Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (11) | 2011 (3) | 2010 (1) | 2009 (4) | 2008 (1)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL East
AAA: [66-78] International League – Durham
AA: [74-63] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [55-79] Florida State League – Charlotte
A: [80-60] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss):  [52-24] New York-Penn League — Hudson Valley

Arizona Fall League PlayersPhoenix Desert Dogs
Lenny Linsky (RHP); Tim Beckham (2B); Hak-Ju Lee (SS); Richie Shaffer (3B); Kevin Kiermaier (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Matt Moore (RHP); Jake McGee (LHP)

The Run Down
The Rays’ player development systems have always been top-notch, and for the past several years, they’ve maintained one of the better farm systems in the game.  As a matter of timing more than anything else — some bad luck, too (see Beckham) — the system was a little lighter than usual in the high-impact department near the end of last season.  They were growing older, and more expensive at the big league level.  It appeared that they were deviating from Andrew Friedman’s operational model — a patient, bottom-up approach that had discovered and nurtured talent better than just about any other organization — that had made them a year-to-year contender in baseball’s toughest division.  And then the James Shields deal happened and the natural order was restored to the baseball universe.  All of a sudden, Wil Myers became a Ray, and the once-lacking high-impact department was replenished with one of the more high-impacty dudes in the minors.  Beyond Myers, Tampa added MLB-ready pitching depth in Jake Odorizzi.  They also nabbed Mike Montgomery on the cheap — sure, he pitched like a pile of hot garbage in 2012, but one year does not ruin a prospect.  When considering this top ten back in October, I was kinda worried about having to cover a slew high-upside 18-year-olds who hadn’t yet played outside of instructional league.  Thank you, Andrew Friedman, for making this post more interesting.

Top Ten Prospects
1.  Wil Myers, OF:
  #3 on my Top 25 Fantasy Prospects for 2013, Myers was the prized piece acquired by the Rays in the James Shields swap.  Tampa is typically sensitive to service time, so it’s possible that we won’t see him reach the bigs ’til June, perhaps later.  But with the 22-year-old bringing 30 HR potential along with solid AVG, it might be tough to keep him down.  Here’s Grey’s Wil Myers fantasyETA:  2013

2.  Chris Archer, RHP:  Archer is my #31 fantasy prospect for 2013.  Elite stuff gives him front-end potential, but he has some command issues to work out before the Rays can justifiably use him in their rotation, which is deep with capable arms.  ETA:  2013

3.  Taylor Guerrieri, RHP:  The 2011 first-rounder made his pro debut at Hudson Valley in 2012, posting a 1.04 ERA, a 0.77 WHIP, and a 45/5 K/BB in 52 IP.  Guerrieri is ready for full-season ball in 2013.  A projectable frame (6-3, 195), and an elite fastball-curveball combo give him an enormous ceiling.  ETA:  2016

4.  Richie Shaffer, 3B:  I wrote a brief report on Shaffer before the draft last June.  The Rays ended up taking him 25th overall, assigning him to short-season ball in the NYPL.  At Hudson Valley, Shaffer hit .308/.406/.487 over 33 games, spending all of his time in the field at third.  Most baseball folks, however, see the 21-year-old profiling better at either 1B or a corner OF.  Shaffer will start 2013 at Low-A, but he’s primed to move quickly if he’s hitting.  ETA:  2014

5.  Jake Odorizzi, RHP:  Odorizzi came in at #36 on my Top 50 Prospects for 2013 post.  He doesn’t bring the upside that Archer does, but he might be a safer immediate option if Tampa has a need in the rotation.  Odorizzi will be 23-years-old come opening day, and has little left to prove in the minors after last year’s production between Double- and Triple-A:  3.03 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.4 K/9 in 145 IP.  ETA:  2013

6.  Hak-Ju Lee, SS:  Lee is a defense-first shortstop, but he has enough potential at the plate and on the base paths to garner some fantasy attention.  He’ll never be a heavy hitter, but he can find his way to first, and when he’s there, he’s always a threat to run.  Given regular playing time, he could steal 30-40 bags at the big league level.  But with Yunel Escobar entrenched at short for the time being, expect Lee to spend the year at Triple-A.  ETA:  2014

7.  Blake Snell, LHP:  At 6-4, 180, Snell is long and lean, and offers three potential plus pitches (fastball, change, slider).  That sort of profile has him projecting as a mid-rotation starter, with front-end upside.  The 20-year-old is likely to join the Bowling Green rotation for his first taste of full-season baseball.  ETA:  2016

8.  Mike Montgomery, RHP:  Montgomery arrived in Tampa via KC in the Shields deal, along with Myers and Odorizzi.  Pre-2012, he was regarded as a top-50 overall prospect by just about every publication you could find.  What a difference a year makes.  Montgomery logged a 6.07 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP in 149 IP between Double- and Triple-A in 2012.  An ugly line indeed.  Mechanics have become a huge concern with the 23-year-old.  The combination of lower expectations and a change of scenery could put him back on track, though.  ETA:  2013

9.  Alex Colome, RHP:  A plus-plus fastball and a good curve have the Rays holding out hope for Colome to develop as a starter, but most baseball folks see him ending up in the ‘pen.  Still, a heater in the high 90s, and a good secondary offering to go with it, will have him racking up plenty of strikeouts, regardless of role.  ETA:  2013

10.  Tim Beckham, 2B:  The 2008 #1 overall pick played in only 72 games last year, thanks to a 50-game substance abuse suspension.  Beckham hit .256/.325/.361 in his truncated Triple-A season, and he’s no longer viewed as a high-impact talent.  Still, the 23-year-old is toolsy enough to reach the bigs this year, and possibly offer some fantasy value from 2B.  ETA:  2013