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Adames was the gem of the trade that shipped lefthander David Price from Tampa Bay to Detroit, and this season he’s begun paying off on the Rays’ investment. He homered off of Chris Sale in his first major league game—up from Triple-A to fill in for Joey Wendle—before coming up for a longer stint a few weeks later. He’s got the tools to be a major league shortstop but needs to cull the silly mistakes from his game. Adames has well above-average bat speed and the feel to hit for both average and power at his peak. He could be an all-star in the coming years.
Honeywell is one of the most promising pitching prospects in the minors, but the Rays will have to wait a little longer to unleash his array of plus or better pitches on the world. The righthander blew out his elbow in spring training and will miss the entire 2018 season.
Franco entered the year as a player with a potentially special bat, and has done nothing to change that outlook. The 17-year-old opened the year on fire in the Appalachian League. In his first 24 games this year, he’s gone hitless once. He’s hit for the cycle (in a game where he hit two home runs) and fell a double short of a second cycle. Franco very rarely swings and misses. He’s got the tools to play shortstop but, like most players his age, will need time and polish to learn the position.
Bauers joined Adames in the majors and has helped provide Rays fans with a glimpse into the future. He employs a sweet lefthanded swing that has allowed him to hit for average and power throughout his career. Scouts see him as hit over power now, but could reverse that trend later as he matures and learns which pitches he can really drive. He also provides stellar defense at first base.
McKay was a two-way star at Louisville and is attempting to join Shohei Ohtani in providing value on the mound and at the plate in the big leagues. He’s carved hitters in low Class A before running into a bit of trouble at the next level. His batting eye is one of the best in the minors, but he’s provided little value at the plate otherwise.
Sanchez is one of the most talented players in the system. At 20 years old he’s shown the ability to hit and hit for power against both lefthanders and righthanders because of an innate ability to manipulate the barrel. He’s a solid defender in the outfield and earns above-average marks for his footspeed and throwing arm. There’s polish to be added, but he’s an exciting player.
Liberatore entered the draft as the No. 2 player on the Baseball America 500, but slid to the 16th pick in the draft. Even so, Liberatore possesses an advanced four-pitch mix fronted by a low-90s fastball that has peaked at 96 mph. He added a slider prior to this year’s National High School Invitational to round out the arsenal. He joins McKay and fellow 2018 draftee Shane McClanahan—as well as big leaguer Blake Snell—as part of a pack of talented lefties in the system.
Hernandez has some of the loudest tools in the system, and has begun showing results in full-season ball. He’s still got to refine himself behind the plate, but has already shown an arm that scouts have graded as a 70 on the 20-to-80 scale. He’s also shown power as well as feel for the strike zone that belies his age.
Brujan announced his presence loudly in the New York-Penn League last year and has continued showing off a four-tool skill set in full-season ball. He’s got mirror-image swings from both sides of the plate, though the results haven’t come yet from right side. He’s at second base now, but there’s a camp that believes his speed might be better utilized in center field.
McClanahan had some of the nastiest stuff in the draft, including a fastball that has touched 100 mph from the left side as well as slider and changeup that can each get swings and misses. The arsenal gives him the potential to dominate on any given night, but he struggled with command at times this season at South Florida. Still, the Rays saw enough potential to snap him up with the second of their three first-round picks.
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