Rays Top Prospects: Nos. 6-10
This summer, MLB.com ranked the top 10 prospects of all 30 Major League teams. This is a continuation of my last article, Rays Top Prospects: #1-10. In the previous post, I evaluated the top five prospects, which included some pretty impressive names. To nobody's surprise, Matt Moore was No. 1, followed by Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, Alex Torres and Josh Sale. Here are the evaluations on the Rays' top prospects, 6-10.
Brandon Guyer was another Major League-quality player acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade. Guyer was one of three Rays on the top 10 prospect list to get big league playing time in 2011. Out of all three, nobody started off his career with a bang like he did.
In his first ever big league at bat, Guyer blasted a solo homer into the seats of Camden Yards. That would be the first of 15 games for the Rays in 2011, as Guyer spent most of the season for Triple-A Durham. In his 107 games in AAA, he batted .312 and knocked in 61 runs. From what Guyer has displayed in his years in the minors, he definitely has the tools for a successful MLB career.
Not only is Guyer a tremendous athlete, but he is also a potential four-dementional player. The 25 year-old outfielder has power, speed, good defense, and the ability to hit for average as well. The Rays could really use a guy on the roster like Guyer, who brings a combination of speed and power to the table.
Alex Colome is not exactly a well-known name among baseball's top prospects or even the Rays' prospects. He's one talented arm, and this is his second year ranked at No. 7 on the prospect list. Colome is a power pitcher, depending heavily upon his hard fastball and sharp curveball. The changeup is another pitch that Colome likes to mix up in his arsenal, but it's still a developing pitch for a him.
Like most of the Rays' pitching prospects, Colome's main issue is command. The 22-year-old right-hander still has a lot of baseball left in his minor league career, as he looks like he'll be starting in high single-A in 2012. Colome's 2011 season includes a string of games in both high-A Charlotte and AA Montgomery. His combined stats included a 3.82 ERA, a 12-9 record and a terrific 9.6 K/9 ratio. The command was what contributed to the mediocre ERA, but Colome showed that he can be a great strikeout pitcher. Despite all this, Colome's electric stuff is what makes him a hit with the scouts.
Justin O'Conner was the Rays' second Round 1 draft pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, after Josh Sale (No. 5 on the list). Unlike most of the Rays' top prospects in their talented farm system, O'Conner is a catcher. At just 19, he's the youngest of all the prospects on the list and is just starting his journey through the minors. O'Conner played 48 games this year for Princeton in his first year of professional baseball. He batted .157 but hit 9 dingers and 29 RBIs.
O'Conner has some great natural power and pop in his bat, similar to his draft-mate Josh Sale. There are still many areas in his swing needing work, and the low average is the proof of that. Defensive play is a different story, as O'Conner is surprisingly new to his position. O'Conner's debut year as a full-time catcher was 2011, after moving from shortstop (his drafted position).
O'Conner has a great arm behind the plate, and his great athletic skills allow him to move quickly as well. After finishing just his second year as a starting catcher, O'Conner obviously still has many things to learn about playing the position. The Rays aren't rushing anywhere with a 19 year-old kid straight out of high school, but they see a lot of potential in him over time.
Drew Vettleson may be the most intriguing of the Rays' prospects. Vettleson was the Rays' third Round 1 draft pick in 2010, following O'Conner and Sale. Like Josh Sale, Vettleson is an outfielder drafted out of the Pacific Northwest region. What the Rays see in Vettleson is pure, quality baseball player. He has great skills at the plate, and most scouts believe he has the ability to be a good average hitter in the future.
He puts up great at bats and hits the ball hard and often. Vettleson hit .282 through 61 games in his first pro season for Princeton this year. His homerun power has been a debate amongst scouts, but most agree that the lefty can be a double-digit homerun hitter down the road. Vettleson's baseball intelligence is another strength he possesses on the diamond. Good baseball instincts is something that the Rays highly value in their prospects, and Vettleson is a great example.
His baseball smarts really come in handy on the base pads, as he doesn't have fast legs. The most interesting part about Vettleson's scouting report, is that he is a pitcher. But not just any pitcher, a switch pitcher. Vettleson can both pitch with his right and left hand; something that is very rare these days in baseball. Although he could try professional baseball as pitcher, most experts agree that the outfield is where he belongs. His arm is at least average, and he should be able to play pretty good defense there if he's not in center.
Former No. 1 overall draft pick Tim Beckham comes in at No. 10 on the list. Beckham is a well-known name within the baseball scouting world, and he's slowly building his way up the Rays' farm system. The young shortstop started his career a couple of years ago with high expectations, and Beckham has definitely needed time to adjust.
His slow start to his professional career has caused many experts to overlook him, but the Rays know the value of patience. 2011 was a crucial year for Beckham's development, who spent most of the season playing for AA Montgomery. He played a total 131 games in 2011, including finishing the season with 24 games as a Durham Bull. He batted .271 and scored 94 runs and was one of three Rays to be selected into the 2011 Futures Game in Phoenix.
Beckham is a player with leadoff hitter-type talent—a guy with little power and pretty good speed. 2011 was a big year in the development of Beckham's defensive game too. Fielding has been a problem for him in the past, and addressing it in 2011 was one of his main priorities. Second base may be his starting position in the future, but for now Beckham is working on becoming a better shortstop. A lot of people tend to forget that Beckham is just 21 years of age, so he's still well ahead of the pack. At such a young age, the Rays should still have plenty of confidence in him.