Tampa Bay Rays 2010 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2010)
2010 (1) | 2009 (4) | 2008 (1) | 2007 (1) | 2006 (10) | 2005 (9) | 2004 (9)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [84 – 78] AL East
AAA: [88 – 55] International League – Durham
AA: [72 – 65] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [80 – 59] Florida League – Charlotte
A: [61 – 78] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss): [39 – 36] New York – Pennsylvania – Hudson Valley

The Run Down
The Rays have enough young, good pitchers that they can just pull one out for a spot start with mild success like Alex Cobb. Then they have everyone’s favorite young pitcher in Jeremy Hellickson making the opening day rotation. Jake McGee struggled but has the skills and pitches to eventually be a major league regular. Elliot Johnson looks overmatched at times, but has provided serviceable defense and at-bats. The one prospect they are missing is the can’t miss hitter. Desmond Jennings has tremendous upside, and given the opportunity, could be a solid major league contributor today (assuming you buffer and accept some rookie slumps). However, beyond Jennings, the next rated hitting prospect (#5 (OF) Josh Sale) hasn’t played in the minors and then (#8 (C) Justin O’Conner) has just played in rookie league. The sustained excellence of the Rays minor league system has been in their pitching prospects. They may have to start trading some of their pitching prospects too for a hitter, especially since there are only so many rotation and bullpen spots for some of the high-ceiling arms. Here’s a look at some prospects for the 2011 season and beyond.

Graduated Prospects
#3 (LHP) Wade Davis; #5 (SS) Reid Brignac; (C) John Jaso;

Players of Interest
* All player rankings are from Baseball America Handbook 2011
#3 Desmond Jennings | CF: A household name by now, with comparisons to Carl Crawford. The one concern throughout his career are injuries. However, in 2010 he had a slash line of .278/.362/.393 in 458 at-bats to go along with 34 XBH (3 Hr), 37 steals in 41 attempts and a 67:47 K:BB Ratio at Triple-A. Currently, he’s back at Triple-A waiting for an opening.

#16 Alex Cobb | RHP: Although his major league debut wasn’t anything spectacular, Cobb has pitched well at Triple-A this year. He’s currently sporting a 11.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 22 Triple-A innings. This was after posting a 9.6 K/9, a 2.6 BB/9 in 119 2/3 IP with middling control (1.30 WHIP) at Double-A. He throws a low 90s fastball with sinking action, an above-average changeup, a curveball that is better than his slider. Baseball America believe his future is as a set-up man or a number four of five starter.

#2 Matt Moore | LHP: I fell in love with Hellickson in 2007, I’m in love all over again with Moore. He throws a 92 to 96 MPH fastball, an excellent curveball and an above-average changeup that could become a plus-plus pitch. His strikeouts (12.9 K/9) and control (3.8 BB/9) remind me of Clayton Kershaw. With 144 2/3 innings last year at High-A, when he is called up, there shouldn’t be much holding back. He’s currently at Double-A with with the following rates: 11.8 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 in 24 1/3 innings. It’s early, but Moore will be a force.

#6 Alex Torres | LHP:Throws a 88 to 91 fastball with tremendous amounts of movement, a tight slider, and a biting curve. His control is lacking due to a couple of reasons. One, his arm slot is inconsistent, and two, the movement of his pitches are extraordinary. Last year, he posted a good strikeout rate (9.5 K/9) with questionable control (4.4 BB/9) in 142 2/3 innings at Double-A. He’s currently at Triple-A struggling with his control. Long-term he’s a number two or three starter if reaching ceiling. Otherwise, he could be a solid set-up man.

Honorable Mentions
#15 Tim Beckham | SS/3B: Has been derailed by a wrist injury and hasn’t lived up to expectations. Still has a high ceiling with his plus bat speed and quick wrists. Will need to lay off the high fastball and play better defense. He has a good hitting approach and at just 21 (D.o.B: 1-27-90), not sure why he’s starting to be written off. His slash line last year wasn’t pretty (.256/.346/.359 in 465 AB), though he did have 22 steals in 36 attempts and a 119:62 K:BB ratio at High-A. He’s currently trying to improve upon those numbers at Double-A with mild success.

#4 (CHC) Hak-Ju Lee | SS: Received in the Matt Garza trade, Lee has plus-plus speed and a good hitting approach. Still needs to physically develop and scouts believe his swing will produce average power (10 to 15 home runs). Last year he slashed .282/.354/.351 in 485 at-bats with 27 XBH (1 Hr), 32 steals in 39 attempts with a 86:49 K:BB ratio at Single-A. Currently at High-A. Could be another Starlin Castro.

#1 (CHC) Chris Archer | RHP: Also received in the Matt Garza trade, Archer throws a 92 to 95 MPH fastball (has topped 97 MPH) with a mid 80s slider. Both are plus-plus pitches. Struggles with control (4.1 BB/9 last year), but has great strikeout potential (9.4 K/9 last year). He threw 142 1/3 innings last year at High-A and Double-A. Currently throwing at Double-A again to start this year.

#7 Alexander Colome | RHP: Has 91 to 93 MPH fastball that tops at 96 MPH. His curveball has the potential to be a plus-pitcher and his changeup has become more consistent. His 9.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 114 innings at Single-A last year were impressive. Currently, he’s struggling to have solid traditional stats at High-A but still is keeping similar ratios at High-A. His ceiling is a number three starter.

#20 Zach Quate | RHP: Quate is a minor league closer that throws a 90-91 MPH fastball and a slider that is deceptive due to having the same arm slot as his fastball. He had a 11.2 K/9 last year with good control (2.2 BB/9) at High-A. Currently, he’s not having the same kind of success at Double-A with a 5.5 K/9 rate, but still has impeccable control (.7 BB/9) in 13 innings (10 Appearances, 4 saves) and a 1.00 WHIP. Quate is nothing more than a bullpen arm.

  1. Mike of Swartz Creek, Mi says:

    Tampa in the June draft has 11 picks before my Tigers pick in the second

  2. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Mike of Swartz Creek, Mi: They have to sustain their farm to compete with larger markets somehow (read: larger salary capped teams).

  3. ………………

  4. thorbs says:

    Hey Stephen, slightly off-topic, but what’s your take on Francisco Lindor? Heyman’s article that went up today on SI got the wheels turning.

    I currently have Goldschmidt, Belt, Trayvon Robinson, Simon Castro, Tanner Scheppers and Trey McNutt on my minor league roster, and was thinking Lindor might be a nice long-term stash. Thoughts?

  5. ltf says:

    Tim Beckham is irrelevant when it comes to fantasy baseball. He strikes out way too much, he can’t steal bases, he can’t hit for power, and he can’t stick at SS. I’d advise someone in even the deepest of leagues to look for something better than Tim Beckham at this point. Tim Beckham sucks fantasy-wise, and definitely will not stick at SS.

    The Rays aren’t looking to trade their pitching for hitting. They drafted high school bats throughout the first round of the 2010 draft. Sale is playing short season, along with Vettleson.

    Lucas Bailey is looking great as hopefully the answer at C for the Rays.

  6. ltf says:

    @thorbs: Lindor will stick at SS, but I am guessing your MiLB has 6 spots? He’s going to go top ten, maybe top five, but that is still quite an investment in a HS player for one of your spots.

  7. jackie says:

    What’s your best guess for when we get to see Jennings in the majors?

  8. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @thorbs: agree with ltf.

    @ltf: re:Beckham: I would too at this point. However, it’s hard to write him off at just 21. The talent just doesn’t disappear. Now if the talent continues to stagnant and not turn into skill, then I will write him off. So if this year is poor across the board, I will ignore.

    re: drafted HS hitters/not trading pitchers for hitters: At some point pitchers will be traded. Whether they are major league pitchers or minor league pitchers, they have a glut of talent and to maximize the talent, you would have to move some pieces in the future. There are only so many roster spots. If you sincerely believe all HS hitters will pan out, then their system is loaded. However, just like Beckham, the talent has to turn into skill. In their top 15 prospects, according to BA, there are 12 pitchers. If their top hitting prospect behind Jennings is playing at Short Season, he’s at least 2 years from the majors.

    @jackie: June/first major injury.

  9. ltf says:

    @Stephen: Most of his talent was sticking at SS, and there were plenty of question marks at the time of the draft. He’s fallen into the limbo of 3B/LF without the production necessary for the position. It’s kind of ironic there’s a question about Lindor because he’s going top ten for the fact he will stick at SS.

    You said pitching prospects. I’d be interested to see what they do with Barnese after this season. They’ll move Niemann or Shields before they move any spec that can make 30 productive starts in MLB.

  10. thorbs says:

    Slightly more info about why I was asking the question — 10×10, 2 catcher, MI/CI + 2 OF, 2 UTIL league, big rosters, keep 17 + 6 minor leaguers.

    If I had to choose today, the batters I’d be keeping would be:
    Montero, Kinsler, Tulo, Sandoval, Ethier, Bruce, Stubbs, Fowler, Belt (if he’s in the bigs at the time) and one of G. Sanchez/Moreland/Utley/Konerko.

    The pitchers would be:
    Weaver, Greinke, Billingsley, Cahill, Beachy, Kimbrel and one of Ian Kennedy/Shields

    Minor leaguers would be: Goldschmidt, Singleton, Robinson, Simon Castro, McNutt, Scheppers

    In my OF, I already have Fowler, and I see Robinson’s upside being essentially what Fowler is now (OBP, runs, some speed with meh average and lots of Ks). I don’t know if that’s really accurate though, but if it is, that’s what was giving me pause re: Lindor, because I could sit on him for a season and see what comes out of it, and Robinson doesn’t have the potential to help me THAT much down the line.

    That being said, I definitely see what you’re saying about Lindor being so far away from the bigs that it wouldn’t be worth it.

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