Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (20) | 2013 (4) | 2012 (11) | 2011 (3) | 2010 (1)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [77-85] AL East
AAA: [75-69] International League – Durham
AA: [66-74] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [63-70] Florida State League – Charlotte
A: [61-77] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss): [46-30] New York-Penn League – Hudson Valley
The Rays have had a very busy six months. They moved their ace David Price in a three-team deal that landed Willy Adames and major leaguers Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly. In July, they signed arguably the best international prospect available for just under $3M, which put them over their bonus pool limit. More recently they traded Jeremy Hellickson to Arizona for two quality prospects and sent Wil Myers in a surprising three-team deal that brought back another package of young talent headlined by Steven Souza of the Nationals. 2014 saw young arms like Jake Odorizzi, Brad Boxberger, and Chris Archer take steps forward in their development. It also surprised us with Kevin Kiermaier, who filled in for Wil Myers during his DL stint and proved to be a nice little power/speed combo in deep fantasy leagues. The Rays’ small budget won’t be any different in 2015, but the front office will – Andrew Friedman left for the Dodgers after ten years with Tampa Bay.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Willy Adames, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2017
What I love about the Rays’ system is their talent up the middle. They have multiple shortstops in the pipeline, not to mention a player like Hak-Ju Lee who didn’t even make this list. Adames came from the Tigers in the David Price deal. He spent the entire season in the Midwest League as an 18-year-old, where he was one of the youngest players in the league and in Single-A altogether. Facing older competition, Adames held his own and showed good power with 19 doubles, 14 triples, and eight homers. There is enough power to project 15 or more homers if he reaches his ceiling. That power – coupled with a hit tool that’s good enough to let him tap into it – makes him an attractive middle infield prospect for fantasy.
2. Adrian Rondon, SS | Age: 16 | ETA: 2019
Ranking a 16-year-old this high is aggressive but Rondon was the cream of the international prospect crop in 2014. He is a great mix of what you want in a fantasy prospect – ability to hit and hit for power, enough glove to stick in the middle infield, and a mature approach that could accelerate his development. The Rays were all-in on Rondon, signing him for just under $3 million and blowing past their bonus pool limits. Patience is a must if you’re thinking about rostering a player like Rondon, since even an unabated path to the majors means he is still around four years away. However, this could be a special player in the making whose offensive skills at a premium position are extremely valuable in fantasy.
3. Steven Souza, OF | Age: 25 | ETA: 2015
Souza was part of the package the Rays received for Wil Myers and not much has changed since ranking #4 on my Nationals list. Here is what I said there: “He can play all three outfield positions and has average (15-20 HR) power in addition to his speed, which was enough to swipe 20+ bags in three of the last four seasons. You might remember him making the catch that preserved the no-hitter for Jordan Zimmermann at the end of the 2014 season. 25 is older in the prospect world, but Souza has put up good numbers at every stop in his minor league career – all eight seasons of it. In fantasy we don’t really care when you get here as long as you produce when you arrive, and Souza has the chance to do that as an MLB regular.” He could land an everyday role in the Rays’ outfield in 2015.
4. Alex Colome, RHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2015
Colome has already had a cup of coffee with the big club in each of the past two seasons. He has been in the Rays’ organization since he was just 18 years old and is finally ready to stick. Whether or not it is in the rotation remains to be seen, but Colome certainly has a good shot at the fifth rotation slot in 2015. His ceiling is a bit higher than that (#3/#4), with a big fastball and three other average or better offerings. He’ll make a nice streamer in standard leagues this season. His big fastball could also play in a relief role and there may not be room in the rotation for both Colome and Matt Moore at some point this year. Either way the Rays are going to see what he’s got since he’s out of options.
5. Justin O’Conner, C | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Ranking catching prospects for fantasy is tricky since much of their value is tied to their defensive skills behind the plate. O’Conner offers the rare package of good defense and a power bat that can play in the fantasy game. The former first-round pick looks like the future of the position for the Rays and his offense improved in 2014, most notably smacking twice as many doubles as the year before. It earned him a promotion to Double-A where he hit .263/.298/.388 with two homers in 21 games. He has raw power that could translate to 15-18 homers at the highest level if everything breaks right. He’ll get more time in Double-A this season and could see the bigs as soon as 2016.
6. Casey Gillaspie, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
The Rays selected Gillaspie in the first round (20th overall) in this year’s draft and he projects to be their first baseman of the future. His older brother Conor carved out a major league role with the Chicago White Sox. Gillaspie is what we want in a fantasy first baseman, as he can hit and hit for power from both sides of the plate. He’ll get his first taste of full-season pro ball in 2015 and could rise quickly in the prospect ranks if his power continues to show up in games. While he is still a couple of years away, Gillaspie could see seasons of 25+ homers with solid batting averages if he reaches his ceiling.
7. Ryan Brett, 2B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Two first names and a little of everything from a middle infielder? Yes please. Brett is close to the majors and could be valuable right away in AL-only formats thanks to his plus plus speed, solid bat, and gap power. Depending on how soon he slides into an everyday role, he may even be mixed league relevant in a middle infield slot. Brett’s timetable relies on what the Rays decide to do with Ben Zobrist, who is a free agent in 2016. Either way, expect Brett to get a shot at some point in 2015. It’s not hard to imagine him as a top-of -the-order hitter who steals bases and contributes solid run totals in fantasy.
8. Andrew Velazquez, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017
Velazquez is yet another quality shortstop prospect in this system and he is a good example of the depth I mentioned in the Adames blurb. Velazquez came to the Rays in the Jeremy Hellickson trade. Still just 20 years old, he has a good bat and plus plus speed. It’s that speed that will carry his fantasy value as a middle infielder. Velazquez may not be on the same level as Adames or Rondon in terms of ceiling, but he has the tools to be a major leaguer. A couple of highlights from this season were his 74-game on-base streak and his league-leading 51 steals in the MWL.
9. Blake Snell, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Snell was a first-round supplemental pick for the Rays in 2011 (52nd overall). His arsenal features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, plus slider, and plus changeup. His ceiling is more of a mid-rotation starter, but in deep leagues he’s a prospect worth checking in on just in case he figures out his control and takes another step forward. He will face a bigger challenge in 2015 when he gets his feet wet in Double-A. The 22-year-old lefty could be fighting for a spot in the starting rotation in the spring of 2017 or end up in a bullpen role. For now he is a “stash-and-see” in deeper dynasty formats.
10. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017
Guerrieri is still making his way back from Tommy John surgery, but I could not justify leaving him off of this list after he was arguably the Rays’ best prospect at this time last year. When he was 100%, Guerrieri showed a plus fastball and curve and projected to be a solid starter in the majors. Now he is apparently working on a changeup that could have plus potential. The injury and questions about his make-up present a buy-low opportunity in dynasty leagues, and a good performance in 2015 should vault Guerrieri right back into the top 5 in this system. If Guerrieri’s injury is too big of a risk for your liking, Brent Honeywell should also be on your radar. The second round (supplemental) draft pick from 2014 came close to taking this tenth slot in the rankings.