#4 - Taj Bradley
If there are any certainties in life, its these three things: death, taxes, and another highly touted arm baking in the Rays farm system. This time around, his name is Taj Bradley.
The #34 prospect in all of baseball at the moment, Bradley has backed up his elite raw talent with incredible results thus far in his minor league career, and is quickly rising through both the Rays organization and prospect rankings around baseball.
The 21 year old right hander has started 15 games in AA this season, sporting a 1.51 ERA with 83 SO in 71.1 innings of work. MLB.com projects Bradley's fastball and slider to be his go to pitches at the big league level, with a curveball and change up that continue to show promise as he makes his way up the system.
At this rate, it won't be long before Bradley joins the other elite arms in the Rays rotation. It is hard to see a scenario where the club would trade such an elite talent any time soon.
#3 - Shane Baz
If one elite pitching prospect was not enough to excite Rays fans, having another one still beginning his big league run in Shane Baz should do the trick.
The #12 prospect in all of baseball, Baz made his Major League debut at the end of the 2021 season and impressed the club enough that he received a postseason start after throwing less than 20 major league innings.
After starting the year on the IL, Baz has found mixed results as he regains his footing on the Major League mound. While his ERA has ballooned up to 5.00 after his most recent start, his last 4 starts showed why he was so highly touted, throwing 22.1 innings with a 1.21 ERA and 26 SO.
Shane Baz has some of the best stuff in all of baseball and it is only a matter of time before his is consistent enough to form perhaps the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Shane McClanahan.
#2 - Wander Franco
Amazingly enough, the player who just recently signed the largest deal in Rays team history is not the most untouchable Ray at the moment. This has more to say about the #1 player on this list than it does Tampa Bay shortstop Wander Franco.
Slashing .260/.308/.396 with 5 HR in 58 games this year, Franco has not quite been the player the club thought he would be this season, but it seems that a large reason for that is the injuries he has been battling this year.
Franco was the #1 prospect in all of baseball last year due to his 80 grade hit tool, mix of power, and ability to stick at shortstop long term. Although he has not taken the leap the club would have wanted this year, Franco is still one of the best young players in the game and an asset almost every team would die to have.
If Franco gets back on his meteoric rise, he could jump back into the #1 spot on this list, but it will be tough to take down one of the most exciting and dominate pitchers in the game.
#1 - Shane McClanahan
This was the easiest selection on the entire list, as left hander Shane McClanahan has emerged as one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball in just his second big league season.
The current ERA, ERA+, SO, WHIP, H9, and SO/W leader in the American League, McClanahan just received his first career All-Star nod and may very well be the starter on the mound come July 19th.
If the season ended today, there is a strong case that McClanahan is the AL Cy Young Award winner, as despite pitching in the most stacked division in all of baseball, McClanahan has a 1.73 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 141 SO in 104.1 innings of work. McClanahan has went from one of the best young pitchers to one of the best pitchers in baseball, period.
Not only is McClanahan one of the most untouchable players in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays may have just stumbled upon one of the best rotations the league has seen in a long time. When healthy, the Rays can trout out Sugar Shane, Baz, Tyler Glasnow, Luis Patino, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, and in the near future, Taj Bradley. If the Rays can play their cards right, they may have a historic rotation on their hands in 2023 or 2024.