Have the Rays Lost Top Prospect Andrew Toles?

By David Egbert

The Tampa By Rays seem to gravitate towards talented bad boys. In 1999, they drafted Josh Hamilton in the first round. He was a surefire All -Star candidate and the only question was going to be how soon he could get to the show. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Hamilton to fall into the world of drugs and alcohol. Six tumultuous years later, he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 Draft. His career took off from there, but he never played a game for the Rays.

Five years after Hamilton, the then-Devil Rays drafted another high school star, Delmon Young. While Young was not quite as bad a boy as Hamilton, his immature attitude got him suspended for 50 games at Durham for throwing a bat at an umpire. That approach to the game earned him a ticket out of Tampa Bay after only one full season. Then in 2010, the Rays drafted a sweet-swinging high school prospect named Josh Sale in the first round. In his third year in the organization, Sale was busted for PEDs and suspended for fifty games. Then, after he returned, he was involved in a messy incident at a strip club and was suspended by the team for the rest of 2013. Sale is back at Port Charlotte this year, and is hitting a robust .219. His story is not over yet, but his stock as a prospect has never been lower. Between Hamilton, Young, and Sale, then Rays made three first round picks and have received one full season with the team between them.

This sad history leads us to another super-talented bad boy, Andrew Toles. Toles was drafted out of Chipola College in Florida in the third round of the 2012 draft. He is an incredible athlete with game-changing speed who is considered a 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. The 2014 Baseball America Prospect handbook ranked him as the sixth best prospect in the Rays organization and MLB Pipeline has him at number three. His overall game is raw, but you can close your eyes and see Carl Crawford.

Sadly, Toles did not come without a lot of baggage. He received a scholarship from Tennessee upon graduating from high school, but was dismissed from the team in his sophomore year. He then went to little Chipola College in northern Florida and was also dismissed from that team for breaking team rules. Nonetheless, the Rays took a chance with Toles, and in his second year of pro ball, he tore up the Midwest League with a slash line of .326/. 351/. 468 and an incredible 62 stolen bases. Those numbers earned him a ticket to High-A Charlotte for 2014 and the Rays Minor League Player of the Year award in 2013. Even with all of that praise, however, he was pulled from games several times for not hustling.

This year, Andrew Toles was off to a slow start at Charlotte with a .262/. 302/. 337 slash line in 199 at bats. Unfortunately, the poor play was only the start. The real telling moment for Toles came a few weeks ago when he was once again pulled from a game for not hustling. Then, for some reason, he never returned to the lineup. Toles remained on the active list, but never played. Finally on June 19th, he was placed on the “temporary inactive “ list. Nobody knows what that means, but it isn’t good. As usual, the Rays are very tight-lipped about the situation. However, it does sound like we have reached a point where Andrew Toles needs some help. All the Rays can hope for now is that this doesn’t become a situation like Hamilton, Young and Sale where they lose yet another topflight prospect.