Scouting Three New Rays Prospects

Tampa Bay has aggressively scouted the lowest levels of the minor leagues in Florida and Arizona looking to get in early on burgeoning young talent. In the Brandon Guyer deal, the Rays acquired soon-to-be 21-year-old RHP Jhonleider Salinas, who is of that ilk. Salinas has been up to 95 for me in the AZL, sitting 93-94 with inconsistent feel for a changeup in the 85-87 mph range as well as an upper-70s slider. Both have flashed average. Though his delivery is oddly paced, Salinas has a loose, quick arm which make his pitches projectable, though it’s unlikely he ever has a starter’s command. He has more upside than the typical return for a platoon outfielder.

Jhonleider Salinas, Tool Profile
Tool Present Future
Fastball 60 60
Slider 40 50
Changeup 40 50
Control 30 40
FV 35

The other piece in the deal is 2015 seventh-rounder Nathan Lukes, who’s had a successful statistical season, hitting .301/.375/.453 in the Midwest League before a promotion to Hi-A Lynchburg. Lukes is more about bat control than he is bat speed and I’m skeptical about his ability to keep hitting as he moves to the upper levels of the minors, though he’s an above-average runner and plays a decent center field and he might be an up-and-down fifth outfielder just based on that. He projects as an org player for me.

In the deal that sent Steve Pearce to Baltimore, the Rays acquired switch-hitting C Jonah Heim. He’s more comfortable hitting right-handed and has average power from that side already — and might grow into some more — but the carrying tool here is the defense. Heim is mobile for his size and blocks balls in the dirt well. He also has an above-average arm. If Heim can find that sweet spot of physical development that allow him to make more of an offensive impact than he’s currently capable while retaining the quickness that makes him a good defensive catcher, then he might be a regular. It’s more likely he ends up as a back-up or platoon type of catcher.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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