30 Teams in 30 Days: Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects

Rays

1. Desmond Jennings, OF – Jennings will be the perfect lead off hitter if/when Carl Crawford leaves. He was drafted as a tools guy and was able to translate them into skills. He’s got great discipline and pitch recognition to go with plus speed. He’s also got average power that should translate to double digit teen homers. He won’t strikeout much. His defense is pretty good for center due to his speed; his arm is also good for the position.

2. Wade Davis, P – Davis saw some MLB time last year, and should be a fixture in the rotation this year. He’s got 4 major league pitches. His fastball hits the mid-90s and is his top pitch. He also has a plus curve ball that keeps hitters honest. He’s also got an average change-up and cutter. I see him as a 2-3 starter, especially if he keeps control of all 4 pitches.

3. Jeremy Hellickson, P – Hellickson is close to being ready for the Rays. He split last year between Double A and Triple A, posting strong strike out, walk, and hit rates. He needs to work on his groundball rate, which sat at a low 35%. He’s got 3 pitches that are all average – a mid-90s fastball, a curve, and a change-up. He needs another half season and an opening in the rotation before he’s ready.

4. Matt Moore, P – Moore had a little bit of a down season. He posted strong strike out numbers (over 12 per 9 innings for his career). He also saw a jump in his walk rate, which shows that his command still needs work. He’s got a decent groundball rate – 45.8% – and doesn’t give up many homers. He’s got a while to go before he’s ready.

5. Tim Beckham, SS – Beckham has been considered a little bit of a disappointment by baseball people, which is unfair. He just turned 20 and he’s not doing horrible. In Lo-A, he wasn’t hitting bad; he just didn’t show much power and the ability to get on base. His power right now is doubles power, but as he matures it will turn into homer power. Scouts are also concerned about his base running; he was caught stealing 10 out of 23 times.

6. Alexander Colome, P – Colome didn’t impress many with his North American debut, but shows he was a much better pitcher in his second season. His strikeout rate is over 11 per 9 innings. He doesn’t give up many hits (less than 1 per inning) and didn’t give up a homer last year. His ground ball rate and line drive rate also look pretty good. He’s got a mid-90s fastball that could see another MPH or 2 added to it, along with a curve and change. We’ll see what happens as he faces more advanced competition.

7. Jacob McGee, P – There was a time that McGee was named with Wade Davis and was a top of the rotation arm. Then he was forced to have Tommy John surgery and miss a year of development. He’s shown that he’s back over the last season, and could jump up rankings with another strong season. He’s got a mid-90s fastball, a great curve, and a solid change-up. He could see some bullpen time for the Rays this year to get used to the Majors.

8. Reid Brignac, SS – Brignac is in a bad spot in this system; he’s seen a lot of talent pass him by and he’s been blocked by Jason Bartlett. Brignac’s power never developed like they had hoped and he doesn’t have the speed needed to make up for the lace of power. He’s got to be hoping for a trade at this point, because it doesn’t appear he’s going to get his shot in Tampa.

9. Nick Barnese, P – Barnese’s main concern right now is health; last season started late due to an injury. As a result, he saw his strikeout rate drop by 4 and his walk rate increase slightly. His low-90s fastball has some good sinking action, which resulted in a ground ball rate of 52%. His curve ball and change-up are good, which makes him project as a mid-rotation starter.

10. Kyle Lobstein, P – Lobstein is a promising arm that’s a work in progress. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but has a good curve and change-up to complement it. He’s gets groundballs and had good command of his pitches. This season should be his first taste of full-season ball, so we’ll see how his endurance is. At this time, I’d say he’s anywhere between a 3 and 5 starter.

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