Baseball America Announces Rays’ Top 10 Prospects
Around this time every year, Baseball America ranks the Top 10 prospects in each organization. Earlier today the publication announced its Top 10 Rays prospects heading in to 2017, and we take a look at who made the cut, and if he’ll contribute to the Bulls next season.
1. Willy Adames – SS
Adames was No. 2 on this list a season ago, sitting behind LHP Blake Snell. With Snell’s graduation to the bigs, Adames takes over the top spot with much fanfare. After he was acquired in the David Price trade at the 2014 Trade Deadline, the 21-year-old has steadily climbed the ranks of the Tampa Bay system, including a 2016 season that saw him hit .274-11-57 for Double-A Montgomery while earning Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star honors. Despite his young age and an abundance of middle infielders, don’t be surprised to see Adames in Durham in 2017.
2. Brent Honeywell – RHP
He’ll turn 22 just before Opening Day 2017, after combining to go 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 20 starts between Advanced-A Charlotte and Montgomery this past season. Honeywell missed some time because of injury in 2016, and because of his youth and plenty of pitching depth likely will start next season at the Double-A level. Still, if he performs well don’t be surprised to see him make a midseason jump to Durham like the Rays have done with Snell and RHP Jake Faria over the last two seasons.
3. Casey Gillaspie – 1B
Bulls fans got to see Gillaspie up close in 2016, after he was the team’s most consistent hitter after his promotion from Montgomery after the All-Star break. After a strong couple of months with the Biscuits, the 2014 1st round draft pick batted .307-7-23 in 47 games with the Bulls, while posting a .389 OBP. If he’s not back in Durham to open 2017, that’ll mean Tampa Bay’s Minor League Player of the Year is with the big club.
4. Jake Bauers – 1B/OF
A 2016 Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, Bauers hit .274-14-78 in 135 games for Montgomery in 2016 at age 20. Acquired by Tampa Bay from San Diego in the Wil Myers trade prior to the 2015 season, it’s not out of the question that Bauers will open 2017 in Durham after spending the last year and a half with the Biscuits.
5. Chih-Wei Hu – RHP
Aside from one spot-start for Durham early in the year, Hu spent 2016 in Montgomery. The right-hander led the Southern League in ERA, going 7-9 with a 2.75 mark across 25 starts en route to being named the league’s right-handed pitcher of the year and a Midseason and Postseason All-Star. He’ll turn 23 in November, and he’ll be fighting for a spot in the Bulls’ rotation when he arrives at Spring Training.
6. Josh Lowe – 3B
The Rays scooped up Lowe in the 1st Round of the 2016 draft out of high school, and the corner infielder split the year between the GCL Rays and Rookie-level Princeton. The Georgia native will turn 19 in February, and projects to be a few seasons away from contributing to the Bulls on a regular basis.
7. Jesus Sanchez – OF
Signed as an international free agent, Sanchez split 2016 between the Gulf Coast League and Princeton. Although he was just 18, Sanchez combined to hit .329 with seven home runs between the two levels. Similar to Lowe, because of his age it appears Bulls fans will have to wait to see the Dominican Republic native suit up for Durham.
8. Jake Faria – RHP
Faria opened the 2016 season in Double-A, but was promoted to Durham at the end of June. In 13 starts for the Bulls the 23-year-old went 4-4 with a 3.72 ERA, but saw the ERA inflated by a few bad starts. Of those 13 outings, he allowed two earned runs or fewer nine times, and surrendered just 46 hits in 67 2/3 innings. Expect Faria to be back in Durham to open next season, but he’ll be on a short list if Tampa Bay needs an arm.
9. Justin Williams – OF
Acquired from Arizona in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson west prior to the 2015 season, Williams has had a strong two years in the Rays system. He split 2016 between Charlotte and Montgomery, combining to hit .295. Just 21, Tampa Bay might like to see Williams get more time in Double-A than the 39 games he played this season, but don’t be surprised if he earns a midseason call-up to the Bull City in 2017.
10. Garrett Whitley – OF
The Rays’ 1st Round draft pick in 2015, Whitley spent the 2016 season with Short-Season Hudson Valley. The upstate New York native swiped 21 bags in 65 games, while hitting .266 with 20 extra-base hits. Just 19, the speedy outfielder is still a few years away from being Triple-A ready.