The Tampa Bay Rays have seven players in the Arizona Fall League this year. Three of the seven are top prospects, two are prospective bullpen arms, while the two others are pitchers making up for innings lost to injury this season. Who are the Rays playing for the Surprise Saguaros?
Brandon Lowe, 2B (#20 in the Prospects1500 Tampa Bay Rays Top 50)
Age: 23 (DOB 07/06/1994)
Drafted in 2015 out of the University of Maryland, Lowe shot up prospect lists this season. He was a Florida State League all-star after hitting .311 with 9 HR, 46 RBI and 67 SB at High-A Charlotte. Promoted to AA Montgomery, he had two homers, 12 runs batted in, a stolen base and .253 average in 24 games. Lowe had a homer, two RBI and a .333 OBP in his first five Arizona Fall League games.
Kevin Padlo, OF (#23 in our Top 50)
Age: 21 (DOB 07/15/1996)
Potentially big power, but with lots of strikeouts, Padlo (acquired from the Colorado Rockies in the Jake McGee trade two years ago) struggled a bit this year at High-A Charlotte. But it’s too soon to say he won’t figure it out and become a big-league regular. Padlo had driven in five with a .333 OBP in eight AFL games.
Brett Sullivan, C (#24)
Age: 23 (DOB 02/22/1994)
Drafted in 2015 out of University of the Pacific, Sullivan was a Florida State League all-star this season and earned a promotion to AA Montgomery. He has 8 HR, 74 RBI, 18 SB and a .294 batting average in combined stats in 2017. His ability to throw out runners is his best defensive trait. He had three RBI and a .316 OBP in his first five AFL games.
Spencer Jones , RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/22/1994)
Drafted in the 10th round out of the University of Washington in 2016, Jones split his first full minor league season between A-level Bowling Green and Charlotte. The 6-5 reliever pitched in 36 games, saving five with a 2.25 ERA and striking out 74 in 68 innings. But he’s allowed 7 earned runs in his first 3.2 innings in the AFL.
Roel Ramirez , RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 5/26/1995)
Ramirez, drafted in 2013 out of high school in Laredo, Texas, also split time between Bowling Green and Charlotte. He pitched 64.2 innings, striking out 60, mostly as a starter. The Rays want to see if he can be effective in a relief role. In the AFL, he has struck out three in 3.1 innings, giving up two earned runs.
Benton Moss, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 02/21/1993)
Moss was drafted from the University of North Carolina in 2015 and advanced to AA Montgomery this season after missing the first half because of a back injury. A starter, he was 5-6 with a 3.21 ERA, striking out 66 in 81.1 innings and pitching to a 1.22 WHIP. He struggled in his first two AFL appearances.
Burch Smith, RHP
Age: 27 (DOB 04/12/1990)
Smith, who pitched in 2013 for the San Diego Padres, missed 2015 and 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He returned this year and finished in AAA Durham. He was 5-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. Besides building up his arm strength, the Rays want to see more to decide whether to protect Smith in the Rule 5 draft this winter. He’s given up 7 earned runs in 4.1 innings in Arizona.
Article featured image of Kevin Padlo – courtesy of his Twitter account (@KevinPadlo)
Michael Parnell is a retired newspaper editor who covers the Colorado Rockies for Prospects1500. He is a longtime fantasy baseball fan who now focuses on his dynasty teams in Diamond Duos and Dynasty Sports Empire leagues. He recently relocated from Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Albuquerque, N.M. Follow him on Twitter @parnellmichael.