Baseball America Announces Rays Top 10 Prospects
On Friday our friends at Baseball America published their annual list of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Top 10 prospects. Here we take a look at who made that list, and if/when they’ll make an impact on the Durham Bulls.
1. Blake Snell
Named Baseball America’s and USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year, Snell had an unreal season. You can read about it here or here, so we’ll skip that part. The real question is whether or not the 23-year-old will open the 2016 season in the Bull City or with Tampa Bay. Coming off the year he had, it’s not crazy to expect him to start the year at the big league level. Don’t forget though, the Rays still have a stacked pitching staff, and they might want to limit Snell’s innings by keeping him in the minors to start the year.
2. Willy Adames
A key piece in the David Price trade in July of 2014, Adames is still just 20 years old. The shortstop hit .258 with Advanced-A Charlotte this season, and projects to spend the majority of 2016 with Double-A Montgomery. Still, with a strong campaign there, a late-season promotion to Durham might not be out of the question.
3. Brent Honeywell
A 2nd-round pick in 2014, Honeywell will turn 21 just before Opening Day 2016. This past season he combined to go 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA between Single-A and Advanced-A, striking out almost a batter an inning. He’s received notoriety for his effective screwball, but is most likely still a season away from reaching the Triple-A level.
4. Jake Bauers
Picked up by the Rays in the same deal that saw Tampa Bay ship Wil Myers to San Diego, Bauers had a strong first season in the Rays’ system, hitting .272 with 11 homers and 74 RBI between Advanced-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery. After the season, the former 7th-round pick was selected to the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars team. Though he’ll spend the entire 2016 season at age 20, it’s not crazy to think he could join the Bulls at some point after hitting .276 over 69 games in Double-A this past season.
5. Garrett Whitley
Whitley was the 13th overall pick the 2015 draft, and struggled in his first foray into professional baseball as he hit just .174 between the Gulf Coast League and Short-Season Hudson Valley. He’s just 18 years old, so don’t expect him in Durham for the next couple of seasons.
6. Mikie Mahtook
After he was Durham’s MVP in 2014, Mahtook shuttled back-and-forth between the Bulls and Rays throughout the 2015 campaign. Upon being called up for the rest of the year in September, the 26-year-old rattled off a strong month, and finished the season with a .295 average and nine homers at the big league level. Mahtook will compete for a spot on Tampa Bay’s Opening Day roster in Spring Training.
7. Taylor Guerrieri
After missing almost all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Guerrieri came back with a strong campaign in 2015. As the Rays limited his innings, the 2011 1st-round pick was 5-3 with a 1.85 ERA between Charlotte and Montgomery. The Rays added him to their 40-man roster in November, and he projects to start 2016 with the Bulls.
8. Jacob Faria
Faria, 22, split the 2015 season between Charlotte and Montgomery, going 17-4 with a 1.92 ERA and leading all of Minor League Baseball in wins. A 10th-round pick in 2011, the right-hander should start the year in the Bull City coming off a year in which he struck out more batters than innings pitched.
9. Casey Gillaspie
The 20th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Gillaspie spent the majority of 2015 with Bowling Green, while appearing in 13 games for Charlotte. The 22-year-old showed good power this season by cracking 17 home runs, but is still most likely a year away from joining the Bulls.
10. Daniel Robertson
Acquired from Oakland in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the A’s, Robertson missed almost half of the 2015 campaign after suffering a broken hamate bone. Still, the 21-year-old hit .274 and drove in 41 in 78 games for Montgomery. The shortstop, taken 34th overall in 2012, projects to spend significant time with the Bulls in 2016, if not begin the year in Durham.