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  1. 1. Shane Baz | RHP
    Shane Baz
    Born: Jun 17, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Tomball, Texas, 2017 (1st round).
    Signed By: Wayne Mathis (Pirates).
    Minors: 0-0 | 1.38 ERA | 20 SO | 4 BB | 13 IP

    Track Record: After a 2021 season full of highlights, Baz's 2022 season never got going. In 2021, he pitched for Team USA's silver medal-winning Olympic team, emerged as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, earned a late callup to the Rays and started a game in the postseason. In 2022, Baz got off to a late start thanks to surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow during spring training. The surgery foreshadowed further problems. Baz returned to action in mid May and joined the Rays rotation in early June. He pitched extremely effectively in his first five starts�2.92 ERA with 28 strikeouts and nine walks in 24.2 innings�but gave up seven runs and three home runs in just 2.1 innings before being lifted with elbow pain in his final start on July 10. He spent the rest of the season on the injured list and had Tommy John surgery in late September. The Rays initially acquired Baz as the player to be named in the trade that saw Tampa Bay acquire Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows from the Pirates for Chris Archer. In hindsight, any one of those prospects would have been a fair trade for Archer, but acquiring all three in the same deal proved to be one of the best trades a team has made this century.

    Scouting Report: When healthy, Baz has some of the best pure stuff in baseball. His 94-99 mph fastball is very similar to Gerrit Cole's in terms of velocity and movement. It has well above-average carry at the top of the zone to generate an above-average rate of swings-and-misses. It also has the flat plane that accentuates its liveliness. As importantly, Baz does an excellent job of locating it in and around the strike zone. His plus slider is a hard pitch at 86-89 mph with minimal sweep. It's effective because of its power. Baz has an average 87-88 mph changeup he uses only against lefthanded hitters, and it pairs well with his slider. His fringe-average low-80s curveball is a useful early-count pitch to steal a strike against a hitter geared up for his fastball or slider. His curve moves north-south, so he's comfortable throwing it to both lefties and righties. When Baz was drafted 12th overall out of high school in 2017, evaluators had significant concerns about his control and command, but as he's gotten stronger and matured, he's developed into a much more consistent strike-thrower. His plus control backed up a little in 2022, but that may have been related to his lingering elbow issues.

    The Future: Baz's 2023 season will be spent rehabbing from elbow surgery, but assuming his rehab goes as planned, he should be a valuable part of the Rays' rotation in 2024. In a Tampa Bay system that is thinner in pitching prospects than it has been in years, Baz has the best combination of multiple effective pitches, pure stuff and pitchability. If he makes a full recovery, he could give the Rays another front-of-the-rotation starter to go with Shane McClanahan.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 80. Slider: 60. Curveball: 45. Changeup: 50. Control: 60

  2. 2. Curtis Mead | 2B/3B
    Curtis Mead
    Born: Oct 26, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 171
    Signed By: Howard Norsetter/Roberto Aquino/Derrick Chung (Phillies).
    Minors: .298/.390/.532 | 13 HR | 7 SB | 282 AB

    Track Record: Acquired from the Phillies for lefthander Cristopher Sanchez, Mead should become the first Australian position player regular of the 21st century. After breaking out in Class A in 2021, Mead again earned a midseason promotion in 2022, but his work to improve his arm strength led to a right elbow strain. He had to be shut down with Triple-A Durham in mid July, and eventually had an injection to help heal the injury and missed the remainder of the season. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

    Scouting Report: Mead is one of the best pure hitters in the minors. He ranked among the best in the minors in average exit velocity (91 mph) and hard-hit rate (over 50%). He is a tinkerer who will adjust his stance and setup to see what works and what doesn't, partly because his hands work so well. Mead's swing is relatively level and conducive to line drives and high batting averages more than massive home run numbers, but he's expected to develop into a 25-plus home run threat as he learns how to better capitalize on hitter's counts. Defensively, Mead's below-average arm limits him. Second base may fit better than third, and the new restrictions on shifting will benefit him. His arm strength would have been stretched on shifts into short right field, but now that positioning is prohibited. At third base, Mead's arm will likely always be a liability, but he has worked on quickening his release. His range is fringe-average at best, but his hands are adequate. He has also played first base.

    The Future: Mead has the best combination of power and hitting ability in the Rays' organization. His defensive limitations are likely to always be an issue, but Mead's offensive upside should make him a long-term regular for the Rays.

    Scouting Grades: Hitting: 70. Power: 60. Run: 40. Field: 45. Arm: 40.

  3. 3. Taj Bradley | RHP
    Taj Bradley
    Born: Mar 20, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Stone Mountain, Ga., 2018 (5th round).
    Signed By: Milt Hill.
    Minors: 7-4 | 2.56 ERA | 141 SO | 33 BB | 134 IP

    Track Record: A high school outfielder with a strong arm, Bradley immediately became a prospect when he tried pitching as a senior. A 17-year-old at the time of the 2017 draft, Bradley moved slowly with the Rays initially, but since the pandemic he has moved from Low-A to Triple-A in two seasons. Bradley's 1.76 ERA was the lowest among qualifiers in the minor leagues in 2021. He was battling for a repeat ERA crown in 2022 with a 1.70 mark in 16 starts for Double-A Montgomery, but he struggled at times after a promotion to Triple-A Durham.

    Scouting Report: Bradley's fastball and cutter/slider give him a pair of big league-ready pitches. His nearly plus-plus 94-96 mph fastball will touch 97-98 and has plenty of life. He throws a plus cutter/slider that is thrown with a cutter grip and a fastball mentality, but he has the ability to make it bigger and sweepier or tighter and harder. It's not a strikeout pitch as much as it is one that hitters struggle to barrel. Bradley's ability to throw both of these pitches for strikes gives hitters problems. When Bradley is on, hitters are usually behind in counts. The question has long been whether he develop a third pitch to go with them. So far, he's struggled to find the confidence in either his curveball or a changeup. He's tried a variety of changeup grips but has returned to a splitter that will flash average. He needs to use it more to develop his feel for it. His 76-78 mph, below-average curveball could be an early-count surprise pitch to steal a strike, but he struggles to land it in the zone.

    The Future: Bradley's late-season struggles in Triple-A are likely useful for his long-term development. His intelligence and athleticism make him likely to develop into a mid-rotation starter after some further development at Durham.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65. Curveball: 40. Changeup: 45. Cutter: 60. Control: 60

  4. 4. Carson Williams | SS
    Carson Williams
    Born: Jun 25, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 180
    Signed By: Jaime Jones.
    Minors: .252/.347/.471 | 19 HR | 28 SB | 452 AB

    Track Record: Heading into his senior year of high school, Williams was seen as a smooth defensive shortstop, but one who seemed more interesting as a pitcher. After gaining 10-15 pounds of good weight, his power developed, and he turned into one of the best prep shortstops in a loaded 2021 draft class. Williams was the star for Low-A Charleston's Carolina League champions in 2022. He finished second in the league with 19 home runs.

    Scouting Report: There was little question about Williams' defense, but his bat has proved better than expected. He showed plus power all year in 2022, and when he was locked in, he strung together solid at-bats. Williams doesn't chase pitches at an unusual rate, but he goes through stretches where he will swing and miss at hittable pitches in the strike zone. His 32% strikeout rate will have to improve as he gains more experience. Williams' power is primarily to his pull side, but he's also shown he's comfortable driving the ball out to straightaway center field. He regularly cleared tall batting eyes in Carolina League games. Williams' defense has lived up to expectations. His plus-plus arm is the best in the organization and is extremely accurate. He had just three throwing errors all season. He's a bigger, rangy shortstop who relies on his arm, soft hands and his length. Williams' first-step quickness is only average, but the total package is that of a plus defensive shortstop. The Rays move most of their infielders around, but Williams has played only shortstop.

    The Future: When he heads to High-A Bowling Green in 2023, Williams will need to work on making more consistent contact, but he has the makings of being a Willy Adames-type physical shortstop who provides power and defense.

    Scouting Grades: Hitting: 40. Power: 60. Run: 55. Field: 60. Arm: 70

  5. 5. Kyle Manzardo | 1B
    Kyle Manzardo
    Born: Jul 18, 2000
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 205
    Minors: .327/.426/.617 | 22 HR | 1 SB | 324 AB

    Track Record: After Manzardo starred at Washington State, the Rays drafted the athletically limited first baseman in the second round in 2021, counting on a potent bat to make up for his limited athleticism. He has rewarded their faith. Manzardo climbed further faster than any other Rays prospect in 2022. Tampa Bay generally has players spend a full year at one level in their first full season, but Manzardo torched the High-A South Atlantic League. After a post-trade deadline promotion, he handled the jump to Double-A Montgomery and finished among the top 10 in the minors in batting average (.327), on-base percentage (.426) and slugging percentage (.617).

    Scouting Report: Manzardo's stance and lefthanded swing are simple and well-timed. He is a pure hitter who presents pitchers with a puzzle. He rarely swings and misses at pitches in the zone, and he knows the zone well enough to rarely swing at pitches off the plate. Manzardo doesn't hit the ball exceptionally hard (88 mph average exit velocity), but he knows how to yank the ball over the fence, and he peppers the gaps with a swing that can drive the ball to all fields. Manzardo posts high batting averages despite the fact that he's a bottom-of-the-scale runner who gets no infield hits. Manzardo was much better at home than on the road in 2022, and his Bowling Green and Montgomery home parks might have boosted his power output. Despite his lack of foot speed, Manzardo is a competent first baseman with good hands and an average arm. He handles what he gets to with few issues, but his range is limited.

    The Future: After a successful half-season in Double-A, Manzardo should spend much of 2023 at Triple-A Durham. He could be an option for the big league club by the end of 2023. Manzardo's lack of athleticism and first base-only profile puts a lot of pressure on his promising bat.

    Scouting Grades: Hitting: 70. Power: 55. Run: 20. Field: 50. Arm: 50

  6. 6. Jonathan Aranda | 2B
    Jonathan Aranda
    Born: May 23, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 173
    Signed By: Eddie Diaz.
    Minors: .318/.394/.521 | 18 HR | 4 SB | 403 AB

    Track Record: It took Aranda six pro seasons to reach Double-A, where was honored as Southern League MVP in 2021. In his seventh season, he reached the majors, earning three callups as the Rays attempted to bolster a sagging offense. Aranda started out hot in MLB and was hitting .325/.386/.500 in mid September, but he finished the season on a 2-for-38 slide.

    Scouting Report: The Rays collect players who make plenty of quality contact, and Aranda has long been viewed as one of the organization's best pure hitters. Few minor league hitters have a better plan at the plate. He's comfortable hitting breaking balls and will be selective to get to the pitch he wants to hit, sometimes spitting on a tough-to-hit strike because he trusts his two-strike approach. Aranda rarely swings and misses, and he controls the strike zone. His power is average at best and his bat speed is average, which explains why he can be beaten by top-notch velocity. Aranda's stumbling block is his defensive position. The Rays have tried Aranda at first base, second base and third base as well as left field, but he's a below-average defender at all of them. His hands are adequate, but he has slow feet, limited range and a slow first step. The effort level is there, but often he is a step too slow to make a play, or he gets caught on an in-between hop since he struggles to go in or back quickly enough to create better hops.

    The Future: Aranda's bat is big league ready, but with his defensive limitations his best shot at a regular job in Tampa Bay is to claim a spot as a first baseman/DH who can play elsewhere in a pinch. He's going to need to hit--and hit quickly--because first baseman Kyle Manzardo is not far away, and Manzardo is a better fielder with better power.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 65. Power: 50. Run: 30. Field: 40. Arm: 50

  7. 7. Mason Auer | OF
    Mason Auer
    Born: Mar 1, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 210
    Minors: .290/.372/.487 | 15 HR | 48 SB | 458 AB

    Track Record: A football and baseball star at Kickapoo High in Springfield, Mo., Auer barely played at Missouri State as a two-way freshman in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season. He transferred to San Jacinto (Texas) JC and blossomed, hitting .373/.525/.627 with 11 home runs in 65 games. In his first full pro season spent at Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green, Auer led the minors with 12 triples and led the Rays organization with 48 steals in 55 attempts. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League to gather additional at-bats.

    Scouting Report: Coming out of the draft, the expectation was that Auer would be a toolsy if somewhat raw hitter, but he's proven to have more polish than expected. He has a smooth, level swing with some adjustability. Auer can be induced to chase, but he has feel for getting the barrel on the ball. He also has plus-plus raw power and flashes above-average game power as well. Auer toned down the leg kick he had used earlier in his career and now relies on a smaller toe tap to help him lock in on his timing. He's managed to combine solid contact ability (20% strikeout rate) with decent plate discipline (10% walk rate) and burgeoning power. Auer needs to polish his reads and routes, but he has the tools to be an above-average defender in center field and a plus defender in the corners. He has a top-of-the-scale arm that has been measured at 98.9 mph on a throw in the Arizona Fall League. He's a plus-plus runner who is a threat to steal any time he reaches.

    The Future: The Rays keep developing athletic center fielders who can also be plus defenders in the corners. Auer is following in the footsteps of Josh Lowe and Kameron Misner, but he is a better pure hitter than either of them, with similar defensive ability and a better arm.

    Scouting Grades: Hitting: 55. Power: 55. Run: 70. Field: 55. Arm: 80

  8. 8. Junior Caminero | 3B
    Junior Caminero
    Born: Jul 5, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 157
    Minors: .314/.384/.498 | 11 HR | 12 SB | 239 AB

    Track Record: Caminero signed with Cleveland in 2019, but he had to wait until 2021 to make his pro debut thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Tampa Bay acquired him in November 2021 at the reserve roster deadline in a deal that sent righthander Tobias Myers, who needed to be added to the 40-man roster, to the Guardians. It was a typical Rays trade. They took a flier on a high-upside if far-away prospect. The Guardians designated Myers for assignment in July, while Caminero had an impressive U.S. debut, hitting his way out of the Florida Complex League and into the Low-A Charleston lineup for the final two months of the season.

    Scouting Report: Caminero is more physically mature than many 18-year-olds, but there's likely further strength and power coming as he gets to his early 20s. He's heavier than his listed 155 pounds. Caminero is strong enough and his hands work well enough that he can get fooled and still manage to hit the ball hard. He will get caught out front but keep his hands back. A thinker at the plate, Caminero rarely makes the same mistake twice. He has played second base, third base and shortstop, but he's not a long-term shortstop. Second or third base is a possibility, but his range is limited and he's not particularly rangy or twitchy. His plus arm is an asset at either spot and would fit in right field as well.

    The Future: Caminero will have to keep working on his agility to stay in the dirt, but his hitting ability may handle a move to the outfield one day. Caminero's ceiling is as a 30-plus home run slugger, but he'll have to keep improving as he climbs the ladder. Because he signed in 2019, Caminero will need to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2023 season, which may lead the Rays to speed up his timetable by sending him to High-A Bowling Green to start the season.

    Scouting Grades: Hitting: 50. Power: 60. Run: 45. Field: 45. Arm: 60

  9. 9. Mason Montgomery | LHP
    Mason Montgomery
    Born: Jun 17, 2000
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 195
    Minors: 6-3 | 2.10 ERA | 171 SO | 43 BB | 124 IP

    Track Record: A 39th-round pick of the White Sox out of Leander (Texas) High in 2018, Montgomery headed to Texas Tech, where he quickly earned a spot in the Red Raiders' rotation. After the Rays drafted him in the sixth round in 2021, he toyed with Florida Complex League hitters. That helped the Rays feel comfortable jumping him to High-A Bowling Green to start 2022. He earned a mid-July promotion to Double-A Montgomery. Montgomery allowed one run or fewer in his last five starts. His 2.10 ERA was fourth best in the minors and his 171 strikeouts ranked sixth. He allowed more than three runs only once all season.

    Scouting Report: Montgomery's plus fastball has carry and the flat approach angle to baffle hitters. His fastball plays above its 89-94 mph velocity because of its movement, and he has the ability to spot it around the strike zone. At times, Montgomery could dominate just relying on that one pitch. He affects hitters' timing by varying his velocity�he can touch 96-97 mph�but will sometimes gear it down as well. Montgomery's 83-85 mph slider is fringe-average at best. It doesn't have exceptional power or movement, but it's been effective because he can throw it for strikes or induce chases. His below-average, low-80s changeup is a pitch he's used rarely so far. He doesn't throw it for strikes nearly as much, but when he does, it gets squared up.

    The Future: Montgomery's profile as a savvy, fastball-heavy lefty with fringe-average secondaries doesn't always work against more advanced hitters. He'll need to better develop his slider and changeup as he climbs the ladder, but his control, command and fastball quality give him a solid shot at being a useful lefty reliever or back-end starter. If the secondaries improve, he could exceed that projection.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 45. Changeup: 40. Control: 55

  10. 10. Cole Wilcox | RHP
    Cole Wilcox
    Born: Jul 14, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 232
    Drafted/Signed: Georgia, 2020 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Tyler Stubblefield. (Padres)
    Minors: 0-2 | 3.94 ERA | 24 SO | 4 BB | 16 IP

    Track Record: The Padres drafted Wilcox in the third round as an eligible sophomore out of Georgia in 2020. He signed for $3.3 million, or first-round money. Wilcox never threw an official pitch with the Padres because he was shipped to the Rays in the Blake Snell trade after the 2020 season that also brought Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt to Tampa Bay. Wilcox was effective in his pro debut in 2021 but was shut down in July with an elbow injury that eventually needed Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound in August 2022 to make three rehab appearances in the Florida Complex League and four abbreviated starts with Low-A Charleston.

    Scouting Report: Getting back on the mound and demonstrating his health was an important milestone for Wilcox, but his velocity didn't fully bounce back in his late-season stint. He touched 98-99 mph and sat 93-95 pre-injury, but he maxed out at 95 and sat 91-93 in 2022. Assuming his arm strength returns to his pre-surgery levels in 2023, Wilcox should profile as a sinker/slider power pitcher. Both are potentially plus pitches. He gets sink and run on his fastball, and it pairs well with his 84-87 mph power slider. He largely shelved his changeup in his briefer return outings, but it's flashed fringe-average. When Wilcox was in high school, teams were highly concerned about his control, but that has proven to be a significant strength rather than a weakness. He has walked fewer than 1.5 batters per nine innings in his final year of college and his first two years of pro ball. His command is not as sharp.

    The Future: The 2023 season will be a big one for Wilcox. He showed his feel and control has returned to where it was before his injury, but he still needs to show he has the same power stuff that has long been his calling card. He should be ticketed for High-A Bowling Green.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 45. Control: 60

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