Minor Leagues Form Foundation of Tampa Bay Rays Success

By David Hill

Yesterday, MLB.com broke down the top 100 prospects in baseball. Of those top 100, the Tampa Bay Rays had five players listed in Wil Myers, Taylor Guerrieri, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee. All five players were listed in the top 60, as the Rays were ranked as having the third best farm system according the their ‘prospect points’.

This sort of ranking has almost come to be expected from the Rays, who have not only done an excellent job drafting and developing their own prospects, but have been able to acquire top players from other organizations. Given the Rays budgetary limitations, it is almost essential that their farm system continue to churn out major league talent. In fact, much of their success has come from players developed through the minors, whether it is players the Rays drafted such as Evan Longoria and David Price or prospects acquired in trades, like Ben Zobrist.

Now, the next wave of prospects are on the cusp of making an impact in Tampa. Archer and Odorizzi may have a chance at cracking the rotation during Spring Training. Myers may find himself as part of the Opening Day lineup; however, it is more likely that he begins the year at Durham and gets called up around midseason. Lee may wind up as a September callup when the rosters expand in September.

The Rays ability to turn proven major league talent into top prospects while becoming a perennial playoff contender is truly interesting to watch, particularly in the competitive American League East. With a solid core of proven veterans and another wave of young talent on the way, the Rays appear to be in excellent shape to sustain their run of success, despite their limited finances.

While prospects may not always pan out, the Rays recent track record makes it seem likely that at least a couple of those players will end up as important pieces for the future, if not the present. With a talented quintet of prospects like this leading the way, the Rays may be able to continue building upon their foundation of success.