Tampa Bay Rays 2020 Top 50 Prospects

Wander Franco, Charlotte Harbor Hippies, August 18, 2019. Photo credit Bryan Green on Flickr

The Tampa Bay Rays are considered by many, including myself, to have the best farm system in baseball. Armed with the sport’s top overall prospect and numerous other potential game changers, the Rays have continued to diligently develop young athletes throughout their organization, consistently getting the most out of their respective talents. Over the past several years, the Rays have been able to successfully convert solid draft selections, produce talented international signings and acquire players via trade that all have the great opportunity to flourish under the guidance of the Rays renowned player development staff.

There are several big names missing from this list that were represented in the midseason update, most notably top LHP prospect Matthew Liberatore (No. 50 overall in the Prospects1500 Overall Top 172 Prospects from October), as he was dealt to the Cardinals via trade just over a week into the new year. Other names such as Nate Lowe and Mike Brosseau have graduated from their prospect status and have gone on to become contributors for a Rays team looking to compete for a postseason berth this season. The Rays have also added elite talent to the upper tier of the farm system over the last couple months, acquiring yet another sensational young middle infield prospect in Xavier Edwards (No. 54 overall.) This comes at a pivotal time for the Rays organization, as they are entering a window of opportunity to win now, all while developing key young players in the ultimate pursuit to build something special in Tampa. All it takes is one look at this list to know that the Rays will be serious contenders in the American League for years to come.

Tampa Bay Rays Minor League Affiliates

Durham Bulls (AAA)

Montgomery Biscuits (AA)

Charlotte Stone Crabs (A+)

Bowling Green Hot Rods (A)

Hudson Valley Renegades (A-)

Princeton Rays (Rookie)

GCL Rays (Rookie)

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster

To quality for this list each prospect must be at or under the limit of 130 AB or 50 IP:

Tier 1

1. Wander Franco, SS
Age: 18 (3/1/2001)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.327/.398/.487, 9 HR, 18 SB, 11.3 BB%, 7.1 K%
Wander Samuel Franco is the true definition of a generational prospect. He excels at every phase of the game and has consistently demonstrated one of the best hit tools in the minors across his first few years in the Rays organization, pairing impeccable plate discipline (83 BB, compared to 54 K in two seasons) with one of the most beautiful swings you’ll ever see from an 18 year-old. Franco fared even better after a midseason promotion to Charlotte, constantly barreling the ball with ease against much older competition, and has been ahead of the growth curve at every step of the way on his path to superstardom. While Franco has proven to be a factor from both sides of the plate, last season’s most noticeable improvement came on the base paths. The 18 SB from last season represent a drastic increase from his first stateside showing (4 SB), and if this is any indication, Franco could easily develop in a 20+ SB threat before he even plays for the big league club. When considering the breadth of elite tools Franco has exhibited to date, the sky’s the limit for the near consensus No.1 overall prospect in the game today.

Franco will most likely open next season with a promotion to AA Montgomery, and his track record proves it will only be a matter of time until he’s ready for a new challenge. Some have even suggested that Franco could be primed to make his major league debut as soon as this season. While there’s no doubt in my mind that Franco has the talent to play in the bigs today, I mentioned in our recently published New Year’s Wishes article that the best course of action would be to practice patience and allow him one more year to grow into his legendary potential before a possible 2021 midseason call up. In my Preseason Top 50 last January I confidently stated, “This time next year, we could very well be talking about him as the top prospect in all of baseball. Yeah, he’s that good.” Now, still just a prospect, we may be witnessing the origins of one of the best players in all of baseball. As I’ve grown fond of saying, it’s Wander’s World, and we’re just living in it.

2. Vidal Brujan, 2B
Age: 21 (2/9/1998)
2019 Highest Level: AA
.277/.346/.389, 4 HR, 48 SB, 8.6 BB%, 14.2 K%
Brujan is in the midst of breaking out as one of the premier prospects in baseball, and last year was certainly another step in the right direction. After leading the minors in runs scored in 2018, Brujan spent the 2019 season between High-A and Double-A. He possesses plus bat speed and is one of the best contact hitters in the system, generally providing himself with plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc on the base paths. Brujan is the definition of 80-grade speed, with 103 SB over the last two seasons and no signs of slowing down. Brujan continued his success into the Arizona Fall League, where he owned a healthy .380 OBP and helped the Salt River Rafters capture the 2019 AFL Title. Brujan has exhibited elite plate discipline throughout his minor league career to help bolster a hit tool that’s developed into one of his better assets, and continues to demonstrate all the tools any team could dream of in a top of the order hitter.

3. Brendan McKay, LHP/DH
Age: 24 (12/18/1995)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
.200/.298/.331, 10.1 BB%, 30.4 K% (AA/AAA)
73.2 IP, 1.10 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
.200/.273/.500, 1 HR, 0 SB, 9.1 BB%, 18.2 K% (MLB)
49.0 IP, 5.14 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
McKay was nearly untouchable during his time in the minors last season, as evidenced by his stat line above. He limited opposing hitters to a minute .165 BAA across the two highest levels of the minors before a mid-season promotion to the big leagues. The former two-way star out of Louisville is coming into his own as an elite pitching prospect, as he’s flashed an impressive arsenal with four potential above average pitches and is able to command the zone well with each of them. He has the composure of a veteran on the mound, and there’s no doubt he’s ready to pitch against the sport’s highest level of competition. He still has a history of success at the plate dating back to his collegiate days and could most likely develop into an average major league hitter given the opportunity, but that likely doesn’t seem to be the priority. McKay will continue to get better as he matures with experience as he’s done at every stop, and should be a stud in the Rays rotation as soon as next year. He’s a serious candidate to be in the running for AL ROY in 2020.

Tier 2
4. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS
Age: 20 (8/9/1999)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.322/.375/.396, 1 HR, 34 SB, 7.8 BB%, 9.6 K%
Edwards was sent to the Rays this offseason in a blockbuster deal that included trading away Tommy Pham, arguably the club’s most productive player over the past few seasons. Although some were not happy with the return, I’ve been a big fan of Edwards since he was drafted as a prep bat in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft. Granted this was a move for the future as Edwards is a couple years away from debuting in the majors, there’s a good chance he’s the best player in the deal in the next five years if he can reach his tantalizing potential. During his two years in the minors, Edwards has clearly flashed the ability for two plus-tools. He is a pure contact hitter from both sides of the plate with outstanding control of the strike zone. Edwards has hit at least .300 across four minor league levels, hitting .328 in 756 PA over the last two seasons. He is also a lightning rod on the base paths, and has stolen double digit bags at every stop in his minor league career to date. The rare combination of plus-plus hit and run tools that Edwards has showcased to this point in his career has solidified his standing as one of the most highly touted middle infield prospects in the sport.

5. Shane Baz, RHP
Age: 20 (6/17/1999)
2019 Highest Level: A
81.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 4.1 BB/9
There’s a legitimate argument to be made that Baz is the highest upside pitcher in the system. The potential was always vividly clear for the former No. 12 overall pick, and 2019 was his breakout season. He responded well in his first full stint with the organization, posting career bests across most statistical categories. The Player To Be Named Later from the Chris Archer deal (that also included Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows) has otherworldly talent, flashing the potential for three plus pitches: a four-seam fastball that can touch triple digits, a sweeping slider and a developing changeup that would make for the perfect complimentary offering in his arsenal. Although his numbers may not reflect it (8.18 ERA in 11.0 IP), Baz continued to impress after the regular season in Arizona Fall League. He tossed 19 of the 20 fastest pitches recorded in the entire AFL (Bryan Mata threw a 99.0 MPH fastball ranked 18th) and also displayed some of the highest measured spin rates on his four-seamer. There is certainly room for Baz to improve his control as he continues to walk batters at a high clip, but there is no doubting the front of the rotation monster Baz can become once he puts it all together. 

6. Greg Jones, SS
Age: 21 (3/7/1998)
2019 Highest Level: A-
.335/.413/.461, 1 HR, 19 SB, 10.1 BB%, 25.7 K%
Jones enjoyed a very productive season in the New York-Penn League after being selected No. 22 overall in last year’s MLB draft. He predictably showcased his plus-plus speed tool by stealing 19 bases in only 48 games played, and also displayed a quick swing that translated to immediate success at the plate. Jones finished the year with the second highest OPS (.874) in the league, demonstrating his ability to hit the baseball often, and with authority from both sides of the dish. He may not have the most power potential, but his speed should allow him to rack up plenty of extra base hits with room for more as he adds loft to his swing and continues to grow into an athletic 6’2” frame. Jones should be a candidate to ascend quickly throughout the system, as his advanced skill sets and defensive versatility (has experience in the OF from college) should play well in a system ripe with young middle infield talent. He put himself on the map in his junior season at UNC Wilmington (.341/.491/.543, 5 HR, 42 SB, 18.9 BB%, 15.1 K%) right before being drafted less than a year ago, so perhaps he’s only beginning to scratch the surface of his massive potential.

7. Shane McClanahan, LHP
Age: 22 (4/28/1997)
2019 Highest Level: AA
120.2 IP, 3.36 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9
If you like a lefty with high strikeout upside as much as I do, then Shane McClanahan is the prospect for you. McClanahan has dominated hitters since his days at the University of South Florida a couple years ago, and the former first round pick continues to deliver on his exceptional upside. He utilizes a screaming fastball that regularly sits in the mid-90s with the juice for more, and two potential above-average pitches that compliment his fastball well and keep hitters off balance. There were questions entering last season whether or not the Rays would develop McClanahan as a future starter due to his delivery and command issues, but those have been answered with McClanahan starting in 22 of his 24 appearances across three levels in 2019. He most notably tore up the Florida State League, holding opposing batters to a minuscule .183 BAA over eight starts. He stumbled in a few showings after a late season promotion to AA Montgomery, but only so much can be expected for a young pitcher looking to adjust to their third level over the course of a single season. If anything, that shows how much the Rays truly think of McClanahan. Expect him to start the season in Montgomery, but he’s already proven to be a fast riser and will continue to ascend up prospect rankings with another dominant season.

8. Joe Ryan, RHP
Age: 23 (6/5/1996)
2019 Highest Level: AA
123.2 IP, 1.96 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
The Rays stockpiled elite pitching talent in last season’s draft, but none feasted on opposing hitters in their professional debut quite like seventh round selection Joe Ryan. Dubbed by Baseball America as “the man with the unhittable fastball,” Ryan has added velocity to the pitch that he throws almost 75% of the time, and the results have been sensational. Ryan has quickly established himself as a strikeout artist in the infant stage of his professional career. Out of all qualified minor league pitchers, Ryan ranked 1st in K% (38.0%), 1st in K/BB (32.4%) and 2nd in K/9 (13.32), only behind Cristian Javier. He spent the vast majority of his season cruising through the Florida State League. In 13 FSL starts last year, Ryan had a 1.42 ERA and backed it up with very impressive ratios (12.2 K/9, 1.3 BB/9.) Ryan moved quickly through the organization in his first professional season, logging appearances across three levels. In those stops, Ryan held opposing hitters to a .173 BAA throughout last season, and his 12.2 K/9 in Class A-Advanced was surprisingly his lowest rate across the three stops last year. If these trends continue in his development, there’s no reason to think that Joe Ryan can’t establish himself as one of the better pitching prospects in all of baseball.

9. Josh Lowe, OF
Age: 21 (2/2/1998)
2019 Highest Level: AA
.252/.341/.442, 18 HR, 30 SB, 11.4 BB%, 25.4 K%
A treasured prospect in the Rays organization since being selected 13th overall in the 2016 MLB draft, Josh Lowe had by far his best performance as a professional in 2019. The tools began to flash on full display, as he was 1 of only 5 minor league players to reach both 18 HR & 30 SB last season (including Luis Robert, Kyle Tucker, Josh Rojas and Edward Olivares.) Lowe continued the party into this offseason’s Arizona Fall League, where he raked .327/.379/.558 with 2 HR and 4 SB (0 CS) over 15 games. Lowe has exhibited impressive bat speed throughout his minor league career and although his contact skill may be lagging slightly behind at the moment, that may be the only missing piece to his game. The 18 HR during Lowe’s 2019 MiLB season was his most in any season by a wide margin, and the 30 SB suggests continued growth in his base running projections (22 in 2017, 18 in 2018.) If Lowe’s development is any indication of what’s to come, the Rays could be looking at a 20 HR/30 SB weapon in the outfield.

10. Ronaldo Hernandez, C
Age: 22 (11/11/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.265/.299/.397, 9 HR, 7 SB, 4.0 BB%, 15.3 K%
Hernandez is the top catching prospect in the system and one of the better prospects behind the plate in the game today, and his performance last season was good enough to earn him a selection to the 2019 MLB All-Star Futures Game. Although his numbers at the plate last year do reflect a slight downturn from previous seasons, he continued to display a well-rounded offensive profile for a catcher. After starting last season hot and slowing down towards the end, Hernandez rebounded nicely to produce lofty numbers in the Arizona Fall League, where he slashed .359/.381/.513 across 42 PA. He played all of last season in A+, so expect Hernandez to open 2020 as the starting catcher for AA Montgomery Biscuits, where he’ll be joined by several other top Rays prospects. As long as Hernandez continues to hit, he should be the Rays’ backstop of the future when he arrives in a few seasons.

11. Brent Honeywell, RHP
Age: 24 (3/31/1995)
Current Level: AAA (Has not played since 2017 due to injury)
2017 AAA : 136.2 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
Honeywell has not pitched in a professional game over the last two seasons, but when healthy he was one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball (MLB Pipeline No. 12 overall prospect in 2017.) He missed the 2018 season with a torn UCL, and after recovering from Tommy John surgery, Honeywell fractured a bone in his throwing elbow during a bullpen session and missed all of last season as a result. At this point, the time lost due to injuries could play an unfortunate factor in Honeywell not realizing his true potential, but in my opinion the best indicator of future success for a pitcher of his caliber may be to look into past results. In 416.0 IP over 4 minor league seasons, Honeywell has abused hitters with an average line of 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9. He utilizes a diverse arsenal, featuring a plus fastball, several breaking pitches and most notably a screwball that could be dangerous at the next level. If he stays healthy, and that’s a big if considering the track record, there’s a legitimate chance this is one of the best pitchers in the entire organization. 

12. Randy Arozarena, OF
Age: 24 (2/28/1995)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
.344/.431/.571, 15 HR, 17 SB, 9.3 BB%, 17.8 K% (AA/AAA)
.300/.391/.500, 1 HR, 2 SB, 8.7 BB%, 17.4 K% (MLB)
Acquired from the Cardinals this offseason in a deal that involved trading away the Rays former No. 1 pitching prospect LHP Matthew Liberatore, Arozarena represents a prospect that can produce now for a Rays team looking to compete in the immediate future. Last season was Arozarena’s most successful effort to date, as he hit more home runs and stole more bases than any of his last three seasons, despite playing fewer total games. He manhandled minor league competition across two levels, and continued to swing a hot bat  when he was called up towards the end of last season, all while demonstrating improved plate discipline. Another redeeming quality of Arozarena’s game is that he’s fast. Really fast. He ranked in the 96th percentile in Sprint Speed according to Baseball Savant, and was on the Cardinals postseason roster mainly as a pinch runner. Arozarena was caught stealing in 12 of his 29 attempts in the minors last year, so refining his base running abilities will go a long way in determining his overall value. Ultimately, if Arozarena can maintain the consistency at the plate that he exhibited last season while continuing to mature as an athlete, he will soon be a welcomed addition to a Rays outfield that recently traded away Tommy Pham. 

Tier 3
13. Nick Schnell, OF
Age: 19 (3/27/2000)
2019 Highest Level: A
.265/.325/.448, 5 HR, 5 SB, 8.1 BB%, 34.0 K%
Schnell, the former Indiana High School Gatorade Player of the Year, improved across most statistical categories in his second season and continued to display a well rounded profile against older competition. He raised his average, while simultaneously improving his power and speed output, a very welcoming sign for a developing young athlete. The one weak link in Schnell’s game at the moment is a lack of plate discipline, as his 34.0 K% this year represents a 6.0% increase from the previous season. He already has a sweet left-handed swing, so working with the Rays player development staff to correct his approach should help to unlock his raw upside as a hitter.

14. Taylor Walls, SS
Age: 23 (7/10/1996)
2019 Highest Level: AA
.270/.343/.452, 10 HR, 28 SB, 10.6 BB%, 18.7 K%
The switch-hitting shortstop had very impressive second year at the offensive end, flashing double-digit power potential to go along with a well above average speed tool. Walls walked more than he struck out in each of his three seasons at Florida State, and has continued to display an advanced feel at the plate that has been a vital component of his maturation as a hitter. After finishing second in the entire organization a couple seasons ago with 31 SB in 120 games, he followed up the prominent effort with 28 SB in only 96 games played across two levels in 2019. Walls may be one of the more underrated prospects in the organization due to the depth of elite middle infielders towards the top of these rankings, but he is one of the best fielders in the system and represents a promising young athlete that indubitably carries the skills and overall upside necessary to succeed at the next level. 

15. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, OF
Age: 28 (11/26/1991)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
“He’s got what I would say is a big-league feel over there.’’ – Spencer Patton, former teammate and MLB relief pitcher

Tsutsugo signed a two-year deal with the Rays this offseason. He played for the Yokohama Bay Stars in Japan since 2010, where he hit .284/.382/.525 and mashed 205 HR over the last 10 seasons. His best statistical season was in 2016, slashing .322/.430/.680 with 44 HR in 561 PA. At the age of 28, Tsustugo is much older than a typical prospect in today’s game, but he represents a proven hitter that will fit into the Rays lineup as soon as next season. He has experience playing 1B, 3B and OF, and will undoubtedly play DH as well in the American League. He may even be afforded everyday opportunities given his offensive talents, and provided his defense holds up. Tsutsugo has also been touted as a tremendous teammate by members of his former club, and looks to add energy and excitement to an upcoming Rays organization. He even earned his own song of adulation from the massive crowds in Japan, as they chanted ‘Go Tsutsu Go’ whenever the beloved slugger stepped to the plate. I like our chances of hearing ‘Go Tsutsu Go’ early and often at the Trop this season.

16. Kevin Padlo, 3B
Age: 23 (7/15/1996)
2019 Highest Level: AAA
.265/.389/.538, 21 HR, 12 SB, 15.7 BB%, 26.9 K%
Padlo enjoyed by far his most successful season as a professional last season. He consistently hit the ball with authority through the two highest levels in the minors in 2019, and he got even better at the plate after a midseason promotion to AAA Durham. One important note is that Padlo was much better against LHP than RHP following his promotion last season (.463/.511/.976 vs. LHP, compared to .211/.355/.422 against RHP.) He may need to improve his numbers against righties to make a consistent impact at the next level, but he still exhibited solid power against both arms (12 HR vs. RHP, 9 HR vs LHP.) Corner infield opportunities are crowded at the moment in Tampa, but Padlo has experience playing both positions and his given his proximity to the majors and a history of extreme success as a platoon hitter, he may have the upper hand in a future call-up scenario.

17. JJ Goss, RHP
Age: 19 (12/25/2000)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
17.0 IP, 5.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 1.1 BB/9
Goss was ranked as one of the top prep pitchers in the country, being ranked as high as the No. 24 overall draft prospect by MLB Pipeline going into the 2019 MLB Draft. His best offering to date is a slider that has the potential to be his put away pitch, and he should add some sizzle to a low-90s fastball as he matures into his 6’3” frame. Although the sample size in his first professional stint was small, Goss displayed outstanding control of the strike zone and ended the season with a 8:1 K:BB ratio. He demonstrated the ability to consistently pound the zone with all of his pitches, and that will be paramount as the talented young hurler continues to progress through different levels in the Rays organization. 

18. John Doxakis, LHP
Age: 21 (8/20/1998)
2019 Highest Level: A-
32.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
Since being drafted by the Rays in the 2nd round of last season’s MLB Draft, Doxakis has continued his success as a starter from the previous two seasons at Texas A&M. He fared well against New York-Penn League competition, including a dominant .174 BAA. Doxakis utilizes a three pitch repertoire that includes a low 90s fastball and two improving secondary offerings (slider and changeup), all leaning on his deceptive delivery and control of the strike zone rather than high velocity. This component gives him intriguing upside with a relatively high floor. Doxakis has the build (6’4”, 215lb.) and arsenal to project as a workhouse pitcher down the road, and it was particularly interesting that after converting from a starter to reliever in college, Doxakis pitched much better as a starter (1.33 ERA) than when he was briefly used as a reliever (4.76 ERA) in his professional debut. All signs point to Doxakis continuing to develop as a starter in the Rays organization, with the potential to make a Major League rotation in the future.

19. Seth Johnson, RHP
Age: 21 (9/19/1998)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
17.0 IP, 2.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
Seth Johnson became the highest selection out of Campbell University when he was selected with the No. 40 overall pick in last year’s MLB draft. Although Johnson is relatively new to the mound, as he converted from a shortstop after his sophomore season, the Rays drafted him as a pitcher in the first round and the organization has to be very pleased with the early results. Through nine starts, Johnson’s debut season was even better than his stat line indicates, giving up earned runs in only one inning. Across his other 16.0 IP, he registered a 0.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, while averaging a strikeout per inning. There’s a lot of upside in Johnson’s right arm, and it should be interesting to see how he continues to evolve as a pitcher.

20. Alejandro Pie, SS
Age: 17 (1/31/2002)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
.289/.361/.342, 0 HR, 24 SB, 4.3 BB%, 18.2 K%
Pie is an exciting raw athlete that has already demonstrated the ability to carry multiple above average tools at a young age. He already put his wheels on full display in 2019, swiping 24 bases in only 57 games. Pie also hit for average and got more comfortable as the season progressed, hitting .410 over his final ten games. Although Pie didn’t hit for much power in the Dominican Summer League last year, he showcased a lightning quick bat for a 17 year old and there is plenty of upside to dream on if he adds muscle to a projectable 6’4” frame. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Pie can do in his stateside debut, and I fully expect him to be one of the biggest risers on this list come the midseason update.

21. Niko Hulsizer, OF
Age: 22 (2/1/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.258/.366/.525, 21 HR, 7 SB, 12.9 BB%, 30.4 K%
“”The Hulksizer” hit 20 HR between two minor-league levels with the Dodgers before being traded to the Rays for LHP Adam Kolarek. He’s been keeping active overseas during the offseason and continues to showcase his awe-inspiring power, as he currently ranked second in the Australian Baseball League with 9 HR in 34 games. Simply put, The Hulksizer hits bombs. He does strike out quite a bit though, so he could really benefit from refining his aggressive approach at the plate. If Hulsizer’s hit tool can develop to resemble what he displayed across three college seasons (.337/.425/.684 in 629 PA), the slugger could skyrocket up prospect rankings.

22. Jhon Diaz, OF
Age: 17 (10/1/2002)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Diaz was close with the Yankees, but they didn’t have enough remaining in their international pool after signing the consensus No.1 international prospect Jasson Dominguez, so he reached an agreement with the Rays. Diaz has been praised by evaluators for his mature baseball instincts, a promising notion for a player yet to make his professional debut. He has a compact swing and the natural ability to produce around the bases and in the field with above average speed. Diaz seems to possess all the necessary skills to evolve into a well rounded weapon for the Rays, an organization with past success in development international signings.

23. Moises Gomez, OF
Age: 21 (8/27/1998)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.220/.297/.402, 16 HR, 3 SB, 9.8 BB%, 33.5 K%
Gomez has long displayed promise as a power prospect since being signed by the Rays as an international prospect in 2015. After slashing a strong .280/.328/.503 in his first full season with the organization, Gomez was awarded a promotion to the Florida State League where he played all of 2019 campaign. Gomez experienced platoon struggles in the FSL, hitting .266/.310/.544 against LHP, compared to .209/.294/.370 against RHP. It’s worth noting that he has been at least a couple years younger than the average age of players at every stop he’s been to at this point in his career, so there’s definitely room for substantial growth as he refines his plate approach and pitch recognition against more advanced competition.

24. Resly Linares, LHP
Age: 22 (12/11/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
4.2 IP, 5.79 ERA, 2.57 WHIP, 3.9 K/9, 11.6 BB/9
Linares only made two starts in the Florida State League before being shut down for the remainder of the season with a left forearm strain. He’s been very good so far in his five year professional career, with a 2.88 ERA across 231.0 IP. Over that time, he has shown the ability to command two above average pitches that can generate outs. At the age of 22, Linares will already be entering his sixth minor league season, so it will be interesting to see how he can continue to develop as a starter once fully recovered from the injury that cost him most of last season.

Tier 4

25. Cal Stevenson, OF

Age: 23 (9/12/1996)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.288/.388/.384, 5 HR, 13 SB, 14.1 BB%, 13.3 K%
Stevenson was acquired by the Rays in early January in a deal with the Astros. He spent the 2019 season with Class A-Advanced affiliates in both the Astros and Blue Jays organizations. Stevenson’s most interesting asset is his elite plate control, as evidenced by a sky high walk ratio. He’s the rare prospect that consistently walks more than he strikes out, and has done so in each of the last five years dating back to college. He compliments that plate discipline with a potential plus hit tool, slashing .313/.433/.431 in 770 PA across two minor league seasons. Stevenson also has experience playing every position in the outfield, and could have a very high floor in his new system as he trends closer to the majors.

26. Lucius Fox, SS
Age: 22 (7/2/1997)
2019 Highest Level: AAA
.221/.331/.327, 3 HR, 39 SB, 12.3 BB%, 21.7 K%
It’s no secret that Fox has a special glove, or that he can blaze his way around the base paths, but last season was disappointing from a hitting perspective. After two years of seemingly dependable, consistent production (.266/.350/.341 in 2017, .268/.351/.341 in 2018) and a sensational 2018 Arizona Fall League appearance (.326/.437/.384), Fox’s numbers experienced an overall decline at the plate last season. His value at the moment seems to be tied to the potential development of his hit tool, as there was not much projectible power to begin with and all of his other athletic skills around the diamond already project as above average. 

27. Riley O’Brien, RHP
Age: 24 (2/6/1995)
2019 Highest Level: AA
102.2 IP, 3.16 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9
Riley O’Brien dominated Florida State League opponents to begin last season, with a 1.59 ERA in his first 6 starts. He spent most of the year in AA and pitched admirably in the subsequent 11 starts at his new level. As he’s grown into his 6’4” frame, O’Brien has added substantial velocity to his fastball. This development has helped play up a 60-grade curveball, with the addition of a changeup to complete his repertoire. O’Brien has been dependable as a starter, with a 2.83 ERA in 232.0 IP across three levels. He may get another turn in the Montgomery rotation to start the 2020 season, but a mid-season promotion similar to his first two years definitely seems in the cards.

28. Michael Plassmeyer, LHP
Age: 23 (11/5/1996)
2019 Highest Level: AAA
132.0 IP, 1.91 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
Plassmeyer quickly ascended through the Rays organization last year, holding opponents across three levels to a .228 BAA. He already has a track record of success in his young career, with a 1.96 ERA in 156.2 IP over the last two seasons. Plassmeyer also continues to exhibit impressive control of the strike zone, walking less than 2.0 BB/9 since his collegiate days in Missouri. He only tossed one inning for AAA Durham after a late season promotion, so expect the LHP to spend most of the upcoming season in the highest level of the minors. 

29. Brett Sullivan, C/OF
Age: 25 (2/22/1994)
2019 Highest Level: AA
.280/.333/.459, 10 HR, 21 SB, 7.9 BB%, 11.9 K%
Sullivan has a very interesting profile for a primary catcher, possessing double digit power and speed potential. For reference, J.T. Realmuto led the MLB last season with 9 SB. He was a bit older than his average competition at AA Montgomery, but he showed the consistency desired from a maturing hitter (.280/.333/.444 at home, .280/.333./.474 on the road) and he has the athleticism to play in the outfield grass as well. The success is worth nothing if he continues the trend up with a potential promotion to AAA Durham next season

30. Ford Proctor, 2B/SS
Age: 23 (12/4/1996)
2019 Highest Level: A
.290/.383/.402, 6 HR, 11 SB, 12.9 BB%, 16.8 K%
Ford Proctor improved across the board in his second season with the Rays, responding well to development in the Rays organization. He was the only player besides Alek Thomas to finish as a top five hitter in the Midwest League last year in AVG, OBP and SLG categories. With that performance, Proctor likely earned a promotion to begin next season, and the tools are present for him to evolve into a meaningful contributor at the next level. 

31. Tommy Romero, RHP
Age: 22 (7/8/1997)
2019 Highest Level: AA
125.1 IP, 2.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
Romero had a sensational season in 2019, as he gave up one or fewer earned runs in 17 of 23 appearances in the Florida State League, on his way to earning FSL Pitcher of the Year honors. He received a promotion to AA prior to his last start of the season, so expect Romero to begin next year in Montgomery. Romero has demonstrated impressive consistency throughout his minor league career with a 2.49 ERA in 296.2 IP across seasons, and bright things are ahead if he continues to pitch to his proven abilities.

32. Jim Haley, 1B/3B/OF
Age: 24 (2/23/1995)
2019 Highest Level: AA
.282/.329/.443, 16 HR, 27 SB, 5.1 BB%, 22.2 K%
Haley was listed as an honorable mention in my 2019 Midseason Top 50, and he’s only continued to improve his overall numbers after adjusting to AA pitching. He exhibits a very well-rounded profile at the plate and has demonstrated the ability to play multiple positions in the field, logging games at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF and RF. The 27 SB are easily a career high, more than doubling Haley’s total of 13 SB from last year. If he can continue to hit for average, show a penchant for power and maintain his baserunning improvements, the Rays may have found a hidden gem in Haley.

33. Caleb Sampen, RHP
Age: 23 (7/23/1996)
2019 Highest Level: A
121.0 IP, 2.68 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9
After being traded to the Rays from the Dodgers last offseason, Sampen dominated on the mound on his way to being nominated to the Midwest League Post-Season All-Star Team. Opposing batters hit a paltry .206 against Sampen last season, and he was particularly effective against lefties (.188 BAA.) He registered 12 QS over 22 starts last season and looks primed to build off last season’s solid effort. Expect Sampen to begin next season at AA Montgomery, with the opportunity to be a quick riser in the system with a repeat performance.

34. Peter Fairbanks, RHP
Age: 26 (12/16/1994)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
43.2 IP, 4.53 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 14.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 (A+/AA/AAA)
21.0 IP, 6.86 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 (MLB)
Fairbanks looked like a different pitcher in 2019, more than doubling his previous career high of 7.4 K/9. He began last season pitching for the Texas Rangers Class A Advanced affiliate and finished the season in September with the Tampa Bay Rays big league club. Look for Fairbanks to make an impact as a mid-to-late inning reliever if he can continue to uncover his newly discovered strikeout potential. 

35. Curtis Mead, 2B/3B/SS
Age: 19 (10/26/2000)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
.285/.351/.462, 4 HR, 4 SB, 7.4 BB%, 13.1 K%
Mead was signed out of Australia by the Phillies in 2018, and he prospered against the Gulf Coast League last season. He demonstrated the ability to hit for both contact and power, and also possesses a potential plus run tool that has shown signs of improvement through his development.The Rays dealt for Mead in November and he will most likely begin the upcoming season in Low-A Hudson Valley, where I’m hoping to get some live looks at the gifted prospect before he earns another promotion.

36. Ben Brecht, LHP
Age: 22 (1/7/1998)
2019 Highest Level: A-
24.2 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Brecht is a massive lefty, standing at 6’7”. Although his fastball doesn’t possess elite velocity at this point, he utilizes his imposing frame and delivery to create distinct movement that makes all of the pitches in his arsenal more difficult to square up. He has demonstrated elite control of the strike zone in his professional debut and that has helped him continue to develop his fastball and secondary pitches, all while holding opposing batters to a .200 BAA without giving up a home run. If he can continue to make the most of his natural physical gifts and opportunities, there can be a future for Brecht at the end of a major league rotation.

37. Tanner Dodson, LHP/OF
Age: 22 (5/9/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.250/.286/.350, 0 HR, 3 SB, 4.8 BB%, 15.9 K%
17.0 IP, 5.29 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.8 BB/9
Dodson has been a two-way player since his days at the University of California. The Rays took a chance on the interesting prospect, selecting him in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft. However, he experienced struggles in both phases of the game during an injury riddled season where he missed over three months of action due to injuries. It is unknown whether the Rays will continue to develop Dodson as a two-way player, but given his history of success before last season it would be wise to give him a chance to prove himself while healthy.

38. Joe LaSorsa, LHP
Age: 21 (4/29/1998)
2019 Highest Level: A-
36.1 IP, 2.23 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
The St. Johns product impressed in his professional debut after being selected in the 18th round of last year’s MLB draft. LaSorsa dominated right out the gate (1.57 ERA pre All-Star Break), before stumbling towards the end of the regular season (4.00 ERA in his last 10 outings.) The big lefty has a history of success against high level collegiate opposition and uses a deceptive release point to stymie hitters. LaSorsa converted to a starter in his last season of college and although he’s been used as a reliever to this point of his career, the experience and skill is aplenty if the Rays decide to experiment with his role.

39. Chris Betts, C
Age: 22 (3/10/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A
.210/.333/.400, 19 HR, 3 SB, 14.2 BB%, 28.8 K%
Betts enjoyed a very successful 2019 MiLB season with Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods on his way to becoming the team’s first ever All-Star Game MVP.  Arguably, the highlight of Betts’ season came in June, when he captured the Midwest League home run derby crown with a monster performance and celebrated with one of the best bat flips you’ll ever see. His offensive potential was evident throughout the season, but he could reach another level if he’s able to improve his plate discipline.

40. Simon Rosenblum-Larson, RHP
Age: 22 (2/11/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
60.1 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 5.1 BB/9
After starting 24 of 26 appearances for Harvard, Simon Rosenblum-Larson has been used almost exclusively as a reliever to this point of his professional career. Although SRL uncharacteristically struggled with his command (gave up 5.1 BB/9 in 60.1, after only allowing 2.1 BB/9 in 2018), he was still very effective in his role as closer for the Charlotte Stone Crabs last season. He also converted on all 8 of his save opportunities in the New York-Penn League, and 16 of 17 overall since being drafted in the 19th round a couple years ago. Ultimately, SRL represents a high-strikeout relief pitcher that a creative Rays organization can utilize in a variety of ways as he continues to gain experience.

Tier 5
41. Sandy Gaston, RHP
Age: 18 (12/16/2001)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
27.0 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 9.0 BB/9
Gaston struggled with a limited sample size in his first taste of professional ball last season. He’s continued to exhibit the potential plus-plus fastball (has been clocked at 99 MPH since he was 16) that made him one of the top international prospect signings just a couple years ago, but he still lacks a dependable secondary offering to further solidify his arsenal. It’s obvious that Gaston will need to refine his overall command to reach his potential, but he was still years younger than his average competition last season, and continued experience with the Rays highly touted player development staff may just be exactly what he needs to reach his massive upside. 

42. Diego Infante, OF
Age: 20 (10/22/1999)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
.288/.344/.504, 12 HR, 4 SB, 6.1 BB%, 27.1 K%
Diego Infante experienced a serious power surge in 2019. After only hitting 1 HR between his first two professional seasons combined, Infante slugged 12 HR in only 61 games last year. He vastly improved upon his 2018 stat line from the same level (.232/.278/.304 in 133 PA), and could see his stock continue to rise if he can build off the career best effort.

43. Tristan Gray, 1B/2B/3B/SS
Age: 23 (3/22/1996)
2019 Highest Level: AA
.225/.332/.409, 17 HR, 2 SB, 12.3 BB%, 18.6 K%
Acquired from the Pirates a few years ago, the former 13th round pick is a raw, yet enticing project. One aspect of Gray’s game that needs work is his base path awareness, as he was only success on 16.7% of his stolen base attempts last season. Gray will need to focus on progressing his hit tool, as a .239 AVG across two minor league seasons won’t be enough for him to ascend the minor league ranks. However, he still demonstrated improved plate discipline from his 2018 effort. It was also notable that he had the ability to hit for power (career high 17 HR), even when his average was so low. He provides defensive versatility across the infield and plays well on that side of the ball, so it seems that the continued maturation of Gray’s contact skills will go a long way in ultimately determining his upside in the system.

44. Garrett Whitley, OF
Age: 22 (3/13/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.226/.339/.412, 10 HR, 16 SB, 14.1 BB%, 37.1 K%
Whitley continues to strike out at a very high rate, but he was able to salvage his season after a very poor start (.218/.326/.388 in 188 AB pre All-Star break, compared to .235/.352/.437 in 183 AB after the break.) Before missing the 2018 season after suffering a torn labrum diving for a ball in the outfield, Whitley exhibited a well rounded profile that flashed serious power and speed upside. An adjustment period was expected in 2019 as he hadn’t faced competition in over a year leading up to the season, but now with that behind him, the Rays are hopeful he can round back into the player that convinced the team to draft him in the first round five years ago. 

45. Tyler Frank, 2B/3B/SS
Age: 23 (1/15/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A+
.154/.286/.173, 0 HR, 3 SB, 14.3 BB%, 20.6 K%
Tyler Frank missed most of last season due to a left arm injury, so the best indicator for his future success may to look at his track record. He slashed .288/.425/.412, 2 HR, 3 SB, 14.6 BB%, 12.4 K% across 226 PA in 2018, and continued the trend of walking more than striking out that he exhibited in college. He has experience playing multiple positions around the grass on the diamond, and that versatility will most definitely help Frank secure playing time in a system stacked with middle infield talent.

46. Roimer Bolivar, OF
Age: 20 (12/10/1999)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
.323/.471/.432, 1 HR, 15 SB, 19.1 BB%, 14.7 K%
Bolivar, an international signing during the 2016 season, exploded in his third go-round in the Dominican Summer League. He displayed complete control at the plate, with more walks than strikeouts. Perhaps, this will be a sign of things to come for Bolivar, but at the very least it’s safe to say he’s earned a promotion to begin next season. 

47. Drew Strotman, RHP
Age: 23 (9/3/1996)
2019 Highest Level: A+
24.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Strotman got off to a late start in 2019 after recovering from Tommy John surgery, and it’s reasonable to assume that may have been reflected in his performance. Strotman was electric in his professional debut just two seasons ago, posting a 1.78 ERA and 0.75 WHIP across 50.2 IP. He rips a fastball that can touch 97 and has the potential to develop two other pitches as he continues to work with the Rays development staff. Strotman is very much a work in progress to this point in his career, but one worth keeping an eye on.

48. Graeme Stinson, LHP
Age: 22 (8/6/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
0.2 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
“It’s a weak crop of pitching, particularly among the college ranks, but Stinson is poised to be the top college arm (or any arm in this scenario) selected with his plus fastball and slider.” – Jonathan Mayo, on Graeme Stinson in an early 2019 MLB mock draft 

After a sensational sophomore season at Duke that had him ranked as the fourth-best college prospect in 2019 by Baseball America, Stinston struggled in his Junior season. He was shut down with arm fatigue after only five starts and fell to the Rays in the 4th round of the 2019 MLB draft. Stinson pitched less than an inning in one appearance with the organization last year, so there shouldn’t be much stock put into his numbers so far. Stinson is a big hurler at 6’5, 250lb. and generates a lot of power from his lower half. He throws an above average slider with good breaking movement, but his fastball has raised some warranted concern after losing some velocity when he was injured. His upside as a starter in the future will continue to depend heavily on his ability to stay healthy moving forward.

49. Rodolfo Sanchez, RHP
Age: 20 (1/12/2000)
2019 Highest Level: A-
63.1 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
Sanchez spent all of the 2019 season with Class A Short Season Hudson Valley, impressing as a starter with quality starts in four of his last five outings. Sanchez fared went against older competition in the NYPL, allowing a .230 BAA over 13 total starts. His ability to limit hard contact while attacking the zone make him a potential prospect on the rise over the upcoming season.

50. Nick Sogard, 3B/SS
Age: 22 (9/9/1997)
2019 Highest Level: A-
.290/.405/.313, 0 HR, 20 SB, 14.9 BB%, 16.4 K%
The cousin of former Tampa Bay Ray Eric Sogard, Nick possesses a solid hit tool and base running instincts. Although he has very little to no power in his bat, he consistently found ways to get on base in his professional debut, finishing fourth in the New York-Penn League in OBP. Sogard also tied for second in the NYPL 20 SB and finished the season on a hot streak, hitting .355 in the final ten games with four steals. He could make an impact in this organization if he continues to make the most of his on-base opportunities.

Jake Wiener is a lifelong sports fan who leads Tampa Bay Rays minor league farm system coverage for the Prospects1500 team. Growing up playing baseball, Jake developed a love and genuine excitement for the game that grows stronger every year. Jake, who was born and raised in New York with family in Ohio, is a New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians fan. Jake participates in daily, redraft, dynasty and prospect-only fantasy baseball formats during each season and knows that when it comes to baseball, there truly is no offseason. Stay connected and feel free to reach out on Twitter @GatorSosa


    • Bradley definitely had a solid rebound season after struggling in his debut. He’s a candidate to make the midseason update with a repeat performance.

    • Peyton Battenfield, Josh Fleming, Ruben Cardenas, Tobias Myers, and Taj Bradley should have serious consideration for this list, but imo, the biggest omission may be Daiveyon Whittle. Solid list overall nonetheless. Not easy to make Top 50 in such a loaded system.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Our Top 25 Prospects and Their Bowman Baseball Cards To Own | Prospects1500
  2. 2020 1st Bowman Autographs: Your Hot Sheet Checklist | Prospects1500
  3. Dominican Winter League 2020 Recap | Prospects1500

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