Rays Prospects

GCL Rays Season Review

By Drew Jenkins
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The 2014 GCL Rays came with a plethora of intriguing talent, both from 2014 draftees and some international signings that were making their stateside debuts. The team missed out on the playoffs, but their 32-28 record was not awful. Overall, there are plenty of players on this team worth keeping an eye on moving forward.

Best Performers 

Offensively, second baseman Matt Reida led the way for the GCL squad. Reida was not even drafted out of the University of Kentucky this year, and he even signed with an independent league team and played one game before the Rays signed him. Reida hit .295/.379/.442 this year for the GCL Rays. At 22-years-old and never having played above GCL Reida still has long, long ways to go to become a legitimate name in the Rays system, but he’s likely at least bought himself another year to prove himself.

Christian Knott had a decent season as well, hitting .248/.362/.384. Like Reida, Knott was coming out of college and was older for the GCL, but he at least will get an extended shot in the system. A player whose age was more suited for the GCL was catcher David Rodriguez. His numbers were solid, as he hit .273/.343/.383, and he also showed an advanced knowledge of how to lead a pitching staff. Rodriguez might be the most legitimate prospect from this team, and as he continues to climb the ladder he could become one of the best prospects in the system. Undrafted free agent signing Oscar Sanay also had a nice year, hitting .329/.388/.384.

Pitching-wise, Angel Yepez did a good job, throwing to a 1.74 ERA,  6.6 K/9, and a 1.2 BB/9. At just 19-years-old Yepez showed an advanced feel for pitching and great control, and that will benefit him moving forward. In relief, Tommy Lawrence had a nice year, throwing to a 2.52 ERA in 25.0 innings. 2014 2nd rounder Cameron Varga was also solid while with the GCL squad, as he posted a 2.51 ERA in 5 outings before being promoted to Advanced Rookie Princeton. Varga has a great fastball and curveball, but his changeup is far behind, and a high-effort delivery leads to command ind injury concerns.

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Biggest Disappointments

Jaime Ayende was just a 21st round draft pick this year, but as a high school pick he showed solid upside and thus was a name to watch. Ayende showed he was a major work in progress, hitting just .105/.253/.132 in 30 games with GCL. He is just a teenager, and that was over a small sample size, but you’d like to see more from Ayende moving forward.

Another disappointment was Taylor Guerrieri. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, Guerrieri made a surprisingly early return to action this year when he started appearing in games for GCL in July. But, after throwing just 9.1 innings, Guerrieri was shut down for the rest of the season. Guerrieri still has the potential to turn into a number two starter in the big leagues, but this setback means that he lost crucial development time.

Other Players To Watch

Outfielder Zacrey Law was so-so in his pro-debut, hitting .255/.319/.343, though the 17 year old was very young for the league. It was a pleasant surprise when Law signed as a 23rd round pick, as many thought the Rays would be unable to fork over the money to keep him from his college commitment. Law has four-tool potential, though as with most teenagers he is incredibly raw and needs significant work in all facets of the game.

Pitcher Jose Alvarado is another teenager to keep an eye on. His 3.79 ERA on the year was nothing too special, and his 6.5 BB/9 was way too high, but he did strike out 10.5 batters per nine innings. As Robbie Knopf said in his profile of Alvarado, the left-hander can already hit 97 MPH, but he has little polish to pair with it.

Overall, there are plenty of players who played for the GCL Rays that could end up turning into legitimate prospects for the Rays, and this group as a whole has a nice amount of upside. But, they are all far off from the big leagues, so there is plenty of time for things to go wrong. Still, it is likely that in the next couple of years we will be hearing more about some of these players, and ultimately one or two will likely make a big league impact for the Rays.

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