It’s the end of the regular season for all minor leagues. Some prospects had good seasons and others were left to hope that 2015 would be a better year. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at which Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguers had the best years in the system in 2014. First, I will look at the Rays pitching prospects, and later I will examine the hitting prospects. There are some rules for this review and they include:
- Career Triple-A players will not be included.
- Players spending a good deal of 2014 with the Rays are not included.
- Only players on full-season teams were considered.
- Starting pitchers must have completed 80 innings and relief pitchers 40.
With that in mind, here is my list of the 12 top performing Rays minor league pitchers in 2014.
Alex Colome (7-6, 3.77 ERA, 86 IP, 73-30 K-BB, 1.33 WHIP at Triple-A Durham): Coming off a 50-game suspension to begin the year. Colome turned in his second straight successful season at Durham. He has cleaned up his command, so look for him to see more major league action next year as a spot-starter or maybe even as a key piece of the Rays’ bullpen.
Matt Andriese (11-8, 3.77 ERA, 162.1 IP, 129-48 K-BB, 1.24 WHIP at Durham): Andriese came to the Rays in the Alex Torres deal and 2014 was his first full Triple-A season. He was perhaps Durham’s best starter, but with the Rays possessing plenty of pitching depth, they will probably ask him to repeat his success in 2015.
Dylan Floro (11-13, 3.48 ERA, 178.2, 112-24 K-BB, 1.30 WHIP at Double-A Montgomery): Floro turned in his third straight stellar season since joining the Rays’ system. He doesn’t seem to have enough of a fastball to be a big league starter, but his selection of pitches and command are outstanding. It will be interesting to see how the Rays use him next year.
Austin Pruitt (9-7, 3.73 ERA, 148 IP, 106-31 K-BB, 1.19 WHIP at High-A Charlotte): A 9th round draft choice out of Houston in 2013, this was his first full season. Pruitt has a good curve and “pitchability”. At 25 years old, the Rays will move him quickly to see what they what they have.
Jacob Faria (7-9, 3.46 ERA, 113 IP, 107-32 K-BB, 1.21 WHIP at Low-A Bowling Green): A 10th round pick in 2010, Faria spent 3 seasons in Rookie ball before being promoted to Low-A. He has great command, but it is too early to tell if his stuff can progress enough to where he can get advanced hitters out.
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Adam Liberatore (6-1, 1.66 ERA, 65 IP, 86-15 K-BB, 0.89 at Durham): Liberatore has been flying under the radar for a long time but 2014 was his breakout year. At 27 years of age, the next step for the Rays is to get him on the 40-man roster and give him a real shot in spring training.
Steve Geltz (3-3, 2.38 ERA, 41.2 IP, 60-17 K-BB, 1.06 WHIP at Durham): Like Colome, Geltz is also coming off a 50-game PED suspension. Upon his return, he showed enough to added to the 40-man roster and get a September call-up, although his results have not been good so far.
Jake Thompson (5-1, 2.79 ERA, 51.2 IP, 44-15 K-BB, 1.45 WHIP between Montgomery and Durham): Thompson spent four years in the Rays system as a starter and it didn’t work out well for him. Shifted to the bullpen this season, he thrived at both Double-A and Triple-A. The Rays will want to see if he can repeat with a full season at Durham.
Bryce Stowell (4-2, 1.92 ERA, 51.2 IP, 55-21 K-BB ratio, 1.20 WHIP between Montgomery and Durham): Stowell was picked up on waivers from Cleveland. He’s 27 years of age and has been injured much of his career, but he found lightning in a bottle this year. If he stays with the Rays organization next year, he will probably move up to Durham for the full season.
Kevin Brandt (3-2, 2.11 ERA, 64 IP, 53-28 K-BB, 1.28 WHP between Charlotte and Montgomery): The 25 year old Brandt was an 18th round draft choice out of East Carolina in 2012. His ERA continues to be impressive as he has a 2.26 career mark, but it remains to be seen whether he can continue pitching well at higher levels.
Colton Reavis (3-3, 2.15 ERA, 62.2, 68-26 K-BB, 1.03 WHP between Bowling Green and Charlotte): Reavis was drafted out of college in the 30th round of the 2013 Draft, but he has impressed in his first two seasons. He is headed for the Arizona Fall League this fall, so clearly the Rays see something in him.
Merrill Kelly (9-4, 2.76 ERA, 114 IP, 108-37 K-BB, 1.26 WHIP at Durham): A deceptive right-hander, Kelly has gotten Triple-A batters out as both a starter and a reliever. Unfortunately for him, he is in an organization with plenty of starting depth, but he has good enough stuff to have a chance at a relief role.
It is interesting to note that only three of the Rays minor leaguers mentioned above–Alex Colome, Matt Andriese and Dylan Floro–were listed in Baseball America’s 2014 top 30 prospect list. On the other hand, nine top 30 prospects, including top prospects Taylor Guerrieri and Enny Romero, did not make the list mostly because of command problems and injuries.
Two of the pitchers on our list, Alex Colome and Steve Geltz, have had a cup of coffee with the Rays. Others will probably follow. Some top prospects not on the list will rebound and have good season in 2015. It’s all part of the process of assembling a major league pitching staff from a bunch or players who may or may not have the stuff to make it in the show.