Getting to know new Rays’ prospects Solak, Banda, Gray, and Palacios

The Tampa Bay Rays spring training garage sale is in full force.  The team recently traded Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson, and Steven Souza.  All three players were moved with 2+ years of team control.  The thought process when moving young, controllable assets that make less than $7 million dollars, is to maximize value on the return, however, Tampa Bay’s front office apparently missed the memo.  So let’s take a look at the return and see if we can glean some hope from these new Rays prospects.

Nick Solak, 2B

The Rays acquired Solak from the Yankees in the three team deal that sent 30 HR bat Steven Souza to Arizona.  Solak is a solid RH hitter with a mature approach at the plate.  Solak was one of the more impressive hitters that I evaluated in the Florida State League.  In 100 games in Tampa, he slashed .301/.397/.460 with 10 HR and 17 doubles.  Solak walked at a 13% clip.  He uses the entire field with an opposite field line drive swing.  Solak barrels a lot of balls and could develop into a 30 double 15 HR bat.  However, he will need to improve on his 52% GB rate that limits his extra base power.  Overall, I love his approach.  He reminds me of a RH pre-launch angle Daniel Murphy.  A smart hitter that works the count and goes opposite field with authority will start 2018 at AA.

Anthony Banda, LHP

Acquired from Arizona in the Souza trade, Banda is 6’2 LHP who made 35 starts in AAA of the past 2 seasons and made his MLB debut in 2017.  Banda is a former Top 100 prospect with a FB sits mid 90’s with a plus curveball and above average change up.  Granted, pitching in the PCL is tough and Banda is not as bad as the stat line indicates.  He has traditionally been able to keep the ball down and avoid the long ball although that wasn’t the case in AAA last season posting a 12% HR rate.  One thing the Rays have always done well is developing young pitching.  Banda will benefit from the coaching whether he makes the team out of spring training or starts at AAA Durham.

Tristan Gray, 2B

Acquired from Pittsburgh in the Dickerson trade, Gray is a 6’3 210 lb. left handed hitter with pop.  Drafted in the 13th round of the 2017 draft, Gray had a nice start to his pro career, slashing .269/.329/.426 with 7 HR in 53 games.  Gray is a polished college bat out of Rice University.  Gray’s .210 Isolated Power is his most impressive stat from 2017. lists Gray to start the season at Charlotte.

Jermaine Palacios, SS

Palacio, acquired from Minnesota for Jake Odorizzi, is a wiry athletic SS with above average defense, range, and arm.  Palacios has an interesting offensive profile.  Listed at 6’0 and 145 lbs. (I’ve seen him in person.  He is closer to 175 than 145 lbs.) Palacios has excellent bat to ball skills.  He has shown signs of 50 grade power in the low minors, belting 11 HR in Cedar Rapids with .224 Isolated Power.

Palacios earned a promotion to Ft. Myers of the Florida State League where he was 3 years younger than league average age.  He held his own the first month, hitting over .300, without the power he had flashed earlier, however,  Palacios hit 3rd in the Ft. Myers lineup in 40 of 62 games.  He should start 2018 back in the FSL at Charlotte along with SS Lucius Fox and 3B Adrian Rondon, however, it remains to be seen if the Rays love his glove enough to suplant Fox at SS or if a move to 2B is in his future.

Article featured image of Nick Solak – courtesy Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame)

Jason Woodell has written about prospects for numerous sites. He got his start with Prospects1500 and has provided reports on prospects for Baseball Prospectus, 2080 Baseball, and Pinstriped Prospects. Jason is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant and former model in Jordan. He lives in Tampa, likes dogs, craft beer, and his wife…not necessarily in that order.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonAtTheGame.

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