The Tampa Bay Rays may not have the same level of talent in the minors that they once did, but that does not mean their system is barren. In fact, they placed four players in the MLB.com list of top 100 prospects in the game.
It was not that long ago that the Tampa Bay Rays had a farm system that was the envy of baseball. Seemingly any time they sent a player elsewhere, there was a top prospect ready to take over and contribute. With smart trades, shrewd drafts, and a plethora of top picks, the Rays were able to build from within during their run of success.
While the Rays may not be back to that level, it does not mean that the cupboard is bare. In fact, there is some talent close to the Majors, potentially set to make their Rays debuts some time this season. That talent has caught the eye of MLB.com, as the Rays have placed four players in their list of the top 100 prospects in the game.
Let us begin with the crown jewel of the Rays system in Willy Adames. Rated as the sixth best shortstop prospect, Adames landed as the 21st best prospect in baseball. With his all around skillset, and developing power, the sky appears to be the limit for the Rays top prospect, who may be ready for the Majors by the end of this season.
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Just ten spots behind Adames is Rays starter Brent Honeywell. A righty with solid command and a multitude of pitches at his disposal, he posted a 7-3 record with a 2.34 ERA, striking out 117 batters against 25 walks in 115.1 innings last season. Honeywell is also one of the few practitioners of the screwball left in the game, making him even more interesting. Ranked as the 31st best prospect in baseball, it is expected that he will debut sometime this year.
Joining Honeywell, and likely to be a major part of the Rays rotation this year, is the recently acquired Jose De Leon, who ranks as the 33rd best prospect in the game. The only one of these player with Major League experience, he dominated at AAA last season. With a devastating changeup and excellent command, he could be a key piece for the Rays once he is beyond Super Two status.
Rounding out the list for the Rays is Jake Bauers, who rounds out the list as the 76th best prospect in the game. A first baseman that has transitioned to the outfield, he has displayed a knack for making hard contact at each level. Last season, at age 21, he produced a .274/.370/.420 batting line with 14 home runs and 28 doubles in AA. With his advanced approach at the plate, and potential power, Bauers is another prospect that could see time in the Majors this season.
As the Tampa Bay Rays continue to look to contend this season, the future appears to be bright as well. Depending on how those prospects progress, the future could even arrive this year.