Rays Prospects

Reviewing the Performance of Rays Prospects in Winter Leagues

By Robbie Knopf
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Admittedly, we have gotten out of rhythm with our Winter Leagues recaps here at Rays Colored Glasses, and it will be up to us to get back on track. That being said, this is a great excuse to start looking back at how the Tampa Bay Rays prospects in the various leagues have done so far. Let’s go through current Rays minor leaguers–excluding current free agents–and see who is excelling and who is struggling.

Arizona Fall League

Justin O’Conner has been quite inconsistent for the Peoria Javelinas, but his overall numbers look good. He has a .293/.349/.397 line with 6 doubles, 7 RBI, and a 6-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 63 plate appearances. He still isn’t walking at all, but it is nice that he is cutting down on strikeouts as well. O’Conner’s defense is excellent, and while he still has work to do at the plate, his chances of hitting enough to be a starting catcher have never looked better.

It is a tough test for any High-A player to be going against primarily Double-A and Triple-A competition and with that in mind, Patrick Leonard has done OK. He has a .208/.311/.377 line with 3 doubles, 2 homers, 5 RBI, and 15 strikeouts against 7 walks in 61 plate appearances. He is working deep counts, and while that is resulting in too many strikeouts, it is nice to see him walking so much as well.

Jaime Schultz‘s Arizona Fall League results for the Javelinas could certainly be better, but his results come with an even bigger disclaimer than Leonard’s. While Leonard spent all of 2014 at High-A Charlotte, Schultz had just 23 innings above Low-A. This fall, Schultz has a 5.01 ERA and a 28-18 strikeout to walk ratio in 23.1 innings pitched. His control has come and gone, but he has looked dominant at times and has allowed just 1 earned run in his last 9.2 innings pitched. Schultz desperately needed to throw some innings–he’s still at just 83.1 innings in 2014–and the fact that he has looked good is a bonus.

Luke Maile has been playing sparingly for the Surprise Saguaros, but he has looked good in his limited time (28 PA’s), hitting to a .240/.286/.400 line. Another player who has performed well in a small sample is Colton Reavis. One four-run appearance has his ERA at 5.00, but he has a 1.13 ERA and an 8-2 strikeout to walk ratio in 8 innings aside from that game. That’s pretty good for yet another player who hasn’t played above High-A.

On the negative side, Kes Carter has struggled in the Peoria outfield while Matt Lollis, Zach Cooper, and Mark Sappington have struggled in relief.

More from Rays Prospects

Australian Baseball League

Johnny Field was the Rays’ minor league player of the year in 2014, and he headed to the Brisbane Bandits in the ABL hoping to somehow enter 2015 with more momentum. He has done so quite well, essentially continuing his regular season performance with a .276/.371/.483 line plus 2 homers, 3 RBI, and an 8-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 35 PA’s.

2014 was Maxx Tissenbaum‘s first season as a catcher, and he played somewhat sparingly as he adjusted to the new role. Because of that, the Rays let him get more playing time for Brisbane, and he has played well. He has a .318/.400/.591 line with 2 homers, 6 RBI, and a 3-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 25 plate appearances.

Coyle is the only member of the Rays’ ABL contingent to reach Double-A, and he is playing well as expected. He has a .267/.371/.533 line with 2 doubles, 2 homers, 3 RBI, and a 3-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 35 plate appearances. The power is nice–has managed just a .345 slugging percentage in 2014–and he would be interesting if he could sustain that.

Finally, we have the player who has driven us nuts this year, Granden Goetzman. He has real tools, but his lack of plate discipline is infuriating. Goetzman’s ABL stint has encapsulated that quite well as he has 3 homers, a .531 SLG, and even 4 stolen bases, but just a .188 average and a .235 OBP in 34 PA’s. Goetzman’s OPS is a solid .767, but this is a case where that number is quite misleading.

Caribbean Leagues

If I was writing a Winter Leagues recap right now, I would be talking all about Taylor Motter‘s two-homer game last night for the Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League. Overall, he has a .241/.292/.437 line with 3 doubles, 4 homers, and 10 RBI in 96 plate appearances. He has struck out 13 times against 7 walks and has also stolen 4 bases in 5 tries. This Winter Ball stint has been the latest evidence of Motter’s shift from a patient, contact-oriented hitter to a more aggressive hitter with increased power. That shift may get him to the major leagues.

We keep saying that High-A is a relatively low level, but Edgar Gomez was at just Short Season-A last year. That hasn’t fazed him pitching for the Aguilas de Mexicali in the Mexican Pacific League as he has a 2.03 ERA and a 9-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 13.1 innings pitched. We can never know with these relievers, but Gomez is becoming a name a file away as a relief arm who could start moving quickly towards the majors.

Cameron Seitzer‘s second go-around in Double-A was not as good, so he went to the Gigantes de Carolina in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League hoping to rebound. He’s hitting .227 in his first 27 PA’s, but he has a homer and a 7-4 strikeout to walk ratio to help him to a .370 OBP and a .409 SLG. Seitzer made a visible effort to hit for more power in 2014, and now he will hope to find the right balance between power and plate discipline.

In other news, Merrill Kelly, Enny Romero, and Reinaldo Lopez have all experienced mediocre results, the latter two in relief. The big negative from the Rays’ standpoint, though, was Jake Thompson. Thompson was pitching very well for the Tiburones de La Guaira, even tossing 4 no-hit innings in his second start. However, he exited his third start with what was eventually diagnosed as rotator cuff inflammation. The injury will end his Winter Ball stint and the Rays have to hope that he’ll be fine by spring training.

Baseball’s regular season is over, but it is exciting to see so many Rays prospects still in action and even several ones playing well. We’ll get back to covering everyone on a daily basis beginning tomorrow.

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