6. Taylor Guerrieri
Scouting Report: The Rays continue to invest in young pitching. Tampa drafted right-handed pitcher Taylor Guerrieri in the first round last summer, adding another talented arm into the Rays’ organization. Guerrieri features electric stuff, throwing up to speeds of 97 MPH. Besides his dominant fastball, Guerrieri also throws an impressive power curveball, providing him with a great secondary pitch. For good reasons, he hardly ever used his changeup in high school, but most scouts seem to believe he can develop it into a usable pitch. Guerrieri also has a hard cutter in his arsenal, which goes along with his live two-seamer. As for mechanics, there are a few basic things in his delivery that he needs to tweak. Still, nothing that should be a big problem moving forward.
Conclusion: At just 19 years of age, Guerrieri will experience his first professional season this year. Being so young with such little experience and a lot of talent, it’s hard to say exactly what to expect out of Guerrieri in the future. If one thing’s for sure, he has great stuff which can translate into big-time potential. Guerrieri won’t be arriving in the big leagues any time soon, but he’s definitely a prospect worth watching as he progresses through the minors.
7. Alex Torres
Scouting Report: Alex Torres, who was acquired in the 2009 Scott Kazmir trade, has made steady progress through the Rays’ farm system during the last year. The 24-year-old spent the 2011 season with AAA Durham, ending the year with a strong second half which earned him a September callup. Torres went 9-7 with a 3.08 ERA through 146.1 innings pitched for the Bulls last season, and allowed one run through his eight innings out of the bullpen with the Rays. Torres has good stuff, featuring a quality fastball and two main off-speed pitches; a changeup and and a curve. His secondary stuff is apparently effective, because he’s keeping hitters off-balance enough to post a high SO/9 ratio of 9.6 last season in the minors. One of the things that makes Torres a high-ranked prospect is his ability to have three quality pitches once he’s fully developed. The only thing that’s been holding him back his whole career has been his command issues. Torres will simply need to improve his strike-throwing ratios if he wants to break in as a starter in the Major Leagues.
Conclusion: Torres has a promising future in the big leagues, and will probably contribute to the ‘pen this season. The biggest question surrounding Torres is whether he has a brighter future as a starter or a reliever. He has good enough stuff for both, but he’s going to have to improve his command if he wants a starting role with the Rays. I see him as a reliever if he stays with the Rays’ organization, but a starter if he plays for another team in the future.
8. Drew Vettleson
Offensively: Drew Vettleson may be the most intriguing of the Rays’ prospects. Vettleson was the Rays’ third 1st-round draft pick in 2010, drafted out of the Pacific Northwest region. What the Rays see in Vettleson is pure, quality baseball player. He has great skills at the plate, and most scouts believe he has the ability to be a good average hitter in the future. He puts up great at bats, and hits the ball hard and often. Vettleson hit .282 with seven homers and 40 RBI through 61 games in his first pro season for Princeton this year. His homerun power has been a debate amongst scouts, but most agree that the lefty can be a double-digit homerun hitter down the road. Vettleson’s baseball intelligence is another strength he possesses on the diamond. Good baseball instincts is something that the Rays highly value in their prospects, and Vettleson is a great example. His baseball smarts really come in handy on the base pads, as he doesn’t have very fast legs. Last year, Vettleson managed to collect 20 stolen bases
Defensively: The most interesting part about Vettleson is that he’s also a pitcher. But not just any pitcher, a switch pitcher. Vettleson can both pitch with his right and left hand; something that is very rare these days in baseball. Although he could try professional baseball as pitcher, most experts agree that the outfield is where he belongs. His pitching arm makes him a good fit in the right field, where Vettleson spent the entire 2011 season.
Conclusion: Vettleson is ways away, but he should be making progress through the minors this year after an impressive first season. We can probably expect to see Vettleson make his big league debut in 2014.
9. Enny Romero
Scouting Report: Southpaw Enny Romero makes the Rays’ stack of talented arms even higher. The 21-year-old throws a great fastball, reaches speeds in the mid-90’s with plenty of movement. His secondary pitches don’t have the same kind of effect on opposing hitters, but both his changeup and curveball have the chance to become great pitches. Just like most 21-year-old hard-throwing lefties, Romero needs to improve on his control and command. If Romero can improve his command while maintaining his great strikeout stuff, the Rays will have another scary pitcher down in the farm. Statistically speaking, Romero went 5-5 with a 4.26 ERA and 140 strikeouts last year with Class-A Bowling Green. The numbers are nothing special, but the outstanding strikeout rates show the type of ability he has.
Conclusion: It should be fun to watch a player with so much potential like Romero develop in the minors throughout the next couple of years. It’s debatable whether his future is brighter as a starter or a reliever, but either way he’s a pretty exciting prospect. The Rays have mastered the art of turning young talents like Romero into quality pitchers, and hopefully the trend will continue here.
10. Blake Snell
Scouting Report: Yet another talented left-handed pitcher, the Rays drafted Blake Snell in the first round of the MLB draft last summer. The 19-year-old features three main pitches in his arsenal; a fastball, a changeup, and a curve. Snell’s heater is his best pitch, which he throws in the low-90’s down in the zone, enticing lots of groundballs. He needs to work on his secondary pitches, though, as his curveball lacks sharpness a bit. Snell played his first professional season last year, posting a 3.08 ERA and 26 strikeouts through 26.1 innings pitched.
Conclusion: Like I said before, the Rays have a reputation of developing young pitchers like Snell. Improvements in command and control will come with time, as Snell has a long ways to go in his minor league journey.