Rays AFL Weekly Wrap-up

Although the 2011 MLB season is still officially underway, teams are already starting to prepare for the 2012 campaign. The Rays sent several prospects to the Arizona Fall League this year to continue to work on their games and to give them the opportunity to play against top-tier minor league talent. Every week I check-in on the Rays players and let you know how they are performing.

The Rays have one of the best farm systems in baseball, placing second on Baseball America's rankings prior to the 2011 season. Their ten first round picks in the 2011 draft should help place them on top of the rankings in 2012, and it also gives them no shortage of talent to send to the various Winter Leagues. The most prestigious of the Winter Leagues is the Arizona Fall League, because teams typically send some of the best talent in their organization to compete there.

The Rays sent 2008 first overall pick SS Tim Beckham, 2011 first round selection OF Mikie Mahtook, as well as 2B Tyler Bortnick, RHP Shane Dyer, RHP Marquis Fleming, LHP Adam Liberatore, and RHP Kirby Yates to represent the franchise in Arizona. The Rays prospects team up with players from the Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, and Kansas City Royals to create the Surprise Saguaros. The Saguaros sit atop the AFL West standings with a 12-4 mark, and the Rays representatives have made contributions to the team's early success.

Tim Beckham is the most well-known of the Rays prospects in the AFL, and many are curious to see if he can continue to build on the successes he had in the minor leagues in 2011. In his 10 games for the Saguaros, Beckham is hitting .262 with two homeruns, nine RBI, and nine walks. Although he has struck out 13 times, Beckham has shown the ability to get on base with his OBP sitting at .392. While his batting average isn't high, he is posting a .964 OPS. He is showing power and patience at the plate, and this is an encouraging sign from Beckham going forward,

LSU draftee Mikie Mahtook will be the second most watched Rays prospect in this year's AFL. Mahtook was the 31st overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, but has yet to make an appearance for a Rays minor league team. His stint with the Saguaros is the first opportunity for the Rays organization to see what kind of player they drafted. He has already played in nine games, and is posting a .257 average with six RBI, and four stolen bases. He has only walked twice in 35 at bats, while striking out seven times. His OBP is .325 while his OPS is sitting at a paltry .582. Mahtook is showing clear signs of having no pro experience, and is still adjusting to facing higher-caliber pitching.

Other Rays Performances

Second Basemen Tyler Bortnick is hitting .240 in seven games with one homerun, one RBI, and two stolen bases, with a .428 OBP and a .860 OPS.

Pitcher Shane Dyer has a 5.40 ERA with a 1-1 record in four games and 15 innings pitched.

Marquis Fleming has a 4.91 ERA in four relief appearances, pitching 7.1 innings with eight strikeouts, but has also given up six walks.

Reliever Adam Liberatore has made four relief appearances, pitching 6.2 innings with a 5.40 ERA and seven strikeouts, while only walking two.

Kirby Yates also has four relief appearances, posting a 9.00 ERA in three innings of work, while striking out four and allowing three walks.

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