For the second time in the last three seasons, Baseball America recognized the Rays as Organization of the Year in 2021. They have consistently found success throughout the ranks of the system over the last several years as a result of remarkable international scouting efforts, impactful draft picks paying dividends, and elite player development. Last season we saw the organization truly firing on all cylinders.
Durham completed their regular season with the best record in Triple-A and won the league championship. The Montgomery Biscuits finished with the second-best record in Double-A South, High-A Bowling Green and Low-A Charleston were the only minor league teams to win 80 games this season and the Rookie-level affiliates also enjoyed success.
Although baseball’s top overall prospect Wander Franco and future ace Shane McClanahan graduated to the majors and exceeded prospect eligibility during the 2021 season, the Rays are still unbelievably loaded with talented hitting and pitching prospects with exciting skillsets that will likely be maximized through the organization’s proven developmental process. That makes this the perfect farm system to invest in prospects when it comes to dynasty leagues.
Rays Minor League Affiliates:
Durham Bulls – AAA
Montgomery Biscuits – AA
Bowling Green Hot Rods – High-A
Charleston RiverDogs – Low-A
FCL Rays – Rookie
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 a high likelihood of making the majors, but provide minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making a team’s 40-man roster.
Levels listed for each player are the highest level player reached in 2021.
1. Vidal Brujan, 2B/OF, 23, MLB
Brujan is an electric middle infield prospect with the potential to significantly impact any game across the board. He made his long-anticipated major league debut in 2021, and although his stay was brief, he didn’t waste any time making his presence felt by stealing a base in his very first game. Brujan has swiped over 40 bags in each of the last three minor league seasons and has consistently demonstrated the ability to hit for contact and to get on base. With his skillset and proximity to the majors, he should soon settle in as the perfect leadoff man for a dynamic Rays offense for years to come.
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) September 13, 2021
2. Shane Baz, RHP, 22, MLB
The infamous “Player to be Named Later” in the 2018 Chris Archer blockbuster has continued to boost his reputation as one of the sport’s highest upside pitching prospects. Baz has always been highly touted as a pitching prospect since being selected in the first round of the 2017 MLB draft, but he took his game to the next level, both figuratively and literally, last season by significantly improving his command on his way to making his major league debut. Baz compiled a 2.06 ERA and 0.801 WHIP across the two highest levels on the minors before being promoted to the show in September to cap off an eventful year after participating in the All-Star Futures Game and Tokyo 2020 Olympics. After back-to-back dominant campaigns since joining the Rays organization, Baz looks to continue his transformation into a bona fide ace within the Major League rotation this upcoming season.
Shane Baz was all kinds of filthy in his second MLB start:
9 K pic.twitter.com/kqnwYU1l7l
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 26, 2021
3. Josh Lowe, OF, 23, MLB
Lowe enjoyed a sensational season in AAA Durham, raking .291/.381/.535 (142 wRC+) with 22 homers and 26 steals i(n 26 attempts) across 111 games on his way to being named the Rays Minor League Player of the Year. The sweet-swinging lefty showcased an improved ability to make contact in 2021 while maintaining a high walk rate and the lowest ground ball rate of his professional career. Lowe has a power-speed package reminiscent of Kyle Tucker, and that should be music to the ears of those that have Lowe in dynasty leagues. This offseason is likely the last time to invest in Lowe before his stock skyrockets among the masses once he becomes a regular in the Rays lineup, as soon as early this summer.
Two truths & a lie: Josh Lowe (@_joshelowe) hit this baseball
Over TWO walls
To the moon
Wait sorry that’s 3 truths pic.twitter.com/UZ9ux66get
— Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls) May 8, 2021
4. Greg Jones, SS, 23, AA
Jones is a tooled-out athlete with explosive speed and potential plus power. Jones obliterated opposing High-A East pitching to the tune of .291/.389/.527 with 13 homers and 27 steals in just 56 games before being promoted to AA. The increase in power production was very promising for a prospect that has already displayed blazing speed and the ability to hit for average. If he can improve on his K rate while continuing to hone the other facets of his game, Jones could easily be in the conversation for one of the sport’s top overall prospects before he eventually earns a promotion to the show.
5. Taj Bradley, RHP, 20, High-A
After last season’s dominant performance, Bradley is the biggest riser for an arm in the Rays system. He completely outmatched opposed hitters across two levels last season, with a 1.83 ERA and 10.7 K/9 in 103.1 IP. Bradley commands a plus fastball as his primary pitch that has gained velocity, with a complement of secondary offerings including a curveball, slider and developing changeup that all show promise towards becoming impact pitches. Bradley also earned the distinction as the MiLB Top Starting Pitcher in 2021, beating out top pitching prospects Grayson Rodriguez and Cade Cavalli in the process. In the words of fellow Rays pitching prospect Daiveyon Whittle from our interview in May 2020, “Taj is going to be the real deal.”
Taj Bradley (@TajBradley) struck out his first 3 batters faced and threw his second consecutive shutout start. This season he has 46 Ks in 29.2 innings pitched.
— Rays Player Development (@RaysPlayerDev) June 19, 2021
6. Curtis Mead, 1B/3B, 21, AA
The South Australian native has gradually increased his stock since being acquired from the Phillies in November 2019. Last season, Mead displayed notable contact skills and a well-rounded offensive profile by hitting .321 with 15 homers and 11 stolen bases across three levels. He went on to follow up the brilliant performance with a dominant Arizona Fall League showing, slashing .313/.360/.530 in 20 games. Mead looks likely to open next season with AAA Durham and has professional experience playing all around the diamond defensively that should help fast track him to the Majors if his bat stays hot.
7. Heriberto Hernandez, OF, 22, Low-A
Hernandez is an on-base machine and packs thunderous punch in his bat. Although last season’s performance does not quite match his sensational .345/.436/.635 line from 2019, Hernandez still earned a .381 OBP while displaying promising power potential with a 44.2 FB%. He may not currently have a set position in the field, having previously played catcher, first base and outfield, but Heriberto looks to eventually settle in as a corner outfielder if his playing time from last year is an indication of how the organization looks to handle his defensive future. Regardless of where he ends up on the diamond, Hernandez will be a significant offensive asset at the plate.
8. Xavier Edwards, 2B, 22, AA
Edwards has elite bat-to-ball skills and premium speed, as evidenced by a career .320 average and 75 stolen bases across three minor league seasons. He played last year with AA Montgomery and earned a 113 wRC+ at the dish, while playing both corner and middle infield positions on his way to being named to the All-Star futures roster and the Double-A South All-Star team. His offensive upside is relatively capped due to limited power potential, but he should continue to make contact at a high level.
9. Austin Shenton, 3B, 24, AA
Shenton was acquired by the Rays last July from the Mariners as part of the return for reliever Diego Castillo. He possesses a standout hit tool and posted a stellar .295/.398/.549 slash line across two levels within both organizations last season. Shenton displayed tremendous offensive upside throughout last season, including a 1.126 OPS across June and July that ranked third overall in the minors during those months, before being shut down for the season with a thumb injury in mid-August.
10. Ian Seymour, LHP, 23, AAA
Seymour made professional his debut in July after dealing with an elbow injury and wasted no time making an impact, posting a dazzling 1.95 ERA and 40.7 K% across three levels on the way to reaching Triple-A just over two months into his professional career. He possesses an impressive arsenal complete with a mid-90s 4 seam fastball, changeup, and sweeping slider. Seymour’s rapid ascension through a stacked system only confirms the organization’s faith in his ability to perform against more advanced levels of competition, and the Rays have been rewarded with a potential frontline ace in the process.
Strut your stuff, Ian Seymour.
— Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls) September 9, 2021
11. Carlos Colmenarez, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
Colmenarez was the organization’s top-ranked signee, and one of the highest ranked signees in all of baseball, during the 2020 Initial J2 period. He was limited to just 26 games in his professional debut last season due to a hamate injury, but Colmenarez has earned rave reviews from several members within the organization and is action-packed with potential plus tools at the plate and on the field. There is an opportunity for Colmenarez to become the next big international prospect revelation for the Rays if everything clicks throughout his development and maturation process.
12. Jonathan Aranda, 1B, 23, AA
Aranda excelled offensively last season, hitting .331/.419/.543 with 14 HR across two levels. He had shown impressive contact skills throughout his professional career since being signed during the 2016 J2 international signing period, but a dramatic increase in power production in 2022 (14 HR in 100 games, compared to 5 HR in 110 games from 2016-2019) has transformed his offensive game. He rightfully earned recognition for his breakout performance as the Double-A South MVP last season and is on an upwards trajectory towards becoming an impact player for the Major League club in the not-too-distant future.
Jonathan Aranda stays hot and adds to his league leading RBI total to get us on the board early!
B1: MGM 1 | PNS 0 pic.twitter.com/2qLULs3h3r
— Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball) September 3, 2021
13. Carson Williams, SS, 18, Rookie (FCL)
Williams was selected at 28th overall with the Rays first pick in the 2021 MLB Draft as one of the youngest players in the class, and quickly demonstrated notable on-base abilities in his brief professional debut. The prep product possesses a dynamic toolset at the plate and on the diamond, with sky-high potential as he continues to mature in the Rays’ organization.
14. Cole Wilcox, RHP, 22, Low-A
Wilcox was off to a sensational start to his professional career last season, with a 29.9 K% and .198 BAA across 10 starts before being shut down during the season in June with an elbow strain. He underwent Tommy John surgery and will likely return to baseball activities later this year or early next year, with a goal to return to game action for the 2023 season. When healthy, Wilcox has overpowering stuff and has the upside of a top of the rotation starter.
15. Seth Johnson, RHP, 23, Low-A
Johnson followed up on a brief but successful 2019 professional debut with a 2.88 ERA and 11.0 K/9 across 93.2 IP last season. He already possesses a quality starter’s arsenal with three secondary offerings that complement an improving fastball. He has all the ingredients to succeed as a pitching prospect within the Rays organization.
16. Ryan Spikes, 2B, 18, Rookie (FCL)
Ryan Spikes was drafted with the 100th overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft and is perhaps my favorite under-the-radar prospect in the Rays’ system. He utilizes quick wrists to generate an impact swing for his size that should develop into noticeable power as he matures. Spikes has all the tools and elite makeup to become a top middle infield prospect in the Rays organization. This is the ultimate buying opportunity in dynasty leagues or FYPD drafts to invest in a prospect that will very likely slingshot up rankings with additional playing time.
With the 100th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2021 MLB Draft, #RaysUp select prep 2B Ryan Spikes. Elite speed paired with impressive recorded exit velocities make him a very intriguing MI prospect that could carry above average tools across the board pic.twitter.com/8tDl4ZJ2Ak
— Jake (@GatorSosa) July 12, 2021
17. Nick Bitsko, RHP, 19, Rookie (FCL)
Bitsko has yet to pitch in a professional game due to labrum surgery but has immense upside as a potential ace in the Rays organization if he can successfully recover from the injury. He pairs a blazing fastball with a hammer curveball and was considered the best prep pitcher in his class before being selected by the Rays in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft.
18. Kameron Misner, OF, 24, AA
Misner was acquired by the Rays this offseason from the Marlins in the Joey Wendle trade this offseason. He possesses an intriguing blend of developing power and speed (12 HR and 26 SB in 102 games last season) with a knack for getting on base, but he’ll look to cut down on his strikeout rate and improve his quality of contact in his new organization to harness his true upside at the plate.
The #Rays have acquired OF prospect Kameron Misner from Miami. The 6’4 lefty reached AA this year and has a strong minor league career track record:
658 PA, 14 HR, 37 SB
.258/.365/.412 (121 wRC+)
13.2 BB%, 27.1 K%
Loud tools, but with some strikeoutspic.twitter.com/P6BWCPqfe5
— Rays Metrics (@RaysMetrics) November 30, 2021
19. Brendan McKay, LHP, 26, MLB
McKay was once widely renowned as one of the top prospects in all of baseball but has faced a series of unfortunate injuries preventing him from a sustained opportunity at the Major league level. McKay and the Rays have chosen to focus on developing his career trajectory as a pitcher after being drafted as a two-way player and his future will ultimately depend on his health.
20. Tommy Romero, RHP, 24, AAA
Romero enjoyed a very successful 2021 season, posting a sensational 2.61 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) across the minor’s two highest levels. He utilizes a vertical delivery to maximize his four-seam fastball with elite spin efficiency to keep opposing hitters off-balance. Romero has been a beacon of consistency in the Minors so far in his young professional career, posting a 2.52 ERA across four Minor League stints and he looks to be ready to contribute to the Rays as soon as this season.
In their first matchup, Tommy Romero disposed of Adley Rutschman on three pitches, the last a heater on the outside corner for strike three. pic.twitter.com/xJjpXiRs1s
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) September 10, 2021
21. JJ Goss, RHP, 21, Rookie (FCL)
Goss missed most of the 2021 season due to a shoulder impingement but continued to demonstrate excellent control upon his return by not walking a batter in 4 games after only walking two hitters during his 2019 professional debut. This skill should help Goss as he looks to build upon his innings workload next season after only pitching 27.1 IP across two seasons in his professional career to date.
22. Sandy Gaston, RHP, 20, Low-A
Gaston is an electric young arm that made significant strides during the 2021 season, posting a 3.60 ERA and 12.6 K/9 in 50 innings pitched across two levels. If he can continue to make improvements to his control and secondary pitches through development, Gaston has a very high ceiling as a power pitcher with the physical ability to pump triple-digit heat.
Sandy Gaston earned his first Low-A win after tossing 5 scoreless innings and striking out 5 in the @ChasRiverDogs 7-2 win over Augusta.
— Rays Player Development (@RaysPlayerDev) August 27, 2021
23. Cooper Kinney, 2B, 18, Rookie (FCL)
Kinney was selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and possesses intriguing power potential as a bat-first middle infield prospect. The prep product has a beautiful left-handed swing that generates natural loft and that could prove to be his carrying tool as he adjusts to pro ball.
24. John Doxakis, LHP, 23, High-A
Doxakis had another quality campaign last season, posting a 3.94 ERA and .217 BAA with a 10.0 K/9 in 102.2 IP across two levels. He was promoted to Bowling Green mid-season, and while his surface numbers may seem to indicate a downturn in production against a higher level of competition, his peripherals (3.79 FIP vs 4.60 ERA) and 50.5 GB% imply that he was better than the numbers suggest.
25. Junior Caminero, 1B/3B, 18, Rookie (DSL)
Caminero was acquired by the Cleveland Guardians in November for RHP Tobias Myers. He generates impressive bat speed with quick wrists to generate swift barrel movement from the right side of the plate and has also displayed versatility in the field, with experience playing at first base, second base, third base, and shortstop across his brief professional career.
#Indians 18yr old INF prospect Junior Caminero taking BP w/ @TigresdelLicey tonight at their home stadium. He is receiving instructions from former MLB star @HanleyRamirez in the background. Caminero is coming off a tremendous pro-debut in the Dominican Summer League.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/mb3QUvY7Lh
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) October 27, 2021
26. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, 21, Rookie (FCL)
Manzardo makes hard contact on a routine basis and presents significant upside as a potential middle-of-the-order masher. The rookie first baseman was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2021 MLB draft and demolished opposing Florida Complex League pitching in his brief debut, posting a 173 wRC+ across 50 plate appearances.
27. Ronny Simon, 2B/SS, 21, High-A
Simon was acquired by the Rays this offseason from the Diamondbacks. He spent last season in High-A and displayed significant power and speed from a young middle infielder. He is the prototypical toolsy middle infielder and is a perfect fit to continue his professional development in the Rays system.
28. Alejandro Pie, SS/3B, 19, Rookie (FCL)
Pie possesses tantalizing upside packed into a projectable 6’4 frame for a middle infielder, although he encountered his fair share of struggles at the plate in the Florida Complex League last season. He is as raw as it gets for a prospect but the quick-twitch athlete is in the right farm system to maximize his present physical talent.
29. Jacob Lopez, LHP, 23, AA
30. Blake Hunt, C, 23, AA
31. Ford Proctor C/SS, 25, AA
32. Osleivis Basabe, 2B/SS, 21, High-A
33. Brett Wisely, 2B, 22, High-A
34. Jose Pena, OF, 19, Rookie (DSL)
35. Willy Vasquez, SS, 20, Rookie (FCL)
36. Diego Infante, OF, 22, High-A
37. Ruben Cardenas, OF, 24, AA
38. Colby White, RHP, 23, AAA
39. Esteban Quiroz, 2B, 29, AAA
The defensively versatile Proctor shifted over to playing catcher last season, and that could afford him additional opportunities to be an impact player for the organization moving forward… Wisely exploded onto the scene in his second professional season, mashing .301/.376/.503 with 19 HR and 31 SB across 100 games… Vasquez is a 2019 J2 signee and earned the Rookie-level FCL Rays MVP as he continued to hit well after a brief, but noteworthy debut, while adding speed to his profile… White had a dominant showing in 2021, earning a 1.44 ERA and 15.0 K/9 across 4 different levels as the Rays Relief Pitcher of the Year… Quiroz is the oldest prospect on this list, having played seven seasons in the Mexican League before signing with an MLB organization in 2018, but has a very intriguing profile as a 5’6 middle infielder with high-end contact and on-base skills.
2 games, 2 wins!
Brett Wisely’s 2 homers in his Low-A debut accompanied by John Doxakis’ 4 scoreless innings helped give the @ChasRiverDogs an Opening Day win.
— Rays Player Development (@RaysPlayerDev) May 5, 2021
40. Jeff Hakanson, RHP, 23, Rookie (FCL)
41. Abiezel Ramirez, SS/3B, 21, Low-A
42. Patrick Wicklander, LHP, 22, Rookie (FCL)
43. Jhon Diaz, OF, 19, Rookie (DSL)
44. Alika Williams, SS, 22, AAA
45. Daiveyon Whittle, RHP, 22, Low-A
46. Dru Baker, OF, 21, Rookie (FCL)
47. Tanner Murray, SS/3B, 22, High-A
48. Ben Brecht, LHP, 24, Low-A
49. Erik Ostberg, C, 26, AA
50. Hunter Barnhart, RHP, 19, Rookie (FCL)
Hakanson made his debut last season after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2020 MLB draft and showcased high strikeout upside with an 11:1 K:BB across his first 6IP… Wicklander was drafted by the Rays in the 8th round of the 2021 MLB Draft and has already displayed promising upside by punching out 22 across 11 innings without allowing a run last season… Whittle missed last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but demonstrated significant improvement and impressive stuff prior to the injury… Baker stole 6 bases across 12 games in his professional debut last season and could prove to be a high riser on this list as he continues to develop within the Rays organization.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) September 29, 2021