I received my Baseball America Prospect Handbook this week and of course went right to the Tampa Bay Rays section. As I was reading through all of the write-ups of the top 30 prospects in the system, I wondered what would the roster would look like if they all made the majors with the Rays. Of course, that isn’t going to happen but I decided to create a hypothetical future roster built around the top 20 prospects. To make this clear, I am only talking about each prospect’s estimated arrival time if his development goes as planned, and each prospect’s development is independent of every other prospect. Before we start, just a note the three of the top 20 prospects–Jesse Hahn, Felipe Rivero and Drew Vettleson–have been traded so I inserted the two prospects the Rays received in return, Nate Karns and Matt Andriese, and the #21 prospect, Jose Mujica. Karns and Andriese’s rankings will be from the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres organizations respectively.
#9 Tim Beckham, INF: The former number one overall pick finally makes the team as a backup infielder and replacement for Sean Rodriguez.
#15* Matt Andriese, SP: With his power sinker and strong secondary pitches, Andriese either heads to the bullpen or takes over David Price‘s rotation spot if he is traded.
#5 Alex Colome, RP: Colome has no place in the rotation but is too good to keep in the minors, so he becomes part of a new look Rays bullpen.
#9* Nate Karns, RP: Karns profiles best as a quality setup man and at 27 with a full year at Triple-A under his belt, he’s ready.
#10 Kevin Kiermaier, OF: Kiermaier starts off as a fourth or fifth outfielder who acts as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner. We’ll have to see what happens from there.
#16 Grayson Garvin, RP: After a couple of healthy seasons, Garvin finally uses his mid-90’s fastball and great changeup to join the Rays relief corps that is getting younger by the second.
#2 Hak-Ju Lee, SS: Completely over his knee injury, Lee will finally be proven at the plate and ready to replace the departing Yunel Escobar.
#4 Enny Romero, SP: David Price leaves if he is not traded already, and after two years at Triple-A, Romero is ready for the rotation.
#8 Ryan Brett, 2B: The scrappy infielder takes over at second and the leadoff spot after Ben Zobrist leaves for his big payday.
#13 Richie Shaffer, 1B: The Clemson grad finally gets his swing down and takes over for James Loney at first base in 2017 after an apprenticeship in 2016.
#11 Ryne Stanek, RP: The Rays’ other recent college first rounder bursts onto the big league scene after moving to relief and may just ascend to the Rays’ closer job.
#6 Andrew Toles, OF: We can’t keep this speedster off the roster and his full development coincides with Desmond Jennings being a free agent.
#18 Jake Hager, INF: Hager is not good enough to push aside Lee or Brett, but he fits as a solid backup infielder.
#7 Nick Ciuffo, C: Finally, the Rays develop a catcher and he’s a good one. Ciuffo takes Ryan Hanigan’s spot as the starting catcher.
#3 Taylor Guerrieri, SP: After overcoming injury and drug problems, Guerrieri puts it all together and takes Alex Cobb’s place in the rotation
We are getting way out into the future, and who knows where these guys will fit it, but these the last four top 20 prospects:
#12 Justin O’Conner, C
#14 Blake Snell, SP
#19 Riley Unroe, SS
#21 Jose Mujica, SP
Of course, this is a fantasy team. Prospects get hurt, get traded, and flame out. Also, current players get contact extensions that block younger players from making the team. However, wouldn’t it be great if all the stars were aligned correctly and these 20 players could be parts of future Tampa Bay Rays teams? Next time, using these prospects, we will take a look at what the 2018 Rays roster might look like. Stay tuned.