Araujo is finally starting to swing the bat. (Credit: Donten Photography)

Top 20 Tampa Bay Rays Sleeper Prospects

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After we ranked the top 45 prospects in the Rays’ system three weeks ago, we are going to tackle a slightly different subject today: the top Tampa Bay Rays sleeper prospects. These are the players that were not in the top 45, but are interesting thanks to either their potential or their ability to help the Rays in short order. One thing worth noting is that the order within this list is relatively arbitrary, especially compared to the other piece. The focus of Drew Jenkins and I was to discuss the interesting players without haggling too much about their precise rankings. In any event, here are the top 20 Rays sleeper prospects that you will want to watch out for in coming years.

1. Yoel Araujo, OF

Araujo has immense raw bat speed, and you can see 30+ homer potential in his bat. A totally erratic swing and plate approach hold him back, but at 20 years old, there is time for him to put everything together. -DJ

2. Angel Moreno, OF

Even though he was just 17 when the season began, the Rays saw enough in Moreno to bump him past the GCL up to Princeton. Moreno’s plate approach needs work, but his five-tool package as a centerfielder gives him arguably the highest upside in the system. -RK

3. Cristian Toribio, SS

At 19, Toribio has an advanced feel for the game, both offensively and defensively. He could be an above-average contact hitter with average power. Great speed and a strong arm make him a good defender at short, where he is likely to stick. -DJ

4. Damion Carroll, RHP

Carroll, 20, features a fastball that he can dial up to the mid-90’s, and at 6’3″, 200, he could add a bit more muscle. His secondary stuff and command remain raw, and the fact he has only appeared in relief this year after a 2013 injury is concerning. -DJ

5. Cameron Seitzer, 1B

A sleeper in a different sense than the prior four players, Seitzer could be a solid piece of the Rays’ bench before long. His plate discipline and raw power are both solid, and he has the ability to play a strong defensive first base and a variety of other positions. -RK

6. Bralin Jackson, OF

Jackson has possessed an interesting package of tools from the moment he was selected in the 5th round in 2012, but it has taken him three years in Short Season ball before finally getting some results. His quick swing, speed, and arm strength are especially impressive. -RK

7. Jace Conrad, 2B

Conrad slipped farther than expected in this year’s draft, and the Rays are happy about that. He is a plus defender at second base who also features blazing speed, and getting him to be more selective at the plate will be the key to his development. -RK

8. Brian Miller, RHP

Miller has limited upside, but he could be a quick-to-the-big-leagues middle reliever. He keeps hitters off balance with three different arm slots. Miller’s fastball only sits in the mid-80’s, but it has great movement, and he also features a slider that can be devastating. -DJ

9. Johnny Field, OF

Field seemed like just another college second baseman drafted by the Rays…until we realized that he could also play centerfield and has some pop. His power, solid plate approach, and speed make him an interesting utility candidate and just maybe a super-utility regular in a big league lineup. -RK

10. Blake Bivens, RHP

Bivens, a 2014 draftee, doesn’t have the frontline upside that many prep picks do, but he does have more polished mechanics and command than most. His fastball sits in the low-90’s but will likely never gain any speed, and he adds a nice curveball and a developing changeup. -DJ

11. Manny Sanchez, OF

Sanchez joins Moreno a player that the Rays aggressively promoted to Princeton, although he is ten months older. Sanchez features excellent raw power and good bat speed, but he also has to refine his plate approach. The pressure will be on his bat since he does not profile in centerfield. -RK

12. Maxx Tissenbaum, C

Tissenbaum has shown solid contact abilities at the plate, though he is never going to hit for much power. He is intriguing because moved to catcher this year after previously playing middle infield, and the Rays could be carving out a “super-utility catcher” role for him in the future. -DJ

13. Jeff Ames, RHP

Ames’ 2014 season ended after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, but you we can’t forget about his stuff. Prior to the injury, he threw in the mid-90’s with his fastball to go along with a sharp slider, and he could be an effective reliever at the very least. -RK

14. Juniel Querecuto, SS

Querecuto has a knack for making contact and has a solid plate approach, though he doesn’t hit for much power. He’s not particularly rangy, but good actions, strong instincts, and a plus arm make him an above-average defender at shortstop and increase his profile. -DJ

15. Grant Kay, UTIL

Kay won’t hit .400 moving forward, but he is still worth watching. He shows good bat speed with power mostly to the gaps and a solid plate approach. His knee injury may prevent him from being a primary second baseman, he could be an offense-oriented utility player. -RK

16. Mac James, C

James, the Rays’ 2014 sixth rounder, has the chance to be a two-way catcher, featuring a quick bat and a good plate approach. Defensively, he has a strong arm, good athleticism, and decent receiving skills, though he does have some work to do with the intricacies of catching. -DJ

17. Jake Faria, RHP

Faria has been excellent for the Hot Rods, but does he have the stuff to achieve further success? He throws strikes with his fastball touching the low-90’s, but his command needs work. His curveball looks like a potential above-average offering while his changeup has farther to go. -RK

18. Vince Belnome, 1B

Belnome is a tweener, lacking good defense anywhere but first base, but not having the power to stick there. That said, he has a sweet lefty swing and an advanced plate approach, and he could be a nice bench piece or a part-time DH for the big league club. -DJ

19. Ty Young, 3B

This may be our first real boundary in our list–Young is clearly worse than the top 18. The lefty-swinging Young stands out for solid power and excellent range and actions at third base–although a below-average arm makes him a better fit at second base. -RK

20. Chris Kirsch, LHP

Kirsch isn’t young for a Low-A pitcher at 22 and has struck out very few hitters, but we can’t ignore a lefty with a good sinker entirely. Kirsch throws three secondary pitches–a slider, a changeup, and a curveball–but he hasn’t found a put-away pitch between them. -RK

We hope you enjoyed reading our list of the top Rays sleeper prospects. Head to the comments to tell us about the players we missed or talk to us about the ones we included.

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