Let’s go for a Wander, shall we? After cruising through the American League East, our final stop in this division comes from the warmth of the Florida sunshine. Much warmer than our last stop up in chilly Toronto. The Tampa Bay farm system has long been one of the top systems in baseball and one that has a solid developmental team in place. This system has churned out top-notch prospects like the state of Florida does orange juice. And who doesn’t love a nice cold glass of Florida’s Natural with their eggs, toast, and bacon? I know I sure do. Maybe I’ll even down a glass as we break down the top-25 Tampa Bay Rays prospects for dynasty leagues.
Overall System Grade: B+
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Durham – International League
Double-A: Montgomery – Southern League
Advanced Single-A: Port Charlotte – Florida State League
Low Single-A: Bowling Green – Midwest League
Short Single-A: Hudson Valley – New York-Penn League
Rookie: Princeton – Appalachian League, Gulf Coast League (1), Dominican Summer League (2)
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 prospects, Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Top-25 Tampa Bay Rays Prospects – 2020
1. Wander Franco, SS
We all know you’re not here for me to shed any new light on the greatness of Wander Franco. If I had to pick one current prospect to dub as the next Juan Soto, I wouldn’t even have to think twice. It’d be Wander Samuel Franco. While all of his tools are robust, Franco’s hit tool is other-worldly. Simply put, the best overall hit tool in the minors and the only one I would even consider putting an 80-grade on. You’ll see the majestic 80-grade put on speed or fastballs mostly and sometimes raw power, but for it to even be considered on a hit tool is ridiculous.
Hey, #Rays fans. If you get a chance to see Wander Franco, see Wander Franco, because odds are, waiting for the next home stand will result in him promoted.
Special talent you need to see. pic.twitter.com/zVqQhnEtfk
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) June 20, 2019
As a switch-hitter, Franco’s feel for hitting and barrel control is unmatched. He’s a tad better from the left side of the plate, but when a player’s “weaker” side produced a .293 average in 2019 and .348 in 2018, you have absolutely nothing to gripe about. Nothing, I said! Beyond that, Franco has silky smooth mechanics and bat speed so fast it makes Road Runner from Looney Tunes jealous. If Franco doesn’t win a batting title (or several) during his Major League career, I would honestly be shocked. It seems crazy to say when he won’t be 19 until the middle of 2020 spring training, but if the shoe fits, lace that bad boy up.
Another reason why his hit tool is so magnificent is Franco’s advanced plate approach. And when I say advanced, I mean college trigonometry in elementary school advanced. It’s not that uncommon for a talented hitter to record more walks than strikeouts in rookie ball like Franco did in 2018. But what is uncommon, is an 18-year-old walking 1.6 times more than he struck out combined between Single-A and High-A. That’s exactly what Franco did with 56 strikeouts to 35 walks for an 11.3% walk rate and a 7.1% strikeout rate.
That strikeout rate is ridiculously low for a contact-only slap hitter, let alone one that can drive the ball as Franco can. While he’s not exactly a Pete Alonso or Nolan Gorman in the power department, Franco possesses plus raw power with a swing that generates backspin and natural loft, especially from the left side of the plate. Once he matures and adds bulk, expect his in-game power to quickly trend up with 30-plus homers annually being a distinct possibility. Currently an above-average to plus runner, Franco still needs to learn how to be more efficient on the bases and will likely lose a step as he matures. Still, there should be enough speed to approach 20 steals each season.
Finally, I’ll leave you with one last nugget of information regarding Franco. I’m currently in the middle of a dynasty startup draft that Ray Butler of Prospects365 started. Franco went 19th overall. 19th! The 11 players drafted directly behind him in order were Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant, Bo Bichette, Jack Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Jose Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, Gleyber Torres, Freddie Freeman, Jacob deGrom, and the beast known as Pete Alonso. Just let that sink in for a second. And to be clear, I have no issues with him going 19th. This is the best overall prospect in the game today and one of the best prospects of this generation. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
2. Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS
Vidal Brujan is a prospect I get higher and higher on as time passes by. Do employers fire you if you’re high on Brujan? Asking for a friend. If they do, I’m screwed. First and foremost, the speed upside here is truly elite. Just take a quick gander at the video below of Brujan legging out a triple in the Arizona Fall League. From home to third, I clocked him at around 11.6-11.7 seconds, and that was with a slide into third and him slowing slightly around second base to check the status of the play out in right field. With 103 steals in the last two seasons combined and his success rate now approaching 80%, the sky is the limit for Brujan in the speed department.
Luckily for all of us, Brujan is far more than just a speedster and can handle the lumber just fine. In his 399 career minor league games, Brujan has hit .294 with a .377 OBP and nearly as many walks (187) as strikeouts (197). Just like Franco, Brujan is a switch-hitter, but with greater split differentials. In 2019, Brujan hit .301 with 23 of his 28 extra-base hits from the left side compared to just .202 as a righty. The splits were closer in 2018 (.338 to .275), so it will be interesting to see if Brujan can improve from the right side or ends up abandoning it down the road. To add, all 19 of Brujan’s minor league home runs have come from the left side of the plate.
While I have gone on record as saying I believe there some sneaky raw power in Brujan’s bat, let me clarify that I think he can get into double-digits on occasion with 15 likely being his ceiling. He at least won’t be a black hole in the power department, and him adding 5-10 home runs to 40-plus steals and a .280-plus batting average is just gravy on top of the mashed potatoes. Second base has mostly been Brujan’s defensive home, but he’s also seen time at shortstop, including out in the Arizona Fall League. His speed and athleticism should allow him to fit at either spot or even in the outfield.
3. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS
Well, I now have a new favorite term thanks to Blake Snell following the Rays acquiring Xavier Edwards and Hunter Renfroe for Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth.
“We gave Pham up for Renfroe and a damn slap-dick prospect?”
Yes, Blake, Xavier Edwards has minimal power potential and can be considered a slap hitter, but he does plenty of things well outside of power than can help out both yourself and us in the fantasy baseball world. First and foremost, Edwards has major upside in the batting average and stolen base departments. As a switch-hitter, Edwards has shown exceptional contact skills from both sides of the plate with innate barrel and strike zone control. Edwards is a very advanced hitter that rarely strikes out and can use the entire field to his advantage.
Asked #Padres Class A coaching staff about the success of no. 11 prospect Xavier Edwards.
Simply put, “He just seems to do everything right.”
Oh, yeah. He can motor too. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XvpjnhCIOA
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) May 30, 2019
As mentioned, there’s almost no power potential here, but Edwards doesn’t try to hit home runs. He uses his contact skills and double-plus speed to make an impact and a big impact at that. Not only does Edwards have blazing speed, but he also has good instincts on the bases that has led to an 82.4% success rate stealing bases. With his hit tool and speed, it’s easy to project a .300/40 threat down the road as a dynamic table-setter.
Edwards has played both second base and shortstop in the minors so far and now has Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan, and others to deal with in the middle infield. Luckily Edwards’ speed and versatility give him the potential to move around a bit which should help when he gets closer to Tampa Bay. And who knows, maybe he shifts to the outfield. Wherever his defensive home ends up being, Edwards has the potential to become an impact Major leaguer with big AVG/R/SB upside.
4. Shane Baz, RHP
If we’re talking pure upside for arms in this system, Shane Baz would top that list. Acquired from Pittsburgh in one of the most laughable trades of all time (sorry Pirates fans), Baz has the type of electric arm most can only dream of. When I saw him out in the AFL, Baz was sitting 98-100 with life on his fastball (100mph below) and blowing it by opposing batters with ease. It was a shorter stint, so the velocity was up a tick. In longer multi-inning starts, Baz will usually sit around 95-97 and can still reach back for more if needed.
Nearly as impressive as the smoke he was throwing was Baz’s plus slider in the 87-91 mph range. Yes, I said 91 mph and he even threw one at 92 in his Fall Stars inning. The pitch has tight spin with two-plane break that gives hitters from both sides of the plate fits. When he’s throwing it at higher velocity it has more of a cutter look to it. Though behind the FB/SL, Baz has shown some feel for his changeup that should be a serviceable third offering to keep hitters off his fastball and slider and will also mix in a curveball as well. When talking with him on the Five-Tool Podcast, Baz also mentioned he has a cutter in his back pocket but isn’t focusing on it at the moment.
What will determine if Baz develops into a frontline starter or shifts to the bullpen is his command and control. I’m still in the mindset that he’s a starter longterm as there are no glaring concerns with his delivery from a 3/4 arm slot that can’t be cleaned up and ironed out over time. Baz is firmly on the rise and one I’d be trying to acquire in all my dynasty leagues before the price tag continues to soar. When speaking with him, it was very apparent that Baz is very knowledgable about pitching and has a gameplan on how to improve where he needs to. If those improvements are made, watch out.
5. Brendan McKay, LHP/DH
Brendan McKay at #5! What the bleep is wrong with you Eric? Well, first of all, McKay being a two-way player with time in the Majors made that bio/stats graphic take six years to make it felt like. But seriously, McKay is a very good prospect, but the two-way thing is being overblown. Do I think he can develop into an average Major League hitter? Maybe. But that’s likely his ceiling as a hitter. As of now, McKay is a Double-A caliber bat in my eyes that is going to struggle to hit Major League pitching. He’ll probably walk a fair amount as he’s always done, but I’m expecting a high K rate, low AVG, and not much power in the near future.
His abilities on the mound are why he’s going to have a long Major League career and why you’re going to want him on your dynasty team. McKay fit the #2 started mold so well it hurts. His arsenal runs four-pitches deep with all four grading as average to plus offerings. The best of the bunch is a plus curveball in the low-80’s with good shape that offsets his low-90’s fastball (T 95-96) very well. Both his cutter and changeup project as 50 or 55-grade offerings with the cutter neutralizing hitters on both sides of the plate. McKay’s arsenal plays up due to his plus command/control, clean mechanics, and easy, repeatable delivery. You’ll very rarely see him get into trouble due to too many free passes and he can usually locate all four pitches where he wants too.
This is one of the highest floors you’ll see from a pitching prospect. While I’m quite skeptical about his abilities as a hitter long-term, I have no worries about him developing at least into a #3 starter.
6. Greg Jones, SS
A breakout final season at UNC-Wilmington vaulted the speedy Greg Jones into the first round where the Rays selected him 22nd overall. Speed is the name of the game for Jones, an 80-grade runner. He still needs to improve his pitcher reads and efficiency on the basepaths, but there is almost no ceiling for his speed potential. That speed is more noticeable on the bases than in the field where he’s not a lock to stick at shortstop longterm. If he does move off of short, the outfield is the probable destination.
As a hitter, Jones isn’t as advanced as most collegiate bats. However, the tools are here for him to develop into a 55-hit, 50-raw power type down the road. There’s plus bat speed from both sides of the plate with a compact swing. The swing path is mostly linear at the moment and will need to have loft added if Jones wants to get into double-digit home run territory. His approach greatly improved in his final collegiate season and he continued to display a patient approach in the NYPL after being drafted. If he can keep his strikeouts in check, I believe the contact skills will allow him to hit .270-.280 to pair with a ton of steals and maybe 10-15 home runs at peak.
7. Josh Lowe, OF
As I mentioned in my Arizona Fall League article, Josh Lowe is a prospect that deserves more love in the fantasy world. After a slower start to his professional career, Lowe broke out in 2019 with 18 home runs and 32 steals in 121 games for Double-A Montgomery. He didn’t stop there either, hitting .327 with seven extra-base hits, two home runs, and four steals 15 AFL games. This was Lowe’s third straight season with 18 or more stolen bases, which is not surprising given he’s a very quick and athletic outfielder at 6’4 and 205 pounds. His raw power doesn’t quite match his speed, but Low does have above-average raw power that has started translating into games more frequently now that his flyball rate has risen above 40% over the last two seasons.
The tool that still lags behind some is the hit tool. Lowe has been able to draw walks consistently, but his below-average contact skills have limited him to a .252 career average in the minors thus far. While I don’t expect him to ever approach .300, Lowe has the tools to hit in the vicinity of .270 or so longterm. His swing can get a tad long, but there’s plus bat speed once he gets going and he eats up fastballs for breakfast. This is a name approaching top-100 status.
8. Brent Honeywell, RHP
This is turning into a giant game of operation with Brent Honeywell. You hate to see it too, as Honeywell was one of the top pitching prospects in the game and knocking on the door to the Major Leagues back in 2017. The problem is, he hasn’t pitched in a minor league game since September 3rd, 2017. That’s a whopping 792 days ago. After missing the entire 2018 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Honeywell dealt with a nerve issue in his shoulder early in 2019 before breaking his elbow in early-June. Ouch.
At this point, I can no longer rank Honeywell inside my top-100 overall. The upside/ceiling certainly would put him well inside the top-100, no doubt about it. Honeywell can throw up to five pitches with four of the projecting as Major League average or better pitches. Before all the injuries that is. Most notably is his plus screwball in the mid to upper 70’s. It’s incredibly rare for a pitcher to throw a screwball these days, especially one as dynamic as Honeywell’s. The rest of the arsenal consists of a plus heater in the mid-90s, slider, changeup, and seldom used get me over curveball that he’d probably be better off scrapping.
By no means should you forget about Honeywell in dynasty leagues due to his immense upside. However, the risk far outweighs the reward right now. If the Honeywell owner in your dynasty league is getting sick of waiting around, it wouldn’t hurt to shoot them a buy-low offer with a prospect outside the top-150 or so.
9. Shane McClanahan, LHP
The name Shane McClanahan will likely be several spots higher on this list next offseason. The 2018 first-rounder has moved quickly so far, pitching across three levels in 2019, ending in the Double-A Southern League where he struggled in four starts. McClanahan has always been and will likely always be a big strikeout lefty. At every level so far, including every collegiate season at USF, he’s registered a K/9 above 10. With his arsenal, that’s not shocking in the slightest.
McClanahan will sit in the low to mid-90’s with life on his heater with more velocity in the tank when needed. His command of the pitch has been inconsistent, especially when thrown at higher velocity. Both his slider and changeup project as Major League pitches, with the slider potentially being a plus offering for McClanahan. There is some effort in his delivery, but the mechanics are fairly clean and McClanahan gets great extension in his delivery. If he can refine his command some, the upside here is a back-end #2 starter with high strikeout upside.
10. Randy Arozarena, OF
One of the pieces that came over from St. Louis in the Jose Martinez deal, Randy Arozarena joins a crowded Tampa Bay outfield situation after making his Major League debut with the Cardinals late last season. The 5’11 Cuban outfielder enjoyed his best professional season to date in 2019, posting a .344/.431/.571 line with 15 homers and 17 steals in 92 Double-A and Triple-A games before reciving the call to St. Louis where he hit .300 across 19 games.
You can attest some of that slash line to spending 2/3 of his season in the Pacific Coast League, but it’s not like Arozarena came out of nowhere last season. He’s been a noteworthy prospect for a few years now thanks to his above-average hit tool and borderline plus speed. But even with that speed, Arozarena hasn’t been the most effient guy around on the bases, converting on only 69.3% of his attempts in the minors.
With hit/speed combintion Arozarena has the upside to hit around .280 or so with 20 steals anually and enough power to get into the 10-15 homer range more often than not. It will be interesting to see how Tampa Bay fits him into their overstuffed outfield picture in 2020 and beyond.
11. Ronaldo Hernandez, C
While every player on this list so far has been trending up (Honeywell doesn’t really count), Ronaldo Hernandez is the only one that had a down 2019 season. And when I say down, it was down from his 2018, but still a fine season in general from the 21-year-old Colombian backstop. The biggest difference was his power output was cut by more than half from 21 homers down to nine. Don’t worry. There’s above-average to plus raw power here with a quick that generates plenty of backspin and natural loft. Hernandez uses a slightly higher hand coil, but it doesn’t affect his swing or bat speed.
The one aspect of Hernandez’s offensive game that I would like to see him improve upon is his pull-happy ways. In each of the last two seasons, Hernandez pulled the ball more than 53.3% of the time and has never been below 49.2% in any season. More advanced pitching will almost certainly exploit that, pitch him outside, and force him to go the other way which will hinder his power output. If Hernandez can learn to use the whole field better, that will go a long way toward him becoming the above-average offensive catcher that he has the upside to be.
12. Nick Schnell, OF
That top-10 for me is pretty locked in. But here at #11, Nick Schell has the raw tools to bust down the door to that top-10 by the end of 2020. Maybe earlier. Schnell doesn’t possess one standout tool, but could develop into a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed type when it’s all said and done with 20/20 upside. Dare I say, he might even have plus speed too. To tap into his raw power, Schnell will need to add more loft to his swing as it’s mostly linear at the moment. There’s still some physical projection left on his 6’3 frame as well.
Enjoy a Nick Schnell triple that scores Wander Franco. Just another fun moment on the Rays back fields. pic.twitter.com/NV8GfildTc
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) March 18, 2019
As a prep bat drafted in 2018, Schnell demonstrates an advanced feel for hitting with a compact swing from the left side. His hands begin a little low, but everything is fluid through load and forward stride with plus bat speed. If Schnell wants to hit for a high average, he’ll need to refine his plate approach. Schnell has struck out in 32.5% of his professional plate appearances and looked overmatched after a mid-season promotion to the Single-A Midwest League. Still, Schnell is not even 20 yet and has time to work on that and is in a great developmental farm system.
13. Taylor Walls, SS
To the window, to the Taylor Walls! Ah, reliving my youth. Walls has always been a personal favorite of mine in this Tampa Bay system. As a switch-hitter, Walls has shown a feel for hitting from both sides of the plate with solid barrel control through the zone. He did struggle as a righty in 2019, but hit .352 from the right side in 2018, which gives hope that the .212 average from the right side this season will not continue. What should continue, however, is that strong plate approach which he’s had since the womb. Walls has also shown a touch of pop from both sides, enough to project double-digit homers annually.
His speed might be his best tool, in the long run, projecting as an above-average to plus runner with 25 stolen base upside. That speed has served him well both on the bases and in the field where he is an above-average defender at short with the tools to stick their longterm. Although, I doubt he stays there with the Wander Express steaming towards Tampa Bay. It’s possible that Walls’ athleticism turns him into a super-utility player for the Rays that still gets in the lineup regularly due to his bat.
14. Joe Ryan RHP
While the arms higher up on this list garner most of the attention, Joe Ryan quietly had the biggest breakout season in the system. Just look at those mouth-watering numbers in his bio above. A 1.94 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 13.3 K/9? Yes, please. Now before everyone gets too excited, remember that he was a 23-year-old with 90% of his 2019 innings coming below Double-A. Those numbers are phenomenal any way you slice them, but he’s not a future #1 or #2 starter. Let’s not kid ourselves here.
Ryan does have two above-average to plus pitches, but has struggled to find consistency with his changeup. His fastball will sit in the low-90’s mostly with some life and can get up into the 95mph range at times while his curveball is thrown in the mid-70’s with big break. If he can develop his changeup, there might be some #3 starter upside here. But in all likelihood, he’s a high strikeout #4 starter.
15. J.J. Goss, RHP
The Rays first-round pick this past June, J.J. Goss is the definition of a projectable right-hander. He has a slim 6’3 frame with plenty of physical projection left which should add a tick or two to his low-90’s fastball. He’ll mix in two secondary offerings with his low-80’s slider easily being the better of the two. The pitch features two-plane break and is Goss’ main out pitch. While his changeup is well behind the slider, Goss has shown a solid feel for it and projects as a serviceable third pitch for the right-hander and one that can help neutralize left-handed batters.
Goss’ command and control are fairly advanced for his age so he should be able to remain a starter longterm. Although, there is some effort in his delivery. If he does move to the bullpen, his fastball/slider combination could make him a weapon in the late innings.
16. Moises Gomez, OF
Kids, remember these words; the hit tool is very important. Now repeat it back to me. Too many times you’ll see a hitter with an enticing power/speed profile being limited by his below-average contact skills or plate approach. Or both. Now, Moises Gomez is far from a 30/30 type, but with his easy plus raw power and average speed, there could be some 30/10 type of seasons at peak. But not when his contact skills are limiting his game power and plate approach keeping his OBP on the lower side. Gomez’s swing and miss ways hit an all-time high this season with a 33.5% strikeout rate. That’s not going to cut it Moises! If Gomez can learn to be more patient at the plate and wait for pitches to drive instead of chasing out of the zone, his entire offensive game will greatly thank him.
17. Seth Johnson, RHP
Straight out of the baseball hotbed known as Campbell University, we have the Rays third and last 1st round (CBA) pick, Seth Johnson. Although he doesn’t have the same upside as J.J. Goss, Johnson is the more advanced arm and should reach Tampa Bay much more quickly. What role that in remains to be seen though. Johnson pairs an above-average to plus low to mid-90’s fastball with an equally as effective slider. Outside of those two, Johnson also mixes in a changeup and curveball, both of which are below average offerings.
As a converted shortstop with not much pitching experience, there’s hope that the rest of Johnson’s secondaries, along with his command and control, will continue to improve over time. With his clean mechanics and smooth delivery, he’s off to a great start. And the fact that he was taken so high despite the inexperience on the mound speaks volumes. If Johnson is able to continue refining his arsenal, the Rays could have a mid-rotation arm on their hands.
18. Jhon Diaz, OF
After appearing to have signed with the Yankees, Jhon Diaz ended up signing with the Rays (for $300K more) in late August. The report is that the Yankees ended up not having enough money to sign Diaz after handing out over $5 million to that Jasson Dominguez fellow. Well, the Yankees loss is the Rays gain. The Evil Empire didn’t need any more international talent in that system anyway.
The #Yankees reached an agreement with one of the most skilled/high baseball IQ prospects in the entire class today.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) July 2, 2019
Diaz is a little on the smaller side at 5’11/160, but man, can this kid pack a punch. From the video I’ve seen, the swing is compact from the left side with plenty of bat speed. There’s already some nice raw power that should only improve as he matures physically and gets to the states. With above-average speed as well, Diaz has the chance to develop into a 55-hit, 55-raw, 55-speed type of outfielder. That’s still a long way off of course, but he should be a fun one to track once he gets into minor league action.
19. Kevin Padlo, 3B
Acquired from the Colorado Rockies back in 2015, Kevin Padlo is a prospect garnering plenty of buzz after finally breaking out in 2019. Pre-2019 Padlo wasn’t anyone to write home about, but he finally put himself on the map with a .265/21/12 across 110 games. But hold on one second. I’m here to throw some cold water on this prospect stock. Padlo does two things well; hit for power and draw walks. His patience at the plate has led to a 14.2% walk rate and .359 OBP in the minors despite hitting only .244.
As great as both of aspects of his game are, Padlo has even more holes and flaws which suppresses his overall upside. Padlo has displayed below-average contact skills with a pull-happy approach. He does well hitting for power to his pull side with a leveraged swing, but I worry that’s all he’s going to be able to do at the Major League level. Sure, that could lead to 20-25 homers, but I don’t anticipate anything more than a .250 average to go along with it. There’s also below-average speed here that shouldn’t yield many double-digit steal seasons moving forward. In OBP leagues, give him a slight bump, but I’m not going crazy here as there’s a solid chance he’s nothing more than a bench/platoon bat.
20. Alejandro Pie, SS
Sticking with the international theme, we have the Rays top international signing from 2019, shortstop Alejandro Pie. Pronounced pee-eh, not like the dessert you eat too much of at Thanksgiving. You can describe Pie very simply. At 6’4 and 175 pounds (generous), Pie has a ton of physical projection left but is still very raw at the plate. One tool that instantly translated to the minors was his plus speed. He’ll likely lose a step if he adds bulk, but there should still be enough speed to exceed 20 steals annually.
In the power department, there’s intrigue. Pie has already shown above-average raw power and with added bulk could be a plus raw power shortstop. That is if he stays there. Pie very well could outgrow the position and move to third base or a corner outfield spot where his strong arm would fit just fine. As I said, he’s still very raw as a hitter and has some mechanical kinks to work out (can get onto his front leg too early), but the tools are here for Pie to shoot up prospect lists over the next couple of years. Keep an eye on him.
21. Lucius Fox, SS
The more I watch Lucius Fox, the further down this list he slides. His speed can be bucketed with Brujan’s and Jones’, but Fox isn’t even on the same planet with those two offensively. For starters, Fox has minimal power and will likely never even hit five homers in a season, even with a juicy baseball. His inability to drive the ball, paired with his well below-average contact skills lead me to project him as a backup infielder. One with plenty of speed and strong defensive skills, but I just can’t see him developing into a starter. Especially not in a system jam-packed with infield talent.
22. John Doxakis, LHP
After taking two arms in the CBA round this past June, Tampa dipped back into the collegiate ranks for another arm, this time snagging southpaw John Doxakis out of Texas A&M. Doxakis is a big lefty that usually sits in the low-90’s with strong armside run due to his lower arm slot. He’ll mix in a slider that has flashed plus with two-plane break and a serviceable changeup that he’s shown a feel for. Doxakis is able to get the most out of his arsenal thanks to plus command/control and clean mechanics, albeit, with a little effort in his delivery. While Doxakis is more floor than ceiling, there’s a good chance he reaches his ceiling of a back-end starter.
23. Resly Linares, LHP
As he’s moved slowly through the Tampa Bay system, Resly Linares has mostly impressed while slowly improving. He’s added some velocity over the last year or two and now sits in the low to mid-90s consistently with some arm side life. His best secondary pitch is a plus curveball with depth that he can locate for strikes or bury below the zone for the strikeout. There’s also the makings of a Major League average changeup here. Linares only made two starts in 2019 before landing on the IL with a forearm strain, but with his arsenal and above-average command/control, Linares could turn into a #4 starter in time or a solid middle reliever.
24. Riley O’Brien, RHP
Although he’s been a tad on the older side at every level, you can’t argue with what Riley O’Brien has done and the strides he’s made as a pitcher. With a very projectable 6’4 frame, O’Brien has added some bulk which has caused his velocity to tick up into the low to mid-90’s and topping out around 98 at times. With that heater and his plus curveball, O’Brien has the makings of a late-inning bullpen weapon. And if he can develop his changeup some and refine his command and control, the ceiling is a mid-rotation arm. Keep an eye on him.
25. Abiezel Ramirez, SS
You’re going to sense a trend at the end of these rankings with these projection prospects. Abiezel Ramirez is another one of those as a 2016 international signee out of the Dominican Republic that is starting to turn that projection into actual results. Ramirez’s plus speed is his most notable tool and has shown up consistently in games. His efficiency on the bases has improved drastically too over the last two seasons.
At the plate, Abiezel is more hit than power at the moment and has shown the ability to make consistent hard contact to all fields from both sides of the plate. While the power hasn’t shown up much in games, Ramirez has hinted at more power to come and could develop into a 15-homer type down the road. With average contact skills and the ability to draw walks, Ramirez has the all-around offensive upside to monitor in dynasty leagues. Just don’t bank on him necessarily sticking at shortstop longterm.
Keep an Eye On… Sandy Gaston, RHP
Projection, projection, projection. In no dynasty league shallower than 1,000 prospects are you likely considering Sandy Gaston as an option, but this is all about projection. Gaston throws hard in the mid to upper-90s and has already added bulk and grown a couple of inches since signing with Tampa last summer. But his velocity is the only thing that has impressed so far. He’ll flash an above-average to plus curveball and average changeup, though inconsistently due to his below-average command and control. If he can reign in his arsenal and locate better, there’s considerable upside here. The epitome of a high-ceiling, low-floor pitching prospect.
Media Credit: Robert Robinson, Emily Waldon, Minor Graphs by Prospects Live, J.J. Cooper, Baseball America.
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