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A high school pitcher from Iowa, Hellickson was brought along slowly after the Rays drafted him in the fourth round and signed him away from a Louisiana State scholarship for $500,000 in 2005. He didn't reach full-season ball until his third year as a pro and spent parts of two seasons each at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. He led Rays farmhands with a 2.96 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 2008, then starred in the International League playoffs and earned MVP honors in the Triple-A national championship game in 2009. With no openings in Tampa Bay's rotation, "Hellboy" returned to Durham in 2010. He led the IL in ERA (2.45) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.4). He also was pacing the IL in wins and strikeouts when the Rays called him up in August. Hellickson turned in four quality starts in as many tries, then helped out in a bullpen role in September. Hellickson throws four pitches for strikes and does a great job of getting ahead in the count with outstanding fastball command. He keeps his four-seam fastball down in the zone, sitting at 91-92 mph and touching 95. His best pitch is a low-80s changeup, which he has added depth to over the past two years, giving him a formidable weapon against lefthanders. He also throws a solid curveball with tight spin for strikes early in the count. Hellickson added two-seam and cut fastballs to his repertoire in 2010, which helped his four-seamer play up. In the past, scouts worried about the lack of movement on his fourseamer, but those worries have been alleviated by the life on his new fastballs. He throws all of his pitches from the same arm angle, which creates good deception. Hellickson also repeats his clean delivery with impressive consistency, with his lone problem a tendency to get too straight up and down on occasion. Hellickson has proven at every step that he's as good as advertised. He made the most of his opportunities during his encore in Durham, which made him a better pitcher once he finally received the call to Tampa Bay. The Rays' rotation remains crowded, but Hellickson showed during the second half of 2010 that he's ready. Though he'll likely serve as a fourth or fifth starter as a rookie, Hellickson should become Tampa Bay's No. 2 or 3 starter in the not-too-distant future.
Moore has led the minors in strikeouts in each of the past two seasons. He battled his control at the beginning of 2010, going 0-7, 6.63 in his first 11 starts, then got back on track and allowed just 14 earned runs in his final 15 starts. Rated as the top prospect in the high Class A Florida State League, he finished with 208 strikeouts, the most in the minors since Clint Nageotte had 214 in 2002. Moore has an electric arm with hard, late life on his 92-96 mph fastball. He has an easy arm action and uses the same stroke to throw a late-breaking curveball that dives on hitters. His changeup also has the makings of a plus pitch, though he needs to throw it more often. The Rays loved how Moore responded to adversity. With the help of Charlotte pitching coach Neil Allen, he changed his grip to put his thumb more under the ball, enabling him to keep his pitches down in the zone. Though he quieted his delivery during the second half, his mechanics still got out of sync on occasion. His command needs refinement, though his wildness also can keep hitters off balance. Moore will open 2011 as a 21-year-old in Double-A. While he requires some fine-tuning, he has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter in the major leagues.
Jennings looked ready for Tampa Bay after a banner 2009 that saw him win the Double-A Southern League MVP award and help Durham to the International League title and Triple-A National Championship. But the Rays didn't have an everyday job for him, so he returned to Durham. Though he had a wrist injury that limited his productivity early in 2010, managers rated him the IL's best baserunner, top defensive outfielder and most exciting player. A former junior college all-America wide receiver, Jennings is a pure athlete with three above-average tools. He has plus-plus speed and ranked second in the IL with 37 steals in 41 attempts. He covers center field from gap to gap, gets to balls quickly by taking the right routes and shows average arm strength. With his speed and disciplined approach, he should hit for a high average and get on base at a good clip. While the wrist injury affected his power, Jennings drives the ball well and could hit 15 homers per year. He needs to take greater advantage of his speed by putting the ball on the ground more often. All signs point to Jennings replacing departed free agent Carl Crawford in Tampa Bay's outfield. He eventually should become the Rays' leadoff hitter and center fielder.
McGee was one of the top lefty pitching prospects in the minors when he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery in June 2008. After working his way back to the mound for 30 innings in 2009, McGee climbed two levels last season and made his major league debut in September. McGee hasn't shown any negative effects from reconstructive elbow surgery. He generates tremendous late action on his fastball, which jumped to 92-95 mph and peaked at 97 when he moved to the bullpen at midseason. His breaking ball is a power curve that becomes slurvy when he gets under it. His changeup has the potential to be at least an average pitch. Command and consistency were issues prior to his injury, but he has shown better feel for all of his offerings since his return. A starter in 128 of his first 129 games as a pro, McGee was very effective as a reliever after reaching Triple-A. With the Rays' bullpen expected to undergo a complete overhaul in 2011, he should claim a regular role and could emerge as a closer in the near future.
Sale had a single-digit handicap in golf, though he swung righthanded. The first player in the history of the Area Code Games to hit for the cycle, Sale was one of the best high school hitters available in the 2010 draft. A Gonzaga recruit, he went 17th overall and signed for $1.62 million at the Aug. 16 deadline. He saw his first pro action in instructional league. The top prep power hitter in the 2010 draft, Sale projects as a significant run producer and a corner outfielder. He generates incredible bat speed and shows a great feel for the strike zone while employing a patient approach. He has good present strength, which makes sense considering his father was a competitive natural powerlifter. He also has impressive hand-eye coordination, though he does have a few flaws in his swing, including a high back elbow and an early stride. He has the makeup and work ethic to make adjustments, and he should be able to do so without compromising his power. His speed, defensive ability and arm strength are all fringy, so while he works hard, he'll probably wind up in left field. Sale's offensive prowess gives him the potential to move quickly, though the Rays rarely rush high school signees. Because he signed late, he'll likely make his pro debut at Rookie-level Princeton in June.
Torres may turn out to be the most valuable of the three players the Rays received from the Angels for Scott Kazmir in August 2009. Acquired along with Sean Rodriguez and third-base prospect Matt Sweeney, Torres appeared in the Futures Game and led the Southern League with 150 strikeouts in his first full season in Tampa Bay's system. Torres has a strong lower half that helps him produce lively stuff. His low-90s fastball has outstanding movement, and his changeup is just as effective. His feel for his curveball comes and goes, though it gives him a third plus pitch when he throws it for strikes. He throws across his body and almost falls over his front side--and those mechanics are a blessing and a curse. His delivery generates velocity and life but also creates problems with his control and high pitch counts. He led the SL in walks (70) as well as strikeouts. Scouts laud his competitiveness. Torres has the makings of three above-average pitches but remains a work in progress because of his inability to repeat his mechanics consistently. He could emerge as a No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues if he fine-tunes his control, or he could be a set-up man if he doesn't. He'll pitch in the Rays' Triple-A rotation in 2011.
Colome spent three years in Rookie and short-season leagues before advancing to low Class A Bowling Green in 2010. The nephew of former Rays reliever Jesus Colome, he faded in the second half but did impress with eight strikeouts in a four-inning start for Charlotte in September. Colome's live arm rivals that of anyone in the system. His 91-93 mph fastball touches 96 and features natural sink as well as armside run. He also throws a tight 11-to-5 curveball that has the makings of a plus pitch. He has improved the consistency of his changeup and used it frequently last season to retire lefthanders. Colome tends to overthrow at times, and his control and command can be erratic. He has learned to use the inner half of the plate by challenging hitters with his fastball, and he has shown some promise in backdooring his curve for strikes. Though Colome remains a raw prospect, he has the upside of a frontline starter. He has succeeded thus far simply by overpowering hitters, though he'll have to adopt a more polished approach when he returns to high Class A for a full season in 2011.
O'Conner was a top prospect as a slugging third baseman and strong-armed righthander before moving behind the plate as a high school senior. He emerged as the top prep catcher in the 2010 draft, tying the Indiana high school record with 51 career homers. The Rays drafted him 31st overall and signed him away from an Arkansas commitment for $1.025 million. Though he struggled at the plate in his pro debut, O'Conner's wellabove- average raw power still was evident. He has tremendous bat speed and can drive the ball to all fields, though he gets pull-happy during games. He doesn't project as a high-average hitter and may need to shorten his swing to make more consistent contact. O'Conner has plus-plus arm strength and has posted pop times as low as 1.8 seconds. He has quick feet and moves well behind the plate but is still working on the nuances of catching, such as maintaining consistent mechanics, calling games and working with pitchers. He's a below-average runner but not bad for a catcher. By selecting O'Conner, Luke Bailey and Jake DePew in consecutive drafts, the Rays have built impressive catching depth in the lower minors. They can give O'Conner time to develop, likely sending him to Princeton in 2011.
Vettleson attracted attention for his switch-pitching ability in high school, and while some scouts liked him on the mound, he drew more notice as one of the purest prep hitters in the 2010 draft. He worked out occasionally with fellow Washington outfielder and Rays draft pick Josh Sale. A supplemental first-round pick, Vettleson signed at the deadline for $845,000. A shortstop/center fielder/pitcher in high school, Vettleson profiles as a corner outfielder with the ability to hit for power and average. He has a quiet approach from the left side of the plate, with good patience and pitch recognition. He's short to the ball and drives pitches from gap to gap, though at times his swing features a stiff lead arm, which could create issues against good fastballs. His speed is a tick below-average, but he has great instincts on the bases and in the field. He has enough arm strength to play in right field. Vettleson didn't face top competition in high school--though he performed well on the summer showcase circuit--and signed too late to make his pro debut. Because his only pro experience has come in instructional league, he'll probably start 2011 in extended spring training before reporting to Princeton in mid-June.
After earning his GED diploma and enrolling early in college, Thompson became a weekend starter as a freshman before experiencing an inconsistent career at Long Beach State. Expected to be the 49ers' ace in 2010, he went 5-4, 5.16 in 14 starts before signing for $555,000 as a second-round pick. In his pro debut, he ranked as the short-season New York-Penn League's top pitching prospect before throwing 11 scoreless innings in high Class A. Thompson has the stuff, frame and mound presence to eat up innings in the middle of a big league rotation. His fastball usually sits at 92-94 mph and touched 97 during his debut. He picked up a mid-80s slider during the spring at Long Beach State, and it showed more consistency and peaked in the upper-80s in pro ball. His changeup can be a plus pitch at times, though it gets too firm on occasion. Hudson Valley pitching coach Jack Giese worked extensively with Thompson to improve his slider and mechanics. He no longer flies open or rushes his delivery, which led to improved command. Given his experience and pro debut, Thompson could move quicker than the average Rays farmhand. He figures to open his first full season by returning to high Class A.
Romero is one of the big early finds in the Rays' recent emphasis on Latin America. In 2010, he rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Appalachian League, pacing the Rookie-level circuit with a 1.95 ERA while ranking second with a 0.94 WHIP, third with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings and fourth with a .204 opponent average. In addition to his statistical success, he also displayed projectability that could lead to bigger things in the future. Romero throws two plus pitches: a 92-96 mph four-seam fastball with armside run and an overhand curveball with a 12-to-6 break and tight, quick spin. His changeup improved considerably over the course of the summer, showing added softness and some late fade. Romero does an excellent job of mixing his pitches and keeping them down in the strike zone. His maturity on the mound exceeds his age, as he has a good overall feel for pitching as well as the ability to attack hitters and exploit their weaknesses. A fast worker, he should continue to improve as he adds strength to his lanky frame. With a ceiling as high as any young pitcher in the Rays farm system, Romero should open the 2011 season in low Class A.
Barnese has yet to turn in a healthy full season in pro ball, as he has battled tenderness in the back of his shoulder in each of the past two seasons. He missed the first two months of 2009 in low Class A, then the most of the final month last season in high Class A. However, he did throw a career-high 122 innings in 2010 and maintained the steady effectiveness he has shown throughout his career. Barnese generates quick arm action from an over-the-head delivery. His fastball resides in the low 90s and can touch 94 mph. His changeup has good depth and shows signs of developing into an above-average pitch, yet its consistency continues to lag. Besides staying healthy, Barnese needs to improve his slider and do a better job of pitching down in the strike zone. Commanding the fastball, particularly on the inner half of the plate, will also improve the quality of his other pitches. A potential No. 3 starter, Barnese has posted a career 2.80 ERA while being handled carefully by the Rays. They hope he'll be able to handle a full season of starts in Double-A this year.
One of the best athletes in the system, Morrison signed for an above-slot $500,000 as a fourth-round pick in 2008. He used his plus speed to rank fourth in the minors in steals (58 in 68 tries) and eighth in triples (13) in his first taste of full-season ball last year, recovering from a slow start in which he batted .129 in April. Morrison has good bat speed with a solid swing and path through the strike zone. He can pull inside pitches, yet his lack of physical strength limits his ability to drive the ball with consistency. Given his youth and broad shoulders, he has the room to add considerable strength, which would make him a more dynamic offensive presence. He also needs to become more patient and make more consistent contact, which would allow him to get on base and use his speed more often. Morrison gets good jumps in center field but could use some work on his routes. His arm is below-average, though he does make accurate throws to the right bases. After flying under the radar in his first three pro seasons, he could be poised for a breakout 2011 season in high Class A.
After leading his Dominican Summer League teams in strikeouts in 2008 and 2009, Lara made a smooth transition to the Appalachian League last year. He led the league in opponent average (.200), ranked second behind teammate Enny Romero in ERA (2.18) and tied for fourth in wins (six). Lara does a good job of jamming hitters on both sides of the plate with a 92-96 mph fastball that seems to jump on them. He has an easy, smooth delivery and throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball. He made steady progress last summer with his curveball and changeup, with scouts believing both pitches have a chance to become average or better. While Lara has a live arm, he struggles with his control, particularly with his secondary pitches. In the past, he would lose confidence when he couldn't find the strike zone, but he made significant strides with his maturity in 2010. He's still working on the feel of his pitches and maintaining his focus from start to finish, yet should be ready to graduate to the full-season ranks at Bowling Green in 2011.
After seeing Beckham in action in 2010, multiple scouts said it would be impossible to know by watching him that he was the No. 1 overall pick and the recipient of a then-record $6.15 million bonus in 2008. Though that may be harsh, his former ceiling as an all-around shortstop no longer appears realistic. He's still young and spent last year in high Class A at age 20, producing mixed results. A minor wrist injury slowed him early in the season and he hit just .212 in the first half. He rebounded to bat .285 after the all-star break, but he also went homerless as his slugging percentage declined to .352 from .370 in the first half. Beckham still has plus bat speed and the strength in his hands and wrists to eventually hit for above-average power, but he also swings through too many high-80s fastballs. Beckham was in better shape last year, yet is a fringe-average runner at best. He has more than enough arm to play shortstop and cut his errors from 43 in 2009 to 25 last year, but his hands aren't soft and he doesn't have the athleticism to remain at the position. Third base is a better option, though it will place greater demands on his bat. The Rays will remain patient with Beckham, and manager Joe Maddon has said he likes Beckham's overall ability and approach to the game. He should make the move up to Double-A in 2011.
Because he doesn't have spectacular stuff, Cobb doesn't attract much attention, yet he continues to achieve solid results. He has lowered his ERA in each of his five pro seasons, ranking fourth in the Southern League (2.71) last year while topping the circuit with 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. The Rays added him to the 40-man roster in the offseason. Cobb's fastball resides in the low 90s with some sinking action, and he pitches off it well by mixing it with his above-average changeup. His fastball command can be erratic, one reason lefthanders hit .293 off him last year (compared to righties batting .230), but he throws strikes and has a good idea of how to set up hitters. His breaking balls, a high-70s curveball and a low-80s slider, show some promise on occasion. His curveball is more effective than his slider at this point, though he'll still need to refine one or both to succeed in the majors. Following a stint in the International League playoffs and Arizona Fall League, he's ready for a full season in Triple- A. His big league future could be as a set-up man, though he'll remain a starter for the foreseeable future.
The Tommy John surgery Bailey had late in his senior season of high school not only prevented him from playing pro ball in 2009, it also limited his development in the early stages of his 2010 pro debut. Considered the top prep catching prospect in his draft class before he got hurt, he fell to the fourth round but signed with Tampa Bay for supplemental first-round money ($750,000). When he returned to action last season, Bailey showed above-average power but struggled with his ability to control the strike zone. He tended to become pull-happy after striking out early in games and needs to do a better job of incorporating his solid power to all fields. Bailey had more success defensively, as his plus arm strength returned and he threw out 31 percent of basestealers. He has soft hands and moves well behind the plate, doing a laudable job of blocking balls. He runs surprisingly well for a catcher. The Rays believe Bailey made more strides than anyone in the organization late in the season and through instructional league, which they attribute to making some necessary adjustments as well as trusting his elbow again. Tampa Bay hasn't had much success developing catchers--John Jaso's 2010 season notwithstanding--but has made significant investments in high school backstops Bailey, Justin O'Conner and Jake DePew in the last two drafts. At least one of them will need to move to low Class A next year, and Bailey is the most likely candidate.
Tampa Bay made its biggest move yet in Latin America by signing Araujo for $800,000, the largest bonus in franchise history for an international amateur player. He's wiry and gangly as a 16-year-old, and the Rays believe he has the ability to develop into a five-tool outfielder. Unlike most young Dominicans, Araujo already has a solid approach at the plate and the ability to drive the ball from gap to gap. Though his hitting mechanics are still raw, he gets good extension on his swing and should continue to add strength in order to hit for significant power at higher levels. With strong hands and quick wrists, he has shown the ability to handle power pitching and should continue to improve in that area. Araujo is a plus runner with the ability to cover center field from gap to gap. His arm strength is average. With his maturing body and solid skill set, Araujo has some of the highest upside in the system. Tampa Bay will be patient with his development, which will start in the Dominican Summer League in 2011.
The Rays had believed for a while that Cruz was on the verge of putting together a breakthrough season. It finally happened in 2010, when his hard work paid off with him leading the Florida State League with 13 wins and posting a career-low 2.85 ERA. Cruz's best pitch is his fastball, which sits around 92 mph and tops out at 95. He started last season without a decent breaking ball, but put in time with Charlotte pitching coach Neil Allen to develop a slurvy curveball that he can throw for strikes at any time in the count. The bender has a huge, high break on occasion, clocking as slow as 73 mph. He also has a fringy changeup. Cruz has become more adept at adding and subtracting from all of his offerings in order to keep hitters off balance. Lanky with a long arm action, he uses his ideal pitcher's frame to his advantage by throwing on a sharp downhill plane. He has thrown strikes throughout his pro career. He's still experimenting with all of his pitches, but he mainly needs to maintain his consistency against more experienced hitters at higher levels. A potential fourth or fifth starter if he solidifies his repertoire, Cruz will move up to Double-A in 2011.
Quate has been nothing short of dominant since signing for $7,500 as a 14th-round pick in 2009. He surrendered only one earned run while going a perfect 13-for-13 in save opportunities in his pro debut, then jumped to high Class A and earned Florida State League all-star honors last year. Quate mixes a hard slider with a 90-91 mph fastball. Hitters have a difficult time laying off the slider because it emerges from the same slot as his fastball. He back-doors his slider most of the time, and all of his pitches are at the knees or below, forcing hitters to hit the ball on the ground. He has outstanding mound presence and the mentality to close games. His greatest need at this point is to pitch inside more consistently. Scouts say he reminds them of Anthony Slama, another unheralded draft pick who made it to the majors as a reliever. Quate will advance to Double-A in 2011, and Tampa Bay won't be far off if he continues to overmatch hitters.
With the Rays failing to sign first-rounder LeVon Washington and second-rounder Kenny Diekroeger, Glaesmann became the highest-drafted player to join the club out of the 2009 draft. He played briefly that summer after signing for $930,000, then flashed five-tool potential in 2010. Glaesmann has a body built for power, showing excellent strength, plus bat speed and long limbs that generate leverage. He has more of a line-drive swing than one built for home runs, and the Rays hope he maintains that approach while making the necessary adjustments to hit for better average. His swing gets long, causing him to miss fastballs on occasion, and he tends to chase breaking balls down and away. Glaesmann has played center field but looks more natural in right. He has plus arm strength and speed, though he's still learning the nuances of basestealing. Glaesmann is raw in many ways but his tools give him a high ceiling. He'll move up to low Class A in 2011.
Dietrich was the Astros' top pick (third round) in the 2007 draft but chose to attend Georgia Tech rather than accept Houston's slot-money offer of $270,000. Three years later, he went one round higher and signed for $457,200. Dietrich, who hit 17 homers for the Yellow Jackets last spring, stands out most with his power. He has good physical strength and drives the ball consistently from the left side of the plate. He needs to focus on hitting line drives and let his power come naturally instead of adding loft to his swing, which gets him into trouble at times. Though he played shortstop in his pro debut, Dietrich lacks the range and fast-twitch athleticism to play the position much longer. He's a below-average runner with soft hands and a strong arm, so he probably will fit better at third base than at second or short. Some Rays officials believe he could become a versatile defender who plays a variety of positions, including left field. Dietrich holds promise but isn't expected to develop into a game-changer at the major league level. The grandson of former big leaguer Steve Demeter, he'll open his first full season in low Class A.
Brett was the third of Tampa Bay's three premium picks from the state of Washington in the 2010 draft, going two rounds after first-rounders Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson. Signed for $341,100, he had a fine pro debut and consistently brought a high-intensity approach to the ballpark every day. Though he's just 5-foot-9, Brett is an offensive-minded player with plenty of bat speed. His quick, short stroke and solid knowledge of the strike zone produces line drives to all fields and should enable him to hit for average. A plus runner, he does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground to enhance his chances of getting on base. His basestealing skills are a work in progress, but he projects to swipe 20 or more bases annually. He needs to improve his bunting skills in order to take better advantage of his speed and become more of a top-of-the-lineup hitter. Defensively, Brett is rough around the edges. His hands aren't particularly soft and his actions are choppy at second base. Scouts believe a move to center field could be in his future, given his speed, potential range and average arm strength. With his athleticism and drive, Brett has the makings of what the Rays consider an ideal major leaguer. He's expected to open 2011 in Princeton but could get a shot at the full-season ranks at Bowling Green.
After a strong freshman year at Auburn, Shuman posted a 6.07 ERA as a sophomore and a 7.90 ERA as a junior. Scouts questioned his competitive makeup and he dropped to the 19th round of the 2009 draft, signing for $25,000. He has exceeded expectations so far, averaging 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings in his first two pro seasons and leading Midwest League relievers by averaging 13.9 last season. Shuman's fastball sits at 92-95 mph and can run as high as 98. He mixes it with a hard 84-mph slider with good tilt. Both pitches display some natural sink, and when he's throwing them both for strikes, he can be untouchable. On two occasions last year, he had two-inning outings where he whiffed six hitters. Shuman's control still deserts him at times and will determine his future success. If he can throw strikes consistently, he could move quickly. He'll start 2011 in high Class A but it's not out of the question that he could reach Tampa Bay at some point in 2012 if all goes well.
Rodriguez's 5-16 record in the United States isn't reflective of his potential. He has a live arm that delivers 89-95 mph fastballs with natural tail and cutting action on occasion. He backs it up with an average 76-78 mph curveball that he tends to rely on too often. His curve shows flashes of being a plus offering when he generates tight spin and late bite. Rodriguez's changeup has shown promise on the side and during warmups, but he has been reluctant to use it during games and must develop it in order to remain in the rotation. He's not especially tall and relies on a drop-and-drive delivery to work down in the strike zone. He throws strikes but gets hit when he leaves his pitches up. Rodriguez needs to get stronger after fading down the stretch in 2010. He pitched a career-high 106 innings but went 0-7, 4.84 in his final 11 starts. His next challenge will come in high Class A this year.
Kiermaier set several school records at Parkland (Ill.) JC and was named MVP of the Division II Junior College World Series in 2009, when he set a tournament record with 12 RBIs as the Cobras won the national championship. His commitment to Purdue for 2011 led teams to believe he'd be difficult to sign, but the Rays landed him almost immediately for $75,000 after drafting him in the 31st round in June. Displaying solid athleticism and all-around skills after turning pro, he attracted raves during a strong pro debut and also throughout instructional league. His instincts and work ethic are impressive as well. Kiermaier has a quick, short swing that allows him to stay on the ball well. He uses the entire field and has some present gap power. Once he learns to turn on inside pitches more consistently, he could develop average home run pop. He has plus speed and stole 17 bases in 22 attempts during his debut, but he still is learning how to read pitchers and steal bases. He has the tools to be a quality right fielder, with good range and a solid, accurate arm. Kiermaier will advance to low Class A this year and could prove to be one of the biggest late-round steals from the 2010 draft.
Guevara was the MVP of the Rays' Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League club in 2009 before bypassing the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and reporting to Princeton for his U.S. debut last year. Despite being the youngest starting position player in the Appalachian League, he handled the leap with relative ease, just as he did a move from shortstop to second base. Guevara makes good contact with his patient approach. He has average speed and could develop power to match, potentially fitting into the No. 2 slot in a lineup. Guevara has good, soft hands and a decent arm that's fine at second base but was fringy at shortstop. His feet work well and he does an excellent job of turning double plays. He has a strong desire to succeed and is a quintessential baseball rat, making the sum of his game greater than the individual parts. A promotion to high Class A is next on his agenda.
A career .320 hitter in Cuba's major league, Anderson played in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. When Cuba's national team subsequently dropped him, he defected in 2009 and signed a four-year, $1.725 million contact with the Rays last April. He began his U.S. career in high Class A and reached Triple-A by the end of the season. He lived up to his reputation as a high-average hitter in his pro debut, batting a combined .302. He does a good job of squaring the ball on the barrel despite an unconventional setup and approach. He has good size and a smooth lefthanded swing, but he doesn't project to hit more than 15 homers annually at the major league level. While he makes contact, he doesn't draw many walks. Tampa Bay had Anderson split time between left field and first base in 2010, but he's shaky in the outfield and can't play there in the majors. His below-average speed and range aren't liabilities at first base, where he won the equivalent of a Gold Glove while in Cuba. He has a strong arm for the position. Anderson continued his development in the Arizona Fall League, where he won the Rising Stars Game with a ninth-inning homer. With Carlos Pena leaving as a free agent, Anderson could get a chance to make the Rays in spring training. If he doesn't, he'll return to Durham to start 2011.
The Rays gave Lobstein $1.5 million as a second-round pick in 2008 because they liked his feel for pitching and projected that he would add to a fastball that dipped to 87-88 mph during his high school senior season. Though he's athletic and his body has room to add more strength, Lobstein's heater hasn't improved. His fastball has good angle, some deception and late movement, but it sat at 86-87 mph and didn't feature much sink in 2010. Tampa Bay still looks at his maturing frame and easy delivery and thinks he'll gain some more velocity, but several scouts outside the organization disagree. Lobstein has good command, particularly for a young lefty. His high-70s curveball shows a sharp break at times, and he also demonstrates some aptitude for throwing a changeup. The Rays should have a better idea of what the future holds for Lobstein after he spends 2011 in high Class A.
At 26, Vogt is old for a prospect, particularly for the Rays. But his ability to put the bat on the ball and his ability to play multiple positions has placed him on the organization's radar. A career .448 hitter in four seasons at Azusa Pacific (Calif.), an NAIA school, Vogt signed for $6,000 as a 12th-round pick in 2007. After batting .294 in his first two pro seasons, he tore his rotator cuff in April 2009 and missed most of the season. He rebounded last year to lead the Florida State league in hitting (.345) and slugging (.511). Vogt uses the entire field and rarely wastes an at-bat. He has no trouble hanging in against lefthanders, batting .377 against them in 2010, though his modest power may preclude him from becoming a big league regular. Though his pure speed grades as below-average, Vogt has some athleticism and arm strength. He saw action at catcher, the outfield corners and first base last year. Behind the plate, he calls a good game and works well with pitchers. He threw out 31 percent of basestealers in 2010, but his exchange and pop times-- which hovered between 1.95 and 2.0 seconds last year--need improvement. His range and arm are solid in left field. Vogt earns high marks for makeup as well, winning the organization's Erik Walker community champion award, given annually to the Rays minor leaguer who best displays teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement. His Double-A performance in 2011 will give a better indication of his long-term value, and he could emerge as a valuable reserve in Tampa Bay as soon as 2012.
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