The Rays have long been known as a low budget team that develops their own talent but recently most of the roster has come from trades or free agent signings. Only eight of the players on the current roster, including those on the dl, have come from within the organization. Even more amazing is the fact that only one of the current five starters has come from within the organization. However that may change in the seasons to come as the Rays have a plethora of talented young starters in their minor league system. Here’s a quick look at the pitchers in the starting rotations on the top three minor league teams and their future.
Triple A Durham
1. Blake Snell. Snell is the crown jewel of the Rays system and should make his major league debut this season. He has a 95 mph fastball, a quality change up, two breaking pitches and improving command. He’s at least a number two starter and in time, could be number one.
2. Jaime Schultz has the best pure stuff in the system. His fastball is in the high 90’s and he has a tight spinning breaking ball. Command is his issue as he walked 90 batters in 135 innings in 2015. Schultz is currently a starter but probably profiles as a quality late inning reliever.
3. Matt Andriese. Andriese has already logged big league time as a starter and reliever. He has good command and three breaking pitches. His best pitch is a sinking fastball that induces ground balls. Andriese could be a fifth starter but is probably best suited for middle relief.
4. Austin Pruitt. Pruitt is a marginal prospect. However, he has moved quickly through the system and at age 26, the Rays want to see if Pruitt has a future with the team. He doesn’t throw hard but has good command and features quality breaking pitches. Pruitt is off to a great start in 2016.
5. Adam Wilk. Wilk is strictly a triple A lifer and a rotation filler. Even his minor league career is not very distinguished.
Double A Montgomery
1. Taylor Guerrieri. Guerrieri has had a rough career with the Rays struggling through Tommy John surgery and a 50 game suspension. However, when he has been on the mound it has been lights out with a 1.61 era over 206 innings. He looks like a number three starter but could be higher in the rotation if his fastball returns to pre surgery velocity.
2. Jacob Faria was a little know prospect until his break out year in 2015 when he struck out 159 batters in 149 innings. He’s returning to Montgomery to work on his breaking pitches but he should be a back of the rotation starter for the Rays by 2018.
3. Ryne Stanek. Stanek is another pitcher whose career has been plagued by injures. When healthy, he has an electric fastball. A college graduate, the Rays are using him as a starter to build up his innings but he will probably develop into a late inning reliever.
4. Chih-Wei Hu. Hu was obtained in a trade with Minnesota so he his not technically homegrown. However, he has good stuff and could make the Rays as a back of the rotation starter or a middle inning reliever.
5. Chris Kirsch. Kirsch is not much of a prospect and is more of Double A rotation filler.
Single A Charlotte
1. Brent Honeywell. Honeywell was a second round selection in 2014 and at only 21 years of age is already the third best prospect in the organization. He has a 95 mph fastball and three quality breaking pitches including a devastating old school screwball. Honeywell has only thrown 164 minor league innings so he needs more work. He looks to be at least a number three starter in the rotation.
2. Hunter Wood. Wood is another pitcher who may emerge as a starter or reliever. He has a lot a raw stuff and throws a mid nineties fastball and is working on developing a curve and a change up. The Rays thought enough of him to send him to the elite Arizona Fall League last year.
3. Benton Moss. A North Carolina grad, Moss went from short season Hudson Valley in 2015 to Charlotte. At Hudson Valley, he had a 2.93 era and struck out 66 batters in 58 innings. He has a 95 mph fastball, a curve and a change up. He’s just out of college but shows real promise.
It’s a tough journey from the minor leagues to the major leagues no matter how much talent you have but it’s not difficult to see four of these pitchers making the Rays rotation and Schultz, Andriese and Wood joining the bullpen. That could mean the 2020 rotation could feature Chris Archer, Snell, Honeywell, Guerriri and Faria. Not bad for a team that currently features only one homegrown starter.