Every year the Tampa Bay Rays appear to be in the top 5 of all farm systems and this year is no different. Armed with the best pitching prospect in the game and so much depth they could have two farm systems the Rays are poised to continue their success at the top level for years to come.
This was another fun list to rank but one that I had so many legitimate top 10 prospects falling outside of the top 10 due to the depth in this system.
Below are my top 16 prospects with 2012 opening day age, position, and comments on each player. Below the top 16 is a small list of additional notable names. Enjoy.
|1||Matt Moore (22-LHP)||Do you really need to be reminded that he struck out 11 Yankees in his MLB debut? Or that he pitched game 1 of the ALDS against the Rangers and allowed only 4 base runners and no runs in 7 innings? Moore has a plus-plus upper-90s fastball, plus-plus change-up, and plus breaking ball to go with one of the smoothest deliveries you will ever see. He makes it look easy and I would not be the least bit surprised to see him win Cy Young awards.|
|2||Hak-Ju Lee (21-SS)||He is a plus defender at SS and could play defensively right now in the Majors. He has quick hands and slaps the ball to all fields and has a good approach at the plate. He also has plus speed. He could be a .300 hitter with good on-base skills and steal 30+ bases. He looks like an All-Star despite the lack of power.|
|3||Mikie Mahtook (22-OF)||I truly see a potential All-Star here. He is above-average across the board and is a legitimate 5-tool prospect who can hit, hit for power, has good plate discipline, a strong arm, and incredible makeup. I see no reason he cannot stay in CF and he reminds me of Eric Byrnes but more disciplined.|
|4||Taylor Guerrieri (19-RHP)||He lasted as long as he did in the draft thanks to some makeup issues that seem to be fairly irrelevant. If he were in this year’s coming draft he would be a top 10 pick. He has a fastball that reaches the upper-90s and a potentially plus curveball. He also throws a change-up that is below-average and needs to work on his command of all pitches. He has a good frame and could add a few pounds of muscle for durability. He could be a top of the rotation arm in time.|
|5||Chris Archer (23-RHP)||Armed with a fastball that sits 92-95 and can touch the upper-90s and a high-80s slider that is plus. He has a solid frame that can add some muscle and he is an extremely good athlete. But he does have command and control issues and needs to refine his change-up. He has #2-3 starter potential and a floor of a high-leverage reliever.|
|6||Enny Romero (21-LHP)||Tons of projection left in his frame and he already sits low-to-mid-90s and can reach the upper-90s. He also has two potentially plus secondary pitches in his curveball and change-up but he lacks command and control and is still quite raw. He is definitely a name to watch and one that might sneak into the top 50 overall prospects with a good showing in 2012.|
|7||Alex Torres (24-LHP)||He was one of the better arms I saw last spring with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s with a ton of arm-side movement and a plus change-up. His command and control are keeping him from being an elite prospect as well as his lack of size. He has almost nothing left to prove in the minors and would be in most team’s rotations in 2012 but the Rays are loaded and he may end up as a major weapon out of the pen.|
|8||Alex Colome (23-RHP)||Like his uncle, Jesus Colome, he has a fastball that reaches the upper-90s but has trouble commanding it. He has a potentially plus curveball but his change-up and slider are both below-average and could force a move to the pen where he would be a high-leverage reliever. I still believe in his ability to start, even without room in the parent club’s rotation, and he has the upside of a #3 starter.|
|9||Drew Vettleson (20-OF)||He has above-average tools across the board but none are plus and he needs to cut down on the strikeouts. He has excellent patience and speed and his current gap power could turn into 20 HR power with some added muscle. He is also a plus defender in RF with enough arm for the position.|
|10||Ryan Brett (20-2B)||He is small but has an excellent hit tool and is very strong for his size and has well above-average speed, plate discipline, and makeup. He is still learning 2B on a full-time basis but has the tools to be above-average there. He could be a Brian Roberts type at 2B with some seasoning.|
|11||Parker Markel (21-RHP)||His big frame, power sinker, and secondary offerings all scream potential. He gets a ton of groundballs with his low-to-mid-90s sinker and misses bats with his secondary pitches. He needs to refine his command and if he can learn to pitch to more contact with that sinker and tall frame he could be a deadly mid-rotation starter.|
|12||Brandon Guyer (26-OF)||MLB-ready and nothing to prove in the minors. He does have some plate discipline issues but he has quick hands and above-average skills across the board otherwise. He could be a solid-regular given enough playing time or the best 4th OFer in the game that can handle all three OF spots.|
|13||Tim Beckham (22-SS)||As you can see, I am not as high on him as others but he does have the tools to be an average regular at SS. I saw him a half-dozen times last spring and he looked horrible in the field but reports throughout the year said he looked improved to the point of where he could be at least average defensively. I still want to see it first hand, though. And his bat could be league average with some improved discipline.|
|14||Tyler Goeddel (19-3B)||He has a tall wiry frame that could benefit by adding 15-20 pounds of muscle and a swing that projects to hit 20+ HR if he does add that muscle. He has a gun of an arm and is above-average defensively at 3B. Really want to see him in pro ball and how he adjusts to the advanced pitching before grading him higher.|
|15||Jake Hager (19-SS)||He has a line-drive stroke and gets good backspin on the ball that should lead to a good amount of doubles and possibly triples although his speed is only slightly above-average but it plays up with his hustle. He should be able to stick at SS.|
|16||Tyler Bortnick (24-2B)||I like him more than others because of his excellent plate discipline, patience, and speed combo. He has gap power and could be an above-average defender at 2B. At worst I see a guy who can play 2B and 3B and be a solid utility guy.|
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt
Filed under: On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | 2012 Top Prospects, Alex Colome, Alex Torres, Brandon Guyer, Chris Archer, Derek Dietrich, Drew Vettleson, Enny Romero, Felipe Rivero, Hak-Ju Lee, Jake Hager, Josh Sale, Matt Moore, Mikie Mahtook, Parker Markel, Prospects, Ryan Brett, Stephen Vogt, Tampa Bay Rays, Taylor Guerrieri, Tim Beckham, Tyler Bortnick, Tyler Goeddel