Tampa Bay Rays 2014 Top 15 Prospects

Aug 20, 2013; Ft Myers, FL, USA; Charlotte Stone Crabs third baseman Richie Shaffer (28) hits a solo home during the seventh inning against the Fort Myers Miracle at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the second edition of the Grading on the Curve Top 15 prospects lists. In today’s list, we move down the alphabet in the AL East to take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays. We’re going to give a big shoutout and thank you to our FanSided sister site, Rays Colored Glasses, and in particular Robbie Knopf who helped us with the list.

Tampa’s minor league affilates are:

Triple-A: Durham Bulls (International League)
Double-A: Montgomery Biscuits (Southern League)
High-A: Charlotte Stone Crabs (Florida State League)
Class-A: Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League)
Advanced-Rookie: Princeton Rays (Appalachian League)
Complex-Rookie: GCL Rays

#15

Tim Beckham – SS
Date of Birth: January 27, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’/190 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (1st overall) in the 2008 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
201323DurhamILAAATBR1225224607112725745117744108.276.342.387.729178
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2013.


Analysis
: Despite having to deal with the pressures of being a number one overall pick and serving a 50-game suspension in 2012 for testing positive for a drug of abuse, Tim Beckham still has some upside. Scouts like his raw power and his arm and his overall numbers in Triple-A show a solid ability to hit and get on base.

Beckham finally cracked the major leagues, going 1 for 2 with a sac fly in his only start, but his future still remains extremely cloudy. Beckham will be 24 in January yet his raw power has never come out and you have to go back to 2011 for the last time he hit better against lefties than righties. His defense at second base still needs improvement, and he is only serviceable at shortstop.

2014 Prognosis: Beckham still isn’t ready for a big league bench role and will likely return to Durham to get some more development time in.

#14

Richie Shaffer – 3B
Date of Birth: March 15, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’3″/218
Acquired: 1st round (25th overall) of the 2012 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
201322CharlotteFLORA+TBR1225194695511933111736035106.254.308.399.707187
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/2/2013.


Analysis
: Shaffer’s full-season debut did not go nearly as well as the Rays would have hoped, but he redeemed himself to an extent with a strong Arizona Fall League (walking as many times as he struck out and posting a .478 OBP), giving them faith that his poor regular season did not lower his upside. Shaffer was known for having good plate discipline, but his pitch recognition is still something he is working on, and until he harnesses that, his raw power will not come out in earnest.

The Clemson product is, however, showing some good upside with 33 doubles and 11 home runs in a notoriously tough league on hitters (the Florida State League) and his 2013 results actually sat around league average (99 wRC+). Still considered a good prospect to play third base or even right field down the road, Shaffer is looked at as being one of the better power bats in the Rays organization.

2014 Prognosis: Shaffer could move up to Double-A Montgomery in 2014.

#13

Felipe Rivero – LHP
Date of Birth: July 5, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’0″/150 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2008; signing bonus unknown

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSGFCGSHOIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
201321CharlotteFLORA+TBR97.5633.402523222127.0122634875291781.3708.60.53.76.41.75
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/2/2013.


Analysis
: As a hard throwing lefty, Rivero will have a lot of leeway and he’s already developing very well. While he walks a few too many and doesn’t strike out enough, he was only 21 last season and pitching in the High-A Florida State League. Scouts like the way he mixes his pitches and his plus-fastball has good sink when he keeps it down, generating a lot of ground balls. Rivero’s fastball touches the mid-90’s and he does a good job controlling it and he also shows flashes with his curveball and changeup. But issues with fastball command and secondary stuff consistency have prevented Rivero from taking off.

2014 Prognosis: How Rivero develops at Double-A in 2014 will go a long way towards telling us whether he turns into a number two or three starter or more of a relief type.

#12

Blake Snell – LHP
Date of Birth: December 4, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’4″/180 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (52nd overall) of the 2011 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPBKWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
201320Bowling GreenMIDWATBR49.3084.27232399.090554787310621131.6468.20.76.69.61.45
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/2/2013.


Analysis
: Despite the Rays generally being patient with their young pitchers, they had Snell take a fairly significant step up to full-season ball where he had mixed success. Snell was particularly enigmatic in 2013, striking out over a batter per inning and forcing a groundball rate over 50% but walking 6.6 batters per 9 innings which represents a marked increase over his previous two seasons in Rookie Ball. He has three potential plus pitches in his sinker, slider, and changeup but he has to find a way to figure out where they are going more consistently. He has a high ceiling but the Rays won’t rush him.

2014 Prognosis: With some very good peripherals in many areas in 2013, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Snell pitching in a much more pitcher-friendly Florida State League in High-A in 2014.

#11

Oscar Hernandez – C
Date of Birth: July 9, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’0″/196 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2009; signing bonus unknown

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013192 Teams2 LgsA–ATBR46192176234060634911325.227.286.364.650
201319Hudson ValleyNYPLA-TBR43181167223860633911124.228.282.371.653
201319Bowling GreenMIDWATBR31191200010021.222.364.222.586
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/2/2013.


Analysis
: Hernandez just keeps getting better defensively at catcher with his rocket for an arm and strong receiving, and he even shows solid plate discipline and flashes of power at the plate. However, his hitting goes on and off and his defense still needs more work–Hernandez could be the Rays’ catcher of the future or yet another flame-out. Playing mostly at Short-Season A Hudson Valley, Hernandez posted very impressive throwing stats, catching 57% of attempted base thieves. That kind of defensive work is always going to attract attention but Hernandez’s bat hasn’t really come around yet.

2014 Prognosis: With a small taste of Class-A ball in 2013, Hernandez will likely return to Bowling Green in 2014 which will be a good challenge for a young catcher who will only be 20 years old next season.

Jul 14, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; World pitcher Enny Romero throws a pitch during the 2013 All Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

#10

Jesse Hahn – RHP
Date of Birth: July 30, 1989
Height/Weight: 6’5″/182 lbs
Acquired: 6th round of the 2010 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
2013232 Teams2 LgsA+-RkTBR21.6672.09202069.059211611867381.1167.70.12.38.73.72
201323RaysGULFRkTBR000.00112.0410004002.00018.00.00.018.0
201323CharlotteFLORA+TBR21.6672.15191967.055201611863381.0907.40.12.48.53.50
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/2/2013.


Analysis
: Hahn has done nothing but pitch well since making his pro debut last season but he lost a year to Tommy John Surgery and made just two 5-inning starts this year as more injuries struck. Still, with three plus pitches in his fastball, curveball, and changeup, Hahn’s upside is considerable if he can stay healthy. That is a big if though: another injury-riddled year and the Rays will have to consider a shift to the bullpen.

2014 Prognosis: Hahn will likely continue to move up the ladder if his injuries are healed coming out of Spring Training. With a strong showing in High-A ball, he’ll likely head to Double-A Montgomery.

#9

Kevin Kiermaier – CF
Date of Birth: April 22, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’1″/200 lbs
Acquired: 31st round of the 2010 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013232 Teams2 LgsAA-AAATBR13657150889150211564121124587.295.362.431.793
201323MontgomerySOULAATBR974173716511414952814113161.307.370.434.804
201323DurhamILAAATBR39154137243676113711426.263.338.423.761
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/2/2013.


Analysis
: Kiermaier has always possessed the vintage fourth outfield skill-set, combining outstanding defense, great baserunning (though he is still working on stealing bases), and good discipline at the plate. Now Kiermaier is really starting to hit, tapping into his line drive stroke and gap power to give himself the opportunity to become a starting center fielder in the big leagues. Just how good can the former 31st round pick get?

2014 Prognosis: Kiermaier will likely return to Triple-A Durham and be ready for another call-up to the majors if needed.

#8

Ryne Stanek – RHP
Date of Birth: July 26, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’4″/180 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (29th overall) of the 2013 Draft:

2013 Stats: Did not play

Analysis: Stanek was considered to be one of the top players in the 2013 draft class until an injury caused him to drop to the Rays who nabbed him with the 29th pick. It says a lot that the Rays made him their first college pitcher selected in the first round proper since David Price. He has three potentially devastating pitches in his mid-90’s fastball, sharp slider, and 11-to-5 curveball (though the Rays could have him focus on just one of the breaking balls) and he is developing a changeup as well. There is ace upside somewhere in Stanek, and if anyone can bring it out, it’s the Rays. If you want to see a little bit of Stanek’s nasty slider, just head to this article by Carson Cistulli.

2014 Prognosis: Considering his age, it’s likely that the Rays will want to get Stanek some innings as soon as they can in 2014 and this means full-season ball. If they have a lot of faith in his stuff, he could make his pro debut in High-A Charlotte.

#7

Enny Romero – LHP
Date of Birth: January 24, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’3″/165 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008; signing bonus unknown

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPBKWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
2013222 Teams2 LgsAA-AAATBR117.6112.612828148.111451439751122351.2746.90.54.66.81.49
201322MontgomerySOULAATBR117.6112.762727140.111051439731102341.3047.10.64.77.11.51
201322DurhamILAAATBR000.00118.04000220010.7504.50.02.22.21.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.


Analysis
:When the Rays’ 18-inning game helped Romero to his major league debut, Rays fans saw exactly why Romero is so enigmatic as a prospect. His rise has been compared to David Price and Matt Moore, but Romero’s control remains inconsistent and his secondary pitches need plenty of work.

Romero can touch 98 mph on his fastball, working 94-96 with good movement with it and has seen action in the past two futures games, demonstrating that personnel around baseball think highly of his potential. He did throw four and two-thirds shutout innings in his one major league start last year which leads fans to believing that there’s going to be a great future from Romero.

2014 Prognosis: Romero will head to Durham in the International League to try to harness his command and consistency with his offspeed pitches.

#6

Nick Ciuffo – C
Date of Birth: March 7, 1995
Height/Weight: 6’1″/205 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (21st overall) of the 2013 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201318RaysGULFRkTBR4316915911416102500940.258.296.308.604
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.


Analysis
: Ciuffo was the second high school catcher selected in the 2013 draft after the Pirates selected Reese McGuire. While he profiles as a major-league average hitter, many scouts love his receiving and his leadership skills behind the plate. Ciuffo’s pro debut was far from perfect, but the Rays love everything about him, from his strong arm and receiving ability behind the plate to his smooth lefty stroke. Improving his plate discipline and defensive consistency will be his first priorities as his pro career gets into full swing.

2014 Prognosis: Young catchers are notoriously slow developing but Ciuffo’s off to a solid start. He’ll likely remain in short season ball next year, either spending the season with the Princeton Rays or Hudson Valley Renegades depending on how much progress he shows in Fall Instructs and Extended Spring Training.

Aug 29, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

#5

Andrew Toles – CF
Date of Birth: May 24, 1992
Height/Weight: 5’10″/185 lbs
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2012 draft

2013 Stats:

Analysis: Andrew Toles took a big step forward this season, jumping to full-season ball with the Bowling Green Hot Rods in the Midwest League at the age of 21. He oozes speed with 62 stolen bases and 16 triples and the number of doubles and triples bode well for an increase in home run power as he gets older. Toles combines excellent bat speed and raw power with plus-plus foot speed and plenty of promise defensively in centerfield. The question with him is whether he can develop his plate discipline enough to put all of his abilities to use at higher levels.

2014 Prognosis: Toles will likely get to test his skills in a tougher hitter’s environment in the Florida State League next season.

#4

Alex Colome – RHP
Date of Birth: December 31, 1988
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2007; signing bonus unknown

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
201324DurhamILAAATBR46.4003.07141470.163302452972451.3088.10.63.79.22.48
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.
YearAgeTmLgWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPERA+WHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BBAwards
201324TBRAL11.5002.253316.014842912111731.4387.91.15.16.81.33
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.


Analysis
: Colome was electrifying in his MLB debut against the Miami Marlins, but even amidst his success, you can see the concerns, particularly a lack of fastball command. Season-ending arm injuries the last two years are not a good sign either. But with as good of a fastball (hitting 96-97 mph)-changeup-slider arsenal that he has, his upside remains tantalizing.

2014 Prognosis: Colome will likely get a chance to stick in the big leagues, especially if the Rays decide to trade someone like David Price.

#3

Hak-Ju Lee – SS
Date of Birth: November 4, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/170 lbs
Acquired: International free agent signing by the Chicago Cubs out of Korea; $1.15 million signing bonus; acquired on January 7, 2011 in multi-player trade that included Matt Garza and Sam Fuld

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201322DurhamILAAATBR1557451319311762119.422.536.6001.136
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.


Analysis
: Another player whose season ended prematurely, Lee was hitting out of his mind at Triple-A Durham before a knee injury in a collision at second base cost him most of the year. The profile remains the same: he plays impeccable defense and has great speed (although he may lose something after the injury) and at the plate he shows good plate discipline and strong bat speed. But will Lee hit the ball with enough authority to be more than a bottom-of-the-order hitter?

2014 Prognosis: Lee will likely return to Triple-A Durham to try to get at least a half a season under his belt to see how his bat holds up to a larger sample size. With Yunel Escobar as the every day shortstop, Lee will need to really show a great bat to usurp the starting role with the Rays.

#2

Taylor Guerrieri – RHP
Date of Birth: December 1, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’3″/195 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (24th overall) in the 2011 draft

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
201320Bowling GreenMIDWATBR62.7502.01141467.0541715512511020.9857.30.71.66.94.25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.


Analysis
: Combining Tommy John Surgery and a drug of abuse suspension is never good, but Guerrieri has a combination of stuff and polish that pitchers coming out of high school are not supposed to have. He improved his changeup to give him three plus pitches before the injury ended his year. His fastball has heavy sink that produces a ton of ground balls (3.09 ground outs per air out) and his curve is a hard 12-6-type breaking ball that projects to be above average.

2014 Prognosis: If he gets into any game action at all, the Rays will be happy, considering that he last took the mound in June before his Tommy John surgery. Like Toronto’s Roberto Osuna, Guerrieri will likely be held to very limited innings at the Rays’ complex in Port Charlotte, Florida.

#1

Jake Odorizzi – RHP
Date of Birth: March 27, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (32nd overall) in the 2008 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers; acquired on December 9, 2012 in a multi-player trade that included Wil Myers, James Shields and Wade Davis

2013 Stats:

YearAgeTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBIBBSOHBPWPWHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BB
201323DurhamILAAATBR96.6003.332222124.1101494612401124151.1347.30.92.99.03.10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.
YearAgeTmLgWLW-L%ERAGGSGFSVIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWPERA+WHIPH/9HR/9BB/9SO/9SO/BBAwards
201323TBRAL01.0003.94742129.2281313382221981.2138.50.92.46.72.75
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.


Analysis
: Odorizzi looked outstanding in his big league time and is primed to make his presence felt even more in 2014. His fastball command has broken through and his secondary pitches keep getting better. Assuming David Price is traded, Odorizzi should have a rotation spot locked up for next year. His fastball touches 94 mph and will sit a bit lower, giving it major league average velocity and his secondary pitches are all coming out as major league average. With four solid pitches, Odorizzi looks like he’s ready for the big time in St. Pete.

2014 Prognosis: He likely sticks out of Spring Training and has a starting role in 2014.

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