Tampa Bay Rays Top 59 Prospects

© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Tampa Bay Rays. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the second year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Rays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Shane Baz 22.8 MLB SP 2022 60
2 Josh Lowe 24.1 MLB CF 2022 50
3 Curtis Mead 21.4 AAA LF 2023 50
4 Vidal Bruján 24.1 MLB 2B 2022 50
5 Greg Jones 24.0 AA CF 2023 50
6 Seth Johnson 23.5 A SP 2023 50
7 Xavier Edwards 22.6 AA 2B 2023 50
8 Heriberto Hernandez 22.3 A LF 2023 50
9 Taj Bradley 21.0 A+ SP 2023 45+
10 Carlos Colmenarez 18.4 R SS 2025 45+
11 Kameron Misner 24.2 AA CF 2022 45
12 Ford Proctor 25.3 AA C 2022 45
13 Willy Vasquez 20.5 R CF 2024 45
14 Cole Wilcox 22.7 A SP 2023 45
15 Carson Williams 18.7 R SS 2026 45
16 Ian Seymour 23.3 AAA MIRP 2023 45
17 Sandy Gaston 20.3 A SIRP 2023 45
18 Jonathan Aranda 23.8 AA 2B 2022 45
19 Cooper Kinney 18.5 R 3B 2026 40+
20 René Pinto 24.7 AAA C 2022 40+
21 Junior Caminero 18.0 R 3B 2025 40+
22 Blake Hunt 23.4 AA C 2022 40+
23 Jayden Murray 25.0 AA SP 2023 40+
24 Colby White 23.7 AAA SIRP 2023 40+
25 Osleivis Basabe 21.5 A+ 2B 2023 40+
26 JJ Goss 21.2 R SP 2024 40+
27 Alika Williams 23.0 AAA SS 2023 40
28 Michael Mercado 22.9 A+ SP 2023 40
29 Tanner Murray 22.6 A+ 2B 2025 40
30 Kyle Manzardo 21.7 R 1B 2025 40
31 John Doxakis 23.6 A+ SP 2022 40
32 Tommy Romero 24.7 AAA MIRP 2022 40
33 Austin Shenton 24.2 AA 3B 2022 40
34 Calvin Faucher 26.5 AAA SIRP 2022 40
35 Diego Infante 22.4 A+ RF 2024 40
36 Antonio Jimenez 20.9 A SP 2023 40
37 Miles Mastrobuoni 26.4 AAA SS 2022 40
38 Ryan Spikes 19.0 R 2B 2026 35+
39 Nick Bitsko 19.8 R SP 2024 35+
40 Jose Lopez 23.1 A+ MIRP 2024 35+
41 Mason Montgomery 21.8 R SP 2025 35+
42 Brendan McKay 26.3 MLB SP 2022 35+
43 Brett Wisely 22.9 A+ 2B 2024 35+
44 Victor Munoz 21.2 A SP 2022 35+
45 Hunter Barnhart 20.1 R SP 2025 35+
46 Matt Dyer 23.7 A C 2024 35+
47 Ronny Simon 21.9 A+ 3B 2024 35+
48 Yoniel Curet 19.4 R SP 2025 35+
49 Evan Reifert 22.9 A+ SIRP 2024 35+
50 Justin Sterner 25.6 AA SIRP 2024 35+
51 Jhonny Piron 17.8 R CF 2025 35+
52 Chris Muller 25.9 AA SIRP 2022 35+
53 Alejandro Pie 20.1 R 3B 2024 35+
54 Johan Lopez 21.7 A 2B 2022 35+
55 Esteban Quiroz 30.1 AAA 2B 2022 35+
56 Linse Carvajal 23.3 R SIRP 2025 35+
57 Alexander Alberto 20.4 R SP 2025 35+
58 Neraldo Catalina 21.8 A SIRP 2024 35+
59 Joel Peguero 24.9 AAA SIRP 2022 35+
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60 FV Prospects

1. Shane Baz, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/50 55/55 45/50 92-97 / 100

Baz came into the 2021 season having never pitched above A-ball, but by the end of the year, his resume would include pitching before an empty Olympic ballpark, in a rowdy Yankee Stadium during a hotly-contested playoff chase, and on the postseason stage itself. The big story was Baz’s improved control. Coming into 2021, he had a career 23.9% strikeout rate and 11.6% walk rate, which he bolstered with extreme velocity, including occasionally hitting triple digits. His low-effort, repeatable delivery has been changed so that Baz is throwing from the stretch all the time.

Historically, Baz has presented two distinct versions of himself. The first is that of a starter who sits in the mid-90s with a four-pitch arsenal, the Baz that was present at the 2020 alternate site, where his lower velocity might be at least partially attributed to the less-competitive atmosphere. The other is that of a high-90s flamethrower with a more limited repertoire. In 2021, Baz combined the best of those profiles while in the minor leagues. He started the year at Double-A, where he struck out over 40% of the batters he faced against an absurd 1.6% walk rate – that’s just two batters in 32.2 innings. He was promoted in June and continued to dominate at Triple-A (with a brief hiatus to snag Olympic silver) before making his major league debut in September. He went five-plus innings in both of his first two big league starts, with his fastball velocity in the 96-98 mph range even into his later innings of work. But in his last start of the regular season against the Yankees, as well as his ALDS start against the Red Sox, he struggled to keep his pitch count down, unable to get big leaguers to chase with the same consistency he had against batters in the minors. He was also punished on several mistakes where he missed his location and left pitches over the heart of the plate. Still, no matter how hot the spotlight, Baz never seemed to sweat. That composure will be useful, even if he ultimately proves unable to more reliably miss bats multiple times through the order and ends up a high-leverage reliever. He had arthroscopic surgery in the spring of 2022, perhaps heightening those chances. No matter — reliever Baz would probably still be an elite closer.

50 FV Prospects

2. Josh Lowe, CF

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pope HS (GA) (TBR)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 45/55 60/60 40/45 60

Lowe marched closer to a big league role in 2021 as he clubbed 22 homers with Triple-A Durham before a brief big league cup of coffee in September. There’s still some disagreement within the industry about whether he’s a capital “d” Dude or just a platoon-y cog in the Rays machine, but his combination of power, speed, and ball/strike recognition make up for his plate coverage and defensive issues enough to project him as an everyday player. Lowe is not a good defensive center fielder and it’s getting late to hope for improvement after he moved there from SS/3B a half-decade ago. He has the pure speed to play there but isn’t a comfortable, instinctive defender. Lowe’s swing is geared to turn on balls on the inner edge, and he tends to push pitches down the middle of the plate to the opposite field. He has enough strength to do damage that way, but he’s whiff-prone on fastballs at the top of the zone and on the outer third. He seems to know this and hunts pitches he can handle, with 52 of his 117 hits in 2021 going for extra-bases. Lowe has made great improvements to his in-game power output, as his groundball rates have dropped each year he has been in pro ball. There are some short-term paths to playing time in Tampa Bay for Lowe — if Austin Meadows (who has options left) shows up to camp out of shape again, or if Kevin Kiermaier gets traded — though the addition of the similarly-skilled Kameron Misner, who is about a year behind Lowe on the 40-man timeline, fogs the crystal ball later in Lowe’s tenure.

3. Curtis Mead, LF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Australia (PHI)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/55 30/50 45/40 20/40 50

Mead was acquired from the Phillies as a Complex League sleeper in a 2019 roster crunch deal, and he’s yet another reminder to teams that when the Rays show interest in a yet-to-be-heralded player, the club on the other end of the phone should be leery about trading him. The pandemic delayed Mead’s Rays debut until 2021, but he quickly made up for lost time by putting up a .321/.378/.533 line over 104 games. His swing remains unorthodox, starting with very high hands and a considerable amount of pre-swing noise, but both Mead and the Rays have worked hard to quiet his lower half, and while the overall operation is still not what anyone would teach in a hitting class, it certainly works for him. Mead has plenty of strength, but he’s more of a hitter with power than a power hitter, showing a consistent ability to make hard contact to all fields regardless of pitch type or handedness. He’s seen as a bit of a bat-first prospect, for while he entered pro ball as a middle infielder, he’s already slid to the corners, and many think first base is where he will ultimately end up, as his arm strength is lacking at the hot corner. Mead’s combination of contact and strength provides little to criticize, and he has a chance to reach the big leagues quickly.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 24.1 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 189 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/65 45/50 30/45 70/70 50/55 45

Bruján was a 60 FV player on last year’s list despite consistent feedback from the industry that that was too high (a dynamic Eric discussed in last year’s blurb). Bruján shared many traits with Ketel Marte: he’s a switch-hitter with preternatural feel for contact, he’s extremely tough to beat on the inner half because his levers are so short, he’s an elite rotational athlete who was able to make consistent contact while swinging as hard as he could, and he has the underlying physicality to come into impact strength as he enters his mid-20s. There are lots of other players whose measurable height and weight read as “small” who simply don’t have Bruján’s body composition (he’s angular and tapered at the waist rather than built like a stick), musculature (you can see his lats through his jersey), or explosiveness, and he seemed like a candidate to grow into meaningful power later than other hitters.

For the first several weeks of 2021, it appeared as though Eric was right, as Bruján hit .307/.402/.545 with a bunch of homers. He was merely a bit above average throughout the rest of the year, though, slashing .262/.345/.440 across the entire season, walking about as much as he struck out as a 23-year-old at Triple-A, setting a career-high in homers with 12, and swiping 44 bases. Bruján doesn’t have the arm to play shortstop and the Rays began moving him all over the diamond with greater regularity. He played second base and all three outfield positions during a mid-year big league stint and also played some third base while with Durham. He has the long speed to be a very good defensive center fielder with time, but it’s more likely that Bruján plays all over the place and adds value via his versatility. While he has gotten meaningfully stronger, he struggles with premium velocity. His righty swing has gotten better but lacks impact, and he can only damage the ball in a narrow part of the zone from the left side. Bruján is still going to spray lots of contact all over the field and ambush some weak inner-half fastballs while adding value on the bases and playing all over the place, so while he’s unlikely to be impact offensive performer, he’ll still be an impact player.

5. Greg Jones, CF

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from UNC Wilmington (TBR)
Age 24.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/50 70/70 40/45 55

Many saw Jones as having the best tools in the 2019 draft class, but concerns about his contact rate and defense dropped him to the bottom half of the first round. His impressive full-season debut was hampered by a pair of quad strains, and he remains a player with outstanding tools and, well, concerns about his contact rate and defense. While it’s easy to talk about round numbers like 30/30, Jones is best described as having 20 home run, 50 stolen base potential. He’s an elite runner in terms of speed, but he’s also an excellent baserunner who looks to swipe bases and has done so at an 84% success rate so far as a pro. He has impressive bat speed and strength, but has trouble making contact from both sides of the plate and has much more power from the right side. His phenomenal twitch and plus arm makes for some highlight reel plays at shortstop, but his footwork and hands remain lacking, leaving him error prone, with many scouts believing he’d be better of in center field, where he could be a plus or better defender. He’s one of the most exciting players in the minor leagues, but the significant flaws in his game keep him at a 50 FV.

6. Seth Johnson, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Campbell (TBR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 45/50 40/45 30/50 92-97 / 99

Johnson didn’t have great college numbers at Campbell in 2019, but he intrigued scouts and analysts alike as an athletic former middle infielder who was new to the mound and already showing some intriguing pitch data. Few teams in baseball do a better job of turning pitching projections into reality than the Rays, who selected Johnson with the 40th overall pick and then watched him put up a strikeout rate of nearly 30% in his 2021 full-season debut. Johnson’s stuff has taken a step forward since turning pro, and he now sits 95-97 mph with a fastball that while impressive on the radar gun, doesn’t feature much in the way of life. He gets impressive spin on a pair of power breakers, but the upper-70s curveball features far more movement than the mid-80s slider. His changeup is still rare, but has improved to average since signing. Johnson tends to throw strikes, but doesn’t locate within the zone as well as one would like. Still, this is an athletic, well-coordinated raw pitcher with considerable big league potential in a role that remains very much to be determined.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from North Broward Prep HS (FL) (SDP)
Age 22.6 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/70 40/40 20/30 80/80 45/50 45

Coming to Tampa from San Diego in the December 2019 deal that sent Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth to the Padres, Edwards had to wait nearly 18 months to make his Rays debut thanks to a pandemic and some oblique issues. When he was finally able to play, he performed exactly as expected, slashing line drives all over the field and trying to create havoc on the base paths. Edwards is an early-action player with a merely decent walk rate and an outstanding contact rate. In a world of Three True Outcome players, Edwards goes against the grain with a career TTO rate of just over 20%. He provides little to no (ok, no) power, and is content instead to loop line drives over infielder’s heads or beat out infield hits with his burner-level speed; 83% of his career hits have been singles. Despite that plus-plus speed, he’s not a great base stealer, and the Rays showed how they felt about his defense by talking him off of shortstop entirely and splitting his time between second and third base. With the wheels and the ability to put balls in play, Edwards does a pair of things exceedingly well, but whether that’s enough to make up for some clear deficiencies is still the subject of heated debate among evaluators.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/60 35/55 30/30 30/40 40

Hernandez was perhaps the most dominant lower-level hitter in 2019, slashing .344/.433/.646 during the AZL regular season before going on an Arozarena-esque tear during the AZL and then Northwest League postseasons after he was promoted for the last week of Spokane’s season. He slugged over .900 during his final few weeks of play and scouts starting calling him “Heribertgod.” The Rangers invited Hernandez to their alternate site late in 2020 and he tuned up against advanced pitching there before getting most of his run for the year in the Fall Instructional League. Then the Rangers traded him to the Rays as part of a deal centered around Nate Lowe early that offseason.

Sent to Low-A in 2021, Hernandez performed like a Three True Outcomes type, slugging .450 while striking out and walking at a 28% and 15% clip, respectively. He heated up in July and August, when he slashed .275/.343/.508, but only played in 73 games before getting shelved with a fractured left hand. He was assigned to the Fall League but barely played there for reasons that are unclear.

There is some industry sentiment that the underlying TrackMan data from 2019, which was part of what drove us to stuff Hernandez in the 50 FV tier at that time, was not accurate; this is not the first time that Rangers data has been questioned by our sources (2019 Down East pitchers had crazy vertical movement, for instance). We still have enough confidence in Heriberto’s bat to consider him a 50 in left field, especially since he continued to walk at a nearly elite clip during his full-season debut. His little T-Rex arms enable him to be short to the baseball, but he’s so strong and rotates with such ferocity that he still hits for power. He makes mid-at-bat adjustments to quality offspeed stuff, swinging over one particularly good pitch only to recognize and square up the next one. He wasn’t tracking pitches as well as we’d hoped during his brief 2021 Fall League stint, but Heriberto still covers the whole plate and is tough to beat on the inner half because his levers are so short. Because he isn’t an up-the-middle player, Hernandez isn’t the kind of prospect with an elite-level WAR ceiling, but he has the talent to anchor the middle of an order as a hit/power combo bat.

45+ FV Prospects

9. Taj Bradley, SP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Redan HS (GA) (TBR)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 40/45 30/45 30/45 93-97 / 99

Bradley held the velo spike he showed during 2020 instructs and was parked in the 94-97 mph range all throughout ’21 after he had only averaged 91-94 during the ’19 campaign. He posted a ridiculous 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and sub-2.00 ERA in a season spent mostly at Low-A Charleston, with his final eight starts coming at High-A Bowling Green. Bradley does most of his damage with his fastball, and his secondary stuff’s lack of quality and consistency is what ultimately kept him off the Top 100. His fastball dominates at the top of the strike zone, while his slider flashes plus but sometimes lacks the length and depth to miss bats. It’s often short, cutter-y, and typically in the 85-87 mph range, and is heavily reliant on velocity to be effective. His slider’s spin rate was actually 200 rpm slower than in 2019, and his heater’s spin dipped, too, though that drop was within what can be considered a natural, 100 rpm band of variation. Remember that Bradley is still just 20 years old and has had one full year with this kind of velocity and a remade physique. We’re inclined to project that Bradley’s slider will be more consistently good as he matures, but he’ll still need to find a third offering to start. His firm changeup has a little bit of sinking action but not enough to garner swings and misses. There’s still plenty of variability here, with Bradley’s floor looking like that of a fastball-dominant reliever, while a mid-rotation outcome depends on the development of his secondary pitches.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/55 25/55 55/55 45/55 60

A sweet-swinging, lefty-hitting shortstop with a good frame, Colmenarez was among the best players in the 2020 international amateur class for quite a while, at times claiming the top spot. His amateur report and how he looks in workouts is still driving his placement here, since a hamate injury cost him all but 17 games in 2021 and likely impacted his on-paper performance in those. He’s not only likely to stay at short, where he has plus hands and actions and average range and arm strength, but might be a special defender there. Colmenarez’s swing has natural lift out in front of the plate and he has shown feel to hit in games, giving him a good offensive foundation on which to layer strength as his frame fills out and matures. There is a chance he matures in the Goldilocks Zone, where he’s filled out enough to have meaningful power but not so much that he can’t stay at shortstop. Colmenarez is a caliber of prospect commensurate with a mid-first round pick and a potential impact everyday shortstop.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Missouri (MIA)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/50 60/60 50/55 55

Misner entered his draft spring as a strapping, tooled-up outfielder who hadn’t performed to expectations during his first two seasons at Missouri, in part because his swings had issues, and also because of a foot injury. He struggled more than was hoped during his draft year, too, especially against SEC pitching (.222/.353/.315), but the raw power/straight line speed combo enticed Miami at pick 35 anyway. He was always going to be a slow-burning developmental project, especially for a college hitter, but the missed 2020 season created an unfortunate gap in Misner’s ability to show he could make relevant on-field adjustments.

By the middle of 2021, it was clear that he had. Misner began performing on paper (.253/.355/.433 split between High- and Double-A) and had undergone a swing overhaul. His stance was narrowed and opened up, the angle of his bat as his hands load had changed, and his stride had shortened. While he’s still striking out a lot, the changes seem to have helped him get to more of his impressive raw power in games, and his speed gives him a real ability to play center field, creating some margin for error regarding the strikeouts. Misner still hasn’t performed at an age-appropriate level (now 24, he crushed bad Fall League pitching after the regular season) but the Rays thought enough of his changes to trade Joey Wendle for him, straight up. The 2022 season is Misner’s 40-man roster evaluation year, and he’s part of the crowded short-term mix of Josh Lowe, Brett Phillips, Kevin Kiermaier, and Austin Meadows who make up the contingent of lefty-hitting, upper-level outfielders in this org who could conceivably platoon all over the outfield.

12. Ford Proctor, C

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Rice (TBR)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 40/40 30/35 45/45 30/40 50

Proctor played as much baseball as just about any prospect during the 2020 calendar year as he spent time in the Constellation Energy League, at the alternate site, in instructs, and then in Australia for winter ball, giving the industry a good long look at his conversion to catcher, which he began to mix with his usual infield duties, including shortstop (where he is comfortably below-average). Proctor’s best position is “hitter.” He has a compact lefty stroke that generates low-lying contact to all fields, a hit-over-power type with doubles pop. There wouldn’t be enough power here for Proctor to profile as an everyday player at second or third base, and he’s still new to catching and couldn’t presently handle a whole big league staff full-time. Instead, he’s likely to be an extremely valuable, multi-positional role player who enables the Rays to play in-game matchups that include their catcher, since rostering Proctor probably means they’ll carry three of them at a time. We suppose there is some chance that Proctor could continue to develop behind the plate and eventually be an everyday backstop, or at least the larger half of a platoon, but catchers who to break late in this way tend to have a hearty constitution and more size than Proctor does.

13. Willy Vasquez, CF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/60 30/45 55/50 40/50 60

Vasquez was a 2021 revelation on the complex, slashing .288/.382/.411 while seeing time at shortstop, third base, and a little bit of center field. He is extremely muscular for his age, and is somewhat stiff, but also very explosive. Possessing advanced natural feel for contact, Vasquez’s swing might need a tweak if he’s going to get to more in-game power (he had among the highest max exit velos in this system) but if he keeps hitting like this it may not be worth risking changing him. With this sort of size and physicality at this age, Vasquez is not a consensus long-term shortstop and tends to generate either third base or mostly speculative center field projections (this is our inclination based on the stiffness in Vasquez’s lower half) from scouts. Several people raved about this young man’s drive and makeup during sourcing, which hasn’t impacted his placement as much as it has solidified confidence in it. There is big potential ceiling here.

14. Cole Wilcox, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Georgia (SDP)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 45/55 35/45 93-97 / 100

Wilcox was a 50 FV high school prospect who fell toward the bottom of teams’ first tier of prep pitching due to the shape of his fastball and his physically mature frame. He ended up at Georgia, where he pitched out of the bullpen throughout much of his freshman year and routinely sat 97-99 mph in that role, often touching 100. As a starter in 2020, Wilcox sat 93-96 with more consistent command than he had as a freshman (he walked no hitters in his final three starts and walked just two in 23 total innings) and more effective slider shape. The Padres drafted him in the third round and gave him $3.3 million, which broke the record for a third rounder’s bonus, then traded him to the Rays as part of the Blake Snell deal before Wilcox had thrown a pitch at a Padres affiliate.

Since entering pro ball, Wilcox has continued to sit in that 93-96 mph velocity band, and his draft year uptick in strike-throwing has continued. While his Low-A assignment to start 2021 was a very conservative line for the Rays to take, he only walked five hitters in 44 innings there before he was shut down with an injury that would ultimately lead to Tommy John surgery in September. The sink and tail on Wilcox’s fastball causes hitters to chop it into the ground, which helps embolden him to go right at hitters and work efficiently. This, plus his burly, inning-eating frame, has us locked in on him as a starter prospect even though he’s only thrown about 70 innings combined as a starter since 2020. If there’s anything that might hinder that, it’s that Wilcox has barely gotten reps with his split/change because of his initial ‘pen role in college, the time missed due to the pandemic, and now the timing of his surgery, which will likely cost him all of 2022. When it’s right, he has a biting, two-plane out pitch in his slider, which sits in the 85-89 mph range and often has more length than any pitch that hard has a right to be. His fastball, slider and present command would be enough to project Wilcox in a late-inning bullpen role, but a better change or split (the development of which was slowed by his freshman role) would enable him to be a mid-rotation piece.

15. Carson Williams, SS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Torrey Pines HS (TBR)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 40/50 30/50 50/55 55/55 70
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 55/60 30/45 20/45 95-97 / 98

Williams was a two-way high school player who was talented enough to be considered a prospect as both a shortstop and pitcher, though it appears he’ll be developed chiefly as the former. Williams has the clock and actions to remain at shortstop long-term, as well as a great infield arm. He answered some questions about his power during his draft spring, as nearly half of his hits went for extra bases and he kept his average above .500 against strong SoCal varsity competition. Rhythmic and balanced in the box, Williams’ well-composed, medium frame has room for more strength, and his swing’s foundation gives him a shot to both hit, and hit for whatever power he grows into. The total package gives Williams everyday shortstop possibilities.

16. Ian Seymour, MIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Virginia Tech (TBR)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/55 50/55 55/55 50/55 93-95 / 96

Seymour wasn’t sent to an affiliate until late June, but after he finally started pitching, he ascended through the Rays system like a rocket ship, making two starts each at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham to end the year. He struck out a whopping 87 hitters across 55 innings throughout the season, posting a 19% swinging strike rate that was nearly the best in a loaded org. Violent deception and a plus changeup drive Seymour’s ability to miss bats. He’s a squat-bodied guy with short levers and a vertical arm slot, so his fastballs approach the plate with shallow angle and backspin, which gives them the ability to blow past hitters in the strike zone. He has an NC-17 delivery with a grotesque head whack, but this doesn’t seem to inhibit his ability to throw strikes and his mechanics are off-putting to hitters, who don’t seem comfortable in the box against him. Seymour’s changeup has 10 mph of separation from his fastball and he sells it like a seasoned used car salesman by maintaining his delivery’s effort and arm speed. Last year’s Seymour report noted that his slider’s velocity range was unusually large, and that’s because he has both a slider and cutter. The cutter often has upward angle and cut, living under the hands of righty hitters, while his low-80s slider is more of a get-me-over pitch right now. If Seymour becomes a big league starter with a delivery like this, he’d be mold-breaking. We’re not betting on that, but still think he’ll make for a dynamite multi-inning reliever and have a sizable impact on a pitching staff.

17. Sandy Gaston, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (TBR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/80 50/55 45/50 30/40 96-99 / 100

Right around his 16th birthday, Gaston hit 100 mph while working out for teams. That nearly-unprecedented velocity for his age obviously garnered a lot of attention in the scouting community, though Gaston often had 20 control when he scraped triple digits. While he’s continued to have some strike-throwing issues as a pro, he has grown three inches, and his frame now resembles that of his Disney villain namesake. Gaston generates upper-90s velocity as a starter with relative ease, and because his strike-throwing gives him relief-only projection, he might sit 100 mph or better once he’s moved into a single-inning role. His curveball is also plus but it doesn’t always entice hitters due to his lack of command, perhaps because it’s nearly 16 mph slower than his fastball on average (which is why we’re classifying it as a curveball). His low-to-mid-90s changeup (seriously) also shows bat-missing potential because of its movement. Even with what we consider bullpen-only projection, it makes sense to continue to develop Gaston as a starter so that he gets more reps with his secondaries and can try to refine them. He doesn’t have to go on the 40-man until after the 2023 season, after all. If either of his secondaries can become more consistent, then Gaston will likely become a dynamite late-inning reliever.

18. Jonathan Aranda, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico (TBR)
Age 23.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 50/50 40/45 20/20 30/30 40

Aranda rakes and has amassed a career .290/.371/.427 line in the minors. A stocky, positionless defender without huge power, he’d been on the periphery of Rays lists for a couple of years before he had a huge uptick in power and reached Double-A in 2021. While we don’t expect him to slug over .500 (or anything close to it) going forward, Arranda’s feel for contact and platoon advantage make him a high-probability contributor. He has fantastic hitter’s timing, and a good-looking, compact lefty stroke that peppers both gaps and can do homer damage to his pull-side. The Rays have played Aranda all over the infield, and he’s such a poor hands and feet athlete that we actually prefer him at second base rather than first, where he’d have to handle the ball constantly. This is the type of player who you try to hide on defense on any given day, playing him when you have an extreme strikeout pitcher starting, or shoehorning him in at 2B/3B depending on where the opposing lineup is least-likely to hit the ball, very similar to Diamondbacks infielder Josh Rojas. The universal DH helps Aranda’s cause from a team need standpoint, as there are now 15 more jobs for guys who do nothing but hit, which is exactly what Aranda does.

40+ FV Prospects

19. Cooper Kinney, 3B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Baylor HS (TN) (TBR)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/50 40/40 30/45 50

Kinney is a physical, lefty-hitting teenage infielder with a big, projectable frame. He has terrific natural feel for working the opposite field gap, and he generates impressive power for his age despite using a very short, conservative style of swinging. He had a 2-to-1 balls-in-play to swinging strike ratio during his pre-draft showcase period, when he was facing a curated tier of high school peers; as much as showcase data is meaningful at all, it’s this sort can be leaned on the most. A fairly slow-twitch athlete, Kinney caught a little bit in high school and played mostly second base during his first pro trial on the complex, but he’s much more likely to be a long-term athletic fit at third base, and there’s a chance he outgrows that and moves to first. Other than a slight tendency to expand the zone on fastballs away from him, his early-career plate discipline performance is encouraging. That’s going to be very important, especially if Kinney slips down the defensive spectrum. Variability around his size could also mean variability around his eventual raw power, which might be plus if indeed he gets too big for some positions, or if the Rays and Kinney make his swing a little more kinetic. The carrying tool here is Kinney’s bat, which gives him a puncher’s chance to be an everyday player.

20. René Pinto, C

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 24.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 50/50 40/45 20/20 35/40 55

Passed over in the Rule 5 Draft multiple times and at one point electing minor league free agency, Pinto enjoyed a 2021 breakout, clubbing 20 homers in a year split between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. It more than doubled his previous career high of just eight dingers. Good health may have contributed to the breakout as much as anything else, as Pinto spent chunks of time on the IL earlier in his minor league career. He also looked trimmer and more athletic, and his swing had been overhauled in 2021 (his hands set up higher, and a new toe-tap stride has been implemented), all things that support the idea that the uptick in power is real rather than anomalistic. It all combined to compel the Rays to add him to their 40-man roster after the season. The improved conditioning also helped some aspects of Pinto’s defense, especially his throwing. He is now quicker out of his crouch and has more consistent and efficient footwork, popping in the 1.90s pretty consistently. Pinto catches on one knee in all situations, which hampers his mobility and ball-blocking at least a little bit, and his hands and receiving are acceptable, if unspectacular. He’s also a little too aggressive at the plate, and struggles to get on top of fastballs up and away from him. Easily projecting as a bat-first backup now, Pinto’s trajectory indicates he has a shot to grow into a more prominent role as part of heavy timeshare with Proctor.

21. Junior Caminero, 3B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 18.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/55 25/55 40/40 30/50 60

Projectable and explosive, the exciting Camierno was among the DSL home run leaders in 2021, and came over from Cleveland in a 40-man roster deadline trade for pitcher Tobias Myers. Caminero is much bigger than his listed height and weight, and is already in the 3B/1B area of the defensive spectrum. But he also has sizable power thanks to plus bat speed, and a promising early-career bat-to-ball track record. He has a big leg kick, and loads his hands low and swings with bloodthirsty effort, with plus bat speed driving big pull-side lift and power. We don’t know a lot about what Caminero’s swing decisions will be like against more mature pitching, and ignoring that factor has caused us to over-evaluate some young bat speed marvels in the past, but some of those guys just turn into Luis Matos or Ronald Acuña Jr. That part of the profile is going to be important for Caminero because he is likely to end up at a corner position, but his power potential gives him big ceiling if indeed he has good feel for the zone.

22. Blake Hunt, C

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Mater Dei HS (CA) (SDP)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 55/60 35/40 40/30 45/50 60

Hunt was a glove-first high school catching prospect who the Padres signed for an over-slot bonus to keep him from heading to Pepperdine. After middling offensive performance in the low minors, he came to 2020 instructs (after he hadn’t been seen for a while) with a revamped swing, one that featured much more movement in his lower half, helping Hunt tap into more of his raw power during games. He was one of that autumn’s breakout prospects and entered our Top 100, looking like an everyday catcher. He was traded to Tampa Bay as part of the Blake Snell deal, and had a fantastic first month with the Rays, hitting .277/.382/.554 in May of 2021.

Then things totally bottomed out for Hunt, who hit just .198 the rest of the season while striking out 32% of the time. While he struggled, others thrived, including two players at his position (Rene Pinto and Ford Proctor) who, like Hunt, either had to be added to the 40-man after the 2021 season or be exposed to the theoretical Rule 5 Draft. He’s arguably polished enough as a defender to catch in the big leagues part-time, but Hunt was left off the 40-man due to his lack of readiness with the bat. It’s possible he was experiencing maladies associated with the physical grind of catching, and that these contributed to his struggles at the plate, but Hunt’s swing and timing just seemed out of sorts. Amid all of this, he finished the season with a .225/.307/.427 line as a 22-year-old at High-A Bowling Green; the collective line for all major league catchers in 2021 was .228/.304/.391. While he fell out of our Top 100, we still have Hunt valued in an impact FV tier and think he has a chance to be an everyday catcher eventually. He’s still in the near-term mix to share duties with the other Rays catchers in the upper-levels and has a puncher’s chance to be a regular who simply had a developmental hiccup season in the mid-minors.

23. Jayden Murray, SP

Drafted: 23th Round, 2019 from Dixie State (TBR)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 40/45 50/60 90-94 / 96

It looks as though Murray is going to turn out to be one hell of a senior sign, as he’s poised to either pitch at the back of Tampa Bay’s rotation or work multiple innings out of the bullpen relatively soon. The ultra-loose and athletic right-hander has remarkable release consistency and works east/west with his tailing fastball, which sits 93-94 mph, up a tick from his 2019 pro debut. The drop-and-drive nature of Murray’s delivery means he can run his heater up the ladder even though it isn’t of the backspinning variety. Hitters’ timing seems disrupted by the odd cadence of Murray’s mechanics, which start slowly and then accelerate like the end of a whip, causing his fastball to jump on hitters. He has a plus slider in the low-80s that he commands at will, and his athleticism and looseness allow for continued changeup projection, a rarely-used pitch that flashes average. Murray’s 25, but remember that he is coming out of an extremely small program and missed a year of development due to the pandemic, so it makes sense to project additional refinement in this area. This, plus what might be consistent, precise execution of his slider gives Murray a shot to be more than just a backend starter even though his stuff, on its face, has that vibe.

24. Colby White, SIRP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Mississippi State (TBR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 45/50 30/40 92-95 / 97

White spent two years at Pearl River Community College, then transferred to Mississippi State, where he dominated, striking out nearly two batters per inning. He’s of the vertical fastball/breaking ball power pitching variety, leaning heavily on his 93-98 mph fastball, which features huge carry at the top of the zone. White’s slider is not nearly as good, and has gotten better over the last year or so and could be above-average if that trajectory continues. This fastball is going to pave over lots of big league hitters, giving White a chance to pitch in late-inning relief.

25. Osleivis Basabe, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (TEX)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/45 30/40 60/60 30/45 55

You can project Basabe to play a multi-positional, up-the-middle role similar to the one Edwards and perhaps Bruján are expected to play, albeit with much less certainty in his hit tool because Basabe swings at everything, and swings really hard. He takes full-body hacks that help him generate surprisingly hard contact from someone so small and young, and he has uncanny bat control for such an aggressive hitter. Basabe also isn’t a viable shortstop defender right now. He has the range and athleticism to play there and make some effort-based plays others might not, but his ability to make routine plays lags behind what is typical of a stalwart middle infielder, hence the multi-positional projection, which includes second base and center field. But there’s feel for contact here, and an up-the-middle fit even if he doesn’t improve as an infielder. The twitch and feel for contact are exciting, but you have to project on lots of technical components (defensive actions and hands, any amount of selectivity) to see a regular.

26. JJ Goss, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cypress Ranch HS (TX) (TBR)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/45 50/55 50/55 35/55 91-94 / 96

Goss entered 2021 as a breakout candidate after he showed different stuff on paper during the prior season’s instructs in the form of a significant spin rate spike. Both before the 2019 draft (data collection that occurred on the showcase circuit) and after, his fastball and the better of his two breaking balls spun at 2250 rpm and 2050 rpm, respectively. During 2020 instructs, his fastball spun at a whopping 2600 rpm while his breaking balls spun closer to 2400, and his changeup had much more velocity. Boots-on-the-ground scouts who saw instructs echoed the sentiments of the amateur side of the industry from before Goss was drafted: he can really pitch. He was a low-90s (touching mid-90s) changeup/command high schooler whose breaking balls relied on his deceptive slot to play, but his stuff had improved without detracting from his pitchability. With an improved breaking ball now in tow, there was hope Goss would move quickly. Instead, a shoulder impingement cost him almost all of 2021, and he made just four healthy starts in the FCL very late during the year. He then went to instructs, where he sat 92-94 mph and touched 96 with secondaries similar to 2020’s, and he’s been 91-94 so far during the spring of 2022. It was encouraging that his stuff was back, but the context of the look (Goss didn’t have to deal with the grind of a whole season, and hasn’t now for a couple of years) and Goss’ developmental situation (he’s 21 and has barely pitched in pro ball) put him in a significant relief risk area. His stuff isn’t so nasty that he looks like a potential closer; instead, he is trending toward a multi-inning relief role.

40 FV Prospects

27. Alika Williams, SS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Arizona State (TBR)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 35/40 20/30 60/60 50/60 55

Williams hit .266/.317/.342 at Low-A Charleston, where he spent most of the season, then was one of a few Rays to be aggressively promoted during the last couple weeks of the year, either as a treat for a good campaign, a result of a roster need at the end of a very long Triple-A season, or so the Rays could pump opposing models’ (which take level into account) projections. A plus runner and shortstop defender, Williams’ carrying tool is his defensive ability. He’s also had a good bat-to-ball track record, but the nature of his swing (which appears geared for low-ball contact) and his propensity to chase might make him vulnerable against power fastballs at the letters in the big leagues. The swing comp here, weirdly, is Zack Greinke, since Williams is best at ambushing fastballs middle-down and scooping them out to left field. He’s short to the ball and can lift balls down and in, while he serves pitches away from him the other way. He’s also not very physical. The Rays love his frame and think he’ll get stronger, but he left one of the best athletic programs in the country — ASU has a nice weight room — without much strength. We’re skeptical power will come in a meaningful fashion. Alika is an acrobatic defensive shortstop with great feel for contact, though, so he’s a high-probability utility man.

28. Michael Mercado, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westview HS (CA) (TBR)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 50/50 40/45 45/50 93-97 / 99

Mercado wouldn’t have made the list had it been one of the first ones done during the offseason, as he didn’t have a great season. He struggled to maintain the velo boost he showed during 2020 instructs, only sitting 92 mph even amid a conservative workload. Well, he showed up to 2022 camp throwing 96-99 mph. Mercado was a 2017 sandwich round pick who got just north of $2 million to eschew a commitment to Stanford. He was a lanky, ultra-projectable righty with upper-80s velocity and a shapely curveball, and that’s what he remained for the first two years of his pro career before he had Tommy John in May of 2019 and missed the entire season. He trained remotely and then was back for 2020 instructs with a lot more velocity, sitting 93-94 with two distinct breaking pitches, but he looked generic at best in 2021, despite pretty good surface-level stats. Now he’s in a place of extreme variance after showing up for 2022 camp with more arm strength than he’s ever had before in his life. We’d still take Murray and Doxakis over him for the sake of stability and consistency, but Mercado might end up in a higher FV tier if he can hold this new velo for his first several starts of the year.

29. Tanner Murray, 2B

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from UC Davis (TBR)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 30/40 30/40 45/40 30/40 40

Murray slugged .555 in 2021, and while visual assessment of his power and his underlying TrackMan data suggest he doesn’t have anything near that kind of power, he does have preternatural feel for contact. A 2020 fourth rounder, Murray was very young for a college draftee, he had a foundation of bat-to-ball skills and a pretty projectable frame. Murray tracks pitches with laser-guided precision and finds a way to put the barrel on them, spraying and hooking contact to all fields. Murray currently projects to settle into an above-replacement utility infield role but if he grows into more power, which is feasible given his age and broad-shouldered frame, then there may be more ceiling than that.

30. Kyle Manzardo, 1B

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Washington State (TBR)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
35/70 45/45 30/40 40/40 40/50

Manzardo put up video game numbers at Washington State, slashing .336/.404/.533 during his time with the Cougars and walking nearly as much as he struck out during his draft year. He’s much smaller than the typical first base prospect of note and doesn’t have big, over-the-fence power, instead boasting premium feel for contact and a great idea of the strike zone. He also had among the highest average exit velocities in college baseball at a whopping 98 mph, though that came with what would constitute 40-grade max exit velocities (around 105 mph). That dichotomy illustrates the way Manzardo’s skill set is tailored, and why he’s as much a scouting curiosity as he is a long-term prospect. Manzardo is short to the ball and squares it up. He sprays hard line drives everywhere. He may end up with a 60 or 70 hit tool and fit as an everyday first baseman even without producing big home run numbers, which there is some precedent for in the form of late-career Yuli Gurriel, as well as (and cut me some slack on how flush these are with regard to the defensive fit) DJ LeMahieu, Yandy Díaz, and Wilmer Flores, who play other positions (but barely).

31. John Doxakis, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Texas A&M (TBR)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
30/30 50/55 50/55 45/50 55/70 88-92 / 93

Doxakis is a high-probability backend starter by virtue of his fantastic command. Even though he only throws 88-92 mph, the 6-foot-4 hurler gets way down the mound and has a low arm slot, causing his heater to jump on hitters at the letters. He also bends in a low-80s breaking about as often as his heater, and lefty batters struggle mightily to see it due to his arm slot. Doxakis can land it in the zone and bury it down and to his glove-side. He’s added a mid-80s slider/cutter (which has eliminated skepticism around him having two distinct breaking balls from this arm slot) and has a changeup, though those are used much less frequently. Doxakis is in that Josh Fleming area where he could be deployed toward the back of a rotation or as a middle-inning bulk reliever, but he’s going to be a steady, low-ceiling contributor of some kind.

32. Tommy Romero, MIRP

Drafted: 15th Round, 2017 from Eastern Florida State (SEA)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/45 45/45 45/50 50/55 90-93 / 94

Romero has always been a spin axis freak, sort of like Oliver Drake in that his ball actually spins to the left of the 12:00 axis even though he throws right-handed. This creates big vertical movement on his fastball, but Romero never threw hard enough for us to rank him (he sat 86-90 mph in 2019). Then he showed up to 2020 instructs sitting 92-94, which is plenty when a fastball has the angle and carry that Romero’s does, and is commanded like he commands his. While working a whole year’s worth of innings as a starter in 2021, Romero’s velo was down a little bit, more in the 91-92 range, which is still okay, but it’d be better if he were to sit 92-94 out of the bullpen for two innings at a time. As such, we continue to project Romero in a multi-inning relief role long-term, even though he’s likely to be a spot starter to begin his big league career. Romero throws his fastball nearly 70% of the time but he does have four pitches, the best of which is a low-80s slider that he commands to his glove-side with terrific consistency. He’ll need all four as a starter but might be able to pare down to fastball/slider/changeup in the bulk middle-inning role we project him to settle into.

33. Austin Shenton, 3B

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Florida International (SEA)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 30/50 30/30 40/45 50

Shenton has some of the same stiffness and mobility issues as Yandy Díaz, which makes him a better fit at first base than third, though he’ll still probably play both sometimes. Shenton has a well-rounded hit/power blend that probably won’t be enough to earn him everyday duty at one of the corners, but should be enough for him to platoon with someone like the righty-hitting Díaz. He is short to the ball and has some natural lift in his swing, with his strength doing most of the slugging damage rather than big athleticism and movement. Even though he has an uphill bat path, Shenton has shown that he can adjust his posture as he decides to swing, and he’s caught high fastballs that tend to beat guys who swing like this. He had a walk rate spike early in 2021 but regressed to career norms (in the 8% range, a little below average for the mid-minors) later in the season, but Shenton’s career OBPs are close to .400 due to consistently high BABIPs. He looks like a bat-first, 1-WAR corner infielder despite dour showcase tools.

34. Calvin Faucher, SIRP

Drafted: 10th Round, 2017 from UC Irvine (MIN)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 50/50 35/40 93-96 / 98

It’s pronounced “Fō-chay,” as in “Colin Poche” or “That new guy doing Weekend Update is a Feaux Che.” Anyway, Faucher, who was acquired from Minnesota as a sweetener in the Nelson Cruz deal, has some of the fastest spin rates in baseball, specifically on a mid-80s curveball that swirls in at an average of 3200 rpm. It is indeed a Hammer-of-God power curveball, with huge depth for a pitch in the mid-80s. Faucher tends to locate his cutter/slider on the glove-side half of the plate, but not always in a spot where it can miss bats. His fastball has plus velocity but not big movement, and it’s vulnerable in the zone. He mixes his secondary pitches in heavily to keep hitters off of it, with the curveball a dominant, go-to offering in big spots. Now on the 40-man, Faucher is likely to play a short-term role in up/down middle relief and we think will take root in a more prominent big league role with more consistent command, which he began showing after the Rays acquired him.

35. Diego Infante, RF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
30/40 60/60 35/55 45/40 40/50

There are many power-over-hit corner outfielders in this system, and Infante is the youngest of them by quite a bit. Over his last 162 games (2019 and ’21 combined), Infante has clubbed 29 homers, stolen 24 bases in 35 attempts, and impressed scouts enough throughout 2021 that he, too, was a candidate for a Rule 5 Draft selection had we had it this year. He has plus raw power and he’s gotten to it in games even though he’s a little too aggressive in the box and tends to chase balls. The power comes easy to Infante, whose swing is understated and simple, featuring a smooth leg kick of middling height. There’s still plenty of variability here since Infante has poor plate discipline, but we like his ability to punish lefty pitching enough to project him as the smaller half of a corner outfield platoon, though his ceiling is in the Hunter Renfroe area.

36. Antonio Jimenez, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 20.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 55/60 40/50 30/50 91-95 / 96

Jimenez is an electric little lefty (he’s about 5-foot-10) with big arm speed who sits 91-95 mph, has been up to 97, and has a plus, two-plane slider that he commands fairly well. He’ll also show you the occasional average changeup. He’s loose and athletic but doesn’t yet have great control, putting him on the starter/reliever line for now. We’re betting on changeup improvement due to the looseness/athleticism and care less about how small Jimenez is, but he’ll still need to corral his arm speed in order to hone his fastball command if he’s going to start.

Drafted: 14th Round, 2016 from Nevada (TBR)
Age 26.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
55/55 30/30 30/30 50/50 40/40

It’s more likely that we miss prospects in the deeper systems, especially older guys like Mastrobuoni who aren’t toolsy and just slowly develop a long track record of offensive competence and defensive versatility; Mike Brosseau (who never appeared on a Rays prospect list) is a great example of this. So here we have Mastrobuoni, whose numbers (.299/.373/.448 with Montgomery, .292/.384/.391 with Durham) should indeed be discounted because he’s 25-years-old, though the reason he’s at Double-A is because the Rays are so flush with guys who can play shortstop and elsewhere. He’s a .284/.365/.372 career hitter — not the kind of power typical of an everyday player, but the contact and OBP, when combined with a Ryan Freel-like defensive versatility, certainly give him a good big league utility vibe. Part of Mastrobuoni’s problem is that while he plays all over the place, he’s not a very good defensive player. He was constantly mentioned as a likely Rule 5 pick for this offseason because of his defensive versatility, making him a perfect 26th man, and he will likely hop on and off rosters throughout his career because of his OBP skills and panoply of defensive fits.

35+ FV Prospects

38. Ryan Spikes, 2B

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Parkview HS (GA) (TBR)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
25/60 40/45 20/40 50/45 45/55

Spikes doesn’t have the physical projection typical of a high school prospect at a compact 5-foot-9, but he’s a relatively polished, skills-oriented player with some rotational explosion in the box. He’s tough to beat with velocity because he’s so short to the ball and he peppers both gaps with contact. Combine that with advanced defensive feel and instincts, and you have a promising utility player’s skill set.

39. Nick Bitsko, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Central Bucks East HS (TBR)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/60 35/50 30/50 92-95 / 97

Bitsko was originally going to be part of the 2021 draft, but he reclassified in January of 2020 , moving up a class at what turned out to be an inopportune time. Though he was a known, upper-crust prospect, the COVID shutdown meant teams barely had any time to bear down on the cold-weather righty with the urgency typically applied to someone who’s eligible to be picked in a couple of months rather than a couple of years. As a result, teams’ opinions of Bitsko were driven by what he did in the fall of 2019 (he was 92-96 mph in front of heavy-hitting eyeballs at East Coast Pro) and, in the case of some teams, what they saw in the bullpen just before the shutdown and any pitch data Bitsko generated thereafter. In all instances, Bitsko’s arm strength, curveball, and touch-and-feel command were on par with first round high school arms, though that demographic’s track record is spotty, leading prep arms to be been devalued by teams. That, combined with the possibility that some teams weren’t comfortable taking a player they’ve barely seen, made Bitsko’s stock pretty volatile. He seemed like someone’s overslot target in the comp round, but the Rays took him before he could fall that far and gave him $3 million.

After experiencing fits and starts of shoulder soreness and discomfort during his post-draft remote training, Bitsko elected to have labrum surgery in December of 2020, and shoulder issues persisted as he tried to rehab his way toward a pro debut in 2021. Shoulder issues are scary, as this org and its followers recently experienced throughout Brendan McKay’s misfortune. We’ve historically been slow to slide prospects who’ve missed multiple seasons with issues like this, and while Bitsko’s talent level would place him in the 45 FV tier, this is where the risk associated with his shoulder issues and shortened developmental timeline slots him until we get a healthy version of him.

40. Jose Lopez, MIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 40/45 35/40 93-95 / 97

The long-levered Lopez sits 94 mph and touches 97 in starts and long relief outings, but he could experience a velocity spike if he moves into a full-time relief role. His slider has above-average length and might also be an above-average weapon if it added velocity. While Lopez is good at killing spin on his changeup, we tend to think he’d lean on the slider if he moved to short relief.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2021 from Texas Tech (TBR)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 30/45 60/70 30/45 90-94 / 96

Whether they have player dev shortcomings or are just underscouted in a talent-dense state, Texas Tech seems to leave developmental meat on the bones of their pitching prospects, many of whom enjoy performance improvement in pro ball. Montgomery could be the next one, as he already has a swing-and-miss changeup and a low-90s fastball with flat angle and carry. He’ll need to develop a breaking ball with more consistent finish to start, but could also be a dynamite middle-inning reliever if he can find more velo out of the bullpen.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Louisville (TBR)
Age 26.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
30/40 50/50 50/55 50/55 55/70 91-95 / 96

A lengthy parade of injuries has not only derailed McKay’s career, but kept him about one inning shy of graduating off of prospect lists for nearly three years. He pitched in a handful of rehab outings last July and August, with his fastball averaging just 90 mph during that time. McKay was once a 1.1 draft candidate, arguably a top five talent both as a pitcher and a hitter while at Louisville. After toying with both in pro ball, he rose to the upper levels of the minors and into our 60 FV tier as a pitcher by developing plus command of a deep repertoire of quality (but not dominant) offerings, and looked like a major league ready mid-rotation starter just before the injuries began piling up. He spent the start of 2022 camp in the COVID protocols and only threw one bullpen session prior to publication.

43. Brett Wisely, 2B

Drafted: 15th Round, 2019 from Gulf Coast CC (FL) (TBR)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
35/55 40/40 30/40 40/40 30/40

Scouts have called players like Wisely the “Devil Rays Special,” the little lefty-hitting infielders with good feel for contact. Wisely was a Day Three junior college pick who hit 19 bombs and stole 30 bases in 2021. He is a stocky, short-levered hitter who, like a few other bats in this system, has a natural feel for catching up to high pitches. Wisely will ambush anything you leave on the inner-half and pepper the right field foul pole with it. While he doesn’t have much raw power, these types of hitters tend to overperform by making a ton of contact. The lack of pop won’t prevent Wisely from playing a bat-first utility infield role and instead probably caps his ceiling in that area.

44. Victor Munoz, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/50 45/50 35/50 90-93 / 95

Throughout the 2021 season, Munoz mostly held the velo bump he showed during 2020 instructs. He wasn’t quite sitting 93-97 mph, but was more 93-95 with some peaks above that. The Rays continued to deploy him as a starter, working three to five innings at a time. His fastball’s shape can vary but is mostly of the sinking/tailing variety, though Munoz shows some ability to run it up the ladder situationally. His changeup has sink that complements his typical fastball well, while he can land his curveball for strikes and has a shorter slider, too. Munoz’s arm action is a little bit long but isn’t so violent that he’s a relief-only prospect for us, and his command to this point merits continued starter development. He’s still a distance from the big leagues but is pretty advanced for a 21-year-old with just a couple of outings above the complex. Though not especially projectable, he looks like an eventual pitchability back-of-the-rotation candidate.

45. Hunter Barnhart, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from St. Joseph HS (CA) (TBR)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 50/55 30/45 30/45 88-92 / 94

There’s been no meaningful alteration to Barnhart’s blurb, as he went down with what is listed as an elbow strain in March of 2021 and didn’t pitch all year, sliding him a FV tier. Barnhart was in the second or third tier of the curveball-centric righty high school prospects in 2020 because he wasn’t quite as projectable as some of the others. He would sit in the 90-94 mph range as an amateur and had a snappy breaking ball, and while there wasn’t room for overt body/velo projection, Barnhart did have a sturdy-looking frame. He also has some feel for creating arm-side action on a changeup but it was rare to see that from him as an amateur and it doesn’t sound like it made magical progress during 2020 instructs, which is fine. Of note, his curveball had a little more power late in 2020, more in the 74-77 mph range than in the low-70s, where it was at times before Barnhart was drafted.

46. Matt Dyer, C

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Arizona (NYM)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 55/55 30/40 55/55 30/40 60

Dyer had a nomadic college career (Oregon, Central Arizona, Arizona) and shared time with Austin Wells in Tucson, then was a keen senior sign by the Mets; he was later traded to the Rays as part of the Rich Hill deal. Tightly-wound and lanky, Dyer brings a rare collection of tools and defensive versatility to the party. He catches and plays all over the field, including a little bit of center field and third base. He has a plus arm, runs well under way, and also has above-average pull power. While he’s very unkempt as a receiver and ball-blocker, Dyer’s arm gives him a chance to stay back there, especially in the event that an automated strike zone is implemented relatively soon. A 20-grade hit tool hinders his ability to get to the power, but if Dyer can catch and do other stuff, he’s still going to be a super cool, useful bench option.

47. Ronny Simon, 3B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
30/45 30/45 30/40 55/55 45/55

Simon has already been traded twice: once from the Cubs to the Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty reliever Andrew Chafin, and then from Arizona to Tampa Bay for Jordan Luplow. He is coming off a career year during which the compact switch-hitter swatted a surprising 17 homers and tallied over 40 extra-base hits, albeit mostly in the hitter-friendly Cal League. Sinewy and cut, Simon is built like a little sports car. His swing has mechanical length but not practical length because he’s so compactly-built, and he has shown some ability to change his posture mid-swing so he can get on top of fastballs. His bat path (at least from the left side — we don’t have enough right-handed reps here to know either way) does have some holes that might be more exposed at upper levels, though, and the power output from Simon’s 2021 campaign was partially a Cal League caricature, as he has closer to 40-grade raw pop. But this is an athletic, switch-hitting infielder with a great performance track record to this point, and the tools to be a versatile middle infielder at peak. The 2022 season is Simon’s 40-man roster evaluation year.

48. Yoniel Curet, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 30/50 45/50 30/50 20/50 92-95 / 96

He’s a little more physically mature than most other 19-year-old pitching prospects, but Curet has good arm strength for his age (he averaged 94 mph in the 2021 DSL), a graceful, balanced, athletic delivery, and feel for a shapely mid-70s curveball that should grow into more power as he develops. You can project on a second breaking ball because of Curet’s feel for spin, as well as a changeup because of the athletic nature of his delivery and his good-looking arm action, which should help sell his cambio. He’s a long-term starting pitching prospect likely to make a stateside debut in 2022.

49. Evan Reifert, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2021 (MIL)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/60 60/70 20/30 94-97 / 98

Reifert transferred from an Iowa JUCO to Central Missouri, then was a $20,000 undrafted free agent of the Brewers after the 2021 draft. In case you were wondering whether a 20-round draft was appropriately long, here’s a guy who was undrafted and then was flipped for a good big league role player (Mike Brosseau) within a few months of signing. Reifert has been up to 98 mph and has a plus slider that spins in the 2750 rpm range. His slider has big, two-plane bite and plays as an in-zone pitch, as well as a bat-missing finisher to hitters of both handedness; he threw it more than his fastball during his pro debut. The ceiling here will be dictated by how Reifert’s strike-throwing develops. Because he’s fresh out of amateur ball from a small school, there’s reason to project on skill development here, so even though Reifert is further away from the big leagues than some of the other single-inning relief types in this system, his ceiling is higher, making him more of a prospect priority.

50. Justin Sterner, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (MIA)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
50/55 60/60 55/55 90-94 / 96

Initially signed by Miami after the 2020 draft and traded for David Hess, Sterner had among the highest swinging strike rates in the Rays org in 2021 thanks to his plus slider and upshot fastball, which lives entirely off its angle and deception. Sterner’s delivery is as close to a shot putter’s motion as you’ll see in baseball, and its weirdness helps enable his success. He struck out 78 hitters in 57.1 innings across three levels of the minor leagues with the Rays, reaching Montgomery and dominating there. He’s firmly on the radar as a short-term middle relief option in Tampa.

51. Jhonny Piron, CF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 17.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 40/50 20/40 70/70 40/60 55

Piron is a speedy, raw athlete with a pull-happy swing. He is very likely to stay in center field and could be an impact defender there, but he needs to add strength to be a viable hitter of any kind. He’s a long-term developmental project who hit .232/.366/.369 during his first pro year while posting a curiously low BABIP for such a fast player facing DSL infielders.

52. Chris Muller, SIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2017 from UT-San Antonio (TBR)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 55/55 30/35 94-97 / 99

The burly Muller has a power fastball/slider/splitter combination that should enable him to work out of a big league bullpen if he can polish his command a little bit. The 25-year-old missed most of 2021 with shoulder tendinitis and only worked a total of 21 innings, but when he was healthy, he was pumping mid-90s gas and bending in a power mid-80s slider. It’s no-doubt big league bullpen stuff hampered by Muller’s lack of track record (he’s pitched most of just one pro season since he was drafted) and scattered control.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 45/60 30/55 60/55 40/50 60

It’s a small sample — just about a month’s worth of games in 2021 — but Pie’s peripherals throughout his initial domestic playing time (35% strikeouts, 6% walks) are scary, and visual evaluations of his choppy, two-part swing jive with the on-paper performance. He has an NBA wing player’s frame, uncommon athleticism and body control for his size, uncapped power projection, and much more abstract intrigue than certainty about any aspect of his profile, but if you compare his frame, athleticism and showcase tools to those of same-aged domestic college players, Pie is very exciting. He was looked like he had a shot to mature in the Goldilocks Zone, staying at shortstop while growing into huge power, but he spent all of the 2021 regular season mostly at third base, with a few reps in the outfield. A slide down the defensive spectrum would make the plate discipline and hit tool issues more troubling. He runs well enough that center field is worth a try. He is a power/power projection flier at this point due to a lack of confidence in the bat.

54. Johan Lopez, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 21.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 167 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
30/40 40/45 30/40 50/50 40/50

Lopez showed good feel for the strike zone as a very young player and has begun to grow into his frame without losing any of his speed. In 2021, he set a comfortable career mark in homers (10) that coincided with an uptick in strikeouts and a lower groundball rate. That could indicate a possible swing change, but while Lopez has played a little bit during big league games this spring, there’s an insufficient online visual catalog of pre-2020 Lopez to say for sure. He had been tracking like a potential utility man, but the change in batted ball profile and burgeoning physicality create a little more variance here.

55. Esteban Quiroz, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (BOS)
Age 30.1 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 45/45 35/35 40/40 35/35 45

Quiroz spent 2015 to ’17 crushing the Mexican League. He signed with Boston in November of 2017, and was hot early during his pro debut in ’18, but then missed three and a half months with an abdominal strain. He only played in 24 games at Double-A, then had 62 extra plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League, where he played well and was seen by the entire pro scouting community. San Diego traded a 40-man crunch relief arm to Boston for Quiroz, then later flipped him to Tampa Bay as part of the Tommy Pham deal. The Rays’ glut of quality upper-level infielders has kept him from making his big league debut even though “Pony” has a career .401 OBP in affiliated ball.

Quiroz can barely play second base, and his lack of defensive versatility has prevented him from playing a long-term role on somebody’s bench. But he has deft, all-fields contact ability and can punish mistakes enough to be an above-replacement player, someone’s low-end regular at the keystone. Now 30, the window for that type of brief career (which this guy probably deserved to have) is closing and instead of Quiroz getting the opportunity to be a cult hero, this has become a “what could have been?” story.

56. Linse Carvajal, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (PIT)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 94-97 / 98

Originally signed by Pittsburgh in 2018, Carvajal didn’t throw a pitch in affiliated baseball until 2021 with the Rays, and even then he only worked about eight total innings. The athletic, somewhat under-sized righty showed up to 2022 camp with much more velocity, sitting 94-97 mph with a good slider. He has virtually no pro track record but seems to have impact arm strength now, though time will tell if he can put the “carve” in Carvajal.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
30/50 40/55 30/40 90-92 / 95

Alberto is built like Mikal Bridges and is unusually twitchy for a teenager with limbs this long. He has a near ideal pitcher’s frame, with a high, tapered waist and broad shoulders. He’s already sitting 90-94 mph with some breaking ball feel, and spent 2021 in the DSL. Alberto is a deep projection sleeper with elite physical projection.

58. Neraldo Catalina, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
65/70 45/55 30/35 97-99 / 100

The 6-foot-6 Catalina has a frame befitting an NBA wing player and his four-seam fastball averaged 98 mph in 2021. Even though he has relatively graceful mechanics, he lacks viable control and needs to develop significantly in this area to be trusted on a big league mound at all. But we’re compelled to rank and monitor a pitcher with this kind of frame and arm strength in this tier because if things ever click, Catalina could be a late-inning reliever in the Miguel Castro mold. His breaking ball spin rate took a little leap in 2021, which is progress of a sort.

59. Joel Peguero, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 24.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 35/40 93-97 / 98

The athletic Peguero has a lightning fast arm and sits in the upper-90s, but he doesn’t get nearly the rate of swings and misses you might assume given his arm strength. Passed over in the Rule 5 Draft several times now, he spent most of 2021 with Montgomery and has performed like an average reliever for his level. It’s possible Peguero is athletic enough to handle a delivery change that alters his fastball’s axis and/or angle in a meaningful way, but that hasn’t happened yet. His slider, which sits 88-92 mph, has a fair amount of movement for a pitch that hard but also doesn’t get many whiffs from discerning hitters. We’re hopeful he has late-arriving development.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

More Potential Relievers
Jeff Hakanson, RHP
Fernando Melo, RHP
Jacob Lopez, LHP
Trevor Brigden, RHP
Carlos Garcia, RHP
Over Galue, RHP
Maicor Leon, RHP
Nathan Witt, RHP
Adrian De Horta, RHP

(cracks knuckles) Hakanson was the club’s 2020 fifth rounder out of UCF. His mid-90s fastball has huge hop, he gets way down the mound (which creates flat angle), and his odd delivery is quite deceptive and tough to time. Melo is one of a couple young pitchers in this group who are still in their teens or early 20s and showing huge arm strength. The 6-foot-6 Melo, 22, sat 95 mph last year but walked the park. He showed up to 2022 spring training with a shorter arm action. Lopez is a funky lefty with a slider that has a ton of wipe. The 24-year-old struck out 14.5 batters per nine in 2021 but opens 2022 camp dinged up, though with what I do not know. Brigden and Garcia looked gassed during 2021 Fall League. Brigden has a fastball with big vertical break and had one of the highest swinging strike rates in the org during the 2021 regular season. He was 92-94 in an outing early this spring. Garcia is more about funk and deception and his secondary stuff. He looks to have arrived to camp in better shape than he appeared to be in in Arizona and has also been 92-94 in big league spring games so far. Galue (pronounced closer to the vowel sounds in Joey “Galloway” rather than “Glue”) sits 94 and his slider changed in the middle of 2021. If it has another gear, then he’ll be in the 35+ section next year, though he isn’t all that projectable for 20. Leon, who just turned 21, has the best slider of this group but is physically maxed out. Witt and De Horta are in their mid-20s and are arm strength only types right now.

Skillful (Mostly) Up-the-Middle Guys
Logan Driscoll, C/RF
Cristopher Barete, CF
Evan Edwards, 1B
Odalys Peguero, CF
Alexander Ovalles, 1B
Cal Stevenson, CF
Angel Galarraga, C
Tyler Frank, 2B

Driscoll was a high pick by the Padres out of George Mason, a well-built athlete with pop who’d need lots of defensive polish. He’s performed on paper so far, albeit in a limited sample, with only a little extra defensive versatility separating him and Dyer above. Barete is a plus-running center field prospect who crushed the DSL in a repeat assignment there. He is listed at just 5-foot-9 but is quite physical for that size and he’s good at getting on top of fastballs. Edwards, 24, hit 22 bombs in 2021 after undergoing a swing change. He was acquired from Miami for John Curtiss. Little 19-year-old Peguero has a good idea of the strike zone and had a .400 OBP in the DSL. Ovalles has been traded a few times, most notably for Cole Hamels; he was acquired from Texas as part of the big Nate Lowe deal. He has advanced feel for contact but is a 1B/LF fit and he’s several inches shorter than his listed height, closer to 5-foot-8 than 6-foot. Stevenson has speed and OBP skills. He’s a career .290 hitter in the minors who could be a bench outfielder. Galarraga is another premium makeup guy in this system and is a very advanced defender for a 19-year-old, though he looks like a glove-only backup type. Frank was once a high pick but his career hasn’t gotten off the ground in large part due to injury. He’s supposedly changed the side of the plate that he swings from, which will be weird to observe once things get going this year. Here’s hoping he’s healthy enough to play a lot.

Juice Über Alles
Ruben Cardenas, OF
Pedro Martinez, 2B
Niko Hulsizer, OF
Estanli Castillo, OF
Mason Auer, OF
Patrick Merino, OF
Nick Schnell, OF

Here is a group of power-hitting corner guys, most all of whom have hit tool shortcomings that slide them into this area. Cardenas hit 25 homers in 2021. He was acquired in a 2019 deal with Cleveland and has started chasing more at the upper levels. Martinez came over from the Cubs to complete the José Martínez trade. His K rates skyrocketed in 2021. Holsizer, 25, has hit 21 homers in each of his two full seasons, but has a 30-grade hit tool and is stuck in an outfield corner. Castillo might break out with a swing overhaul. He’s just 20 and posted max exit velos close to the big league average in 2021, but he hit the ball on the ground two-thirds of the time and didn’t manage a single homer. Auer, who started his college career at Missouri and ended it at San Jacinto, has a 70 arm and big power, as well as a bodybuilder’s physique. Merino, who is 23 and from Cuba, has 70 raw but is way behind the age curve. Schnell, a former high draft pick, hasn’t been healthy.

System Overview

“All this machine does is swim, and eat, and make little sharks.”

If you’ll allow a cross-fish comp, that line describes the Rays, who chug along, amassing talent via all potential avenues, and also find ways of developing players that other teams have not. Those alterations can be as meaningful and obvious as Tyler Glasnow’s development, and as subtle as John Curtiss’ success. They’re not perfect, but the Rays do a little bit of everything very well. They tend to have balanced, diverse drafts and take situational gambles on high-variance high schoolers. They have a Latin American program with a penchant for big-framed pitchers that has signed some of the top individual players in a few recent classes, which is remarkable for a smaller market club without a lot of glitz or cultural cachet. Their pro scouts get to have a more consistent impact on the club than they would in most other orgs by virtue of the team’s volume of activity. If we’re counting the prospects in the Other Prospects of Note section, then 28 of the players on this list were initially drafted or signed by a team other than the Rays, then acquired by Tampa later on, usually via trade. The Rays remain one of the, if not the, most transactional clubs in the game, constantly adding and subtracting to balance the budget while efforting to maintain one of the deepest farm systems in baseball.

The Rays have types. Similar to Cleveland, they like short-levered infielders who either hit left-handed or switch, and they value pitchers with power stuff, often with cut-and-carry style fastballs at a certain level, while also stockpiling soft-tossing, east/west slider types with good command by using their lower picks or targeting guys coming off the bottom of other rosters, as if they’re trying to develop a fleet of deceptive middle-inning types from within. This remains one of the best systems in baseball even after graduating five Top 100 prospects in 2021.





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 ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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TheGarrettCooperFanClubmember
3 months ago

Wow, I didn’t realize McKay’s stuff was fallen so far. Injuries stink man.

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago

How many years of rehabbing his shoulder does it take before he tries to reboot as a hitter? He’s still probably a back end starter with a 40 fastball, three 50-55 secondaries, and + or ++ command. But if he might not be able to pitch without his arm falling off, perhaps he can try hitting again?

Dmjn53
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The problem there is that he didn’t hit at all in the minors (697 OPS, although to be fair to him it was in a scattered 559 PA). He’d have to find a way to play the outfield, because there’s no path to the majors for him as a 1B/DH

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago
Reply to  Dmjn53

I would want to see him get more reps as a hitter before coming to a conclusion about that. The problem is, without much of a track record he’ll have to compete with all the other Quad-A guys in an organization for PAs.

joe_schlabotnik
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

what a heartbreaking trajectory – thinking youre gonna be the next ohtani, to thinking maybe ill just pitch, to thinking maybe i can be a bullpen arm, to now even that is a question mark. he should be traded to a non contender and given a little more room to grow

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago

He’ll be out of options soon, so he’ll either get a priority minor league deal with a rebuilding team or he’ll be in the majors soon enough (probably also with a rebuilding team).

tz
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Right before reading this article, I read about MLB making the Ohtani All-Star Game rule official for the regular season (a starting pitcher batting for himself can stay in the game as DH even if replaced as a pitcher). The first name that came to my mind after Ohtani was McKay. If he gets to a rebuilding team (maybe joining Honeywell in Oakland) and can recover his health, perhaps he gets a crack at doing the P/DH combo himself.

cartermember
3 months ago
Reply to  tz

Angels should sign him to play 1st base and have Ohtani and him rotate based on batters handedness. Unsure if it works this way exactly, I think the 3 batter rule only applies to pitchers entering the game?

tz
3 months ago
Reply to  carter

I wouldn’t necessarily mess with Ohtani’s role, but…..the Angels also have Michael Lorenzen!!!

JediHoyer
3 months ago

Whitley, Gore, McKay. The creme de la creme pre COVID.

matt
3 months ago
Reply to  JediHoyer

Gore has looked great in spring so far fwiw