2014 Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects

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Update: The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual finally hit e-book shelves. Check it out!!!

After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days –  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks and working through alphabetically. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Taylor Guerrieri, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

67.0

2.01

2.90

6.85

1.48

19.5%

4.2%

0.67

64.0%

Profile: Chalk up another young hurler to fall victim to Tommy John surgery. Guerrieri was handled like your mom’s favorite fine china, tossing just 52.0 innings in the NYPL in 2012 and another 67.0 last season (pre-injury, of course). Oh, and that was before getting popped on a random drug test for pot.

For his career, Guerrieri owns a 1.59 ERA, a groundball rate north of 62%, a decent K-rate (7.26), and fantastic walk numbers (1.21 BB/9).

Analysis: Some of the best control/command in the minor leagues. Couple that with a decent ability to miss bats and extreme groundball totals, Guerrieri looks like a potential front-of-the-rotation-type arm.

Ceiling: 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

2. Jake Odorizzi, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AAA

124.1

3.33

3.29

8.98

2.90

25.2%

8.1%

0.87

32.6%

MLB

29.2

3.94

4.13

6.67

2.43

18.0%

6.6%

0.91

32.2%

Profile: Picked up in what’s now known as The Wil Myers Deal, Odorizzi handled the Class AAA competition much better during his second time around. The 2008 first round pick posted a nice 3.29 SIERA to go along with 124 punch outs and 40 free passes in 124.1 in the International League.

Odorizzi also made seven appearances with Tampa Bay – four of which were starts – and showed a nice four-pitch mix: 90 mph fastball, low 80s sliders, loopy curveball and a change.

Analysis: Heading into last season I ranked Odorizzi as the club’s fourth prospect, behind Myers, Chris Archer, and Taylor Guerrieri. I wrote at the time that he “should develop into a solid #3/4-type” pitcher. I’d push that closer to a good #3 now.

While he averaged just over one strikeout per inning in his career, Odorizzi won’t put up those type of numbers in the big leagues; his fastball is merely average and his control/command is solid, not spectacular.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

3. Josh Sale, Position: LF, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: The nice way to put it – and by nice I really mean the PC way to put it – is that Sale is still battling a lot of immaturity issues. What I really want to say is, “Yeah, I’ve never met the kid, but he’s sounds like a complete asshole.” But I would never say that, though, we live in a world where everyone is expected to be PC.

Coming off one of the more impressive showings in low Class A as a 20-year-old in 2012 (.264/.391/.464), Sale spent the entire year suspended. Why? Well, because he wasn’t hugged enough as a kid. Or because he wrote on his Facebook wall, a place everyone can read, “Threw 50 cents at a stripper tonight. First time. Got kicked out and she got so pissed thought she was gonna cry….your a stripper. Be thankful. Hoe.”

Grammatical errors aside – hey, I never claimed he was Hemmingway – Sale comes across a bit uncouth like an immature asshat.

But wait! There’s more! He was suspended near the end of 2012. This time is was for getting popped for a drug of habit.

Analysis: Look, there are a lot of athletes – professional, collegiate, high school, etc… – that succeed in spite of their shortcomings. Sale’s just happens to be, well, like I said, of the asshattery kind. The kid’s uber talented though, like middle-of-the-bat-type talent. As a 20-year-old in high Class A, Sale walked in more than 17% of his plate appearances and posted a .201 ISO.

If someone can help him – and let’s be honest, that’s what he needs – to get out of his own way, Sale could very easily be a star one day.   

Ceiling: 4.5- to 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low. Well, non-existent really.

 

4. Ryne Stanek, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: A lot of the pre-draft hype had the Arkansas ace as a potential Top 5 pick, sliding behind the trio of Kris Byrant, Jonathan Gray, and Mark Appel. I, however, pegged him as a late first round talent, writing at the time: “Stanek came in as one of the top collegiate arms available, and while his ERA tends to sparkle (1.39) his overall numbers have failed to take a noticeable step forward.”

I continued, “After a solid sophomore season in 2012 (92.2 IP, 8.06 K/9 and 3.79 BB/9), the Razorbacks’ top starter has remained solid through his first 16 starts (7.3 K/9 and 3.79 BB/9), though far from elite – just look at his 4.13 FIP.”

Analysis: Pre-draft evaluation: “Stanek looks like backend rotation material, maybe peaking as a #3. He’s plagued by below-average control/command. Outside of a potential injury, there’s very little risk associated because his floor is fairly high.” Think Jake Odorizzi-type ceiling.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

5. Ryan Brett, Position: 2B, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

225

155

.340

.396

.490

6.7%

12.0%

.150

11

4

4

22/29

AA

114

98

.238

.289

.400

7.0%

12.3%

.162

6

1

3

4/4

Profile: Brett has done one thing since entering pro ball: hit. In 1168 trips to the plate, the former third round pick owns a .295/.357/.430 triple-slash line. Last season’s work in high Class A was his finest stretch to date. He hit .340/.396/.490 while topping the Florida State League average by 55%.

Analysis: One of the top hit tools in the organization. Brett shows decent walk rates, strong contact skills, runs well and shows enough power to keep pitchers honest. He’s a switch-hitter, but his struggles against southpaws, .243/.308/.351, are the lone red flag.  Frankly, I’m surprised he doesn’t garner more attention.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

6. Hak-Ju Lee, Position: SS, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AAA

57

225

.422

.536

.600

19.3%

15.8%

.178

3

1

1

6/8

Profile: Ripped up some knee ligaments in an early April collision covering second base, Lee was off to a torrid start in the International League before being knocked out for the rest of the season. He’s a career .290/.364/.388 hitter over parts of five minor league seasons and was acquired in the Matt Garza deal with Chicago.

Analysis: Baby bottom smooth with the glove, Lee’s never going to be a tremendous hitter, but he does work the count and take walks, runs like the wind, and has a pretty solid hit tool. Assuming he makes a full recovery, there’s no reason to think he can’t be ready by late 2014. He could easily man shortstop for, oh, the next six to eight years.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

7. Alex Colome, Position: RHP, Age: 25

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AAA

70.1

3.07

3.63

9.21

3.71

23.8%

9.6%

0.64

39.4%

MLB

16.0

2.25

4.90

6.75

5.06

16.9%

12.7%

1.13

40.8%

Profile: Colome made 14 starts with Durham last season, striking out 72 and walking 29 in 70.1 innings of work.

Analysis: Now let’s get down to work:

  • Mid 90s heat, upper 80s slider, and a hard changeup
  • A lengthy minor league track record of missing bats
  • Average-ish control

Colome has sort of flown under the radar the past few seasons. Maybe it’s being down in the Tampa organization. Or maybe it’s something else, I don’t know. But Colome is nice #3/4-type starting pitcher nearing big league readiness. He could easily end up in the bullpen with the Rays’ crowded rotation.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

8. Blake Snell, Position: LHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

99.0

4.27

4.38

9.64

6.64

23.7%

16.3%

0.73

51.4%

Profile: Part of that first round-heavy 2011 draft class, Snell was chosen with the 52nd overall pick. And after averaging just 3.2 BB/9 in the Appalachian League two years ago, the wheels all but fell off the control wagon for Snell last season: the big southpaw walked 73 in 99.0 innings.

Analysis: He’s big, projectable, and has averaged nearly 10 punch outs per nine innings in his career. Yeah, I think he’ll get a few chances. I’m not too concerned about the sudden loss of control; in two briefs stints in the rookie leagues, Snell average 3.8 and 3.2 walks per nine innings, something probably closer to his actual skillset.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

9. Enny Romero, Position: LHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

137.1

2.82

4.61

7.14

4.59

12.0%

12.0%

0.59

38.5%

AAA

8.0

0.00

5.55

2.25

2.25

7.1%

7.1%

0.00

50.0%

Profile: A rail-thin 6-foot-3 southpaw with a  big time fastball, Romero’s strikeout rate has declined since peaking at 11.05 K/9 in 2011, dropping to 7.64 in high Class A and then to 7.05 in Class AA last season. An additional problem is his lack of control as well. His walk rates the past three seasons: 5.4, 5.6, and 4.6.

Analysis: Romero made one start with the Rays last season, flashing mid 90s heat, low 80s slider, and a hard changeup. He’s still pretty young and the ceiling is still pretty high. But he needs to start taking strides with that below-average control/command. Power reliever at the very least. And I would think about a do-over in Class AA next season.

Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

10. Nick Ciuffo, Position: C, Age: 19

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

RK

169

80

.258

.296

.308

5.3%

23.7%

.050

6

1

0

0/0

Profile: The second catcher taken last June, Ciuffo looked a bit rough with the wood during his debut in the Gulf, hitting .258/.296/.308. He did throw out 38% of would-be base stealers, though.

Analysis: Just 169 plate appearances to go off of, but Ciuffo looked like he was bringing a wet noodle to the plate. I’d throw him back in the Gulf next season.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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