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TRACK RECORD: Franco has always been able to hit. He hit .325 in 2019 and managed to lower his career batting average. His .339 average was the best among all Florida State Leaguers with 200 or more plate appearances. He did that while being four years younger than the average FSL hitter and a year younger than anyone else in the league. Franco has always had a knack for being his team's vocal leader. It's partly because of his talent, but it's also because of his high-energy personality. He is exceptionally competitive in whatever he does, and he's comfortable in the spotlight that has followed him ever since he signed as the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 international amateur class. It helps that he's part of a baseball family— his older brothers are also minor leaguers, and his uncle is longtime major league shortstop Erick Aybar and his friend and neighbor is Indians infielder Jose Ramirez. SCOUTING REPORT: There are hitters with exceptional awareness of the strike zone. There are others who do an excellent job of identifying pitches. There are those who have a knack of controlling the barrel and covering the entire plate. Franco has all of those attributes, plus the ability to drive the ball with power. He has some of the best bat-toball skills in the minors and an excellent feel for the strike zone. He's comfortable hitting down in the count because he can spoil pitches. He shows plus-plus raw power from both sides of the plate in batting practice, but in games he hits a large number of stinging ground balls. He'd get to more home runs if he lifted the ball more, but it's hard to argue with the results. Franco has soft, agile hands, but his thicker body gives him little margin for error to remain at shortstop. His above-average arm is enough to allow him to make the play in the hole in part because of a quick release and average range, but if he slows as he matures he'll have a hard time staying at the position. He projects as an above-average defender at second or third base. THE FUTURE: The Rays generally move minor leaguers slowly to ensure they are ready to contribute the day they reach the majors, but Franco's talent has made it hard to keep him on the organization's typical timetable. He's ready to head to Double-A as a 19-year-old. He's only played shortstop so far, but it makes sense for the Rays to begin letting Franco play other infield positions because by the end of 2020 he may be a big league option if the Rays are making another postseason push.
TRACK RECORD: McKay finished his time at Louisville as one of the best twoway players in NCAA history. He toyed with Double-A hitters in the first half of 2019, then blitzed through Triple-A Durham and made his major league debut on June 29. McKay was sent back to Triple-A for a couple of resets but was one of just two 2017 draftees to make a postseason roster. SCOUTING REPORT: McKay's success is based around having plus command of solid stuff. None of his pitches are dominant, but his ability to precisely spot all four allows everything to play up, even if only his fastball and cutter are plus. In the majors, McKay struggled at times to finish off hitters—his fastball is relatively true and his cutter is more of a weak-contact pitch than one to generate whiffs. The changeup is an effective, average pitch against righthanders while his 80-82 mph curve has average depth. The Rays have let McKay continue to work at DH but stopped playing him at first base in 2019. While it is unlikely that McKay will ever be a true two-way player like Shohei Ohtani, his hitting ability helps deepen the Rays bench. He pinch-hit three times in September and homered, going 2-for-3 with two runs and a home run. THE FUTURE: McKay should be in the big league rotation in 2020. He profiles as a solid mid-rotation starter who can provide value as a bench bat.
TRACK RECORD: Brujan's $15,000 signing bonus was par for the course for a short middle infielder on the international market, but he's earned plenty of attention with his speed and his high energy. SCOUTING REPORT: Brujan is twitchy and deceptively strong, but it gets hidden at the plate because he hits so many grounders. He's much better against righthanders. He has a simple, short swing with little load from both sides. He understands the strike zone and rarely swings and misses. The Rays gave him his first extended exposure to shortstop in 2019, and he showed enough to make himself at least a viable backup option. Brujan has one of the quickest first steps in the organization and his hands work well, but what he doesn't have is a refined internal clock. His all-out, high-energy style sometimes leads to him rushing on plays where he should slow everything down. His footwork is only adequate. THE FUTURE: Brujan's speed, athleticism and versatility fits the Rays' love of multi-position regulars. Though he hasn't yet played center field, Brujan's athleticism and speed make him a potential fit there, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Rays work him there in 2019. His ceiling is as a high-average, on-base-oriented table-setter who runs into 8-10 home runs a year while providing defensive value at multiple spots.
TRACK RECORD: Baz battled Hunter Greene for the title of best pure arm in the 2017 high school class, and the Rays pushed hard to make him the third piece in the trade that also imported Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow while sending Chris Archer to the Pirates. Baz was the player to be named in a deal that quickly became a massive win for the Rays. SCOUTING REPORT: When the Rays acquired Baz, they helped the righthander shift from a predominantly two-seam fastball/curveball pitcher to a four-seam/slider pitcher, which proved to fit his strengths. Baz's arm is exceptionally fast—his fastball sits 92-98 mph and can touch 100. That arm speed means he sometimes struggles to keep his arm timed with his lower body and sometimes means he lands jarringly into a stiff front side, but his arm path is clear and he is direct to the plate. With an easier-to-command fastball, Baz went from throwing strikes on 59.5 percent of pitches in 2018 to 61.5 percent in 2019. Baz's 84-87 mph slider is a plus pitch with a short, tight two-plane break. His changeup ranges between below-average to average. His curveball, a weapon in high school, is now more of a fringy early-count pitch but flashes 12-to-6 depth at its best. Baz is now regularly around the strike zone, but he sporadically spikes a pitch badly. THE FUTURE: Baz should at least be an effective fastball/slider reliever, but his strong frame and improvement portends hope that he can remain a starter. He is ready for high Class A Charlotte.
TRACK RECORD: Honeywell's father Brent was a pitcher in the Pirates farm system in the 1980s. While he didn't get to the majors, he did pass on his love of pitching and his screwball to his namesake. The younger Honeywell dominated at every level of the minors and headed into spring training in 2018 battling for a big league job, but he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in a side session. He returned to the mound in spring 2019 after Tommy John surgery but fractured his elbow. His repaired ligament was intact, but the injury forced him out for another season. SCOUTING REPORT: Before his two full years of elbow problems, Honeywell was a big league-ready starter with five pitches and was comfortable with using all five. Honeywell was again throwing in the low 90s before his elbow fracture. When healthy he sat 93-95 mph and has touched 99. Honeywell's plus changeup has enough tumble to get swings and misses. His above-average mid-80s slider has some power and generates swings and misses. His screwball is a plus-plus pitch, in part because it's something hitters are not used to seeing, but also because of its quality. His curveball is his weakest pitch, but it still flashed average. THE FUTURE: Honeywell will likely need time to shake off the rust, but if healthy he should pitch in Tampa Bay in 2020. He isn't likely to be ready in spring training, but should be back on the mound soon afterward.
TRACK RECORD: A Tommy John survivor, McClanahan entered his junior year at South Florida as a candidate to go first overall in the 2018 draft. An erratic spring ruined those hopes, but he was still seen as one of the best arms in that class, albeit one with reliever risk. He made big strides in body control during 2019. After walking 30 batters in his first 48 innings, he walked 15 over his final 73 innings. SCOUTING REPORT: In addition to finding his control, McClanahan refined his changeup while working with high Class A Charlotte pitching coach Doc Watson. His fastball remains a plus-plus marvel. He can sit 93-98 mph and has touched 100. McClanahan explodes off the rubber to get to his velocity, though early in the season his arm struggled to catch up to his lower half. He doesn't need to rely on only one pitch because he shows excellent feel for spin. His power downer curveball gives him a second plus pitch, though it sometimes morphs into a hard, tilting slider. He started to figure out his changeup in the second half, though he needs to make more strides with the pitch. THE FUTURE: The easiest assumption is to expect to see McClanahan turn into an impact reliever. His fastball and breaking balls need little projection for that role. But the improvement he's made in his control and with his changeup gives the Rays a reason to keep trying him as a starter. He'll be part of a potent roster at Double-A Montgomery.
TRACK RECORD: Edwards had the skills of a first-round pick in 2018 but fell due to concerns about his size. The Padres snatched him 38th overall and signed him for $1.3 million to forgo a Vanderbilt commitment. Listed at 5-foot-10 but really closer to 5-foot-7, Edwards rendered his size moot by hitting .322 and finishing tied for third in the minors in hits (162) in his first full season. He was selected for Team USA's Olympic qualifying roster after the year. The Rays acquired him with Hunter Renfroe in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Padres. SCOUTING REPORT: Edwards is quiet in the box, shows a feel for the strike zone and consistently puts good swings on pitches. His diminutive size and flat swing path aren't conducive to hitting home runs, but he has enough strength and barrel awareness to hit the ball hard in play. He is a true switch-hitter equally capable from both sides of the plate. Edwards' plus-plus speed is his top asset. He is a prolific basestealer with advanced instincts, and is altogether 56 for 78 (72 percent) on stolen bases in his career. Edwards is a reliable defender with a quick first step and sure hands at both middle infield positions, but his fringe-average arm is best suited for second base. THE FUTURE: Edwards draws frequent comparisons to Chone Figgins as a potential speedy all-star who hits atop the lineup. He'll see Double-A Montgomery in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: Catcher is one of the few thin positions in the Rays' farm system, which makes Hernandez even more important. An infielder as an amateur, Hernandez quickly took to catching as a pro. He had a breakout season with low Class A Bowling Green in 2018, but offensively he took a step back in 2019, largely because the Florida State League seemed to sap his power. SCOUTING REPORT: Hernandez has already filled out and has a relatively mature, physical body. He has plus raw power. His bat speed is average at best and he too often hits pitchers' pitches, but he has solid bat-to-ball skills to go with his plus power. He will have to work to stay flexible enough to catch. He has tried a variety of setups to better present low pitches and has made improvement in his receiving, game-calling and English. He projects as an average defender with a plus-plus arm—he threw out 39 percent of basestealers in 2019. THE FUTURE: Hernandez is expected to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The Rays have generally emphasized receiving over offense over the past decade, but Hernandez has a chance to be a two-way threat behind the plate. If robo-umps ever arrive, he'd be even more valuable. He's ready to head to Double-A Montgomery.
TRACK RECORD: Ryan went undrafted after an injury-plagued junior year at Cal State Northridge. After a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, he transferred to Division II Cal State Stanislaus for his senior year and impressed enough to become a seventh-round pick. SCOUTING REPORT: While many pitchers have simplified their deliveries and even junked pitching from a windup, Ryan begins with an old-school windup, bringing his arms high above and behind his head, then usually deals an elevated 92-96 mph fastball. He commands the pitch so well that hitters can't seem to touch it. Ryan's 2,250-rpm spin rate is merely average, but he hides the ball well and gets good extension. He credits his time skipping the ball in water polo for helping him get so much backspin on his fastball. He has toyed with a curveball, cutter and slider but has yet to find a breaking ball that he can spin consistently. His 83-85 mph changeup, which tunnels well off his fastball, gives him a potentially above-average second pitch. Double-A will be a useful test after dominating Class A with 75 percent fastballs. THE FUTURE: The effectiveness of Ryan's fastball can't be ignored, but he is going to have to keep improving his changeup or figure out how to spin a breaking ball to keep more experienced hitters from keying on his fastball in his return to Montgomery.
TRACK RECORD: Tsutsugo has spent most of his life in Yokohama, playing at Yokohama High before being drafted by the Yokohama BayStars in 2009. He has been extremely productive, hitting 205 home runs and posting a .910 OPS over 10 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He hit 44 home runs in 2016 and also hit three home runs at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. SCOUTING REPORT: Tsutsugo has some feel to hit and the ability to draw walks to go with plus power. He posts excellent exit velocities and showed in Japan that he could catch up to mid-90s fastballs while staying inside the ball. His power should translate well to the U.S. game, though he projects as more of a fringe-average hitter whose ability to draw walks makes up for his proclivity to strike out. He's a fringe-average runner at best. Tsutsugo has played third base and first base as well as left field, but he's below-average at all three spots and has mainly focused on left field in recent years. He likely will play a good bit of DH if he signs with an American League team. THE FUTURE: Tsutsugo has the power to help a major league team, especially if he is kept away from the toughest lefthanders. His makeup and temperament impress evaluators and he should be able to make the transition to a new culture and a longer season. He went to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball a few years ago, showing both his love of the game and his willingness to adapt to other cultures.
TRACK RECORD: Lowe was an athletic third baseman and pitcher in high school, but the Rays moved him to center field as a pro, wanting to better use his plus speed and range. The brother of Rays first baseman Nate Lowe, Josh is much more athletic but not as bat savvy. The younger Lowe had his best season as a pro, ranking among the top 10 in the Double-A Southern League in a multitude of categories. SCOUTING REPORT: Lowe can run, throw, field and drive the ball. The only question has always been how much he will hit. Lowe's swing is a bit grooved, and he struggles to stay inside the ball. He aims to drive balls pitches low and on the outer half where he can extend his arms, but if a pitcher comes inside with velocity, he can get tied up. Lowe is a little passive at times at the plate and doesn't use his legs particularly well. His 27 percent strikeout rate is adequate considering his power potential. THE FUTURE: As a plus runner who can play all three outfield positions, Lowe can be a productive big leaguer even if he doesn't hit for much average. But his lofty ceiling depends on him continuing to make significant strides at the plate. He should have a solid floor as a useful part-time outfielder. Lowe is expected to miss the first two months of the 2020 season recovering from offseason surgery on his right shoulder.
TRACK RECORD: After a modest freshman season and a summer in the Cape Cod League where he struggled with strikeouts, Jones blossomed as a draft-eligible sophomore at UNC-Wilmington and finished in the top 10 in Division I in triples and stolen bases. A sore shoulder limited his time at shortstop in college and early in his pro debut, but he played shortstop almost everyday in July and August. SCOUTING REPORT: Jones is the most athletic player in the Rays' system. He will turn in 70 times on the 20-to-80 scouting scale from home to first and better than that when he's going first-to-third. He has above-average bat speed and average power potential long-term thanks to strong hands, and an ability to whip the bat through the strike zone. He finished among the New York-Penn League's leaders in most offensive categories in his pro debut, helped in part by a likely unsustainable .467 batting average on balls in play. There remains plenty of debate over whether he's best at shortstop or center fielder. Jones can make the highlight play and has above-average arm strength, but his hands are fringy so far and his throwing accuracy needs to improve. His speed and athleticism would make him a plus defender in center. THE FUTURE: Jones has explosive athleticism, but it's his ability to be a switch hitter who hits stinging line-drives that makes him a fascinating prospect. The Rays love multi-position players, so it wouldn't be surprising if they moved Jones around eventually, but for now he needs to try to master shortstop.
TRACK RECORD: Goss began his senior season as the second-best pitcher on his high school team, but his team was anything but normal. Paired with righthander Matthew Thompson, the duo had a chance to become the second pair of first-round pitchers to be drafted from Houston's Cypress Ranch High. Goss and Thompson had to settle for both being drafted in the top 50 picks. SCOUTING REPORT: Until 2019, Goss was known for his feel for pitching, his projectability and a fast arm. His fastball took a big step forward his senior season as he went from pitching at 88-92 to sitting at 90-95 mph. His above-average fastball has carry up in the zone. He's a true three-pitch pitcher with a slider that projects as plus and a changeup that is advanced for his age and experience with solid deception and good fade. It flashes plus but is inconsistent. Goss is a strike-thrower who has smoothed out a head whack he once had as he got stronger. THE FUTURE: The Rays have drafted seven prep pitchers in the top 100 picks in the 2010s. Six of them spent their second pro season in short-season or rookie ball. So it's realistic to think that Goss will be held back in extended spring training before heading to short-season ball. Goss has the athleticism, delivery and control to be a future No. 3 starter, although there's a lot of steps ahead for him to reach that upside.
TRACK RECORD: Arozarena starred in Cuba's junior national leagues growing up and signed with the Cardinals for $1.25 million in 2016 after a brief stint in the Mexican League. After a steady three-year climb through the system, Arozarena made his major league debut in 2019 and earned a spot on the Cardinals' postseason roster. SCOUTING REPORT: Arozarena is an energetic spark plug with tools, but he is still learning to take consistent at-bats. He separates balls from strikes and drives the ball gap-to-gap when he connects. He is extremely aggressive and prone to over-swinging, which results in lots of whiffs against breaking stuff and inconsistent quality of contact. His pure bat speed and feel for the zone make him a potentially average hitter, and he showed flashes by batting .344 in the minors in 2019. He has sneaky pop and hit a career-high 16 home runs as well. Arozarena's best tool is plus speed, though he can be reckless on the bases and is prone to running into outs. He adequately plays all three outfield positions with his plus athleticism and average arm. THE FUTURE: Arozarena's speed and defensive versatility give him a chance to stick as a fourth outfielder.
TRACK RECORD: Gomez was the best player the Rays signed internationally in 2015. He was one of the best hitters in the Venezuelan Summer League in his pro debut and repeated that feat in the Midwest League in 2018, but 2019 was a significant step back. He had the fifth-worst strikeout rate among Florida State League batting qualifiers. SCOUTING REPORT: Gomez has many of the attributes to be an above-average MLB corner outfielder with an average arm. He hits the ball as hard or harder than any other Rays minor leaguer thanks to well above-average bat speed. He's an above-average runner who can be an above-average corner outfielder as well. But none of that will matter if he doesn't improve his plate discipline and stop chasing pitches out of the strike zone. His bat control is fringy right now and he needs to get better at getting to advantageous counts where he can fully deploy his plus power. THE FUTURE: It's fair to say 2020 is the pivot point in Gomez's career. The Rays were comfortable leaving him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft because of his struggles in high Class A. He has a chance to make adjustments and learn from his struggles, but a repeat of his contact issues in 2020 may be a sign that he's yet another slugger tripped up by overaggressiveness.
TRACK RECORD: Taken in the 2018 draft, Bradley is younger than nine of the first 10 prep pitchers drafted in 2019. The Rays took a chance on his upside and have understandably moved him along slowly. SCOUTING REPORT: A two-way player in high school who was primarily an outfielder until late in his prep career, Bradley's athleticism and upside is obvious to scouts. He has a clean arm action. His 91-94 mph fastball has excellent running life and he's sharpened his once loopy curveball into a tighter, more promising pitch that could be plus eventually. There's a lot of development still ahead for Bradley as he's still relatively new to pitching, but he's extremely intelligent and has demonstrated that he's a sponge at soaking up instruction. THE FUTURE: Bradley will jump to Bowling Green next year as one of the younger pitchers in the Midwest League. He has the athleticism, projectability and stuff to develop into a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
TRACK RECORD: The Rays acquired Padlo from the Rockies in Jan. 2016 along with Corey Dickerson in a trade that sent German Marquez and Jake McGee to Colorado. After being unprotected and unpicked in the 2018 Rule 5 draft, Padlo hit his way to Triple-A Durham and earned a spot on the 40-man roster. SCOUTING REPORT: Padlo was an excellent basketball player in high school and retains some of that athleticism. He's average defensively at third base and first base but his above-average arm and fringe-average speed may allow him to pick up corner outfield spots as well in 2020. Padlo has always had plus-plus raw power. He draws walks and hits home runs. His big step forward in 2019 revolved around making more consistent contact. He's still quite pitchable thanks to a pull-heavy approach that leaves him in trouble covering the outer third of the plate, but he has improved his recognition of breaking balls and he'll take his walks if pitchers try to get him to chase. With his plus productive power, he can be a productive player as a .230-.240 hitter, but he'll have to keep improving to get there. THE FUTURE: The Rays lack righthanded power, so Padlo could find a role at some point in 2020 as a slugger who can man both infield corners. His power gives him second-division regular potential.
TRACK RECORD: Since signing, Schnell's biggest hurdle has been staying healthy. A wrist injury hampered his pro debut and a knee injury slowed him in 2019. Once he did get to full strength he hit for power at Rookie-level Princeton and received a late promotion to low Class A Bowling Green, but he was also the only 2018 first-round hitter who didn't spend the majority of the season at low Class A or higher. SCOUTING REPORT: He's not as athletic, but Schnell has a profile similar to that of Rays center field prospect Josh Lowe as a center fielder with significant power potential and concerns about his ability to generate consistent contact. He's proven to be a better center fielder than he was projected out of high school. An above-average runner, Schnell has improved his routes as a pro and now covers plenty of ground in center. He projects as someone who should be able to remain at the position with above-average range. Schnell has plus power potential, but scouts worry about his ability to hit for average. His swing involves a deep load and a minor arm bar, which makes him vulnerable to fastballs in on his hands. He swung through a lot of strikes in 2019. THE FUTURE: Schnell will return to low Class A Bowling Green. He could rank among the best power hitters in the Midwest League, but he has some cleaning up to do with his swing to make better contact.
TRACK RECORD: After two years at Louisburg (N.C.) JC as a light-hitting shortstop, Johnson discovered his path to Division I baseball was on the mound. In just one year at Campbell, he pitched his way into a top-40 spot in the 2019 draft. After signing, he was held on a strict two inning per outing limit. SCOUTING REPORT: Johnson generally sat at 93-95 mph on his plus fastball, but in his best stints, he sat 96-97 to go with a plus 84-86 mph late breaking slider and average changeup. Johnson's velocity has steadily ticked up since he started pitching just a year ago and his changeup is something he picked up very quickly. It has some late fade at its best. Johnson's delivery is clean and athletic and he's surprisingly adept at the mental side of pitching for someone who is relatively new to the mound. Johnson's still figuring out how to command his fastball, but he has the athleticism and delivery to have average control. THE FUTURE: Johnson is set to head to low Class A Bowling Green in 2020. He has a starter's clean delivery and a fresh arm.
TRACK RECORD: After playing for a state title as a high school senior at Cordele, Ga.'s Crisp County High, Walls' three Florida State teams all made the NCAA tournament. He was the starting shortstop on back-to-back league champions in 2017 (Hudson Valley) and 2018 (Bowling Green). In 2019, both high Class A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery made the playoffs. SCOUTING REPORT: Walls' best attribute is his steady glove. He has plus hands and average range with an arm that will flash above-average when needed. Thanks to a solid internal clock, he doesn't always let it rip with his throws. He can play second and third base as well and should be able to slide to the outfield if needed thanks to above-average speed and solid instincts. Offensively, Walls is likely a bottom-of-theorder hitter, but he can string together good at-bats and he can spray line drives in the gaps. He projects as an average hitter with belove-average power, but his barrel control makes it hard to strike him out. THE FUTURE: Walls' solid all-around game makes him a versatile future utilityman who could be a second-division regular on a less-talented roster.
TRACK RECORD: O'Brien pitched two years in junior college before becoming the highest-drafted player ever picked out of NAIA College of Idaho. He quickly pitched his way out of high Class A Charlotte and was putting together a successful season with Double-A Montgomery when he was shut down in late July with a sore elbow. SCOUTING REPORT: O'Brien is the epitome of a lanky, long-armed pitcher. He has a loose arm as well, which means his 91-95 mph plus fastball (he brushes 97) and his big-breaking plus slider gives him two swing-and-miss pitches. What he doesn't have yet is the control to fully take advantage of them. O'Brien's slider can be dastardly, but he has a tendency to snap off 58-footers that land in the batter's box for lefty's. His catchers have to be nimble and stay alert. O'Brien has shown some feel for a below-average changeup. His stuff is good enough to retire MLB hitters, but his below-average control needs to improve and that's where his long arms, and long takeaway in the back of his delivery makes it more difficult. THE FUTURE: O'Brien's fringy control and fastball/slider combination may eventually lead to the bullpen, but there's no reason to do so just yet. In each of the past two seasons, O'Brien has earned quick promotions. He'll likely return to Montgomery with a chance to move up to Triple-A Durham before long.
TRACK RECORD: Doxakis pitched his way into the second round with a strong 2019, showing excellent control and improved fastball velocity. SCOUTING REPORT: Doxakis' improved arm speed helped both his now average fastball (he now sits 89-92 mph and touches 94, an increase of 2-3 mph) and his slider. Doxakis' slider has morphed from a slow, below-average pitch in 2018 to a harder, 84-85 mph two-planer he can back foot to righthanded hitters and can induce chases from lefties. His changeup is a fringe-average pitch as well. All of them are more effective because of his ability to dot the corners with plus control and above-average command. THE FUTURE: Doxakis throws harder, but he doesn't throw hard. His ability to locate his fastball and get his slider in on righthanded hitters gives him a solid chance to be a durable, productive starter. Whether he starts there or in Bowling Green, he should spend a good bit of 2020 at high Class A Charlotte.
TRACK RECORD: Fairbanks first endured Tommy John rehab when he blew out his ulnar collateral ligament as a high school junior. That ligament only lasted six seasons, as he blew out his elbow again in 2017 and had a second Tommy John surgery. Fairbanks has reworked his delivery with an extremely short arm action where he never fully unwinds his elbow in his takeaway—instead he uses a bow-and-arrow like delivery. It has paid off as Fairbanks has found improved velocity and sharpened his slider. SCOUTING REPORT: Fairbanks missed all of 2018 because of his elbow surgery, but he leapt from high Class A to the majors in just two and a half months. He was soon afterward traded to the Rays in a swap for second baseman Nick Solak. He has the fastball-slider combination to pitch in the late innings. His fastball sits 96-99 mph and can blow away some hitters, but it is relatively true. His slider is his best pitch. It's easily plus with downward dive and sporadic two-plane action. It sometimes runs in on righthanders like a screwball when he's focused on throwing it in the zone for strikes. Like many power relievers, his goal is to improve his fringe-average control to average. THE FUTURE: Fairbanks has already shown impressive aptitude and he has the run-through-a-wall intensity teams like to see in a late-inning reliever. He should be a part of the Rays bullpen in 2020. With options remaining, he may go up and down as the MLB team's needs warrant.
TRACK RECORD: The Rays acquired Fox with Matt Duffy in the 2016 Matt Moore trade. While remaining primarily a shortstop, Fox began playing second and third base in 2019 to add to his versatility. SCOUTING REPORT: Fox is one of the most athletic players in the Rays system. He is an above-average defender at shortstop with excellent range. He has the potential to be a plus defender at second and third base and his above-average arm works at either spot. His plus-plus speed would also work well if the Rays try him in center field. Fox has gotten more selective and he has improved his barrel control at the plate, but he just doesn't impact the ball. The hope remains that he will add size and strength to his frame to add to his bottom-of-the-scale power, but it hasn't happened in his first four pro seasons. He does know how to draw a walk, so if he can raise his .220-.230 average to just .260-.270 his secondary skills would make him playable, but he needs to hit the ball over outfielders' heads more to make that happen. THE FUTURE: Fox's defense, speed and athleticism are useful, but he has to get to being at least an average hitter to have a future as a utilityman. The Rays added Fox to the 40-man roster and will likely play him at multiple positions with Triple-A Durham in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: Sampen was the 2016 Horizon League Freshman of the Year and beat Ohio State in the NCAA tournament that season. After missing the 2017 season because of ulnar nerve transposition surgery, Sampen was impressive again as a redshirt sophomore. Drafted by the Dodgers, the skinny Sampen was traded to the Rays in Jan. 2019 for Jamie Schultz. SCOUTING REPORT: Sampen dominates hitters with a plus cutter that is hard (88-89 mph) with near slider- like tilt. He discovered the pitch in a side-session in the final month of his college career. His newfound cutter quickly helped keep lefthanded hitters off his two-seam fastball. It has made his 91-93 mph average fastball more effective. Sampen's cutter is his lone plus pitch, but he has four fringe-average or better offerings. He's athletic with above-average control and future above-average command. He touches 95 mph now, and there is some belief in the organization that he may eventually get to those upper reaches more regularly. His curveball is average, but he throws it for strikes. His fringe-average changeup has improved. THE FUTURE: Sampen is athletic and can keep hitters off balance with a varied arsenal and above-average control, giving him a path to being a back-end starter. He's ready for high Class A Charlotte.
TRACK RECORD: A reliever for most of his St. Mary's career, the Rays liked Strotman's athleticism and believed he could start. After a solid start to his pro career he blew out his elbow in May 2018. He returned from Tommy John surgery in July 2019 and pitched 21 innings in the Arizona Fall League. SCOUTING REPORT: By the end of Srotman's AFL stint he was sitting 92-94 mph, touching 96 and he had regained the feel for his potentially above-average slider, although it had a little less power in his return. As a starter, Strotman doesn't have a true plus pitch, but he has an average fastball and an average changeup to go with his slider. He also throws an early count get-over curveball. Pre-injury he had average control, but he dealt with bouts of wildness in his return. THE FUTURE: Strotman will look to return to his pre-TJ form in 2020. He's lauded for his competitiveness and intensity. He will likely begin back at high Class A Charlotte, but the hope is he will pitch his way to Double-A Mongtomery. His upside is as a No. 4 starter/setup man.
TRACK RECORD: Driscoll started all three years at George Mason and became the school's highest-drafted player when the Padres selected him 73rd overall, nine picks higher than fellow catcher Chris Widger in 1992. Driscoll signed for $600,000 and delivered 19 extra-base hits in 39 games at short-season Tri-City to earn a late invitation to the Arizona Fall League, where he homered twice in his first game. The Rays acquired him with Manuel Margot after the season in the trade that sent Emilio Pagan to San Diego. SCOUTING REPORT: Driscoll is a built like a hunk of granite with a muscular, protruding chest, bulging biceps and thick forearms. He takes a patient, contact-first approach from the left side and lets his natural strength provide his average power. He is a disciplined hitter who recorded more nearly as many walks (74) as strikeouts (75) in college. Driscoll called his own games at George Mason and runs a staff well, but his bulky build generates split opinions whether he can stay behind the plate. His setup needs work and his receiving is adequate at best. His above-average arm and blocking ability are two strengths in his favor. THE FUTURE: Driscoll has a chance to be a serviceable catcher who provides thump with his bat. He'll move to full-season ball in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: One of the top international prospects in the 2019 class, Diaz was initially expected to sign with the Yankees. But when the Yankees weren't able to come up with more bonus pool money to sign Diaz, he ended up signing with the Rays instead for $1.5 million. SCOUTING REPORT: Diaz is diminutive but has an exciting combination of tools and refined baseball skills for his age. He has the potential to be a plus hitter at the top of a lineup, showing good bat control and strike-zone judgment and the ability to consistently barrel balls all over the field in games, squaring up all types of pitches with good plate coverage. Diaz puts a surprising charge into the ball for his size, driving the ball out of the park already in BP with signs of average power and a strong chance to tap into it during games because of his pure hitting ability. Diaz has the tools to play center field, with his speed and arm strength both grading above-average. He has an extremely high baseball IQ for his age, with instincts that stand out in the field, at the plate and running the bases. THE FUTURE: Diaz is advanced enough that he could skip the Dominican Summer League and go straight to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: At Morehead State, Hulsizer finished second in Division I with 27 home runs in 2017 and won the college home run derby in Omaha that season. In 2018 a hamate injury cost him time and led to a dip to 12 home runs, but he once again showed the plus-plus raw power that entices scouts. He had already hit 20 home runs in 2019 before he was traded to the Rays on July 31 for Adam Kolarek. SCOUTING REPORT: Hulsizer has a powerful, muscular build. He hits the ball as hard as pretty much anyone in the Rays organization with a pull-heavy approach that uses his legs well. Hulsizer has yet to find a fastball he can't catch up to, but he's yet to show nearly the same confidence when facing breaking balls. He's starting to show the ability to work to more advantageous counts, but for now he still projects as the .230-.240 hitter that could limit his power potential. Defensively, he's fringe-average in the corners thanks to average speed and an average arm. THE FUTURE: Hulsizer is a high-risk, high-reward player who could hit 30-plus big league home runs, or could end up stuck in Double-A because of too many strikeouts.
TRACK RECORD: Plassmeyer impressed scouts with a strong junior year at Missouri as he went from being a swingman as a sophomore to a consistent Saturday starter for the Tigers. He ranked in the top 30 in Division I in strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2018. The Rays acquired him along with Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia in the Nov. 2018 deal that sent Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley to Seattle. SCOUTING REPORT: The only really plus tool Plassmeyer has is his control and command—his control is a 70 on the 20-to-80 scale. That control has allowed him to dominate so far. His 90-92 mph fastball and slider are both average, but his ability to work in and out and dot the corners with his fastball and his ability to throw his slider for strikes or get it to dive out of the bottom of the zone allow the two pitches to work well together. He's improved his changeup to give him a third average pitch with some late drop. THE FUTURE: Plassmeyer's durability and consistency make him a solid No. 5 starter candidate or he could fill the bulk-reliever role that Ryan Yarborough has thrived in.
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