Rays Colored Glasses’ Top 45 Rays Prospects


Everyone loves prospect rankings, and nobody likes that no major sports are happening today or tomorrow thanks to the MLB All-Star Break. With that in mind, the stars aligned for our first ever Tampa Bay Rays prospect rankings here at Rays Colored Glasses. After an extensive discussion between Drew Jenkins and I, plus some input from Joe Saunders, we managed to rank the top 45 Rays prospects to go along with a quick “45 words or less” scouting report on each one. Here at RCG, we focus on the Rays, and since we don’t need to cover all 30 teams, we wanted to provide Rays fans with as in-depth a look as possible at their team’s system. Now, without further ado, here are our Top 45 Rays Prospects at the 2014 All-Star Break.

1. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP

45 words or less: Guerrieri has many questions with his makeup and is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery. But his arsenal features three above-average pitches in his fastball, curveball, and changeup, and he has advanced command and polish for his age. -Drew Jenkins

2. Ryne Stanek, RHP

45 words or less: With a fastball hitting 98 MPH, a devastating slider, and a changeup that continues to improve, Stanek may just have the highest upside of any pitcher at full-season ball in this system. However, can he solve his command problems enough to get there? -Robbie Knopf

3. Casey Gillaspie, 1B

45 words or less: The Rays’ first round pick in 2014, Gillaspie will hit for average and power and has an advanced plate approach. His biggest question is whether his power will translate to 20 homers or 30 in the major leagues–a big difference for a first baseman. -DJ

4. Matt Andriese, RHP

45 words or less: Andriese may not have the highest upside, but with an excellent low-90’s sinker, a good curveball, and a solid split-change, he can be a number three starter in the majors and soon. He has been dynamic all season at Triple-A Durham.  -RK

5. Alex Colome, RHP

45 words or less: Colome has rebounded in a huge way after returning from his 50-game drug suspension, making a June spot-start for the Rays. His stuff–mid-90’s fastball, slider, and changeup–remains outstanding, but command and lack of innings built up are serious concerns. -RK

6. Nick Ciuffo, C

45 words or less: Ciuffo hasn’t hit much as a pro, but it’s too early to panic yet. He still has the ability to be above-average contact hitter, power hitter, and defender at catcher. The fact that he hits left-handed as a backstop also boosts his value. -DJ

7. Blake Snell, LHP

45 words or less: Snell’s poor control has always held him back, but it is finally starting to improve. He has two plus potential pitches in his fastball and slider if he can fill out his 6’4”, 180 pound frame, and his changeup is a good offering as well. -DJ

8. Ryan Brett, 2B

45 words or less: Brett’s calling cards are his speed and scrappiness, which play in all parts of the game. He is a good hitter for contact, and has surprising power for his frame. But Brett needs to work on not being so reckless, which hurts him on defense. -DJ

9. Nate Karns, RHP

45 words or less: Karns has been inconsistent this year at Durham and is already 26, but his fastball and slider are plus pitches and his changeup is progressing. He can still be a number two or three starter if the Rays don’t worry about his age. -RK

10. Hak-Ju Lee, SS

45 words or less: Lee remains an incredible defender, but his struggles this season after knee surgery have only exacerbated his concerns at the plate. Given the Rays’ current roster construction, Lee may break onto their team as a utility player before eventually getting his chance to start. -RK

11. Patrick Leonard, 1B

45 words or less: After a disappointing first season in the system, everything is clicking for Leonard now. Though he has more to prove, his plate approach and ability to tap into his power have come a long way, and he could be a strong big league first baseman. -RK

12. Enny Romero, LHP

45 words or less: Romero still has the potential for two plus pitches in his mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and breaking ball. However, his poor command has not improved over the years and his secondary stuff remains inconsistent at best, so a move to relief is possible. -DJ

13. Oscar Hernandez, C

45 words or less: Hernandez is another catcher who has shown ability to be above-average both offensively and defensively, and there is good power potential in his bat. On the other hand, he has work to do on getting his tools to show up consistently in games. -DJ

14. German Marquez, RHP

45 words or less: A 19 year old in full-season ball, Marquez already throws 91-93 with projection, and also has an advanced curveball and a developing change. Marquez has a feel for pitching and command beyond his years, but he needs to work on finding consistent results. -DJ

15. Jake Hager, SS

45 words or less: He has rebounded well from his rough 2013, showing improved power. On the negative side, his defense doesn’t wow you and his upside is likely a league-average shortstop. Hager still needs to prove that he is a starter and not a utility player. -RK

16. Mike Montgomery, LHP

45 words or less:  It took a long time, but Montgomery is finally finding himself again, improving his command and curveball. He may have the ability to start, but he will likely take his arsenal to the bullpen, where his fastball should return to the mid-90’s. -RK

17. Riley Unroe, SS

45 words or less: A switch-hitter, Unroe has five-tool ability thanks to a quick bat, excellent speed, and smooth defensive actions. Even more impressive, though, is his advanced plate approach for his age, which gives him a better chance of reaching his potential than other prep products. -RK

18. Cameron Varga, RHP

45 words or less: Varga, a 2014 second rounder, has frontline upside. He already throws 90-95 with some projection, has a curveball with plus potential, and has a changeup that he has shown a feel for. However, a high-effort delivery leads to command issues and injury concerns. -DJ

19. Dylan Floro, RHP

45 words or less: Floro is a groundball specialist thanks to excellent deception and movement on his sinker and slider. He lacks frontline stuff, but could make a living as a back-end starter. Despite basically skipping High-A, Floro has a 2.97 ERA at Double-A this year. -DJ

20. Kean Wong, 2B

45 words or less: Wong has questions across the board, specifically his defense at second base and how much power he will develop, but he has the sweetest swing in the system and was simply born to hit. We will have to see how far that gets him. -RK

21. Grayson Garvin, LHP

45 words or less: With legitimate stuff and outstanding command, Garvin looks like a potential number two starter if you see him on the right day. However, he simply has not shown the ability to stay healthy and a future in the bullpen is becoming increasingly likely. -RK

22. Mikie Mahtook, OF

45 words or less: Unfortunately, a sky-high BABIP explains most of Mahtook’s breakout at Triple-A. He was a tweener from the start without the power for a corner spot or the defense to start in center, and a poor plate approach makes him realistically a fourth outfielder. -RK

23. Luke Maile, C

45 words or less: Maile doesn’t stand out for anything, but he could be a solid two-way catcher. He has defensive ability thanks to a strong arm and decent mobility. At the plate, meanwhile, Maile features good discipline and contact, and there could be more power coming. -DJ

24. Jose Mujica, RHP

45 words or less: Mujica, 18, mysteriously hasn’t pitched this year. But when on the field, he throws 89-91 with projection to throw mid-90’s, and he adds an advanced changeup and developing curve. Best of all, he has command and pitching acumen well beyond his years. -DJ

25. Hunter Lockwood, OF

45 words or less: Lockwood continues to put on a show for the Hudson Valley Renegades thanks to his power, which is arguably the best in the system. However, Lockwood has considerable work to do with his approach at the plate to continue hitting like that at higher levels. -RK

26. Brock Burke, LHP

45 words or less: Signed to a well above-average bonus in the third round of this year’s draft, Burke tantalizes thanks to his projection, a fastball touching 92 MPH, and a promising slider. He will be a project, but there is a topflight starter somewhere inside him. -RK

27. Tyler Goeddel, 3B

45 words or less: The tools that netted Goeddel the second-highest bonus of any 2011 Rays pick are still there, but he is as inconsistent as any player in the system. We have to wonder whether he will ever tap into his abilities on a regular basis. -RK

28.  Curt Casali, C

45 words or less: A promotion to Triple-A has brought Casali’s bat back to earth and reminded us that he is realistically a backup. He has a good plate approach and solid defensive abilities, but ordinary hitting and power plus a below-average arm will hold him back. -DJ

29. Andrew Toles, OF

45 words or less: Toles hit a wall this year at High-A thanks to a poor approach and a lack of power. He also has makeup questions, and hasn’t played since May 25th because of “family issues”. Still, the upside of a good leadoff hitter is there. -DJ

30. Jose Castillo, LHP

45 words or less: Like Mujica, Castillo hasn’t pitched this year. But he has shown a 93-94 MPH fastball with plenty of projection, and the best part is that he’s a lefty. His secondary pitches and command are raw, but hard-throwing lefties are always a hot commodity. -DJ

31. Justin O’Conner, C

45 words or less: It was nice to see O’Conner in the Futures Game, but his approach remains raw, his receiving needs work, and he isn’t young relative to league. The Rays could eventually consider moving him to the mound, where he was once an impressive prospect. -RK

32. Tim Beckham, 2B

45 words or less: Beckham still hasn’t played in 2014, and he won’t exactly return as a knight in shining armor. There is still untapped potential inside of Beckham, but it is unrealistic to expect him to be anything more than a lefty-mashing utility player at this point. -RK

33. Thomas Milone, OF

45 words or less: A 2013 third rounder, Milone’s calling cards are his speed and athleticism in the outfield and on the basepaths. He has also shown the potential to hit for above-average contact and power, but he is still raw and hasn’t yet hit full-season ball. -DJ

34. Richie Shaffer, 3B

45 words or less: Shaffer is still showing the tremendous power potential that caused the Rays to pick him in the first round in 2012. However, his hit tool, plate approach, and pitch recognition are all poor and they continue to result in little in-game production. -DJ

35. Adrian Rondon, SS

45 words or less: Rondon was ranked by some as this year’s top international prospect. He has an advanced feel for hitting despite being just 16, and has shown above-average bat speed and contact abilities. He isn’t flashy on defense, but has a good chance to stick at short. -DJ

36. David Rodriguez, C

45 words or less: Advanced is the best way to describe Rodriguez. Despite being just 18, he is a great defender at catcher and knows how to handle a pitching staff. He also has a good feel for hitting, and could be a high-average hitter with gap power. -DJ

37. Nolan Gannon, RHP

45 words or less: We won’t know what kind of prospect Gannon actually is until he starts filling out his 6’5″, 195 pound frame, but his upside makes him a player to watch. He touches 92 MPH with sink and he also shows flashes with his curveball.  -RK

38. Brent Honeywell, RHP

45 words or less: Honeywell was one of the youngest JUCO draftees in 2014. He consistently throws 90-93, but has touched 95 and has projection at 6’3”, 180. His best secondary pitch is an above-average screwball, and he also has an average changeup and below-average curveball. -DJ

39. C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP

45 words or less: Riefenhauser features a low-90’s fastball with late bite, and he has improved his ability to command it. Add in a devastating slider and an average changeup, and Riefenhauser can get both lefties and righties out, giving him the upside of a setup man. -DJ

40. Armando Araiza, C

45 words or less: Araiza is an advanced defensive catcher thanks to a strong arm and good athleticism, and that alone could propel him through the system. His bat is his biggest question, but with some mechanical tweaks he could hit for a good average and some gap power. -DJ

41. Merrill Kelly, RHP

45 words or less: Kelly has cooled off since his strong start to 2014, but he still looks like a potential big league contributor. He has improved his low-90’s fastball and good changeup enough that he could see time in the Rays’ bullpen over the next year. -RK

42. Hunter Wood, RHP

45 words or less: Wood was bizarrely demoted to Hudson Valley despite holding his own at Bowling Green. But with a fastball touching 92 MPH, a good curveball, and an improving change, he has the ability to work his way back to the Hot Rods and continue surprising. -RK

43. Granden Goetzman, OF

45 words or less: After huge numbers at Bowling Green, Goetzman has received a sobering dose of reality since his promotion to Charlotte. He has five-tool potential, but his patience and pitch recognition are extremely raw and that has to change for him to handle more advanced pitching. -RK

44. Jake Thompson, RHP

45 words or less: Finally converted to the bullpen after middling performance as a starter, Thompson’s fastball is hitting the mid-90’s more consistently and his slider is becoming a weapon. Thompson has to keep proving himself, but he should finally crack the major leagues before too long. -RK

45. Spencer Moran, RHP

45 words or less: Moran, the Rays’ 11th rounder from this year, stands out because of his huge projection at 6’6”, 180 pounds. Right now, he mostly throws in the high-80s, but he has hit 93 MPH on occasion. His curveball, changeup, and command are all very raw. -DJ

Thank you for reading our Top 45 Rays Prospects, and let’s take the discussion to the comments. Who did we leave off? Who did we rank too high or too low? Chime in, and we would be glad to answer all your questions and maybe do a follow-up piece based on your responses.