Tampa Bay Rays 2021 Top 50 Prospects

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

Fresh off their second World Series appearance in franchise history, the Rays figure to only get better going forward. This farm system is the clear cut “best in baseball.” Being a team whose competitive window is wide open, it is beneficial to have such rich depth, and makes them a legitimate threat to make another run for the title. Having the top prospect in baseball certainly helps too.

A number of the players on this list have already displayed success at the Major League level – notably, Randy Arozarena, Pete Fairbanks, and Josh Fleming. You may notice this list looks quite different from our 2020 preseason list, as many of these prospects entered the Rays’ system within the last calendar year. Four of the five 2020 Rays draftees made our list. All six of the prospects acquired in the Blake Snell and Nate Lowe trades made our list. Oh, and the Rays also landed two of the top fifteen prospects of the J2 period that began on January 15th. So, essentially, the strongest minor league system in baseball somehow managed to get even better.

Bailey Srebnik (@xwOBAiley) and Jake Wiener (@GatorSosa) collaborated to create this deep dive into the Rays Minor League system. They worked together to produce a consensus Top 50 list that represents each player’s organizational standing as accurately as possible, from a fantasy baseball perspective. Each correspondent wrote twenty-five of the fifty blurbs in this list. Blurbs denoted with “(B)” were written by Bailey. Blurbs denoted with “(J)” were written by Jake.

With Minor League Baseball’s 2020 realignment, Tampa Bay’s affiliates are now: Durham Bulls (AAA), Montgomery Biscuits (AA), Bowling Green Hot Rods (A+) and Charleston RiverDogs (A). We still mourn the loss of our beloved Charlotte Stone Crabs, who are no longer affiliated with the Rays after an over decade-long pact. Hope of baseball at Charlotte Sports Park outside of Spring Training is currently bleak. Though, on the backfields, you can catch the Gulf Coast League Rays during the summer.

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

*= signifies member of 40-man roster

Tier 1:

1. Wander Franco, SS
Age: 19 (3/1/01)
Highest Level: A+
The legend of Wander Samuel Franco grows more exciting by the day. He has put on a show since signing with the Rays during the 2017 J2 period and has since become the crown jewel of the best system in all of baseball. Wander has a true 80-grade hit tool. He generates impressive torque from his stance and lightning quick hands that result in legendary bat speed from both sides of the plate.  In 768 plate appearances to date, Wander has abused opposing pitchers to the tune of .336/.405/.523 across three levels. After hitting 11 HR and 4 SB in his 2018 debut, Wander ran wild and stole 18 bags to pair with 9 homers the following season, cementing his status as a truly special all-around prospect. He has also demonstrated immaculate plate discipline at every stage of his development, with significantly more walks (83) than strikeouts (56) during his minor league career to date. Wander made the Rays postseason player pool in 2020, and it likely provided him with a lot of useful experience being around the big-league club in the midst of an incredibly competitive environment, such as the playoffs. He got off to another hot start in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, hitting .350 with a homer and steal across five games before being shut down for that season with minor shoulder biceps injury. He has since been cleared by the Rays medical team, and there are not expected to be any lingering concerns going forward. This is potentially the last offseason that Wander Franco will be considered a prospect due to eligibility requirements, as he could have made his debut in a full season last year and looks primed to get the call at some point during the upcoming 2021 season. It almost feels surreal to think that we’re so close to witnessing Wander’s greatness on the main stage, but the time is almost here. It’s Wander’s World, and we’re just living in it. (J)

2. Randy Arozarena*, OF
Age: 25 (2/28/95)
Highest Level: MLB
“R.A.N.D.Y: Rakes All Night Day Year” – Brett Phillips, Rays outfielder. The Postseason phenom and 2020 ALCS MVP, Arozarena comes in at #2 in this stacked farm system. Arozarena earned his way into the hearts of fans across the globe with his historic postseason success – but is he legit? Yes, yes he is. Ok, well maybe his postseason 239 wRC+ and .831 SLG are unlikely to be replicated, but make no mistake, Arozarena is here to stay. He has had success throughout his minor league career, and as Rays fans know, dominated in the final month of the 2020 regular season. The power department is where he really broke out, which was thanks in part to 300 push-ups a day while quarantining. Arozarena is basically everything you’d want in a player – a true 5 tool athlete. The speed is real as evidence by his 93rd percentile sprint speed. The power is real, as shown by his high EV (90.3%), high Barrel % (14.0%), and high Hard Hit % (44.2%) in 2020 (all well above league average). The sample sizes aren’t huge, but he has shown enough for us to be confident in him. The Rays love to platoon guys, but Arozarena is one of the few players who should start everyday. He has quickly become a fan favorite, as he has an infectious personality. A peak projection could see Arozarena hitting 30+ HR, with 30+ SB. A safer call would be 20/20. If you happened to have had Arozarena and his “botas de poder” on your dynasty team prior to his breakout – congratulations – as you now have a true superstar in your lineup. (B)

Randy Arozarena talking with Wander Franco about being the two best prospects on the planet (we assume), February 28, 2020. Photo credit Bailey Srebnik

3. Vidal Brujan*, 2B
Age: 22 (2/9/98)
Highest Level: AA
Brujan signed with the Rays back in October of 2014 for only $15,000 – which looks to be a steal now *pun intended*. Brujan is fast. Some may even say: very fast. He stole 55 bases in 2018 and 48 in 2019. To complement his speed, he also has excellent plate discipline. He has maintained a strikeout rate of under 15% in every level of his career. His profile isn’t perfect though, as his power is still a question mark. His GB% hovers around 50%, and his ISO around .120, which isn’t ideal if you are looking for a ton of dingers. But Brujan’s muscular frame suggests that there could be more power in store. As a switch hitter, he has posted stark splits too, hitting considerably better as a LHB. This could raise platoon concerns, especially as a Ray – but it is not a guarantee, and shouldn’t scare you away. He is still in Tier 1 for a reason. Brujan’s most recent performance was in the Dominican Winter League, where he played very well in 75 PA: .259/.394/.315 & 8 SB. This is basically a microcosm of what to expect from Brujan in the Majors. A nice OBP, plenty of SB, and minimal power. In a landscape where SB are harder to come by year after year, Brujan will be a coveted player, as he has the ingredients of a Major Leaguer starter. Don’t completely ignore the platoon concerns, but surely get excited about the 30+ SB potential. If we see even a little more power from his bat, we will have a star on our hands. (B)

Vidal Brujan greeted by the fans, March 25, 2019. Photo credit Bailey Srebnik

4. Luis Patiño*, RHP
Age: 21 (10/26/99)
Highest Level: MLB
“You’re talking about an incredible athlete… You’re talking about someone with top notch aptitude and makeup.” – Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays Senior VP/GM, on Luis Patiño

Patiño was recently acquired as the core return piece of the blockbuster Blake Snell deal this offseason. In 234.0 IP across two seasons with the Padres, Patiño cruised to a 2.35 ERA with 1.01 WHIP and 10.7 K/9. The sensational young talent has routinely overmatched competition, holding opposing hitters to a meager .208 BAA during that time. He utilizes explosive arm rotation to deliver a high-90s fastball and multiple complimentary offerings, including a plus slider and developing breaking balls that have received rave reviews. Patiño made his major league debut last season, pitching mainly out of the bullpen for the Padres down the stretch. Considering that he’s started 48 of 50 total appearances during his minor league career with a great deal of success, it is almost certain that the Rays internally consider him a starter going forward. The 5.19 ERA may not indicate a great deal success during the brief 17.1 IP debut last season, but he still managed a healthy 10.9 K/9 after skipping from AA to the MLB, and should continue to improve with increased exposure to higher levels of competition. He has a truly electric repertoire on the mound and the makeup to maximize his expectational skillset. The Rays may elect to hold Patiño in the minors for some additional seasoning before turning him loose, but he is certainly not far off from making an impact at the major league level. His future is incredibly bright in one of the league’s premier development systems. (J)

Tier 2:

5. Josh Lowe*, OF
Age: 22 (2/2/98)
Highest Level: AA
Younger brother of recently traded Nate Lowe, Josh possesses a power-speed profile that makes him a very intriguing asset for the Rays and dynasty owners alike. He has demonstrated notable improvement in the power department over the last couple seasons, while swiping a least 18 bags over the last three campaigns. He was only one of five minor league players during the 2019 minor league season to reach 18 HR and 30 SB (including Luis Robert and Kyle Tucker), and raked .327/.379/.558 with 2 HR and 4 SB over 15 Arizona Fall League games. He has also continued to develop his approach by becoming a more patient hitter against higher levels of competition. Lowe could make his debut as early as this upcoming season, but given the current depth in the Rays outfield he will likely be subject to a platoon to begin his career. However, if he continues to showcase his loud tools and perform at a high level when he does get the opportunity, chances are high that he can evolve into lineup fixture in short order. (J)

6. Brendan McKay*, LHP/DH
Age: 25 (12/18/95)
Highest Level: MLB
The 2017 4th overall draft choice and two-way phenom, McKay quickly rose up the rankings to become one of baseball’s top prospects. His first full season campaign on the mound was phenomenal with a 2.41 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 11.87 K/9 across three levels. At the plate he had 6 HR and a .368 OBP. The one blemish was that he missed about a month of the season with a recurring oblique issue. In 2019, he quickly earned a promotion to the Majors after dominating in AA and AAA. In the Majors, however, he was less sharp. In a 49.0 inning sample size, he had an ERA of 5.14, and gave up way too much hard contact. The Rays also didn’t use him as a hitter often. That brings us to his 2020, which was a complete wash. McKay didn’t see the field as he had COVID, and then a season-ending shoulder surgery. His prospect stock is down right now, as shoulder ailments are tough for pitchers to rebound from; however, the longterm outlook for McKay is still promising. Though he doesn’t possess a standout pitch, his four-pitch mix is excellent, and he has a workhorse pedigree. He needs to stay healthy and prove to the Rays that he can be a dependable rotation stalwart, and not just a bulk guy. Additionally, it will be worth monitoring how much longer he stays as a two-way player, considering just 11 MLB PA in 2019. (B)

Brendan McKay throwing a pregame bullpen session, May 30, 2018. Photo credit Bailey Srebnik

7. Shane McClanahan*, LHP
Age: 23 (4/28/97)
Highest Level: AA/MLB
Sugar Shane McClanahan has been a personal favorite in the system since being selected by the Rays in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft. He missed time in college due to recovering from Tommy John surgery that likely dinged his draft stock, but he still flashed the elite strikeout upside that has carried over into his professional career. McClanahan possesses a nasty arsenal that features a sizzling fastball and a slurvy breaking ball that play well off each other to throw opposing hitters off balance. After not allowing a run while striking out 13 in his brief seven inning Rookie-ball debut, he advanced through three minor league levels during the following 2019 season before becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to make his debut in the postseason in 2020. This demonstrates the high level of confidence that McClanahan has quickly earned in the Rays’ organization and he certainly didn’t disappoint, ripping 100mph heat against some of the league’s best hitters in the process. Although there have been concerns of McClanahan ultimately developing as a reliever, this doesn’t seem to be the long-term plan. He has started 26 of 28 appearances in the minors before making his debut last postseason, and likely pitched in relief at the time just so the team could utilize his talents as soon as possible. Rays Senior VP/GM Erik Neander has confirmed this offseason that McClanahan will be groomed and a starting pitcher. Heading into the 2021 season, McClanahan has already been mentioned as a potential candidate for starts given the changes made in the Rays’ rotation from last season, and projects as a high upside option if he can continue on his current trajectory. (J)

8. Heriberto Hernandez, C/1B/OF
Age: 21 (12/16/99)
Highest Level: A-
The main prize from the Nate Lowe deal, Hernandez has the potential to be truly special at the plate. He was signed in December 2017 by the Rangers and during his professional debut, Heriberto hammered .292/.464/.635 with 12 HR and 5 SB across 60 games, leading the Dominican Summer League in extra base hits. In his second season, Hernandez was equally as impressive as he continued to dominate. This time around, he led the Rookie-level Arizona league in hits, extra base hits and RBIs. With two consecutive seasons of elite offensive production under his belt, Hernandez now sports a healthy 320/.450/.635 career slash line across 113 games. He pairs an aggressive plate approach with tremendous bat speed, resulting in elite exit velocity data and significant power output to all fields. One concern to Heriberto’s game is that he may lack a true position. To date, he has experience playing behind the plate, at first and in the outfield. However, chances are high that he will grow out of C eligibility and will be left to find a defensive home at a corner spot in the infield, outfield or as a regular DH. Regardless of his eventual position, Heriberto has thunder in his bat, and that will likely be his carrying tool towards elite fantasy value. (J)

9. Shane Baz, RHP
Age: 21 (6/17/99)
Highest Level: A
Baz may forever be known as the “Player To Be Named Later” from the Archer trade, but this is a name to know right now. The talented fireballer is widely considered a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball (#68 on the Prospects1500 Overall Top 197 Prospects, updated October 2020.) Baz employs one of the most impressive fastballs in the minors, that pairs well with a devastating 65-grade slider and several other progressing secondary offerings that complete a deep arsenal. Since joining the Rays’ organization, Baz has adjusted his fastball from a 2-seam to 4-seam grip, and that has helped him continue to improve a high walk rate (4.6 BB/9 through three seasons, 4.1 BB/9 in 2019.) This improvement will be instrumental in his development, considering the highly touted hurler had the best showing of his young career in his first season with the Rays, but it is worth noting that he has yet to pitch above the Class A level. Although he possesses inherent reliever risk due to his profile and history of command issues as he ascends through the ranks, the Pirates and Rays have both prioritized his development as a starting pitcher. To support this notion, Baz has appearance in 39 games since being drafted.. all as a starting pitcher. If he can improve his command and continue to refine his other pitches, his ultimate upside may be higher than any pitcher in the organization. (J)

10. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS
Age: 21 (8/9/99)
Highest Level: A+
I think we are all familiar with Blake Snell’s infamous quote about Edwards by now? Anyways, Edwards is yet another Rays switch-hitting middle infield prospect. He boasts 80-grade speed (34 SB in 2019) and an elite contact rate. So what’s not to like? That would be his power – or lack thereof. His exit velos are dramatically weak, but that isn’t the end of the world. Edwards has a high floor as a multi-positional utility guy. He’ll need to retain that elite speed to be a major contributor in fantasy baseball. (B)

11. Carlos Colmenarez, SS
Age: 17 (11/15/03)
Highest Level: 2020 J2 Signee
One of the top prospects of the most recent J2 period, Colmenarez signed a $3M deal with the Rays on January 15, 2021. Colmenarez boasts a smooth swing from the left side that enables him to tap into some power. One of the more well-rounded prospects of this J2 period, he also boasts above-average defense and speed, and should remain at shortstop. Colmenarez is set to debut this summer. Definitely consider targeting him in your dynasty leagues if you have not had your FYPD yet, as the Rays generally set their prospects up to succeed. (B)

12. Nick Bitsko, RHP
Age: 18 (6/16/02)
Highest Level: High School
The Rays were fortunate to land arguably the best prep pitcher in the 2020 MLB Draft when Bitsko fell into their laps with the 24th overall pick. The young Bitsko reclassified into this draft, and was highly touted for his advanced repertoire with a roaring fastball and knee buckling curve that play well off each other with a 15 MPH+ difference in perceived velocities. It’s particularly impressive that he has proactively embraced advanced technology like Rapsodo to actively monitor and improve his pitch spin rates and efficiency. His willingness to improve an already impressive foundation bodes well for his future ability to refine these offerings at the next level, as well the ability to develop new secondaries that will maximize his success on the mound. He will miss the start of the upcoming season recovering from labrum surgery, and while the timetable for return is unclear at this time, he remains an exciting arm to follow once he does come back from the injury. If he can recapture form, especially with the help of the Rays’ player development program, Bitsko possesses the natural ability to become of a true top of the rotation ace. (J)

13. Greg Jones, SS
Age: 22 (3/7/98)
Highest Level: A-
Jones is an interesting prospect in a farm system full of talented hitters. In his 48 game post-draft debut, the switch-hitting middle infielder had a high K% (25.7), but offset it with a high BB% (10.1). His OBP was also nice (.413), which allowed him many opportunities to show off his elite speed, stealing 19 bases. The power is still somewhat lacking at the moment, but if it shows up, he should be able to rise even higher in this system. (B)

14. Joe Ryan, RHP
Age: 24 (6/5/96)
Highest Level: AA
Ryan’s fastball/slider duo gave hitters nightmares in 2019. He put himself on the map by dominating across three levels (A-, A+, & AA). His breakout was fueled by elite strikeout numbers, leading all of MiLB with a 38.0 K% & 32.4% K/BB. Ryan should start the 2021 season in Durham, where he will try to earn a spot on the Rays 40-man Roster. Considering Snell is now out of the picture, Ryan’s debut could be right around the corner. (B)

15. Cole Wilcox, RHP
Age: 21 (7/14/99)
Highest Level: College
Wilcox was a highly touted pitcher after transitioning from reliever to starter in his freshman year at Georgia with exceptional results. In his sophomore season, Wilcox turned it on with a 1.57 ERA and 16.0 K/BB.  The big 6’5 righty was pegged with first-round grades by most analysts, but he was eventually selected by the Padres with the 80th overall pick of last year’s draft after concerns of his signing due to high bonus demands led to him cascading down draft boards. However, it is the Rays’ organization that will ultimately reap the benefits of his services after acquiring Wilcox in the Blake Snell blockbuster deal this past offseason. Wilcox has utilized an electric fastball with movement that can touch 100 to pair with a changeup and slider that both ascend to become plus complimentary offerings. Wilcox will need to maintain consistency with his delivery in order to reach his potential upside, but pitcher’s with his caliber of pure stuff are very far and few in between. (J)

16. Brent Honeywell Jr.*, RHP
Age: 25 (3/31/95)
Highest Level: AAA
Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Honeywell the Wise? I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. Honeywell was once one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, before injuries derailed his career. His last in-game appearance was in September 2017 in Triple A. Since then, he has undergone four surgeries on his elbow, including Tommy John surgery. However, it is still not the time to quit just yet. Honeywell is scheduled to be ready for the start of Spring Training. Back when he was healthy, he had some of the very best stuff in the Minor Leagues. 2021 will essentially be a make-or-break year for him, at least for his time as a Ray. Let’s hope he finally makes it. (B)

17. Pete Fairbanks*, RHP
Age: 26 (12/16/94)
Highest Level: MLB
Crazy eyes! Relievers aren’t typically ranked high in dynasty lists, but Fairbanks and his 80-grade fastball are built different. Fairbanks’ 2020 was everything we could have hoped for – and then some. Back in August I wrote about Fairbanks, concluding: “if he can keep his momentum going that he built up in 2019, he will breakout and be an elite late-inning bullpen arm for years to come.” I believe it is safe to say he broke out. The main highlight is his glorious 13.16 K/9, but the rest of the stats were excellent too. If he cuts back on his walks a bit (12.0 BB% in 2020) while also limiting hard contact some more, he could be one of the very best relievers in baseball. (B)

Tier 3:

18. Alejandro Pie, SS
Age: 18 (1/31/02)
Highest Level: Rookie
Pie is one of my favorite prospects in the Rays’ organization. The former 2018 J2 signing responded well to his first taste of professional ball, raking .289/.361/.342 and swiping 24 bases in only 57 Dominican Summer League games, as well as winning MVP of the 2019 DSL All-Star game. He already possesses multiple plus tools and has the projectable frame to generate significant power production. If he can maintain his high contact rates and an increase power does come to fruition, Pie has the raw ability to be one of the more exciting middle infield prospects in any minor league system. (J)

19. Taylor Walls*, SS
Age: 24 (7/10/96)
Highest Level: AA
Back in May, I said Taylor Walls “has the makings of a Top 100 prospect.” This is still the case so do not let the #19 ranking deceive you. Walls is one of the best defenders in the Rays’ system, which raises his real-life floor. Offensively, his best tool is his speed (28 SB in 2019), but he is well-rounded overall. His power is the one aspect of his game that we’d like to see grow, but as I highlighted in my deep dive article, Walls actually did show signs of a power breakout in 2019. Walls is a prospect you simply cannot ignore, even with other excellent infielders above him on this list. Whether he breaks through in Tampa Bay or gets the Cronenworth treatment, I think it is a safe bet to forecast Walls being a Major League regular in the near future. (B)

20. Jhonny Piron, OF
Age: 16 (2/06/04)
Highest Level: 2020 J2 Signee
Piron was signed with the Rays from the Dominican Republic during the J2 signing period this offseason. He is considered one of the best OF in this year’s international class with an intriguing speed-power profile and has demonstrated a solid propensity to barrel the baseball with quick hands throughout the zone in batting practice clips. Based on overall projections, developing a consistent in-game hit tool may be the key to unlocking his upside. If his skillset can translate to success early in his professional career, it would be wise to get as many shares of Piron as possible, as soon as possible. (J)

21. Ronaldo Hernandez*, C
Age: 23 (11/11/97)
Highest Level: A+
Over five minor league seasons, Hernandez has hit .293/.345/.457 and although he experienced a somewhat down season at the plate in 2019, he followed the effort with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League that offseason, which bodes well for ability to rebound with future production.  He has improved significantly as a blocker behind the plate as he continues to learn the ropes, but it may not be enough to solidify his long-term future at the position. He played the entirety of 2019 season as the starting catcher for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League and earned All-Star honors in the process, so Hernandez seems like a lock to take on a new level of competition season. Regardless of his future defensive home, he displays a well-rounded offensive profile for a catcher (21 HR and 10 SB in 2018), and he will likely find his way into a major league lineup in the future if he can continue to develop as an offensive weapon. (J)

22. Seth Johnson, RHP
Age: 22 (9/19/98)
Highest Level: Rookie
Johnson was originally a junior college shortstop prior to becoming a hyped draft pitching prospect seemingly overnight. The Rays liked the converted pitcher enough to use a 2019 1st Round (CBA) Pick on him. While still very new to pitching, Johnson’s fastball and slider grade above average. He has the bonus of less mileage on his arm compared to the usual college pitcher; plus, he figures to benefit from the Rays’ savvy development staff. Johnson’s short 17-inning sample size of a debut was great too – 2.12 ERA & 1.18 WHIP. Overall, Johnson is a pitching prospect with tons of upside, and is someone you should try to acquire in your dynasty leagues before his price rises. (B)

23. JJ Goss, RHP
Age: 20 (12/25/00)
Highest Level: Rookie
The Rays were able to get Goss to forgo his commitment to Texas A&M by snagging him at slot value with the 36th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He mainly utilizes a mid-90s fastball with noticeable movement, and a couple secondary offerings including a 60-grade slider. Goss has also demonstrated impressive control of the strike zone during his brief professional career and has the makeup of a solid mid-rotation arm that could manifest a higher ceiling as he continues to grow into a very projectable 6’3 frame. (J)

24. Jhon Diaz, OF
Age: 18 (10/1/02)
Highest Level: 2019 J2 Signee
The biggest signing of the Rays’ 2019 J2 class, Diaz was all set to go to the Yankees before landing with the Rays instead, thanks to the Yankees running out of international funds. While he has not debuted yet, his tools are fascinating. He has great bat speed, solid raw power, and is an above-average runner. We are gonna need to see him translate it to actual games before getting too excited, but the thought of a future 5-tool hitter is quite fun to dream on. (B)

25. Blake Hunt, C
Age: 22 (11/10/98)
Highest Level: A
Coming over from San Diego in the Snell trade, Hunt may soon be the best catcher in this system. He tore it up at the Padres’ Alternate Site this summer, unlocking more power. The one area where he has a clear leg up on Ronaldo Hernandez is defense. While there are questions about Hernandez’s defensive ability, Hunt has the ingredients to stick behind the plate. Look forward to seeing these two duke it out for a starting role – with Mejia in the mix too – and don’t be surprised if Hunt ends up with the job longterm. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling from a fantasy baseball perspective, but he could be a 20 HR bat if he earns a full-time starting role. (B)

26. Kevin Padlo*, 3B
Age: 24 (7/15/96)
Highest Level: AAA
Padlo represents one of the more MLB-ready prospects on this list. He was acquired by the Rays in 2016, but finally had a big showing during the 2019 season. Across the two highest levels of the Minors that season, he demonstrated noticeable improvements with a .265/.389/.538 line with 21 HR and 12 SB in 110 games. With experience at both corner infield positions, Padlo becomes a viable call-up option for the Rays in the near future and one that could carry some utility fantasy value as a result if he can consistently maintain and build upon strides made at the plate. (J)

27. Josh Fleming*, LHP
Age: 24 (5/18/96)
Highest Level: MLB
When the Rays’ pitching staff suffered rampant injuries during August of the 2020 sprint season, the club called upon Fleming to be a key contributor, and he absolutely delivered. Think of Fleming as Yarbrough-Lite. Both are crafty, soft-tossing lefties who are excellent at limiting hard contact. From a fantasy perspective, Fleming won’t help you with K’s since his career K/9 is only 6.59 – however, he could still provide value in ERA and WHIP (2.78 ERA & 1.08 WHIP in 2020). If he makes the right adjustments and earns the Rays’ trust, he could be a source of quality starts too. (B)

28. Ian Seymour, LHP
Age: 22 (12/13/98)
Highest Level: College
Seymour pitched three seasons against formidable collegiate competition in the ACC for the Virginia Tech Hokies, getting progressively better each season before being selected in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB Draft.  After averaging 10.4 K/9 in 70.1 IP during his Sophomore season, Seymour was provided guidance from a coach during his time in the Cape Cod League that summer to transition from throwing his 2-seam to a 4-seam fastball. Seymour averaged 13.9 K/9 in the CCBL and went on to strike out 40 hitters in 20 IP during his final season at Virginia Tech. The rise in fastball velocity and strikeouts bode well for Seymour’s future, especially in a system renowned for making the most of young pitching talent. (J)

Tier 4:

29. Osleivis Basabe, SS
Age: 20 (9/13/00)
Highest Level: A-
Basabe was acquired from the Rays this offseason in the Nate Lowe deal with the Rangers. The addition makes a great deal of sense considered he is the exact player the Rays’ system seems to treasure. He has played every infield position across the last two Minor league seasons. The best part of Basabe’s budding profile is that he has shown the innate ability to make contact at a high rate. He finished third in the Dominican Summer League in 2018, hitting .344 and followed up his debut performance with a solid .323 average across two levels in 2019. He has also displayed speed and could become very interesting if he is able to add power to his toolbox. (J)

30. Taj Bradley, RHP
Age: 19 (3/20/01)
Highest Level: Rookie
Bradley is similar to Johnson in the “new to pitching” sense. Bradley didn’t pitch much until late in high school, but now flashes an encouraging repertoire. Armed with a plus slurve and low 90’s fastball, Bradley performed well in the Appy League in 2019. Keep an eye on him as a pitching prospect to potentially take a notable step forward this season. (B)

31. Nick Schnell, OF
Age: 20 (3/27/00)
Highest Level: A
Schnell was an impressive high school hitter and displayed signs of improvement in his second professional stint during the 2019 season. While he hit .239 with 1 HR and a .373 SLG in his debut, he went on to hit .265 with 5 HR and .448 SLG across three levels the following season. There are still some concerns with his approach and a 34.0 K%, but perhaps introducing a more compact swing path could go a long way for the big lefty bat. Although he has missed time due to injuries, there is plenty of projection remaining with Schnell, who looks the part of a budding CF talent that will greatly benefit from continued development within the Rays’ organization. (J)

32. Niko Hulsizer, OF
Age: 23 (2/1/97)
Highest Level: A+
The “Hulksizer” is a true three outcome hitter (21 HR, 12.9 BB%, & 30.4 K% in 2019). Whether or not he hits consistently enough to make it in the Majors remains to be seen, but his 70-grade raw power is enough of a reason to roster him in a deep dynasty league. (B)

33. Curtis Mead, SS
Age: 19 (10/26/00)
Highest Level: Rookie
The Australian born Mead has yet to appear in a game with the Rays’ system since being acquired from the Phillies last offseason, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for his organizational debut this season. He presents a versatile profile that the Rays covet, having already played 2B, 3B and SS in 46 professional games to date. In those games, Mead also fared well at the plate, slashing .280/.344/.451, while displaying multiple potential plus tools. He has also played very well this offseason in the Australian Baseball League, hitting .348/.375/.587, albeit across a small 15-game sample size. (J)

34. John Doxakis, LHP
Age: 22 (8/20/98)
Highest Level: A-
A 2019 2nd round pick, Doxakis dazzled in his short season debut (1.93 ERA & 0.95 WHIP in 32.1 IP). While there is more floor than ceiling here, he still has a good chance of becoming a back-end starter, thanks to his above average command and control. (B)

35. Jeffrey Hakanson, RHP
Age: 22 (8/4/98)
Highest Level: College
Coming off off one of the most dominant college stretches in recent memory, Tampa Bay native Jeffrey Hakanson was drafted by the Rays in the 5th round of the 2020 MLB draft. In 8 IP before the college season was shut down, he allowed only one hit, one walk, and struck out 20 of the 28 batters he faced. Hakanson utilizes deception in his delivery to stymie hitters, and although he was utilized as a reliever in college, his elite extension and raw stuff indicate he could reach a very high ceiling with a little seasoning from the Rays’ development program. (J)

36. Alika Williams, SS
Age: 21 (3/12/99)
Highest Level: College
Williams falls under the umbrella of “better real life player than a fantasy player.” He is a glove-first shortstop – which does not give you any fantasy points. Though, we cannot completely write him off, as his contact skills coupled with his slightly above average speed provide some value. Plus, Tampa Bay is an excellent fit for him development-wise. (B)

37. Ford Proctor, SS
Age: 24 (12/4/96)
Highest Level: A
After putting up major improvements in every statistical category in his second season with the Rays’ organization, he kept the good times rolling during the offseason. Proctor participated in the 2020 Constellation Energy League and had a dominant showing, crushing .346/.500/.679 with 4 HR in 7 SB in 28 games. He led that league in AVG, RBIs, R, OBP, SLG and total bases, on his way to capturing the Eastern Reyes del Tigre Team MVP award. (J)

38. Drew Strotman*, RHP
Age: 23 (9/3/96)
Highest Level: A+
The Rays added Strotman to the 40-man Roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He missed a lot of time while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but his stuff looked fresh again during the 2019 Arizona Fall League. His role with the Rays looks to be a back-end starter or a reliever. (B)

Tier 5:

39. Pedro Martinez, SS
Age: 20 (1/28/01)
Highest Level: A
No not that Pedro Martinez. This one came over from the Cubs last summer in the Jose Martinez trade. Pedro Martinez is yet another Rays switch-hitting middle infield prospect who possesses elite contact skills. His defensive abilities are not the greatest, so that lowers his real life floor. For Martinez to be anything more than a utility player, he will need to find more power. (B)

40. Hunter Barnhart, RHP
Age: 18 (2/14/02)
Highest Level: High School
Barnhart displayed enticing athletic ability as a two-way athlete, excelling as both an ace pitcher and starting Quarterback during his time at St. Josephs HS in California before being the third pitcher selected by the Rays as the 96th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. The big prep righty’s arsenal on the mound is highlighted by two complimentary offerings; a fastball touching mid-90s, and a hammer curve that already projects as a plus secondary pitch. (J)

41. Caleb Sampen, RHP
Age: 24 (7/23/96)
Highest Level: A
Caleb Sampen experienced somewhat of a breakout campaign in 2019 after being traded from the Dodgers, with a 2.68 ERA in 121.0 IP and over half of his 22 appearances resulting in Quality Starts. He has a bulldog mentality and has baseball bloodlines, which is always interesting to note for an impressive young prospect. Sampen looks primed for a new challenge to start next season in AA Montgomery and if he can carry over the success from his first season with the team, he’s definitely a name worth monitoring going forward. (J)

42. Alexander Ovalles, OF
Age: 20 (10/6/00)
Highest Level: A-
Another piece to the puzzle received in the Nate Lowe deal this offseason, Ovalles has fared well so far in his professional career, hitting .299/.376/.456 with 4 HR and 13 SB across 70 games. He possesses a sweet lefty swing and has the upside to be an impactful offensive contributor as he matures. There could be some serious upside to Ovalles’ game if he can continue to develop power, given his present contact and speed tools. (J)

43. Sandy Gaston, RHP
Age: 19 (12/16/01)
Highest Level: Rookie
Gaston received a lot of hype when he and his 100 MPH fastball signed with the Rays in 2018, but his pro debut was not as inspiring (6.00 ERA & 9.0 BB/9 in 27 IP). There is still plenty of time for him to develop, and if he does not pan out as a starter, his fastball could certainly work out of the bullpen. (B)

44. Jose Pena, OF
Age: 18 (12/24/02)
Highest Level: 2019 J2 Signee
Pena was in the same J2 class as Jhon Diaz, and has received comps to Adam Jones. With a strong pro debut in 2021, Pena could easily rocket up this list. If he retains his speed as he continues to develop, he could be a future power/speed threat at the highest level. Certainly keep an eye on him this year. (B)

45. Moises Gomez, OF
Age: 22 (8/27/98)
Highest Level: A+
Gomez possesses tantalizing raw power, but a below average plate approach hurts his longterm outlook. If he cuts down on strikeouts (33.5% in 2019) he could find playing time in the Majors. But he is still a work in progress, especially considering his struggles against RHP in 2019. (B)

46. Tyler Frank, SS
Age: 23 (1/15/97)
Highest Level: A+
Frank only played 16 games in 2019 before missing the rest of the season with an arm injury, but he continues to display an impressive eye at the plate with more walks than strikeouts across college and his first two professional seasons. Frank heads into the upcoming campaign as yet another athletic infielder in the Rays’ organization with ability to play around the diamond and the upside for some offensive production through additional development.  (J)

47. Abiezel Ramirez, SS
Age: 21 (1/26/00)
Highest Level: Rookie
Ramirez is an intriguing prospect for the Rays. An above-average runner with increasing power, Ramirez is a name to watch as the Rays push him quickly up the levels. (B)

48. Michael Plassmeyer, LHP
Age: 24 (11/5/96)
Highest Level: AAA
Plassmeyer was traded to the Rays from the Mariners in 2018 after his brief debut and has experienced a great deal of success throughout his brief minor league career, with a 1.96 ERA and 0.981 WHIP across 156.0 IP. Although he may not present the highest upside option for an arm in the system, he continues to display a safe floor with exceptional control of the strike zone (1.6 BB/9.) He finished the last Minor league season in AAA, and should provide value to the Rays as pitching depth in the near future. (J)

49. Cal Stevenson, OF
Age: 24 (9/12/96)
Highest Level: A+
Stevenson was traded from Toronto to Houston, then to Tampa Bay. His high walk rate increases his value in OBP leagues, but there is not a lot of upside otherwise. He is an above-average runner so double-digit stolen bases is possible – it is just unlikely he finds consistent MLB playing time with the Rays due to all the depth in this system. (B)

50. Daiveyon Whittle, RHP
Age: 21 (11/11/99)
Highest Level: A-
Whittle, whom we had the pleasure of interviewing last May, is a very talented, young arm in the Rays’ system. He dominated minor league competition in 2019, holding opposing hitters to a .208 BAA while earning a .95 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Whittle is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and will be unavailable for the upcoming season, but he has an intriguing arsenal highlighted by a devastating splitter and should remain on radars as he continues on the road to recovery. (J)

The Next 12:

51. Tanner Murray, SS
52. Gabriel Arias, SS

53. Jesus Quevedo, SS
54. Graeme Stinson, LHP
55. Tommy Romero, RHP
56. Resly Linares, LHP
57. Jim Haley, 3B
58. Ben Brecht, LHP
59. Estanli Castillo, OF
60. Logan Driscoll, C
61. Chris Betts, C
62. Esteban Quiroz, SS

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

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