Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers have solidified themselves as starters in two of the Rays outfield, but there remains one spot up for grabs. Can the Rays fill that need with the prospects currently in their system?
Durham: The Bulls had a vey pleasant surprise fall in their lap in midseason when Kevin Kiermaier got a promotion ffrom AA. Kiermaier has flown under the radar for a number of years and has never been regarded as a big time prospect, but he may finally be emerging as a real starting option for the Rays. He does a number of things well such as run, field and handle the bat–the Sam Fuld skillset–but he also shows good bat speed, plate discipline, and some power.. In a split season between AA and AAA, he had a .295/.362/.431 line with 21 doubles, 15 triples, 6 homers, and 21 stolen bases. We’ll have to see where he goes from here. While we are at AAA, we have to mention Brandon Guyer. He came over in the Matt Garza deal and was regarded as a pretty good prospect, but the guy simply can’t catch a break. He’s constantly been injured and combined with his age (28 in January), he has one more chance before he’s off the 40 man roster.
Montgomery: One of my favorite players is Mikie Mahtook. He’s not a big power hitter but he has a short stroke and drives the ball strongly to all fields. He has good speed and covers a lot of ground with an accurate arm. His 2013 line was .254/.322/.386 with 30 doubles, 8 triples, 7 homers, and 25 stolen bases.. I keep seeing Nick Markakis in him, and while Markakis isn’t a superstar, we should be so lucky. His running mate at Montgomery was Todd Glaesman. Glaesman was the Rays minor league position player of the year in 2012 and they have high hopes for him. Glaesmann had a rougher season, managing just a .240/.289/.378 line, but he has more upside than Mahtook, flashing five-tool potential as a right fielder. He will be a project, but the Rays are cautiously optimistic about what he can become.
Charlotte: The Stone Crabs have one legitimate prospect and one interesting player. The prospect is Drew Vettleson. Like so many Rays outfield prospects he’s a contact, hitter with a short swing and he drives the ball. In the field, Vettleson has good instincts in the field and has a strong arm. The question is going to be how much his powere develops. In 2013, he had a .274/.388 line with 29 doubles and 4 home runs. Willie Argo, meanwhile, is a sleeper prospect. Taken in the 22nd round in 2012, Argo was stellar in his first full year of pro ball, managing a .308/.404/.420 line with 18 doubles and 37 stolen bases. He is a tweener, unable to play centerfield regularly but not having the power for a corner spot, but those types of numbers will get you noticed at any level.
Bowling Green: The man of the hour is Andrew Toles. The Rays’ 2013 minor league position player of the year, he has Carl Crawford written all over him. Toles has impact tools with a quick bat and plus, plus speed. He’s a little raw but should hit for a good average. His numbers were off the charts this year as he put up a .326/.359/.466 line with 35 doubles, 16 triples, and an electric 62 stolen bases. Keep an eye on this kid. Next to Toles in the outfield was Joey Rickard, a lesser prospect but still nothing to scoff at. He managed a .270/.390/.408 line with 29 doubles, 8 homers, and 30 stolen bases. Rickard fits a good fourth outfielder profile with good speed, solid hitting, and a little pop, and Baseball America voted him the organization’s best defensive outfielder.
A lot of good athletes are profiled here, and while there may not be another Wil Myers, there are plenty of prospects to watch. Coaching and development will be critical as we see who turns into potential starters and who will fall off the radar. Stay tuned.