Tampa Bay Rays Midseason Top 50 Prospects

The Rays have been one of the more interesting teams in baseball this season. They currently have a record over .500 and still have one of the top farm systems in baseball. They traded away prospects Justin Williams(8), Genesis Cabrera(19), and Roel Ramirez and received 29-year-old Tommy Pham. Then as the deadline was about to end, they traded away Chris Archer for Austin MeadowsTyler Glasnow and a PTBNL (Editor’s Note: Announced to be Shane Baz after article was submitted) from the Pittsburgh Pirates. They implemented the “opener” experiment which is no longer an experiment for the Rays. They have consistently used this philosophy with an exception if Blake Snell is on the mound.

Prospects such as Willy AdamesJake BauersChristian ArroyoYonny Chirinos, and Ryne Stanek have graduated on to the big league roster and no longer carry prospect status or about to lose the status. They are a deep and talented system. They have done a nice job of filling holes they lacked over the winter. The Rays had a strong draft back in June and filled their bank account with more international money.

Rating players through the eyes of a fantasy baseball GM and placing them into tiers is challenging and fun at the same time. These rankings will not be perfect by any means. I used guidance from others who have deeper knowledge than I do when it comes to the eye test and ranking them as a complete baseball player. I then took that information and applied to what I feel is important when running a fantasy team. After looking at this list there is one thing that stands out….They are deep and talented!

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Prospects1500 Tiers:

Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster


Tier 1

1. Wander Franco, SS, 17 (Preseason 12)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
I am drinking the kool-aid and everyone else should be too. The switch-hitting SS has displayed more power from the left-side. By no means does he struggle from the other side. Franco is an impact bat that will only continue to develop.

2. Jesus Sanchez, OF, 20 (Preseason 2)
2018 Highest Level: AA
Sanchez, continues to move through the system and put up numbers. He is currently slugging .453% and you can add in 6 stolen bases. He is an impact player for the Rays and will fill all the stat lines on our spreadsheets.

3. Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, 22 (Preseason 4)
2018 Highest Level: Class A Advanced
There are not many players who have a .386 OBP across 169 at bats while also spinning the ball to a 2.18 ERA in 66 innings. He has also stuck out 92 batters. The organization’s patience with McKay will allow him to become above average from the mound and in the box when he reaches the big league club.

4. Brent Honeywell, RHP, 23 (Preseason 1)
2018 Highest Level: DL
It was no fault of his that he dropped from preseason 1 to midseason 4. You can blame the 3 guys listed above. If he recovers and displays his pre injury form, then you are still looking at a future 1. The 2017 Futures Game MVP is a frontline starter with 3 pitches grading out at 60 and 2 other pitches that are not far behind.

5. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, 23 (Preseason NR)
2018 Highest Level: AAA
The left handed hitting Lowe has quickly moved up through the Rays system this season. His big bat has produced 24 home runs spread through 3 levels in 2018. I like his ability he has showed to hit lefties at all of his stops.


Tier 2

6. Austin Meadows, OF, 23 (NR)
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Recently acquired in the Chris Archer trade. Meadows is the kind of player that does everything well. I do not see one thing he particularly does great. He can get on base, swipe a bag, and hit with power at times. (Editor note: Meadows has 154 career AB as of this column being published. Not actually prospect eligible anymore but Aaron wanted him to be included here since he hasn’t been called up to the Rays major leagues yet; won’t be on the 2019 preseason list.)

7. Brandon Lowe, 2B, 24 (Preseason 15)
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Another player who quickly advanced through the Rays system has gap power that translates into XBH ability. Do not let the slow start fool you, he is the kind of player that will rack up hits quickly and be a force on the base path.

8. Lucius Fox, SS, 21 (Preseason 9)
2018 Highest Level: AA
An improved approach at the plate has resulted in less K’s and more BB’s. He does his best work when on base by being a threat to steal with every pitch. His lack of power is made up by his contact rate and looking to get an extra base on what are routine hits for others.

9. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, 20
2018 Highest Level: A
Hernandez has quickly become one of the best catching prospects. His stock has improved with a decrease in K’s and plus power. His 18 home runs this season is definitely an eye opener. His defense will keep him as a number catcher for many years.

10. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, 18
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
There is a lot to like with the Rays top pick. He has the ability to keep runners off the base with his strike out ability. His body frame will add more muscle with time that will only improve his stock. Liberatore will more than likely be a tier 1 player when our next top 50 rankings come out.

11. Nick Solak, 2B, 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
He is a speedster on the bases that has tapped into his power more. The power has increased due to being more selective at the plate. He could eventually become a 20 home run and 20 stolen base kind of player when he reaches the big leagues.

12, Vidal Brujan, 2B, 20
2017 Highest Level: A Advanced
Their have been glimpses with Brujan that have moved him to tier 2. This is based purely on potential. He is a threat on the base paths but needs more development at the plate. If his hard contact rate increases, then he will become a fantasy favorite.

13. Josh Lowe, OF, 20
2018 Highest Level: A Advanced
The Rays want to stay patient with Lowe because they feel he can be an asset for the organization. They like the potential in all the tools. Do not get caught up in his stat line. They expect the power to develop with time.

14. Shane McClanahan, LHP, 21
2018 Highest Level: GCL Rookie
McClanahan, the Rays’ 1st round compensation pick, just made his pro debut with the GCL Rays on August 13, pitching one inning, striking out a pair. The sky is the limit for this talented lefty.


Tier 3

15. Colin Poche, LHP, 24 (NR)
2018 Highest Level: AAA
Left handed relief pitcher that will get outs and keep runners off the base. To date, he has 98 K’s in 57.1 innings pitched.

16. Tobias Myers, RHP, 20
2018 Highest Level: A
The K rate is down and the BB rate up. Do not shut the door on Myers just yet. He has shown he has the ability to pitch swing and miss stuff. He is projected for an SP role as he navigates his way up the organizational depth chart.

17. Ryan Boldt, OF, 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
Boldt is solid across the board and combining that with his athleticism makes him an appealing option for a dynasty roster. It is worth noting that SLG% and OPS% have increased in 2018.

18. Jake Fraley, OF, 23
2018 Highest Level: A Advanced
Fraley has improved all of his numbers across the board this year. He has a nice AFL which carried him into the 2018 season. His OBP of .398 nothing to overlook and with his speed, there will be an increase in stolen bases.

19. Joe McCarthy, OF, 24
2018 Highest Level: AAA
Another athletic outfielder who has shown some power in the 2018 season. He has gap to gap power that is turning into more homeruns. He may get a shot at the big league club in 2019.

20. Michael Mercado, RHP, 19
2018 Highest Level: A-Short Season
The young 19 year is still learning to put it all together. Mercado carries 4 pitches but still struggles with command. When the command comes you are looking at a potential SP2 or SP3.

21. Simon Rosenblum-Larson, RHP, 21
2018 Highest Level: A
Drafted in the 19th round of the 2018 draft, Larson went 26.1 IP before giving up his first run. He now has a .32 ERA/.74 WHIP and a strike out total of 45.

22. Brock Burke, LHP, 22
2018 Highest Level: AA
Another LHP in the system that has shown he can dominate on the mound. Improved K rate to the tune of 128 strikeouts in 111.2 innings pitched this season.

23. Resly Linares, LHP, 20
2018 Highest Level: A
There has been a dip in overall numbers this year. But Linares still has a more than respectable K rate. He is going through an adjustment period and he is still young. Projected to start games with the ability to come out of the pen and get outs.

24. Taylor Walls, SS, 22
2018 Highest Level: A
There is something very intriguing with the way Walls plays the game. He is a switch hitter with good contact rate from both sides of the plate. He gets on base in multiple ways and will open eyes with some added power. Do not sleep on this young Florida State product.

25. Tanner Dodson, RHP, 21
2018 Highest Level: A Short Season
Switch hitting bat with an above average OBP that has 6 stolen bases in 8 attempts. He is also sporting a sub 1 era in over 19 innings on the mound.

26. Austin Franklin, RHP, 20
2018 Highest Level: A
An increased WHIP raises some cause for concern. Franklin is still young enough to get back his high strike out rate while keeping runners off base. I think you can still gamble on the upside.

27. Diego Castillo, RHP, 24
2018 Highest Level: MLB
He is just over the halfway mark to losing prospect status. His hot start in triple A has leveled out in the majors. He still gets over a K per inning which can help become a mainstay in the Rays bullpen.


Tier 4

28. Erik Ostberg, C, DH, 22

2018 Highest Level: A Short Season
Ostberg has been an OBP machine that has shown the ability to rack up extra base hits. I fully expect him to move up in the Rays system and become much higher than a tier 4 player that I have him at now. I had the opportunity to chat with Ostberg a few weeks ago.

29. Chris Betts, C, 21
2017 Highest Level: A Short Season
The power numbers are up but hopefully Betts will be able to find others way to get on base. If we see a decrease in strike outs then Betts will be worth keeping an eye on.

30. Drew Strotman, RHP, 21
2018 Highest Level: A
With just under a strike out per inning, you hope that Strotman can improve upon that or find another way to keep runners on base. There is not much room for error in a system that is loaded talented pitching depth.

31. Ian Gibaut, RHP, 24
2018 Highest Level: AAA
You have to like the K’s in the stat line. But the increased ERA, even slightly, is a minor red flag coming out of the pen.

32. Garrett Whitley, OF, 21
2018 Highest Level: DL
Whitley has missed the entire season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. As talented as Whitley is, when you miss an entire season in one of the game’s top farm systems, your stock is likely going to drop to a certain degree.

33. Nick Ciuffo, C, 23
2018 Highest Level: AAA
K’s are up and not much power. He will flash some gap power from time to time.

34. Osmy Gregorio, SS, 20
2018 Highest Level: A Short Season
Just enough upside to keep your attention with his slash line improved all the way across. This time next year he could make a major jump in the rankings.

35. Jalen Beeks, LHP, 25
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Beeks was the return in the Nathan Eovaldi deal. With an ERA over 9 but is slowly improving. His strike out rate is not there to make him appealing enough to roster in a fantasy league.

36. Kean Wong, 2B, 23
2018 Highest Level: AAA
The preseason number 50 has leaped 14 to spots to number 36. A much improved slash line will do that and also make a nice piece to come off the bench spot situations.


Tier 5

37. Adrian Rondon, 3B, 20
2017 Highest Level: A Short Season
The numbers are down in every category and he only has 1 stolen base to date. The upside is slightly there, but fading. On the upside he does have 23 doubles on the season.

38. Brett Sullivan, C, 24
2017 Highest Level: AA
The power has taken a dive along with the overall average. He does have 14 steals in 21 attempts.

39. Dalton Kelly, 1B, 24
2018 Highest Level: AA
A decent OBP of .337 but the average is way down at .234. He is another guy that can get you some steal totaling 17 out 19 this season.

40. Jelfry Marte, SS, 17
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
He is young so there is plenty of time to develop and has shown glimpses of potential. However, is the small sample size, there is nothing much that stands out.

41. Jaime Schultz, RHP, 27
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Schultz will get you almost 2 strike outs per inning but the high walk rate almost cancels that out. With his age he better find a way to lower the 2.02 WHIP quickly.

42. Devin Davis, 1B, 21
2018 Highest Level: A
He has good numbers that have improved. His strike outs are increasing quickly. If he cuts back on those then his ranking will jump come the next top 50 rankings.

43. Kevin Padlo, 3B, 22
2018 Highest Level: A Advanced
Major decline in numbers hurts his prospect ranking and dynasty ranking. If he can get back up to his .352 OBP then that changes the over outlook on him.

44. Jacson McGowan, 1B, 21
2018 Highest Level: A Short Season
His first year of pro ball has produced solid numbers across the board. Improvement in year 2 will increase his stock significantly.

45. Zach Rutherford, 3B, 22
2018 Highest Level: A
He is a stolen base threat that keeps him in the top 50. The power drop off keeps him close to 50. He does find a way to get on base with a respectable .339 OBP.

46. Matt Krook, LHP, 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
The strike out ability is there with over 1 per inning. However, the inflated WHIP leads him to a 4.68 ERA.

47. Travis Ott, LHP, 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
Ott’s ability is better than his ranking. Another lefty that gives you plenty of strike outs. He puts too may runners on base for a bullpen option.

48. Carlos Vargas, SS, 19
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Another youngster with ability. But the strike outs and low slash line hurts his value.

49. Jose Mujica, RHP, 22
2017 Highest Level: AAA
You like the frame and his skills. For whatever reason it is not translating into improving numbers. He has carried a 4.15 ERA during the 2018 season.

50. Michael Russell, 2B, 25
2018 Highest Level: AAA
Russell put up excellent numbers in AA. That has not been the case since the promotion to AAA. He needs to show major improvement in at least one area to possibly get a call up or added to the 40 man roster.

 

Featured image of Jesus Sanchez – via Bryan Green on Flickr

About Aaron Schuck 10 Articles
I'm Aaron Schuck, covering all things about the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system. I currently live in Monticello, GA where I teach high school and coach basketball. Even though I coach basketball, please do not let that fool you that I'm only a basketball guy. My love for baseball is very strong. I will watch or attend a baseball game over a basketball game any day of the week. My goal is to provide our readers with interesting and informative information that involves everything in the Rays minor league system. Give me a follow on Twitter @bbbaseball101 and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments or ideas on the Rays.

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