Tampa Bay Rays: Top 10 Prospects

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects 
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Bill Ballew
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1. Evan Longoria, 3b
2. David Price, lhp
3. Jake McGee, lhp
4. Wade Davis, rhp
5. Reid Brignac, ss
6. Desmond Jennings, of
7. Jeff Niemann, rhp
8. Jeremy Hellickson, rhp
9. Ryan Royster, of
10. Chris Mason, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Evan Longoria
Best Power Hitter Evan Longoria
Best Strike-Zone Discipline John Jaso
Fastest Baserunner Fernando Perez
Best Athlete Desmond Jennings
Best Fastball Jake McGee
Best Curveball Wade Davis
Best Slider David Price
Best Changeup Mitch Talbot
Best Control Chris Mason
Best Defensive Catcher Christian Lopez
Best Defensive Infielder Reid Brignac
Best Infield Arm Jairo de la Rosa
Best Defensive Outfielder Fernando Perez
Best Outfield Arm Justin Ruggiano
Catcher Dioner Navarro
First Base Carlos Pena
Second Base Akinori Iwamura
Third Base Evan Longoria
Shortstop Reid Brignac
Left Field Carl Crawford
Center Field Desmond Jennings
Right Field B.J. Upton
Designated Hitter Rocco Baldelli
No. 1 Starter David Price
No. 2 Starter Scott Kazmir
No. 3 Starter Matt Garza
No. 4 Starter Wade Davis
No. 5 Starter James Shields
Closer Jake McGee
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Matt White, rhp Out of baseball
1999 Matt White, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Josh Hamilton, of Reds
2001 Josh Hamilton, of Reds
2002 Josh Hamilton, of Reds
2003 Rocco Baldelli, of Devil Rays
2004 B.J. Upton, ss Devil Rays
2005 Delmon Young, of Devil Rays
2006 Delmon Young, of Devil Rays
2007 Delmon Young, of Devil Rays
1998 Josh Pressley, 1b (4th) Somerset (Atlantic)
1999 Josh Hamilton, of Reds
2000 Rocco Baldelli, of Devil Rays
2001 Dewon Brazelton, rhp Pirates
2002 B.J. Upton, ss Devil Rays
2003 Delmon Young, of Devil Rays
2004 Jeff Niemann, rhp Devil Rays
2005 Wade Townsend, rhp Devil Rays
2006 Evan Longoria, 3b Devil Rays
2007 David Price, lhp Devil Rays
Matt White, 1996 $10,200,000
Rolando Arrojo, 1997 $7,000,000
David Price, 2007 $5,600,000
B.J. Upton, 2002 $4,600,000
Dewon Brazelton, 2001 $4,200,000
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Tampa Bay Rays

Shortly after the 2007 season concluded, Tampa Bay officials announced that their franchise was undergoing an extreme makeover. The club dropped “Devil” from its name and would be henceforth known as simply the “Rays.” The team adopted a brighter blue and yellow color scheme while switching to a logo that includes a yellow starburst, presumably to focus more on sunshine—and a brighter future.

On the field, the Rays hope to follow in the footsteps of their 1998 expansion brethren, the Diamondbacks, riding a group of young and promising players from the depths of their division to the postseason. Tampa Bay has quite a hill to climb after placing last in the American League East for the ninth time in its 10 seasons, and finishing with the worst record in baseball for the fourth time. The Rays have gained the dubious distinction of becoming the first team to own the No. 1 overall pick in consecutive drafts.

On the positive side, Tampa Bay has spent many of its early choices wisely, grabbing B.J. Upton with the No. 2 selection in 2002, Delmon Young with the No. 1 pick in 2003 and third-base prospect Evan Longoria with the No. 3 choice in 2006. The Rays had the second-youngest team in the majors in 2007 with an average age of 26.7 years, and they didn’t have a single regular in their lineup or rotation who was 30. They caught lightning in a bottle with the free agent signing of Carlos Pena, who exploded for 46 homers, as well as the international acquisition of infielder Akinori Iwamura.

James Shields emerged as a legitimate second starter behind ace Scott Kazmir, and lefthanders David Price (the No. 1 overall pick in 2007) and Jake McGee and righty Wade Davis lead a wave of arms who are nearly ready for the majors.

To further shore up their pitching, the Rays stunningly parted with Young in a November trade after he had hit .288 with 13 homers while playing all 162 games in his rookie season. But they wanted to get a young, potential frontline starter, so they sent Young, Brendan Harris and outfield prospect Jason Pridie to the Twins for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and pitching prospect Eduardo Morlan.

The deal also signaled that Tampa Bay is putting a higher premium on makeup and becoming less tolerant of gifted players with petulant attitudes. Young, who was suspended 50 games for tossing a bat and hitting an umpire in the minors, had an inflated sense of entitlement and had a couple of run-ins with manager Joe Maddon. Five days after trading Young, the Rays dealt Elijah Dukes—one of the game’s most gifted and most troubled players—to the Nationals for minor league lefty Glenn Gibson, who’s talented but has yet to pitch above the short-season level.

While the Rays have yet to reach the 70-win mark after their first decade of existence, they should crack that barrier soon and could contend in the near future. In addition to all their young talent in Tampa, their farm system also has been ranked No. 1 by Baseball America for two years running. Tampa Bay’s commitment to homegrown talent continued to show in 2007, when it signed its first 16 draft picks, fielded a team in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League for the first time since 2001 and opened an academy in Venezuela.

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects 
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