After a little over a month of baseball, the MLB—and MiLB season—is now in full swing. Back in February, I did an evaluation on the Rays’ top prospects on The Rays Rant, and I think it’s about time we check-in how they’re progressing thus far. As you can see from the list, Matt Moore is still technically considered a prospect. However, he’s already pitched nearly 50 innings as a Major Leaguer, so I decided not to include him in this article. Here’s the current status of the Rays’ top five minor league prospects:
It’s been a slow start to the season for 21-year-old shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, who earned a full-season promotion to Double-A Montgomery after a breakout 2011 season. He’s batting .229/.293/.314 as the Biscuits’ leadoff hitter, with 12 RBI and nine stolen bases (caught three times). He hasn’t gone yard yet, but he does have 10 extra basehits including three triples. Lee is not only struggling with the bat, as he hasn’t been sharp defensively either. He hasn’t been smooth at short so far this season, committing seven errors already (.955 fielding percentage). It’s clear that the talented youngster has not yet adjusted to the Double-A level, and seems to still be in the process of getting used to the speed of the game. Hopefully it’s nothing more than a slow start for Lee, as the Rays could really use a shortstop like him as soon as possible on the roster.
The Rays’ top right-handed pitching prospect is probably Chris Archer, who continues to provide the Rays with even more pitching depth down at the farm. After a poor April start to the year, it appears as if Archer is now on the right track. Archer currently owns a record of 3-4 with a 4.71 ERA this season with Triple-A Durham, but he’s had a great start to the month of May. In his three starts this month, Archer has gone 2-0 with an ERA of 2.00, going six innings deep in all three outings. He outdueled Yankees’ top prospect Manny Banuelos on Sunday, shining in the Bulls’ matinee matchup with the Yankees (Scranton/WB) throwing nine strikeouts without allowing an earned run. We know he has good swing-and-miss stuff, but the main concern with Archer is his command. The 23-year-old simply walks too many batters; he’s walked 28 already this season (averaging 3.5 base on balls per start). This is something Archer clearly needs to improve on if he hopes earning a promotion to the big leagues at any point this season.
After a good 2011 season, the former first-overall draft pick has disappointed the Rays once again in 2012. After just 13 games with Triple-A Durham, where he hit .204/.290/.278 four RBI, the 22-year-old shortstop was issued a 50-game suspension from MiLB for his second violation of the league’s drug policy (marijuana). This could not come at a much worse time for Beckham and the Rays, as 2012 was supposed to be a crucial year in his development as he continues to near is MLB debut. The Rays and their fans hope that Beckham won’t become the next Josh Hamilton.
Drafted in the first round of last year’s draft, Mahtook has had a solid start in his first year of full-season ball. He’s put up a .278/.340/.317 line with 13 RBI and nine stolen bases with Class A+ Charlotte in the Florida State League. The only thing that hasn’t come around yet this season is the power, as Mahtook remains homer-less with four extra base-hits after the first 34 games (126 at-bats). He definitely has some pop in his bat, and hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the power arrives.
Also drafted by the Rays in the first round last summer, Guerrieri gives Tampa’s organization another exciting young arm. The 19-year-old is starting the year in extended spring training, and is yet to throw his first pitch as a professional. He’s expected to soon start the season in the Rookie League, with the Princeton Rays. A complete scouting report on the hard-throwing right-hander can be found here.