Midseason Prospect Update: Rays
The 2016 season has not gone as the Rays hoped it would. After going 31-32 through June 15, Tampa Bay has fallen on hard times and plummeted to dead last in the American League East.
|2019 PROJECTED LINEUP|
|C Nick Ciuffo|
|1B Casey Gillaspie|
|2B Logan Forsythe|
|3B Evan Longoria|
|SS Willy Adames|
|LF Jake Bauers|
|CF Kevin Kiermaier|
|RF Steven Souza|
|No. 1 Starter Chris Archer|
|No. 2 Starter Blake Snell|
|No. 3 Starter Brent Honeywell|
|No. 4 Starter Chih-Wei Hu|
|No. 5 Starter Jacob Faria|
|Closer Ryne Stanek|
MIDSEASON TOP 10 1. Willy Adames, ss Adames, still 20, is enjoying another solid season in 2016, this time at Double-A. Leading up to the season, Adames took fellow Dominican shortstop Adrian Rondon under his wing. Perhaps as a result, Rondon’s overall approach to baseball improved significantly after he spent time learning from Adames. There is still debate about Adames’ ultimate ability to handle shortstop long term, but he has the arm strength for the left side of the infield, so he should fit at third base if he’s forced to move. Adames’ offensive approach is still developing, as he can sometimes expand the strike zone and neutralize hitter-friendly counts. Adames has increased his power production this season; he had matched his previous career-high home run total (eight) by June.
2. Brent Honeywell, rhp Honeywell replaces the graduated Blake Snell as the top pitching prospect in the system. He dominated at high Class A Port Charlotte to start the season, and had not allowed more than two runs in a single start through the first month of the season. Honeywell experienced some arm soreness and was sidelined for six weeks, but there is no structural damage and he resumed his dominance with a strong start on June 25, when his fastball velocity was in the mid-90s.
3. Jake Bauers, of/1b Bauers has taken well to his transition to the outfield and profiles as a productive corner outfielder. His offense should carry him up the ladder. Still just 20, he's shown the athletic ability to handle the move to the outfield. His last step will be handling lefthanded pitching better.
4. Jacob Faria, rhp Faria’s performance earned him a promotion to Triple-A Durham in June. His stuff is not explosive or overpowering, but he mixes four pitches well and has a deceptive delivery. Faria is more of a high-floor prospect, but he is relatively safe as a player with experience in the upper-minors and a strong track record of improvement.
5. Chih-Wei Hu, rhp The Rays acquired Hu in a trade for Kevin Jepsen in 2015, and he’s quickly established himself as one of the more prominent prospects in the system, earning a Futures Game nod. Hu throws four pitches for strikes, and he’s been able to limit walks despite fringe-average command. He impressed in San Diego, hitting 97 mph and getting ugly swings with his changeup.
6. Garrett Whitley, of The developmental process for a player of Whitley’s ilk can be slow and steady. A lingering hamstring slowed Whitley out of the gate and sidelined him for much of spring training. The Rays opted to send him to short-season Hudson Valley, where he continues to flash the bat speed and foot speed that made him the Rays’ top pick in 2015.
7. Adrian Rondon, ss Rondon remains far from his lofty ceiling, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance in the Rookie-level Appalachian League this summer. In one game, Rondon smashed three home runs. He has bat speed, raw power and the arm strength for the left side of the infield.
8. Ryne Stanek, rhp After an underwhelming 2015 season, a midseason move to the bullpen this year has allowed Stanek to maximize his upper-90s to 100 mph fastball in short stints. He could elevate through the system quickly, with some evaluators believing he’s near ready to contribute to the Rays’ bullpen.
9. Daniel Robertson, ss/3b Robertson isn’t flashy, but he earns strong reviews for his baseball instincts and intangibles. Scouts see him as an average hitter with the chance to bat .270 with modest power as he matures, though he's struggled in his first shot at Triple-A so far. His arm strength can play on the left side of the infield, and he could develop into an average regular.
10. Jaime Schultz, rhp An undersized righthander with power stuff, Schultz has reigned in his control a bit in 2016. Evaluators are still split on whether his ultimate role will be out of the bullpen or as a starter, but he’s shown encouraging signs at times this season.
RISING Low Class A Bowling Green catchers Brett Sullivan and David Rodriguez have established themselves as prospects. Sullivan converted from shortstop to catcher last offseason, and he shows lefthanded power . . . Righthanders Yonny Chirinos and Greg Harris have shown improved velocity . . . Catcher Nick Ciuffo has improved his contact skills and continues to impress with his overall defensive game . . . Undersized righthander Austin Pruitt continues to perform despite a fringe-average fastball, showing a good curveball, changeup and command.
FALLING Righthander Taylor Guerrieri has become more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher, and neither of his pitches has stood out for evaluators this season. On a positive note, Guerrieri has stayed healthy and made every start . . .Richie Shaffer has not shown the game power that he did in 2015 . . . Ryan Brett and Justin O’Conner have both missed the whole season due to injuries, adding significant risk to their prospect statuses.
HURTING In addition to the previously mentioned injuries to Brett, O’Conner, Wood and Whitley, Ciuffo will be sidelined for some time with a hand injury . . . Righthander Hunter Wood has also progressed well, and earned a mid-season promotion to Double-A before a comebacker broke his thumb and sidelined him.
GRADUATING Top prospect Blake Snell has acclimated to the majors well . . .Utilityman Taylor Motter and outfielder Mikie Mahtook (before landing on the disabled list) have been solid role players. Former Rays prospects Tyler Goeddel and Joey Rickard have contributed to major league teams as Rule 5 draft picks.
COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks) The Rays' first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round) 1. Josh Lowe, of, Pope High, Marietta, Ga. The Rays bet on Lowe’s ceiling, as a player who has shown plus raw power and speed, but whose bat was little inconsistent this spring. He also has excellent arm strength and could fall back to pitching if the bat doesn't work out. 2. Ryan Boldt, of, Nebraska. Boldt has some feel for hitting and his fans think he can stick in center field. 2s. Jake Fraley, of, Louisiana State. Gifted with natural instincts in center field, Fraley has a high floor. He was a solid performer at LSU. 3. Austin Franklin, rhp, Paxton (Fla.) High. Franklin has shown a low- to mid-90s fastball, though he remains raw and will need to improve his consistency as a pro. 4. Easton McGee, rhp, Hopkinsville (Ky.) High