Tagged: Rays Prospects

A Look at Where Tampa Bay Rays Top Draft Picks from 2010 Are Now

Drew Vettleson (left) and Josh Sale (right) enjoyed successful 2012 seasons with Class A Bowling Green

The 2010 MLB Draft was not a very memorable one for the Tampa Bay Rays. In a draft that included big league stars such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey and Chris Sale, the Rays selected three high school bats in the first round (two of them first-round compensation picks).

So far, only one of Tampa’s draft picks that year—Derek Dietrich of the Miami Marlins (the Rays’ fifth pick, taken 79th overall)—have reached the big leagues.

As we approach the 2013 Draft, here’s a look at the current progress of the Rays’ top three draft picks from 2010.

Josh Sale, 1st round (17th overall)

The Rays are experiencing a bad case of deja vu with Josh Sale. It’s not the first time a left-handed power-hitting outfielder drafted in the first round named Josh has disappointed the organization by making poor choices off the field. Sale’s upside isn’t considered to be as high as former Devil Rays bust Josh Hamilton’s, but there still is a high ceiling of potential for him.

Sale struggled in his first pro season with Rookie League Princeton, batting just .210/.289/.346 with four home runs in 60 games. He was much improved in 2012 with Class A Bowling Green, hitting .264/.391/.464 with 10 homers in 74 games.

Sale’s 2012 and 2013 season were shortened due to a 50-game suspension after testing positive for meth and amphetamines.

Now this year, right when he was ready to be reactivated and join Class A+ Charlotte after serving his suspension, has found himself in trouble again. Sale was suspended indefinitely yesterday for an inappropriate status he posted on his Facebook page earlier this week.

Let’s hope that Sale starts to take a wiser path this season and avoids becoming another first-round bust for the Rays.

Justin O’Conner, 1st round (31st overall)

In an organization that is very weak at the catcher position, backstop Justin O’Conner (drafted as shortstop) is making slow and steady progress through the lower levels of the Rays’ farm system.

O’Conner began pro ball in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, and is now with Class A Bowling Green after moving up a single level each year.

Defensively, scouts seem to like the 21-year-old as he has a strong arm and a skill set probably good enough to stay at the position long term. The Rays are still waiting for O’Conner to get it going with the bat, however, as he’s struggled at the plate throughout his minor league career

He was drafted in the first round partially for his raw power, but has yet to tap into it completely. In 188 career games, O’Conner has posted to .207/.274/.355 with 18 homers. Both his hitting mechanics and plate approach need a lot of work.

O’Conner has shown the flashes of potential offensively, but he’s simply going to have to hit better consistently in order to continue to make progress.

Drew Vettleson, 1st round (42nd overall)

Drew Vettleson joined Josh Sale as another left-handed hitting high school outfielder out of Washington state to be drafted by the Rays in the first round.

The 21-year-old has an impressively well-rounded toolset, and is considered one of the organization’s top prospects (ranked tenth by MLB.com).

He enjoyed a strong season with Bowling Green last year, batting .275/.340/.432 with 15 homers, 69 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 132 games.

Vettleson currently plays right field for Class A+ Charlotte, and is currently hitting just .258/.291/.403 through 47 games. Strangely, he’s managed to commit 10 errors so far in 2013.

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Rays Prospects Who Never Lived Up to the Hype

The Tampa Bay Rays have had their fair share of touted prospects in their nearly 15-year history.

Stars such as Scott Kazmir, Evan Longoria and David Price are Rays who lived up to their high expectations. The organization, however, has seen a handful of busts and underachieving prospects as well.

Without further delay, here’s a look back at the four Rays prospects who never lived up to the hype.

Dewon Brazelton

Drafted third overall in the 2001 MLB Draft right behind Joe Mauer and Mark Prior, Dewon Brazelton was expected to be the Devil Rays’ ace for years to come.

He never would find success at the big league level, though, struggling mightily throughout his brief five-year MLB career.

Brazelton posted a lifetime 8-25 record and a 6.38 ERA, pitching most of his innings with Tampa Bay.

B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton is obviously nothing near a prospect bust, but he has yet to live up to the very high expectations put upon him since the age of 17.

Over eight seasons with Tampa Bay, the now 28-year-old centerfielder was a productive player. He put up a .255/.336/.422 slash line with 118 home runs, 232 stolen bases and a 107 wRC+.

Upton will likely never live up to the hype of being a No. 2 overall draft pick and the No. 2 ranked prospect in all of baseball in 2004, but his tenure with the Rays wasn’t all that disappointing.

Delmon Young

Delmon Young’s case is similar to B.J. Upton’s: He was a Devil Rays top prospect who simply never played as well as expected, and is now a somewhat productive big league outfielder.

One year after Upton was drafted second overall, Young was taken by Tampa Bay first overall. He was ranked in the top three of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list four straight years (2004-2007), including being ranked the game’s No. 1 prospect in 2006.

The kid who was once expected to be an MVP caliber slugger has turned out to be a career 97-wRC+ and -0.3 WAR player.

General Manager Andrew Friedman really made the right move when he traded Young to Minnesota in a blockbuster deal before the 2008 season which included Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett, two guys who would help bring Tampa Bay its first pennant that year.

Rocco Baldelli

Rocco Baldelli was another top prospect who was a key part of the Devil Rays’ once bright outfield future.

Baldelli, a former sixth overall draft pick and No. 2 ranked prospect, didn’t disappoint at all to begin his career. He had a successful first two seasons, finishing third for Rookie of the Year in 2003 and quickly becoming a fan favorite in Tampa Bay.

It would only go downhill from there for Baldelli, however, as a rare muscle disease caused him numerous injuries and derailed his promising career.

Rocco, now retired, owns a career 98 wRC+.

5 Rays Prospects Having Eye-Opening Starts to the Season

We’re just a little over two weeks into the MLB regular season, but there’s been plenty of action down at the farm in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

Top prospect Wil Myers has been the talk of the town and Chris Archer has also drawn his fair share of hype, but neither of the two have had real intriguing starts to the season.

Take a look at five names to keep an eye on as the 2013 minor league baseball season takes flight.

Alex Colome

It’s been a fantastic start to the season for hard-throwing right-hander Alex Colome with Triple-A Durham.

Colome, who’s considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, has allowed just one run over 16 innings (three starts). His line includes eight hits, eight walks and 18 strikeouts.

His electric stuff has looked dominant, but he’s going to have to cut down on the walks if he wants to make his big-league debut this year. Hopefully, he can rise above the cluster of talented arms in the Rays’ system and make a positive contribution to the bullpen as soon as possible.

Jesse Hahn

Right-hander Jesse Hahn was a speculated breakout candidate coming into the 2013 after his success last year in his pro debut. Following Tommy John surgery which sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, Hahn hit his stride with short-season Hudson Valley in 2012. He got better as the season progressed, and clearly hasn’t cooled off yet.

Hahn’s made three starts of three innings each so far with Class A+ Charlotte, giving up just one run on six hits and one walk while striking out 11.

It really looks like it could the beginning of a big breakout year for the 23-year-old right-hander.

Alejandro Segovia

Catcher Alejandro Segovia is another player who is worthy of the breakout prospect discussion.

The 22-year-0ld Venezuelan native is batting .286/.333/.619 with four home runs and 10 RBI through 12 games. His exciting power is definitely something to watch as the season progresses.

Talent at the catching position is something that the Rays organization lacks, so Segovia emerging as a top prospect would be huge.

Alex Torres

Alex Torres’ name kinda got lost in the mix last year after an atrocious year with Durham. Again with the Bulls in 2013, the 25-year-old southpaw looks to be turning things around so far.

Torres has made two starts (11 innings), not allowing a single run while striking out 11 batters and letting up just four hits. Control has been the biggest issue for Torres throughout his entire career, which is why it’s both surprising and encouraging to see that he’s walked only one batter thus far.

Torres is a guy who already has some major league experience as a reliever, so if he stays on track he could possibly see time in the ‘pen.

Jeff Ames

It was a big year for Jeff Ames’ development last season. The 2011 first-round draft pick had a outstanding campaign with Hudson Valley, and has started his first full pro season (Class A Bowling Green) off on the right foot.

Ames surrendered just two runs (both home runs), five hits and one walk with 15 strikeouts over his first three first starts (five innings each).

He’s a player with sky-high potential and believe he’ll shine this season in the Midwest League.

Most Exciting Rays Prospects to Watch for in Spring Training

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Baseball has returned, and spring training has officially started for the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte as players report to camp.

The Rays have a handful of exciting prospects and non-roster invitees who have plenty to prove this spring, and it should be interesting to see which surprise players will grab everyone’s attention.

Here are seven names to watch for in the next six weeks.

Tim Beckham

Ever since being drafted first overall by the Rays in 2008, Tim Beckham has been nothing less than a disappointment. The 23-year-old middle infielder was obviously drafted with sky high expectations, but has yet to break out in the minors during his four seasons in the organization.

Beckham will most likely be starting the season with Triple-A Durham, but is out on a mission this spring to prove that this is the year he’ll finally break into the big leagues.

Many thought that year would be 2012, but a 50-game suspension and injuries were huge setbacks in Beckham’s progress. Hopefully, spring training will serve as a clean sheet for Beckham to start over and turn things around in what has been an unfortunate young career.

Mike Montgomery

The Rays acquired 23-year-old southpaw Mike Montgomery from the Royals in December’s blockbuster James Shields trade. Montgomery spent four seasons in Kansas City’s organization considered to be one of the teams top prospects, but has struggled the past two years at the Triple-A level posting a lopsided 8-17 record with a 5.46 ERA.

He probably won’t make an impact on the Rays in the near future, but he’s out to prove he’s not too far away from major league ready.

Although he has very good stuff and the tools to be an MLB starter, a career as a reliever seems more likely at the moment. If he pitches well enough in 2013, we could maybe even see him contribute to Tampa Bay’s bullpen this season.

Alex Colome

Alex Colome is one sleeper prospect with very high upside who should be kept an eye on this season. The 24-year-old right-hander has gradually moved up the ranks over the past years in the Rays’ farm system and pitched his way into Triple-A last season.

Colome has impressive raw stuff that can blow away big league hitters, which should make him a sight to watch in Port Charlotte.

This could be the year he makes his MLB debut as he continues to develop as a pitcher. That being said, spring training will be a great opportunity for him to show off his potential to the Rays.

Jake Odorizzi

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi was one of four prospects acquired in the James Shields trade this offseason, adding yet another talented young starting pitcher to the Rays’ organization.

Odorizzi had somewhat of a breakout year in the minors in 2012, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA through 25 starts in both Double-A and Triple-A. He also got his first taste of the big leagues with the Royals, making two brief starts.

He’ll be battling for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring against teammates Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez and possibly even Chris Archer. His odds of making the Opening Day rotation are not good at all, but if he shines bright enough he could maybe just sneak in there.

Even if we don’t see Odorizzi with the Rays early in the season, we can expect to see him contribute to the team sometime later in the year.

Wil Myers

Wil Myers is the prospect to watch in Major League Baseball this spring. The 22-year-old phenom slugger was the prize acquisition in the James Shields trade, and is considered arguably the top hitting prospect in all of baseball.

Even if Myers plays well during spring training, his chances of making the Opening Day roster are very slim. There is one backup outfielder on the 25-man roster, and although Myers may be good enough for the spot, the Rays are not going to want their top prospect to start the year on the bench.

Whether he makes the roster or not, his powerful bat will be a ton of fun to watch in the coming weeks.

Brandon Guyer

After missing almost the entire 2012 season with a shoulder injury, outfielder Brandon Guyer is returning to baseball this spring hoping for a fresh start.

Guyer has already had two very brief stints in the majors in the past two seasons, but has spent most of his time with Triple-A Durham where he has produced pretty well.

After missing such a significant amount of time, Guyer is no longer considered a top prospect in the organization like he was once. Spring training will be a great opportunity for him to prove that he’s an MLB-caliber player.

He’ll also be competing for the backup outfield spot on the Opening Day roster, but it’s probably going to take a standout performance this spring to accomplish that.

Hak-Ju Lee

One of the Rays’ better position player prospects and shortstop prospects in all of baseball, Hak-Ju Lee is definitely a must-watch this spring in Port Charlotte.

His blazing speed and tremendous defensive upside will surely attract plenty of attention in the next few weeks.

Lee has played with both Class A+ Charlotte and Class AA Montgomery for the past two seasons after being acquired in the Matt Garza blockbuster trade. He still hasn’t had the breakout year in the minors that Rays fans have been anticipating, but nonetheless has made slow progress up the organizational ranks.

Lee will be eyeing a spot on Triple-A Durham’s Opening Day lineup, and a good spring training performance would obviously help his case.

Rays Sign Kelly Johnson to One-Year Deal

The Tampa Bay Rays continued their free agent signing spree Monday, agreeing with second baseman Kelly Johnson for a one-year deal. Johnson, 30, has posted a .255/.338/.429 career line during his seven seasons in the majors with Atlanta, Arizona, and Toronto.

He had an excellent season in 2010 with the Diamondbacks, posting a .378 wOBA with 26 homers and 71 RBI, as well as a UZR of 7.1. Unfortunately, however, he’s seen a decline over the past two years. Johnson hit for a wOBA of just .299 while performing poorly defensively as well, posting a low -6.9 UZR last season with the Blue Jays.

So how does Tampa’s latest acquisition effect the roster?

Johnson would presumably start at second base to return to his 2011/2012 double-play combination with Yunel Escobar, which means Ben Zobrist will be the team’s starting right fielder. However, Ken Rosenthal reports that Zobrist will still play “a lot” at second and Johnson will likely fill in at the corner outfield positions at times.

Although Johnson is a left-handed batter, he hits lefties just as well as righties, making an interesting and unclear situation at second with Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez still on the roster. One assumption we can make from this signing, though, is that Wil Myers will most likely start the year with Triple-A Durham.

Rays News and Notes:

Rays Trade James Shields and Wade Davis to Royals for Prospects

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The much-anticipated James Shields blockbuster has finally happened, and it was even bigger than most of us expected. Tampa Bay also added another MLB-ready starter in Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash to the deal in exchange for a haul of talented prospects from Kansas City.

The Royals’ official Twitter page broke the news last night:

The main acquisition for the Rays in this trade is obviously 22-year-old OF Wil Myers, who was the club’s top prospect and arguably the best hitting prospect in all of baseball. Myers was named the Baseball America Minor League Baseball Player of the Year in 2012, putting up an impressive .304/.378/.554 line with Triple-A Omaha this season. He finished second in the league in home runs (24), fourth in the league in RBI (79) and third in slugging. Rays fans are really going to enjoy seeing power like this from Myers in the future.

The Rays also received right-handed pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, who seems seems like a guy with frontline starter potential in the majors. The 22-year-old former first-round draft pick had a great season in the minors this year, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA and a 8.4 K/9 through 145.1 IP in AA and AAA ball. He also made his his MLB debut (two starts, 7.1 IP) with the Royals.

Check out a full scouting report on Odorizzi over at MLB.com.

The Rays lost two quality starters in Wade Davis and James Shields, but they got at least one back in this trade by acquiring Odorizzi. Jon Mayo of MLB.com ranks Myers and Odorizzi as the organization’s top 2 best prospects.

Tampa Bay got another top-ten ranked prospect in this deal with LHP Mike Montgomery. The 23-year-old was in the Royals’ organization for five years, and has struggled ever since reaching Triple-A two seasons ago. Montgomery posted an ugly 5.69 ERA in 17 starts with Omaha this year. However, with very good stuff and a high upside, the Rays may be able to work their magic and transform yet another talented arm into a refined Major League pitcher.

The fourth and final prospect that the Rays received in this blockbuster is 20-year-old third baseman Patrick Leonard. Leonard batted .251/.340/.494 with 14 homers and 46 RBI through 62 games in Rookie League ball this season. He has a long way to go before he reaches the big leagues, but his power potential makes him someone to keep an eye on in the coming years.

To recap this 6-7 player megadeal in a nutshell, I believe that the deal is a win-win for both clubs. Kansas City’s rotation (and team) just got a whole lot better with two key additions, and Tampa’s future is now brighter.

I personally would have liked to see the Rays add a little more to their offensive depth rather than just restock on arms again, but all-in-all Andrew Friedman and the front office still got the job done here.

One positive about the deal was that the Rays now have a lot more cash on their hands by trading away two pricey salaries in Shields and Davis. The Rays would have owed Shields over $22 million ($10 million in 2013) in the final two years of his contract and Davis would have been payed over $6.5 million for the next two seasons (which is a lot considering how the Rays use him) before three years of expensive team options.

Hopefully the Rays will use some of the money they save to sign somebody productive this offseason off the free agent market to fill in needed positions that are still empty on the roster (RHH 1B/DH, catcher, relief pitcher).

 

Here’s GM Andrew Friedman and president Matt Silverman on the blockbuster below:

Prospects Who Could Make an Impact on the Rays in 2013

As the 2012 regular season winds down to another exciting finish, a handful of Rays minor leaguers look forward to breaking into The Show in 2013. Besides for Matt Moore, no prospects have really made a significant impact on the Rays thus far this season. Hopefully it won’t be the same story next season, and a few names will be able to give the Rays a boost. Here are some farmhands to keep in eye on for 2013.

Hak-Ju Lee

Despite a mediocre 2012 season thus far, Hak-Ju Lee is currently considered the Rays’ No. 1 prospect by many. The 21-year-old is expected to be the franchise’s future at shortstop, and 2013 could be the year he begins his anticipated big league journey. Lee has spent the entire season with Double-A Montgomery, and has hit .261/.336/.360 with 37 RBI and 37 stolen bases. The offensive stats are nothing to get too excited about and neither are his defensive numbers, as Lee has posted a .954 fielding percentage this year. He’s still young and has good potential, so nobody should be surprised to see him with the Rays next September.

Chris Archer

Chris Archer—who’s considered the Rays’ top upper-level pitching prospect—has already made an impact with the club in 2012. The 23-year-old right-hander put up a 3.66 ERA in 25 starts with Durham this season and a 3.86 ERA in his two first major league starts. With James Shields likely not returning next year and Jeff Niemann’s health seemingly always in question, Archer will likely have a much more significant role in the starting rotation in 2013.

Alex Colome

Alex Colome flashed his high potential as he progressed nicely through the Rays’ farm system in 2012. A recent shoulder injury has ended his season, but at this rate many still expect to see Colome as a late-season call-up next year. Colome combined for an 8-4 record and a 3.44 ERA through 17 starts (14 with Montgomery, 3 with Durham) in the minors this year.

Tim Beckham

It’s been another disappointing year for former No. 1 draft pick Tim Beckham. The 22-year-old middle infielder is still fairly young, however, and is gradually progressing in the Rays’ organization. A 50-game suspension for drug use really hurt his chances of making a big league push this season, but he there’s actually still a possibility he gets called up this month. Beckham will likely join the Rays at some point in 2013, obviously depending on how he plays with Durham. This year Beckham has posted a underachieving .256/.325/.361 line with 28 RBI and a .946 fielding percentage through 72 games.