2012 Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects

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, 2011.

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1. Matt Moore, lhp
2. Hak-Ju Lee, ss
3. Chris Archer, rhp
4. Taylor Guerrieri, rhp
5. Alex Colome, rhp
6. Alex Torres, lhp
7. Tim Beckham, ss
8. Enny Romero, lhp
9. Drew Vettleson, of
10. Mikie Mahtook, of
Best Hitter for Average Drew Vettleson
Best Power Hitter Derek Dietrich
Best Strike Zone Discipline Tyler Bortnick
Fastest Baserunner Hak-Ju Lee
Best Athlete Ty Morrison
Best Fastball Matt Moore
Best Curveball Matt Moore
Best Slider Chris Archer
Best Changup Marquis Fleming
Best Control Matt Moore
Best Defensive Catcher Mark Thomas
Best Defensive Infielder Hak-Ju Lee
Best Infield Arm Tim Beckham
Best Defensive OF Kevin Kiermaier
Best Outfield Arm Brandon Guyer
Catcher Luke Bailey
First Base Ben Zobrist
Second Base Jake Hager
Third Base Evan Longoria
Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee
Left Field Matt Joyce
Center Field Desmond Jennings
Right Field B.J. Upton
Designated Hitter Tim Beckham
No. 1 Starter Matt Moore
No. 2 Starter David Price
No. 3 Starter James Shields
No. 4 Starter Jeremy Hellickson
No. 5 Starter Jeff Niemann
Closer Chris Archer
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Josh Hamilton, of Rangers
2003 Rocco Baldelli, of Rays
2004 B.J. Upton, ss Rays
2005 Delmon Young, of Tigers
2006 Delmon Young, of Tigers
2007 Delmon Young, of Tigers
2008 Evan Longoria, 3b Rays
2009 David Price, lhp Rays
2010 Desmond Jennings, of Rays
2011 Jeremy Hellickson, rhp Rays
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2003 Delmon Young, OF Tigers
2004 Jeff Niemann, RHP Rays
2005 Wade Townsend, RHP Blue Jays
2006 Evan Longoria, 3B Rays
2007 David Price, LHP Rays
2008 Tim Beckham, SS Rays
2009 LeVon Washington, 2B Indians
2010 Josh Sale, OF Rays
2011 Taylor Guerrieri, RHP Rays
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

If there were any remaining doubters regarding the Rays' way of doing business, the 2011 season should leave nothing more than the sound of chirping crickets. Despite having to build an entire bullpen and fill several other holes on the major league roster, general manager Andrew Friedman proved once again that even teams in the American League East can do more with less.

With an Opening Day payroll of $41 million—a mere fraction of the $203 million spent by the Yankees and the $162 million paid by the Red Sox—Tampa Bay reached the playoffs for the third time in four years with a furious finish. The Rays became the first team in baseball history to make the postseason by overcoming a nine-game deficit in September. They won 17 of their final 25 games and caught Boston for the AL wild card on the final day of the regular season.

Under the direction of manager Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay won once again with pitching and defense. Rays pitchers limited opponents to a .234 average, the lowest by an AL team since the league adopted the DH in 1973. Tampa Bay yielded the fewest runs and made the fewest errors (a franchise-record 73) and had the best defensive efficiency in the circuit.

Incredibly, the Rays looked at 2011 as a rebuilding a year. They had lost four-time all-star Carl Crawford, franchise career home run leader Carlos Pena and 2010 AL saves leader Rafael Soriano to free agency and traded former all-star Jason Bartlett and 2008 AL Championship Series MVP Matt Garza to further lower their payroll.

The farm system continued to provide reinforcements. Jeremy Hellickson replaced Garza in the rotation, winning 13 games and Baseball America Rookie of the Year honors. Desmond Jennings filled the void left by Crawford in left field in the final two months, hitting 10 homers and stealing 20 bases. Matt Moore made just three regular season appearances but gave a preview of coming attractions by shutting out the Rangers for seven innings in the Division Series opener.

While Tampa Bay continued to win in the majors, it also restocked its system. The Rays received five youngsters from the Cubs for Garza, including three quality prospects in shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, righthander Chris Archer and outfielder Brandon Guyer.

The exodus of seven free agents gave Tampa Bay 10 compensation draft choices and an unprecedented 12 picks in the first two rounds. The Rays' first two picks weren't supposed to get to them, high school righthander Taylor Guerrieri at No. 24 and Louisiana State outfielder Mikie Mahtook at No. 31, and they continued to blend college players and prep talent afterward.

Friedman said the draft is more important to his franchise than any other, because it's the most efficient way to acquire the talent needed to compete with wealthier teams in the AL East. Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement will make it tougher on Tampa Bay, because as long as it continues to win, it will pick toward the bottom of the draft and receive a relatively small bonus cap to operate under. Nevertheless, the Rays have no choice but to continue building from within, particularly after owner Stuart Sternberg questioned Tampa's viability as a major league market when the team struggled to attract fans during its playoff drive.

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