Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays' Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 10, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays' Farm System

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    The Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system improved in a hurry Sunday night, as the team acquired outfielder Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.

    The generous package of high-upside, cost-controlled prospects offered by the Royals replenished the Rays’ system with players capable of contributing in 2013 and, hopefully, for many years after.

    In my opinion, the team’s Nos. 1 and 2 prospects (no spoilers) are locks given their age, previous successes and substantial upside at their positions. After that, however, many of the spots are close calls and basically interchangeable.

    Even after the acquisition of Myers, arguably the top hitter in the minor leagues last season, the Rays’ system is still short on projectable, impact bats. One thing they do have is young pitching. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if they initiated a trade at some point this season and dangled either Enny Romero, Alex Colome or Blake Snell as bait.

    Either way, the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system is in fine shape headed into the 2013 season. 

    Here's a look at their top 10 prospects.

10. LHP Mike Montgomery

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 7/1/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008 (Hart HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Throwing Montgomery a bone right here because otherwise I’d have to consider Tim Beckham; 6’4” left-hander was cruising through the Royals’ system until landing on the disabled list with forearm/elbow soreness in mid-2010; he’s never been the same since the injury; endured major regression (5.32 ERA, 4.12 BB/9 in just over 150 innings) at Triple-A Omaha in 2011; was even worse at the level this past season (5.69 ERA, 4.22 BB/9 in 91.2 innings) before a demotion to Double-A; traded to the Rays in Dec. as part of deal for James Shields.

    The 23-year-old’s fastball used to sit in the mid-90s, but he’s lost a few ticks over the last year; changeup is an above-average pitch and also the best in his arsenal; curveball can be too slow and lacks both tight rotation and velocity; could be an above-average pitch if thrown with more consistency.

    After nearly reaching the major leagues in late 2010, early 2011, the left-hander has continued to frustrate; upside is still there, but no guarantee he’ll regain former top-prospect form; seems like a player who may benefit from a change of scenery.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Durham

9. LHP Blake Snell

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 12/4/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Shorewood HS, Wash.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’4” left-hander has been kept on a short leash since he was drafted in 2011; highly projectable body that will need to get stronger as he matures; fluid arm action that allows him to throw all of his pitches on a downward plane; built upon impressive pro debut in 2011 by registering a 2.09 ERA and .193 BAA with 53/17 K/BB in 47 innings for rookie-level Princeton.

    Southpaw’s fastball works best in the low 90s with late sink; as a hitter, Snell just seems like the type of guy that would be tough to barrel; induces tons of groundouts and weak contact; demonstrates advanced command of his slider, though I’d like to see him use it to back-foot more right-handed hitters next season; he’ll also mix in a curveball and changeup, though both are an ongoing work in progress; he had a breakout season last year in the Appalachian League, but could be even better against more advanced competition; I like his potential as a No. 3 or 4 starter in the major leagues, especially if either the curveball or changeup come into play.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Bowling Green

8. LHP Enny Romero

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 1/24/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 165

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: June, 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Highly projectable frame at 6’3”, 165 pounds with plenty of room to add strength; 21-year-old left-hander has superb pure stuff, but still hasn’t learned to harness it; registered a 3.93 ERA and .191 BAA with 107/76 K/BB in 126 innings last season for High-A Charlotte; fatigue may have played a part in his rough second half of the season when he walked everything in sight; arguably the biggest wild-card prospect in the Rays’ talented system.

    Romero’s fastball is explosive and ranges anywhere from 92 to 97 mph, as he’s still more of a thrower than pitcher who will gladly let it rip; his curveball has flashed plus potential due to its velocity and downer break; once he develops a feel for his changeup, I like its upside given his fastball velocity and fast arm; 2013 may be his final chance to prove he belongs in the starting rotation; if not, his fastball-curveball combination could land him a spot in the Rays’ bullpen.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Montgomery

7. 3B Richie Shaffer

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 3/15/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Clemson)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Shaffer was regarded as one of the more advanced bats in the 2012 draft class but slid to the Rays late in the first round; physically strong player at 6’3”, 210 pounds, but is more lean and athletic; batted .308/.406/.487 with 11 extra-base hits and 31/16 K/BB in 33 games for Short-Season Hudson Valley.

    A right-handed hitter, Shaffer possesses advanced discipline and is comfortable holding out for his pitch; love his balanced swing from start to finish, as well as his loose wrists and consistent bat path; excellent bat speed and extension after contact aids him in driving the ball with backspin carry to all fields; curious to see how his power develops at higher levels.

    Despite his 6’3” frame, Shaffer is agile at the hot corner with good instincts; glove and actions are better than I anticipated, and he’s not afraid to show off his strong arm; it’ll be interesting to see if he’s ever moved across the diamond to first base (a waste of his athleticism) or to a corner outfield spot with Evan Longoria entrenched at the position for many years.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Charlotte

6. RHP Alex Colome

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/31/1988 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: March, 2007 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’2” right-hander has moved through the Rays’ system at a gradual, one-level-per-year pace; registered a 3.48 ERA and .235 BAA in 75 innings at Double-A Montgomery before a late-season promotion to Triple-A Durham; had two significant stints on the disabled list due to oblique and lat injuries, respectively.

    Colome has a projectable four-pitch mix that suggests mid-rotation upside, though his command will need more refinement before reaches the major leagues; two-seam fastball sits low-to-mid-90s that digs against right-handed hitters; curveball flashes above-average potential with sharp break; slider and changeup are both decent pitches and effective when sequenced correctly.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Durham

5. RHP Chris Archer

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/26/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2006 [Indians] (Clayton HS, N.C.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’3” right-hander’s development has been impeded by his lack of command and, at times, control; consistently repeats athletic delivery; gotta love his lightning-quick arm and overall explosiveness; has always missed plenty of bats thanks to three-pitch mix that’s filthy when he’s around the plate; was up and down a few times between Triple-A Durham and major leagues; command was better than expected after the All-Star break; posted a 4.60 ERA with 36/13 K/BB in 29.1 innings with the Rays.

    Fastball jumps out of his hand and registers anywhere from 93 to 97 mph; sits 95 to 98 mph in shorter stints; Archer’s slider is a legitimate plus out-pitch thrown with fastball-like velocity and featuring exceptional tilt and two-plane break; ongoing development of changeup will ultimately determine his success as a starting pitcher; throws the pitch with deceptive arm speed but lacks a natural feel for it; with James Shields now out of the picture, Archer will presumably contend for the final spot in the Rays’ still-impressive rotation.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

4. SS Hak-Ju Lee

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 11/4/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 170

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: March, 2008 [Cubs] (South Korea)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Left-handed hitter shortstop cruised through Class-A levels but has been challenged at Double-A; endured a terrible start to the 2012 season, but rebounded to bat .261/.336/.360 with 29 extra-base hits (10 triples) and 37 stolen bases in 116 games; put together an impressive 46-game on-base streak and improved jumps on the basepaths.

    Excellent defensive shortstop whose glove is nearly big-league ready; plus speed lends to his outstanding range up the middle; has solid instincts and plays the position creatively; outstanding hand-eye coordination gives him soft hands and slick glove; gets rid of the ball quickly with more than enough arm strength to stick at the position.

    A 6’2”, left-handed hitter, Lee is yet figure out how to be a consistent top-of-the-order hitter; not impressed by his inability to work counts in his favor; bat speed can vary depending on his timing, though it’s naturally quick; speed is his biggest asset at the plate, so it’s vital that he improves his plate discipline and on-base skills; he’ll never hit for much power but should amass his share of doubles and triples; he’s a streaky hitter who can stick at shortstop, and I still believe in him despite the off year in 2012.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Durham

3. RHP Jake Odorizzi

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 3/27/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008 (Highland HS, Ill.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Excellent athlete who was headed to the University of Louisville for both baseball and football; headlined the prospect package acquired from the Brewers in exchange for Zack Greinke; was promoted from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha at the same time as Wil Myers; right-hander registered a 3.03 ERA with 135/50 K/BB in 145.1 innings over two levels; made two unimpressive starts for the Royals in late Sept.; secondary prospect acquired by the Rays in the James Shields trade.

    The 6’2” right-hander is agile but comfortable on the mound; repeats his mechanics well and understands how to use his lower half; clean, fluid arm action; fastball will range 92 to 95 mph with sink and action to the arm side; occasionally will get under the pitch and pipe up in the zone with minimal movement; needs to throw on a downward plane with more consistency; curveball has an impressive top-to-bottom shape and will freeze right-handed hitters; also throws a slider and changeup, though neither are as advanced as the curveball; he’ll need to refine the command of his four-pitch mix, but he should be able to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Durham

2. RHP Taylor Guerrieri

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/1/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Spring Valley HS, S.C.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Guerrieri signed just before the Aug. 15 deadline and didn’t make his professional debut until this past season; right-hander was dominant as the top pitcher in the Short-Season New York Penn League; registered a 0.87 ERA and .185 BAA with 45/5 K/BB in 52 innings; has the potential to rise quickly through the Rays’ system, but it’s doubtful the organization will accelerate his arrival; could be yet another frontline starter to emerge from 2011 draft class.

    The 6’3”, 195-pounder possesses present physical strength and quiet athleticism; strong upper body and broad shoulders leave room for favorable projection; arms works well and the ball leaves his hand well; he can get a little long on the backside and work against his body, though it does create cross-body deception in his delivery.

    Despite age and lack of experience, Guerrieri flashes the potential for four above-average-to-plus pitches; two-seam fastball is an excellent pitch in the low-to-mid-90s with considerable weight and late life to the arm side; commands the pitch effectively to both sides of plate; isn’t afraid to challenge both right- and left-handed hitters middle-in; will mix in the occasional four-seam fastball that scrapes 96 to 97 mph.

    Plus curveball is a second viable weapon with tight spin, consistent shape and late, downward bite; advanced enough to locate the pitch for strikes and bury it to induce whiffs; changeup is coming along nicely, as is his pitchability; Guerrieri is still technically under the radar, but expect that to change next season when he excels in his full-season debut.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Bowling Green

1. OF Wil Myers

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/10/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2009 (Wesleyan Christian Academy, N.C.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Coming off an injury-plagued campaign in 2011, Myers turned in a monster season at the plate by batting .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs in 134 games between Double and Triple-A; garnered the prestigious minor league Player of the Year award from Baseball America; headlined the prospect package acquired from the Royals in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.

    At 6’3”, 205 pounds, Myers possesses a wiry, projectable frame that should allow him to add strength without getting too bulky; upper body is loaded with quick-twitch muscles that allow him to seemingly flick his wrists at the ball without sacrificing hard contact; setup is upright and slightly open, which helps him tap into his awesome pull-side power; excellent bat-to-ball skills suggest he’ll have at least an above-average hit tool; his 140 strikeouts in 134 games isn’t pretty, but remember he was implementing an entirely new approach; he still has a tendency to drop his back shoulder and get long; will get out on his front foot and cast hands around ball; both are mechanical/timing issues that will be ironed out.

    Developed as a catcher up until the 2011 season, Myers is surprisingly athletic for his size and showcases smooth, natural actions in the outfield; has good instincts that lends to his overall range; possesses plus arm strength that will play at any outfield position; played 87 games in center field last season but will likely handle a corner position in the major leagues.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A, but can’t rule out the majors either.