Top Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

Kiley continues the minor league organizational prospect lists with the Rays, led by currently injured RHP Taylor Guerrieri and featuring one of the deeper systems in the game.

Links & Disclaimer

See the AFL content index for previous scouting reports and videos for every team in the league. For draft fans, here's my ranking of the top prep prospects for the draft. I'm currently doing an updated college rankings series right now but ranked my top 50 overall prospects for the draft back in August.

For an explanation about how to use asset values, how I grade players and their tools, what order I'll be breaking down each organization and what players are eligible to be ranked, see this primer of the minor league org prospect rankings series. Also, check out the Prospect Rankings Central for more information. Covered in the primer is the cut-off for players to qualify for this list. Among the young, MLB-ready pieces that will be included in the MLB rankings because they're too old/experienced for this list: RHP Chris Archer, LHPs Matt Moore and Alex Torres and RF Wil Myers.

System Overview

The Rays list is the deepest I've covered so far two reasons: their Latin system has been fruitful with both low dollar signings and some recent higher dollar signings but mostly because of all the extra picks they've had. One objective study of the draft have the Rays as the least successful of all 30 MLB clubs in drafting the last 5-10 years. While extra picks are great, the Rays haven't had a high pick in awhile, so that review may include some hyperbole/skewing the numbers a bit, but it's getting at a deeper truth.

The system is littered with prospects that have received a lot of money or were high picks recently and have already outright failed or not met expectations--you'll see a lot of "x was drafted here" or "x signed for x bonus" in the descriptions below, many more times than you will with other clubs. Other, safer drafting teams may end up with more guys that make it to the upper levels and ultimately don't meet expectations, so this in part is just be a by-product of their philosophy, but the results have been clearly below-average regardless of all these qualifiers. The Rays still skew a bit high school and toward raw athletes, a type that tends to keep their trade value longer than others, but with the extra picks drying up due to the new CBA, this could be a very thin system in a few years without some improvement in the draft.

The two previous systems covered (Philadelphia - $200 million and Kansas City - $340 million) were at the opposite extremes of the valuations for farm systems while Tampa Bay falls almost exactly in the middle at $280 million. I haven't worked out all the system's values yet but I'm guessing these three represent one team from each third of the ranking, a real bang-up job by the random number generator that set the order of these prospects lists. Click on a player's bold/hyperlinked name to see previous articles, including scouting reports and video. Here's a quick look at the top 10 with dollar values for those above the 50 FV cut-off. See the series primer for more details.

1. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, $40.8 million

2. Jesse Hahn, RHP, $38.6 million

3. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, $31.9 million

4. Nick Ciuffo, C, $22.3 million

5. Blake Snell, LHP

6. Jake Odorizzi, RHP

7. Jake Hager, SS

8. Enny Romero, LHP

9. Ryne Stanek, RHP

10. Jeff Ames, RHP

And the cumulative top 10 of all the players covered so far:

1. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, KC, $45.0 million

2. Yordano Ventura, RHP, KC, $44.8 million

3. Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI, $44.7 million

4. Raul Mondesi, SS, KC, $42.7 million

5. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, TB, $40.8 million

6. J.P. Crawford, SS, PHI, $40.3 million

7. Jesse Hahn, RHP, TB, $38.6 million

8. Miguel Almonte, RHP, KC, $35.3 million

9. Sean Manaea, LHP, KC, $34.4 million

T-10. Hunter Dozier, 3B, KC, $31.9 million

T-10. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, TB, $31.9 million

1. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP

2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 21.3/Hi-A, 6'3/195, R/R

Drafted: 24th overall (1st round) out of SC high school in 2011 for $1,600,000 bonus

PV/FV: 20/60+, Asset Value: $40.8 million

Fastball: 55/65, Curveball: 55/60+, Changeup: 50/55, Command: 45/50+

Guerrieri was cruising along and was about to appear in the Futures Game before his elbow popped a week before the showcase, knocking him out for the 2013 season and most if not all of the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery. He has premium stuff and projection, only lasting as long as he did in the 2011 draft due to makeup concerns that have slowly become less talked-about. When he's right, Guerrieri sits 91-95 and has been as high as 98 mph, but often in pro ball was in the low 90's but his high 70's curveball consistently flashed plus potential. His command and changeup were also farther along than most young power arms, both with above average potential. There's #2 starter upside after a surgery with about an 80% success rate, but he may not appear at all in 2014, so it'll take some time and there's a good bit of risk.

2. Jesse Hahn, RHP

2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 24.7/AA, 6'5/185, R/R

Drafted: 191st overall (6th round) out of Virginia Tech in 2010 for $525,000 bonus

PV/FV: 20/60, Asset Value: $38.6 million

Fastball: 65/70, Curveball: 50/55+, Changeup: 50/50+, Command: 45/50

Former high school teammate of Mets RHP Matt Harvey took a little while to get going but found his stride in 2013 with a big full-season debut at High-A Charlotte. Hahn was a big prospect in the 2010 draft but slid when elbow problems cropped up before the draft, which ended in Tommy John surgery after signing and delayed his pro debut until 2012, where he threw only 52 innings in short-season at age 22. The good news is, despite the late start, that he's healthy and the stuff is as good as it ever was: his fastball works 92-97 with heavy life and has hit 99 mph along with a curveball that's above average to plus and a changeup that's sometimes better than average.

3. Hak-Ju Lee, SS

2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 23.4/AAA, 6'2/170, L/R

Signed: IFA, South Korea at age 17 for $725,000 bonus

PV/FV: 40/50+, Asset Value: $31.9 million

Hit: 30/45, Power: 40/40, Run: 65/65, Field: 60/60, Throw: 55/55

Lee and Chris Archer were the two main pieces to come over from the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal and while Archer has taken a step forward, Lee has stalled a bit at the upper levels and a knee injury abruptly ended his 2013 season after 15 games. It may take a little time for Lee to get back up to speed this spring as speed is a big part of his game, using his plus wheels on the base paths and as an above average defensive shortstop. Lee's slappy approach will help him outhit his pure hit grade and probably underperform his raw power grade. He had some trouble against advanced pitching in AA, but made a late season mechanical adjustment in 2012 that seemed to work for him. The offensive bar is so low at shortstop that even a .250/.315/.375 season with average defense is a solid regular and Lee has a decent chance to beat that if he can come back fully from the knee injury.

4. Nick Ciuffo, C

2014 Opening Day Age/Level: 19.1/Lo-A, 6'1/205, L/R

Drafted: 21st overall (1st round) out of SC high school in 2013 for $1,972,000 bonus

PV/FV: 20/50+, Asset Value: $22.3 million

Hit: 20/50+, Power: 50/55, Run: 40/40, Field: 45/50, Throw: 55/55+

Ciuffo was of the most consistent and well-rounded prospects in the 2013 draft class, going near wire-to-wire as a first round prospect throughout the summer/fall showcase season and the spring. He made incremental improvements to his defense and hitting ability to the point that he looks like he can be an average defender with an above average arm and will hit enough to get to his above average lefty raw power at a position with a low offensive bar to clear.

45 FV Group (Asset Value Range: $7 - $12 million)

5. Blake Snell, LHP

2014 OD Age/Level: 21.3/Hi-A, 6'4/180, L/L

Drafted: 52nd overall (sandwich round) out of WA high school in 2011 for $684,000 bonus

Quick Take: Snell still has plenty of things to clean up but flashed the makings of a mid-rotation starter in his full-season debut with more than a strikeout per inning and a well above average ground ball rate. The 6'4 lefty sits 90-92 with life and has been up to 95 mph, though some scouts wonder how much weight he can put on his narrow frame. His breaking ball has improved in the past year and now flashes above average potential while his changeup flashes average, though he's still growing into his frame so command comes and goes.

6. Jake Odorizzi, RHP

2014 OD Age/Level: 24.0/AAA, 6'2/185, R/R

Drafted: 32nd overall (sandwich round) out of IL high school in 2008 for $1,060,000 bonus

Quick Take: Drafted by Milwaukee, traded in a package with Alcides Escobar to KC for Zack Greinke and then traded in a package with Wil Myers to TB for James Shields, Odorizzi has moved around a good bit. He was then Brewers top prospect in 2010 after his full-season debut with the look of a mid-rotation starter, but his stuff hasn't progressed since then and he now looks like a back-end starter at best. He'll hit 93 with some life but sits around 90 with a solid-average four pitch mix and is an excellent athlete but just never developed the swing-and-miss stuff to be more.

7. Jake Hager, SS

2014 OD Age/Level: 21.1/Hi-A, 6'1/170, R/R

Drafted: 32nd overall (1st round) out of NV high school in 2011 for $963,000 bonus

Quick Take: Hager is the example the Rays use internally of 80 makeup and similar to #12 Ryan Brett below, Hager gets the most out of his tools, but Hager has more upside to work with. He has just enough tools to profile at shortstop, with no margin for error: average speed, solid average arm, good hands and outstanding instincts. He has a simple, line-drive stroke and uses the whole field with enough power to punish mistakes.

8. Enny Romero, LHP

2014 OD Age/Level: 23.2/AAA, 6'4/180, L/L

Signed: IFA, Dominican Republic at age 17 in 2008 for $14,000

Quick Take: The physical lefty has been regarded similarly as #11 Colome during their careers, as relatively raw Latin arms whose prospect status depended on how likely it was you thought they could start. Scouts now think both are relievers but Romero is left handed and younger, so he gets the edge. Romero will run it up to 97 and his curveball is above average at times, but it's inconsistent, like his fringy changeup and below average command.

9. Ryne Stanek, RHP (Video)

2014 OD Age/Level: 22.7/Hi-A, 6'4/180, R/R

Drafted: 29th overall (1st round) out of Arkansas in 2013 for $1,755,800 bonus

Quick Take: Stanek was a big name entering the spring of his draft year, as he was a big, projectable righty that consistently sat 93-95, hitting 97 mph with a plus slider, average changeup and some feel to pitch. His stuff was never that good during the spring (though his numbers were great) and when I saw him, he was awful, everything down a few ticks and with bad body language. It came out around the draft that multiple clubs had medical red flags on his elbow and he opted to not pitch after signing and rest his arm. It's anyone's guess what comes out next spring, with projections ranging from #2 starter to middle reliever.

10. Jeff Ames, RHP

2014 OD Age/Level: 23.2/Hi-A, 6'4/225, R/R

Drafted: 42nd overall (sandwich round) out of WA juco in 2011 for $650,000 bonus

Quick Take: Ames is a big, physical righty that can run it up to 97 but is more effective when he dials it down for more movement and command of the pitch. He compliments it with an above average to plus mid-80's slider and a developing changeup. Ames is a good athlete with a fluid arm action that looks to have the elements to develop starter traits.

11. Alex Colome, RHP

2014 OD Age/Level: 25.3/AAA, 6'2/185, R/R

Signed: IFA, Dominican Republic at age 18 in 2007 for $65,000 bonus

Quick Take: The brother of former Rays reliever Jesus Colome's stock has gone up and down based on how likely he was to develop the traits necessary to be a starter and now it looks for sure that he'll make the big leagues as a reliever. He'll show you a plus fastball up to 96 and an above average curveball but the changeup and command vary enough that he won't crack the Rays rotation.

12. Ryan Brett, 2B (Video)

2014 OD Age/Level: 22.5/AA, 5'8/180, R/R

Drafted: 98th overall (3rd round) out of WA high school in 2010 for $341,100 bonus

Quick Take: Brett may actually be an inch or more shorter than the 5'8 I listed him at here, which is an inch shorter than the 5'9 he's listed as publicly and is clearly a lie. The littlest prospect makes the most of his tools, with advanced feel for the bat head and strike zone and deceptive power for his size. Brett is at least an average defender at second and an above average runner as well.

13. Andrew Toles, CF (Video)

2014 OD Age/Level: 21.9/Hi-A, 5'10/185, L/R

Drafted: 137th overall (4th round) out of FL juco in 2011 for $394,200 bonus

Quick Take: Toles was avoided by some clubs in 2011 after rumors were swirling about his makeup, specifically how he got tossed off the team at Tennessee after his freshman year. Clubs are still wary of Toles for the same reason, along with his 22/105 BB/K ratio, despite a breakout .326/.359/.466 season at Low-A. He's a plus-plus runner, plus defender and a problem on the bases with a simple stroke and gap power, but he'll have to prove it at each level for many clubs to buy in.

40 FV Group (Asset Value Range: $2 - $6 million)

14. Grayson Garvin, LHP (Video): Garvin was a sandwich round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2011 and hasn't changed much since then, with advanced feel of three average pitches that could play as a #5 starter.

15. Drew Vettleson, RF: Sandwich round pick out of high school in 2010 has similar tools to Mahtook (#24) but is younger and hits left-handed with a better arm.

16. Kevin Kiermaier, OF: Under the radar bat signed for $75,000 out of Juco in 2010 and now is knocking on the door of the big leagues with advanced feel for the bat head, plus speed and double digit homer power.

17. C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP (Video): Under the radar relief arm also signed for $25,000 out of Juco in 2010 and now is knocking on the door of the big leagues with above average fastball-curveball combo, average changeup and aggressive approach.

18. Tim Beckham, 2B: Former #1 overall pick (obligatory Buster Posey mention) has slowly regressed each year to the point that some scouts don't think he can even play the infield in the big leagues, but the bat speed should allow him to contribute at some level.

19. Richie Shaffer, 3B (Video): Former first rounder out of Clemson has struggled in the way many of his detractors at draft time would have predicted: above average power, bat speed and athleticism don't play as much as you'd hope due to instincts and plate discipline.

20. Jose Mujica, RHP: Mujica got the 2nd highest bonus of the Rays 2012 July 2nd group at $1 million but is considered the best prospect right now; he doesn't have much projection left at 6'2/200 but has advanced feel for above average sinker-changeup combo.

21. Felipe Rivero, LHP: 6'0 lefty signed out of Venezuela in 2008 for $40,000 and has come a long way; he can run it up to 94 with some life and has three average or better pitches but the consistency and command vary at times.

22. David Rodriguez, C: Venezuelan catcher signed for $600,000 in 2012 July 2nd period, the third highest bonus handed out in the bumper crop: he has advanced feel for the game in all aspects and the tools are average-ish, enough to possibly be an everyday guy .

23. Tyler Goeddel, 3B: Lanky 6'4/190 athlete got $1.5 million out of high school in the 2011 draft and has slowly made progress, closing some holes in swing in Low-A repeat; contact will always be an issue but the other tools are all average to above.

24. Mikie Mahtook, RF (Video): Former first rounder hasn't hit as much his advocates had hoped in return to AA, looking more like the solid 4th outfielder other saw at LSU, though all five tools are average to slightly above at times.

25. Mike Montgomery, LHP (Video): Former top Royals prospect came over with Wil Myers in the James Shields deal and has struggled to find himself after elbow troubles, mechanical issues and long-toss arguments with KC; he has an above average 91-93 mph fastball and changeup with a fringy to average breaking ball when he's right but has been relegated to relief.

26. Riley Unroe, 2B: Son of former big leaguer Tim was 2nd rounder out of high school last June that doesn't have size (5'10/180) or arm for short, but is switch hitter with good eye and above average bat and foot speed for everyday profile.

27. Jose Castillo, LHP: One of the top bonuses in the 2012 July 2nd period ($1.55 million), Venezuelan lefty is big athletic 6'4/200 kid with projection left that's hit 95 mph, but still has to work on fringy secondary stuff.

28. Justin O'Conner, C: Former prep first rounder in 2010 still has insane tools (70 arm, 55 power, fluid athlete with above average bat speed), but will be 22 in 2014 and still hasn't hit a lick in full-season ball..

29. Parker Markel, RHP (Video): 23-year-old 6'4/220 righty features power sinker that's been up to 96 and above average slider and changeup, but has trouble repeating delivery with relief the ultimate role.

30. Kean Wong, 2B: Little brother of Kolten Wong was 4th round pick last June out of Hawaii prep ranks and has similar tools with advanced bat and a little pop, but isn't quite as quick or advanced defensively.

Short Season Sleepers: Cristian Toribio, SS, Oscar Hernandez, C and German Marquez, RHP

Toribio is an above average runner, thrower and defender that signed for $65,000 out of the Dominican in 2012 at age 17 and will have to prove it at every level but has a lot of the building blocks you're looking for. Hernandez has been in the system for awhile, signing in August of 2009 at age 16 for $30,000 out of Venezuela; he's a guy to watch with advanced defensive skills and some contact ability. Marquez signed for $200,000 out of Venezuela in 2011 on July 2nd at age 16 and also has the building blocks you're looking for, but as a starting pitcher: 6'1/185 with fluid arm/delivery and three pitches that show promise. Also, look out for recent Venezuelan signee, RHP Orlando Romero.

Makeup Garbage Fire: Josh Lueke (Video), RHP and Josh Sale, LF

Instead of sticking to "Reclamation Project" in this section, let's call it what it is. Toles has makeup concerns but these two are legitimate concerns to humanity that you can Google to find out why. Sale was a first rounder and has big power from the left side and some feel to hit, but is all bat and hasn't played much lately, so it's impossible to rank him right now. Lueke's dominated AAA but struggled in the big leagues; his heater is 94-99 mph with a solid average curve and changeup, but his command hasn't been there in the big leagues and he'll be 29 this year. Lueke's obviously closer and more likely to contribute but neither is a finished product and it's hard to include them on the list for various reasons.

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