Tampa Bay Rays: Top 10 Prospects

Tampa Bay Rays

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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Bill Ballew
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1. Desmond Jennings, of
2. Jeremy Hellickson, rhp
3. Wade Davis, rhp
4. Matt Moore, lhp
5. Reid Brignac, ss
6. Tim Beckham, ss
7. Alexander Colome, rhp
8. Jake McGee, lhp
9. Alex Torres, lhp
10. Nick Barnese, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Desmond Jennings
Best Power Hitter Matt Sweeney
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Desmond Jennings
Fastest Baserunner Fernando Perez
Best Athlete Desmond Jennings
Best Fastball Jeremy Hellickson
Best Curveball Matt Moore
Best Slider Alex Torres
Best Changeup Jeremy Hellickson
Best Control Jeremy Hellickson
Best Defensive Catcher Nevin Ashley
Best Defensive Infielder Reid Brignac
Best Infield Arm Tim Beckham
Best Defensive Outfielder Desmond Jennings
Best Outfield Arm Todd Glaesmann
Catcher Kelly Shoppach
First Base Carlos Pena
Second Base Reid Brignac
Third Base Evan Longoria
Shortstop Jason Bartlett
Left Field Carl Crawford
Center Field Desmond Jennings
Right Field B.J. Upton
Designated Hitter Ben Zobrist
No. 1 Starter David Price
No. 2 Starter James Shields
No. 3 Starter Matt Garza
No. 4 Starter Jeremy Hellickson
No. 5 Starter Jeff Niemann
Closer Wade Davis
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Josh Hamilton, of Rangers
2001 Josh Hamilton, of Rangers
2002 Josh Hamilton, of Rangers
2003 Rocco Baldelli, of Red Sox
2004 B.J. Upton, ss Rays
2005 Delmon Young, of Twins
2006 Delmon Young, of Twins
2007 Delmon Young, of Twins
2008 Evan Longoria, 3b Rays
2009 David Price, lhp Rays
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Rocco Baldelli, of Red Sox
2001 Dewon Brazelton, rhp Camden (Atlantic)
2002 B.J. Upton, ss Rays
2003 Delmon Young, of Twins
2004 Jeff Neimann, rhp Rays
2005 Wade Townsend, rhp Rays
2006 Evan Longoria, 3b Rays
2007 David Price, lhp Rays
2008 Tim Beckham, ss Rays
2009 *LeVon Washington, of Chipola (Fla.) JC
*Did Not Sign
Matt White, 1996 $10,200,000
Rolando Arrojo, 1997 $7,000,000
Tim Beckham, 2008 $6,150,000
David Price, 2007 $5,600,000
B.J. Upton, 2002 $4,600,000
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Tampa Bay Rays

At first glance, 2009 looks like a disappointment for the defending American League champion Rays.

Not only did they fail to repeat, but they also finished a distant third in the AL East. A strict budget kept them from making a major move at the trading deadline. Two weeks later, their refusal to go much over MLB's bonus recommendations kept them from signing their top two draft picks, LeVon Washington and Kenny Diekroeger. At the end of August, they dealt Scott Kazmir, the best pitcher in franchise history, to the Angels in a money-saving move.

In the grand scheme of things, however, Tampa Bay believes it remains on course for long-term success. The Rays' 84 wins represented their second-highest total ever. While they lost out on Washington and Diekroeger, they paid over-slot bonuses to lock up four gifted high school draftees. Trading Kazmir—whose deteriorating command and inability to reach the 200-inning plateau convinced the front office that Wade Davis was a better fit for the rotation—yielded three promising youngsters, headlined by infielder Sean Rodriguez.

By exercising financial restraint last year, Tampa Bay should be able to keep its nucleus together in 2010. After Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, B.J. Upton and others receive significant raises via arbitration, the major league payroll will rise to the low $60 million range, the highest in club history. Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena are on the verge of free agency, and general manager Andrew Friedman hopes to sign both to long-term deals.

Other than adding a couple of relievers, the Rays are mostly set for the upcoming season. Without making a major move, they should have a more potent offense and better pitching than they did a year ago. They have a young, talented rotation with James Shields, Garza, Jeff Niemann, David Price and Davis, with Jeremy Hellickson waiting in the wings.

While the system remains deep in pitching, Tampa Bay isn't as strong in position prospects, especially power hitters. Center fielder Desmond Jennings and shortstop Reid Brignac are on the verge of helping the Rays, but there's a steep dropping in big league-ready players behind them. Shortstop Tim Beckham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, isn't on the fast track after a mildly disappointing first full pro season.

With that need in mind, Tampa Bay took high school bats with its first five selections in the 2009 draft and signed outfielder Todd Glaesmann, catcher Luke Bailey and first baseman Jeff Malm. The Rays will have extra choices to work with in 2010, getting compensation picks for not signing Washington and Diekroeger and for losing Gregg Zaun as a free agent. They'll add another choice if Brian Shouse signs elsewhere.

Tampa Bay also hopes to start reaping benefits from their newfound dedication to player development in Latin America. The Rays have relatively new complexes and summer leagues teams in both the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, bringing their total of minor league affiliates to nine, tops in baseball.

To boost the quality of its development efforts, Tampa Bay brought back all of its minor league coaches from 2009 and added three more minor league coordinators for 2010. Bill Evers joins Jim Hoff as field coordinator, Matt Quatraro will team with Steve Livesey as hitting coordinator, and Dewey Robinson will work with Dick Bosman as pitching coordinator.

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