the top of the Rays order and a huge source of runs and stolen bases once he makes the majors.

ETA: 2021

 

3. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, OF/3B

 

Age: 28

Highest Level: N/A

Tsutsugo signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays this off season after a 10-year professional career in the NPB. The 28-year-old hit 95 home runs over the last three seasons, owns a career OBP of .380, and generated an OPS of .899 or higher every season since 2014. The Rays played him at left field, third base, and DH during the spring, so he will likely have multi-positional eligibility unless that approach changes.

While it is always uncertain how an NPB player’s production will transition to the states (enjoy this deeper dive on that subject as it relates to Tsutsugo), the fact that Tsutsugo has an advanced approach at the plate and an easy route to playing time with the Rays makes him an easy gamble.

ETA: 2020

 

4. Brendan McKay, SP/DH

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

McKay blitzed through the minors after the Rays selected him fourth overall in the 2017 draft, generating minor league pitching numbers most would dream of — 1.78 ERA, 0.837 WHIP, 11.8 SO/9 in 172 IP. He continued to rack up strikeouts after his major league debut last season (25.9% K%) but took some lumps along the way, generating a 5.14 ERA (4.17 SIERA) and 1.41 WHIP in 49 IP.

Once promoted, he struggled to keep the ball on the ground (47.1% GB% in Triple-A, 35.2% GB% in MLB) and gave up eight home runs to MLB hitters, almost as many as he allowed in his entire MiLB career (nine). Much of that was related to the quality of contact he allowed, as he rated near the bottom of several metrics (Barrel% — bottom 7%; average exit velocity — bottom 3%; Hard Hit% — bottom 2%).

McKay’s arsenal works well because of his strong command, but he lacks the weapons you typically see in an ace. Neither his fastball nor his curveball generate high levels of spin (fastball — 40th percentile; curveball — 4th percentile) and his velocity tops out in the mid 90s. He should settle in as a mid-rotation starter at worst and has the chance to become a No. 2 starter if he reaches his full potential.

However, the Rays’ unique pitcher usage could limit his appeal compared to other full-time starters. Despite the acclaim he received as a two-way star in college, his future fantasy value should center almost exclusively on his mound-work — he’s unlikely to make enough noise at the plate to matter.

ETA: 2020

 

5. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: High-A

Many know Edwards due to Blake Snell‘s infamous live-stream reaction to the Tommy Pham trade in December. Others know him as a talented infield prospect who could pay dividends for the Rays for years to come. Edwards split 2019 between A-ball and High-A in the Padres’ organization and performed very well at both stops, especially for his age.

He ranked seventh in wOBA (.375) and eighth in wRC+ (135) among those his age or younger in A-ball (at least 250 PAs) and though his offensive production dipped in High-A, he still ranked eighth in those metrics for his age group (at least 200 PAs). Edwards has 80-grade speed and showed that on the bases last season, swiping 35 bags and posting an 88% success rate in his last 16 attempts. He has no power (one HR in 756 PAs so far) but his high average/elite speed approach should play well, especially at the keystone.

ETA: 2022

 

6. Josh Lowe, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Double-A

The delayed start to the 2020 season greatly benefited Lowe, since he was supposed to be out until late May due to shoulder surgery. Provided everything starts back up this season, he should be ready to go. Lowe posted career high power marks in 2019 (18 HR, .192 ISO) and paired that with similar gains on the basepaths (30 SBs, 77% success rate).

The breakout season continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he generated a .937 OPS and swiped four bases in 15 games. He improved his walk rate despite the jump to Double-A (+1.1% in 2019) and marginally improved his strikeout rate as well (-0.3%), though his SwStr% remained high (12.2%). If Lowe can continue to improve his approach at the plate, he possesses a power/speed combo that few can match.

ETA: 2021

 

7. Randy Arozarena, OF

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

Arozarena came to the Rays this offseason in the Matthew Liberatore trade. While he may get lost among some of the other luminaries found in the Tampa Bay system, Arozarena is an underrated talent who could surprise if he can claim steady playing time. He signed out of Cuba for $1.25 million in 2016 and steadily made his way through the Cardinals’ system from there, posting above-average offensive production most of the way.

Triple-A proved to be an issue for him the first time around (81 wRC+, .310 wOBA, .116 ISO), but he tore it up at the same level last season (138 wRC+, .380 wOBA, .236 ISO) before earning a cup of coffee in the big leagues (.300/.391/.500 in 23 PAs). He has routinely produced on the bases (63 steals since 2017), though his success rate tailed off considerably last year (74.6% success rate from 2017-2018; 58.6% success rate in 2019), and he also set career marks for power production in 2019 (15 HR between Double-A and Triple-A).

While some of his Triple-A performance can be chalked up to the insanity of the PCL, he still posted the eighth best wRC+ (151) among all Triple-A hitters (at least 250 PAs). Toss in low strikeout rates (19% K% in in Triple-A in 2018; 17% K% in Triple-A in 2019) and an ability to take a walk (8.5% BB%) … not bad. Consistent playing time will be his biggest issue, but with rosters likely expanded for this abbreviated season, Arozarena could have the chance to make his mark.

ETA: 2020

 

8. Joe Ryan, SP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A

Ryan ripped through High-A in 2019, generating a 35.9% K% (16% SwStr%), 3.9% BB%, and a 0.71 WHIP to go along with a sparking 1.42 ERA (2.15 xFIP) in 82.2 IP. He continued mowing down batters upon his promotion to Double-A, sending 44.4% of batters faced back to the dugout in his 13.1 IP there. Ryan is unique in that he relies almost exclusively on a lethal fastball, so much so that when asked about it during an MLB.com interview he responded by saying: “I think [the Rays] were happy when I got my usage down to 71 percent…”

In addition to his “invisible fastball,” Ryan has a solid slider other secondary pitches (cutter, curveball) that are growing as weapons. Barring any issues in a larger sample size against Double-A hitters, Ryan could see action with the Rays very soon and may end up being the most productive arm in this system when all is said and done. The biggest question is whether or not his fastball-heavy approach will succeed outside of an MLB bullpen role.

Per Baseball Savant, of all pitchers who were predominately a starter in 2019 (min. 1,000 pitches), only Vince Velasquez (23 GS; 62.5% 4-seamer usage) and Chris Paddack (26 GS; 61.1% 4-seamer usage) approached Ryan’s fastball heavy approach. All other pitchers near his fastball usage rate were relievers.

ETA: 2021

 

9. Taylor Walls, SS

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Double-A

Walls has consistently generated above-average offensive production despite touching three levels in the past two seasons. He started 2019 in High-A, posting a .269/.339/.416 line there (.346 wOBA, 123 wRC+) before earning a promotion to Double-A. Despite it being the more advanced level, Walls showed increased power (.147 ISO in High-A, .209 ISO in Double-A) without sacrificing in other metrics (.368 wOBA, 135 wRC+).

His power has increased for three straight seasons, coinciding with consistent decreases in GB% and regular gains in his FB%. He continued to produce on the bases (28 SB, 65% success rate), though he needs refinement there and maintained an excellent approach at the plate (21% K%, 10.7% BB%, 8.3% SwStr% in Double-A). Overall, he stacked up very well to similarly aged, middle infield prospects in Double-A:

Name AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA wRC+
Gavin Lux 0.313 0.375 0.521 0.896 0.208 0.394 147
Taylor Walls 0.270 0.346 0.479 0.824 0.209 0.368 135
Donovan Walton 0.300 0.390 0.427 0.817 0.127 0.373 134
Isaac Paredes 0.282 0.368 0.416 0.784 0.134 0.358 133

Walls should offer a good average along with adequate power and speed for an infielder. While he does not have the acclaim of some other middle infield prospects, he is less volatile and may eclipse some of the others currently ranked above him.

ETA: 2021

 

10. Shane McClanahan, SP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A

McClanahan got his first extended look at professional hitters last season after tossing only seven innings in 2018. He touched three levels, kicking things off with the A-ball Bowling Green Hot Rods before finishing the season in Double-A with the Montgomery Biscuits. Walks were an issue early on (13.9% BB% in A-ball) but came down heavily as the season progressed (4.2% BB% in High-A, 6.7% BB% in Double-A). His stuff played well at all levels (12.9% SwStr% in A-ball, 13.2% SwStr% in High-A, 14.1% SwStr% in Double-A), though he struggled with the long ball in his brief Double-A run (17.6% HR/FB% in 18.1 IP).

An extended run at Double-A should answer questions about his strikeout potential (23.3% K% in Double-A, a 7.6% decrease from High-A) and give more insight on his ability to limit HR at higher levels. McClanahan relies on a fastball/slider mix the majority of the time and has a changeup that could develop into a league-average third offering, which would solidify his potential as a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues. Barring that, he has strong potential as a late-inning reliever.

ETA: 2021

 

11. Greg Jones, SS

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Short-season A-ball

Jones acclimated well to A-ball, slashing .335/.413/.461 with a .411 wOBA and 163 wRC+ in 48 games. He walked at a solid rate (10.1% BB%) but needs to work on his approach (25.75 K%, 10.9% SwStrs%) if he is going to maintain a solid batting average as he progresses through the system. Jones also showed off his famous wheels, swiping 19 bases on the season (70% success rate).

His power needs development (one HR in 2019, .126 ISO), but he has a chance to approach double-digit production if things go well. Even if it does not, his speed and extra-base production make for an interesting combination if his defense allows him to stay at shortstop.

ETA: 2022

 

12. Shane Baz, SP

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Low-A

I bet the Pittsburgh Pirates wish they could have a re-do on the Chris Archer deal. Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow are already performing at the highest level for the Rays, and Baz is working hard to make sure he is not left behind. He has a high-octane four-seam fastball that can reach triple digits, two offspeed pitches (led by his slider), and a potential fourth offering (changeup) that is still a work in progress.

Baz posted solid strikeout rates in his first taste of A-ball (25.4% K%, 13.9% SwStr%) but continued to struggle with his control (10.8% BB%) and command (five HBP, 10 wild pitches). Control remains the biggest area of concern and could result in a late-inning relief future instead of the consistent starter he hopes to become.

ETA: 2023

 

13. Nick Schnell, OF

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Low-A

A knee injury limited Schnell in 2019, though he still managed to climb the ladder to A-ball by season’s end. He raked in rookie ball, showing off a power/speed blend (five home runs, five stolen bases) to go along with stout production in various other areas (.385 wOBA, 134 wRC+, .218 ISO). An ugly 19.5% SwStr% and 30.7% K% show off the issues with his approach and will be the main area of focus for him as he faces more advanced pitching. Despite these issues (and some health concerns), Schnell has impressive speed, good power, and a rocket arm that would play well in a big league outfield.

ETA: 2024

 

14. Brent Honeywell Jr., SP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Triple-A

Some people just cannot catch a break. That’s what went through my mind when I saw the news that Brent Honeywell had a decompression procedure on his right ulnar nerve. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes three season-ending surgeries in as many years for the talented right-hander. Honeywell last pitched in 2017 (Triple-A) and looked primed (29.1% K%, 5.9% BB%, 2.77xFIP) to claim his spot in the Rays rotation before the injuries started piling up.

If he can fully recover from this latest setback, his five-pitch arsenal would be a welcome addition to the 2021 Rays staff. However, this latest elbow issue and the fact that he will be 26 years old next March makes him a dangerous fantasy investment. Acquiring him at a low cost now could pay huge dividends but you may be better off investing in other prospect arms without the injury history at this point.

ETA: 2021

 

15. Kevin Padlo, 3B

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Triple-A

Third base may be the thinnest position in the Rays system and their best option may not stick there long term. Padlo, acquired from Colorado in 2016), easily stands out as the best option when compared to others in the system. He smashed 21 home runs overall last season (12 in Double-A, nine in Triple-A) and though he backed that up with stout ISO marks at both levels (.255 ISO in Double-A, .305 ISO in Triple-A), it represents an inflated view of his power potential at the highest level.

He walks a lot (17% BB% in Double-A, 13.5% BB% in Triple-A) but needs to rein in his approach at the plate (29.7% K%, 12.6% SwStr% in Triple-A). Against left-handed pitching, he was otherworldly (.368/.482/.759 in 110 PAs). He currently projects as a low-average bat with some pop.

ETA: 2021

 

16. Peter Fairbanks, RP

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

Fairbanks came to the Rays in exchange for Nick Solak and ended up logging 21 innings for the Rangers and Rays last season. He struck out 28.3% of batters faced, walked 10.1%, and yielded five home runs to big league hitters (27.8% HR/FB%). His 3.78 SIERA painted a better picture that did his 6.86 ERA.

Fairbanks has high-octane stuff and should see time in the Rays bullpen as a late-inning weapon should any 2020 action occur. He was throwing well before spring training ended (10 Ks in five innings, 0.00 ERA) and has a history of mowing down batters in his career.

ETA: 2020

 

17. Ronaldo Hernandez, C

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: High-A

Anytime a catcher produces as Hernandez did in 2018, people take notice. The Rays backstop generated a .374 wOBA, posted a 133 wRC+, smashed 21 home runs, and even threw in 10 steals for good measure. His 2019 performance paled in comparison but Hernandez held his own during his first taste of High-A, maintaining a solid mix of power/speed (nine home runs, seven stolen bases) while generating a 104 wRC+ for the season.

He also raked during the Arizona Fall League, slashing .358/.381/.513 with one home run during his 11 game stint. Low walk rates (4% BB% in 2019) and an aggressive approach (11% SwStr%) stand out as areas to work on for Hernandez, but he possesses enough offensive potential to meet the low bar for fantasy catchers, especially if he can maintain any semblance of speed as he matures.

ETA: 2023

 

18. JJ Goss, SP

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie

The Rays selected Goss 36th overall in the 2018 MLB draft, luring him away from his Texas A&M commitment with a signing bonus just north of $2 million. Goss consistently hit 96 mph with his fastball before the draft (99th percentile for those in his class per Perfect Game) and showed enough with his secondary offerings (slider, changeup) to suggest he has a future as a mid-rotation starter for the Rays.

Goss tossed 17.1 innings in rookie ball in 2019, flashing very strong control (2.8% BB%) striking out 22.5% of batters faced in his outings. Slight concerns about his delivery, his timeline (he turned 19 in December), and the need for further development with his secondary offerings keep Goss further down fantasy prospect lists for now but he is a good investment for someone with the ability to wait on his development.

ETA: 2024

 

19. Alejandro Pie, SS

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rookie

The Rays gave Pie a $1.4 million signing bonus in 2018 and were rewarded with excellent production from the 17-year-old in 2019. Pie played 57 games in the Dominican Summer League, swiping 24 bases and posting a .289/.361./342 slash line (.353 wOBA, 103 wRC+). He struck out 18.2% of the time and will need to work on his approach and he develops. The 6-4, 175-pound Pie has room to grow and should grow into above-average power at his peak, while retaining some of the speed he currently shows.

ETA: 2025

 

20. Seth Johnson, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Rookie

Johnson was a defensive-minded junior college shortstop before deciding to give pitching a try, a successful experiment that culminated in the Rays selecting him 40th overall in the 2019 draft. Due to his unusual path, Johnson has only tossed 83.1 IP in his pitching career and is still growing in his understanding of the craft. Despite that obstacle, the talent is there for him to develop into an impact arm in time. He can touch 98 mph, has an easy delivery, and at least one secondary offering (slider) that should be a plus pitch.

ETA: 2024

 

21. Tyler Frank, SS

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

Injuries wiped out Frank’s 2019 season and kept him from building on a promising start to his professional career (.401 wOBA, 154 wRC+ in 2018 short-season ball). His outlook is that of a patient hitter with a solid average who provides a handful of home runs and steals each year. Low-risk, low-ceiling type of player.

ETA: 2022

 

22. Riley O’Brien, SP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Double-A

O’Brien pitched well at two levels before elbow issues finished his season in July. He did a good job keeping the ball on the ground (45.7% GB% in Double-A) and continued to limit home runs in his outings (6.3% HR/FB% in Double-A). Control issues persisted (11.4% BB% in High-A, 9.8% BB% in Double-A) and he saw a decrease in his strikeout production after leaving High-A (26.5% K%, 12% SwStr% in High-A; 24.2% K%, 10.5% SwStr% in Double-A).

If he can maintain the velocity jump we saw last season while continuing to develop his offspeed offerings (slider, curveball, change-up), he has low-end rotation potential. If not, he has potential as a late-inning arm.

ETA: 2021

 

23. Abiezel Ramirez, SS

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Rookie

Ramirez signed with the Rays for $300,000 in 2016 and garnered the following description from Baseball America: “…a lean, fast-twitch athlete with plus speed… He shows some sneaky pop in batting practice, but is more of a line-drive hitter…”. After spending two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Ramirez shifted stateside last year and saw time with both Rays rookie affiliates.

He struggled with strikeouts (30.4% K% in GCL; 25.3% in APPY) with both clubs but settled in offensively during his time in the APPY league (.370 wOBA, 122 wRC+). Ramirez has the potential for plus speed and double-digit power at his height, which would play well given his future as an infielder.

ETA: 2024

 

24. John Doxakis, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Short-season A-ball

Doxakis is another member of the 2019 draft class who dynasty owners should monitor. The 6’4″ lefty put together a dominant career at Texas A&M (2.67 ERA, 1.013 WHIP, 115 K’s in 104.2 IP during his senior year) before his second-round selection in last year’s draft. He kicked off his professional career in short-season ball, generating a 1.93 ERA (3.36 xFIP) in 32.2 IP.

His strikeout numbers were pedestrian (23.8% K%) though hitters struggled overall with his offerings (12.5% SwStr%). Doxakis needs to develop another offering to go along with his fastball/slider mix if he is going to have a future as a starter but could be an interesting reliever either way.

ETA: 2023

 

25. Moises Gomez, OF

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: High-A

Gomez proved his 2018 power jump (19 HR, .223 ISO) was no mirage, swatting 16 homers and posting a .182 ISO in High-A last season. That ISO was the sixth-best mark in his age group for hitters with at least 200 PAs in High-A, placing him just behind prospects like Jeter Downs, Heliot Ramos, and Luis Campusano, among others. That kind of power is always interesting, though it comes with some issues at the plate.

Gomez struck out 33.5% of the time last season and posted a hefty SwStr% (16.4%) as well. His walk rate was not terrible (9.8% BB%), but he is never going to hit for much of an average without improvement in his approach.

ETA: 2023

 

26. Jhon Diaz, OF

 

Age: 16

Highest Level: N/A

The Rays continued their practice of heavy investment in the international free-agent market, stealing away 16-year-old John Diaz after the New York Yankees overextended to land fellow phenom Jasson Dominguez. MLB Pipeline had Diaz as the 19th overall prospect in the class and likened him to current big leaguers like Ozzie Albies and Roughned Odor when they were a similar age. Good all-around potential, though very far away given his youth.

ETA: 2026

 

27. Michael Plassmeyer, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Triple-A

Control is Plassmeyer’s calling card and it was on display in 2019. The lefty walked only 4% of batters faced in High-A (101.2 IP) and has never walked more than 6.4% of batters in a season. He does not strike out a lot of batters (18.9% K% in A+, 9.5% SwStr%) but could be an interesting multi-inning arm for the Rays soon since he made the jump to Triple-A at the end of the season.

ETA: 2021

 

28. Michael Perez, C

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: MLB

Perez has generated league-average offensive production for the last two seasons at Triple-A (100 wRC+ in 2018, 107 wRC+ in 2019). He hit for more power last season (13 HR, .250 ISO), raised his BB% (a 4.7% increase), and hit well before spring training was canceled (two HR, .526 SLG). He should back up Zunino and could become a low-level starter at the position soon.

ETA: 2020

 

29. Resly Linares, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: High-A

Tommy John surgery felled Linares very early in 2019, pausing the leftie’s development after an outstanding effort with Bowling Green in 2018 (3.08 xFIP, 28.2% K%, 7.3% BB% in 84.1 IP). He should be ready to pitch this season if baseball occurs and could move up this list if he does not suffer any issues coming back from the surgery.

ETA: 2023

 

30. Lucius Fox, SS

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Triple-A

Despite showing enough promise to secure a $6 million dollar signing bonus from the San Francisco Giants in 2015, Fox has struggled to make an impact in his MiLB career, slashing .244/.337/.325 over four years. He has speed (123 career SB’s, 39 in 2019) but no power (11 career HR) and has struggled to hit for average or get on base at a solid clip at more advanced levels. Could be a part-time source of steals but the odds of him playing full time at the next level are getting slimmer.

ETA: 2021

 

31. Curtis Mead, IF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie

Despite limited experience, Aussie Curtis Mead displayed an advanced feel for hitting as an 18-year-old, striking out only 13.1% of the time and generating strong metrics (.385 wOBA, .177 ISO, 132 wRC+) in Rookie ball. A 60-grade hit tool stands out as his best attribute but he has the chance to grow into solid power. One of the most interesting long term investments in the Rays system.

ETA: 2024

 

32. Joel Peguero, RP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Low-A

Peguero may have improved the most last season among Rays farmhands after two straight disappointing campaigns as a starting pitcher in rookie ball. Completely focusing on relieving worked wonders on his production, allowing him to generate a 2.85 ERA (3.27 xFIP) in 47.1 IP while cutting his walk rate more than half (-5.5% BB% in 2019). His strikeout rates remain low (22.7% K%) but he has excellent velocity and posted a strong SwStr% (13% SwStr%). He could be a valuable bullpen arm for the Rays.

ETA: 2022

 

33. Niko Hulsizer, OF

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

Hulsizer can mash. Aside from a brief nine-game stretch in High-A with the Rays last season (.147 ISO), his career-low for ISO at any level is .247. He smashed 15 home runs and posted a ridiculous .306 ISO with the Dodgers A-ball affiliate last season and ended the year with 21 combined bombs to his name. Though that power is nice to see, it comes with heavy strikeout issues and an extreme pull-heavy approach (54.1% Pull% in Low-A). Barring an adjustment, Hulsizer may struggle to make enough contact at higher levels.

ETA: 2023

 

34. Ford Proctor, SS

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Low-A

Proctor checked most boxes with his 2019 performance, showing an advanced approach at the plate (12.9% BB%, 16.8% K%) alongside generally strong offensive production (.370 wOBA, 131 wRC+). He has limited power and marginal speed but should hit enough to have a role as a utility infielder.

ETA: 2023

 

35. Brian O’Grady, OF

 

Age: 28

Highest Level: MLB

The 28-year-old O’Grady had a breakout season in 2019, slashing .280/.359/.550 (381 wOBA, 126 wRC+) with 28 home runs and 20 steals for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate. That performance earned him a cup of coffee in Cincinnati, where he smashed two more home runs, slashing .190/.292/.429 in 28 games.

He strikes out a lot (27.8% K% in Triple-A, 35.4% K% in MLB) and will always struggle to have a decent average but he raked in spring training (.348/.400/.739 with two HR) and could be an interesting source of power/speed if he can carve out a role.

ETA: 2020

 

36. Tristan Gray, 1B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A

Gray showed some pop in Double-A (17 HR, .184 ISO) and affirmed the fact that he should give up any dreams of following in Rickey Henderson’s footsteps (2/12 SBA’s). He walked at a good clip (12.3% BB%) and managed to cut his Ks despite facing Double-A pitching for the first time (-3.2% K% from High-A to Double-A). Needs to improve his contact to show he can hit for average at a higher level (.269 in short-season ball, .238 in High-A, .225 in Double-A). Bench or utility bat at best.

ETA: 2022

 

37. Esteban Quiroz, 2B

 

Age: 28

Highest Level: Triple-A

Strong Triple-A numbers make Quiroz interesting enough despite his advanced age and the inflated offensive atmosphere seen in the PCL. He swatted 19 HRs (.268 ISO), walked 14.2% of the time, and generated a 122 wRC+. Any of that production would be interesting at second base if he can carve out some playing time with the Rays.

ETA: 2020

 

38. Tanner Dodson, SP/OF

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

Dodson was drafted as a two-way player, though it remains to be seen if he will continue down that path or focus solely on pitching. Dodson posted solid production as a hitter in 2018 (.338 wOBA, 113 wRC+) but fell off last season (.294 wOBA, 88 wRC+) after missing a large amount of time with injury. He was all over the place on the mound (10.6% BB%) but has a solid two-pitch mix that would play well in the bullpen. A more extended look in the minors will go a long way in determining his future route with the Rays.

ETA: 2022

 

39. Anthony Banda, SP

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

Banda’s 44.2 IP at the MLB level let him slide in just under the limit for rookie consideration. His 2019 was a brief one given he spent most of it rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He had good production pre-injury in Triple-A (26.9% K%, 9.9% BB%, 3.68 ERA in 42 IP) and should be a solid bullpen piece if not back-end starter at his peak.

ETA: 2020

 

40. Graeme Stinson, RP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Rookie

The 6’5″ lefty was unhittable as a sophomore at Duke (1.89 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 98 K’s in 62 IP) but lasted only 19.2 IP into his junior season before being shut down for the season after experiencing a drastic velocity dip. Due to these concerns, he fell to the Rays in the fourth round and made only one appearance last season in the GCL. Real injury concerns exist here, but he could be a dynamic relief arm if he can regain his health and velocity.

ETA: 2023

 

41. Drew Strotman, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

Tommy John recovery limited Strotman to only 24 IP in 2019, most of which was spent in High-A. His strikeouts were muted (17.8% K%), though his SwStr% was solid (11.3% SwStr%), and like most recovering from Tommy John, he struggled with control (12.3% BB%). A larger inning sample size will provide more information on how the injury will affect his stuff (and potential role) moving forward. Strotman has a fringe rotation profile but could be useful out of the pen either way.

ETA: 2022

 

42. Johan Lopez, SS

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie

Lopez raked in his third go-round in the Dominican Summer League, slashing .357/.445/.548 (.473 wOBA, 172 wRC+) and went 24/28 in steal attempts before heading stateside. Though his production dipped after that, he still posted a solid .279/.354/.396 line (.361 wOBA, 117 wRC+) after the change. He also walked more than he struck out in both leagues (great to see at such a young age). How he performs above rookie ball will say a lot, but the solid average with speed approach works well at his position.

ETA: 2024

 

43. Sandy Gaston, SP

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rookie

Gaston is the epitome of a prospect lottery ticket. Signed by the Rays just before his 16th birthday, he commanded a $2.61 million signing bonus based mostly on his ability to throw absolute gas for such a young player (sits 94-95 mph, hit 100 at 16 during a showcase). The question is whether or not he can control that heat (20.9% BB% in 27 IP), and he may not be more than a high-octane reliever at his peak. People love to dream, though, and if he can come close to average control his profile would get a lot more love.

ETA: 2025

 

44. Garrett Whitley, OF

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

Injuries have derailed Whitley’s career, pushing the former 13th overall well down any lists reviewing the Rays system. Despite last season’s inconsistency, he still managed to generate solid overall offensive production (.350 wOBA, 122 wRC+), while showcase double-digit power and speed (10 HR, 16 SB). The strikeouts are outrageous (37.1% K% in High-A) and he remains very raw given his age (16.4% SwStr%). If he can improve there, his power, speed, and patience (14.1% BB%) stand out.

ETA: 2023

 

45. Simon Rosenblum-Larson, RP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

The side-arming Harvard alum has interesting relief potential and could move quickly up the Rays’ ladder if he can improve his control (12.8% BB%, 9 WP, 4 HBP in 2019). He struck out 27.8% of batters faced in High-A last season, posted a healthy SwStr% as well (14.7%), and has only allowed five home runs in his 99 professional innings.

ETA: 2022

 

46. Brett Sullivan, OF/C

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: Double-A

Sullivan’s performance in Double-A last season should be taken with a grain of salt given his age and the fact that it was his third go-round at the level. Despite that, 10 home runs and 21 steals to go along with a .356 wOBA and 127 wRC+ is nothing to ignore, though it would mean more if he was still predominately catching.

ETA: 2021

 

47. Josh Fleming, SP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Triple-A

Until his brief run at Double-A last season (8.5% BB% in 21 IP), Fleming had yet to walk more than 5% of batters at any level (3.7% in 127.2 Double-A IP). He generates a lot of ground balls (51.2% GB% in Double-A, 66.2% GB% in Triple-A) and murders lefties (.165/.207/.226 in 164 PAs). He could be an interesting bullpen piece or opener for the Rays.

ETA: 2020

 

48. Faustino Carrera, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Low-A

The Rays selected Carrera from the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, adding another left-handed option to their pen. Carrera threw 117 innings in A-ball last season, displaying solid control (6% BB%) and average strikeout rates (21.7% K%) on the season. While he lacks high octane stuff, he knows how to pitch and could be an interesting candidate as an opener for the Rays.

ETA: 2020

 

49. Jayden Murray, RP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Short-season A-ball

Murray was a late selection in 2019 but posted some interesting numbers during his rookie-ball assignment, generating an 18% SwStr% while striking out 26.8% of batters faced. He racked up strikeouts during his final year at Dixie State (92 Ks in 83.1 IP) and could move fast as a relief arm.

ETA: 2023

 

50. Taj Bradley, SP

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie

Bradley’s production improved during his second taste of rookie ball, resulting in strikeout gains (+5.8% K%) and better control (-1.5% BB%) for the young righty. Right now, he has a solid fastball and a developing curveball that should be a weapon in his arsenal. As to be expected with any recently-turned 19-year-old, Bradley is raw and needs refinement before he will matter in most dynasty circles.

ETA: 2024

 

Featured image by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Instagram)

Hunter Denson

Hunter currently writes for PitcherList. He once fouled off a pitch against former big-leaguer Jon Lieber, only to strike out spectacularly on the next pitch. Representing the Red Sox Nation out in the Pacific Northwest

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