Tampa Bay Rays Top 49 Prospects

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Tampa Bay Rays. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the fourth year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Shane Baz Update
Baz’s last big league appearance was in July of 2022 (he lost rookie eligibility that year) before a Tommy John surgery caused him to miss the remainder of that season and all of 2023. So far in 2024 he’s been pitching as a starter in Durham, but he’s set to re-enter the big league rotation tomorrow after the recent Aaron Civale trade. Baz’s fastball has been working 94-98 mph with the same plus riding life that bullied hitters prior to his surgery, and while his command has been spotty throughout his 10 Triple-A starts, the life on the four-seamer is still capable of masking his less than surgical precision. His 85-89 mph tilting slider is still routinely plus, but his feel for locating it hasn’t been quite as consistent. He’s still mixing in a 80-84 mph vertical curveball and a 87-91 mph power changeup, which has subtle action. Baz is throwing his entire mix with conviction and looks ready from a stuff standpoint, but he’s rusty from a pitch execution standpoint. How he trends throughout the rest of the season is more important than how he looks in his debut.

Strikeout-Heavy College Bats
Ryan Cermak, OF
Brock Jones, OF
Jalen Battles, 2B

Jones and Cermak were the 65th and 71st overall picks in the 2022 draft, two college outfielders with big power and questionable hit tools. Both are striking out about a third of the time at Bowling Green. Battles was a 2022 fifth rounder and has yet to hit since leaving the college ranks, striking out at a 27% clip as a pro. He has good defensive hands, is solid at second base, and could handle the hot corner as well.

Position Player Depth
Wooyeoul Shin, 1B/LF
Tristan Peters, LF/RF
Tanner Murray, 2B
Carlos Colmenarez, 2B/3B
Dru Baker, OF

Shin grew up in Korea but came to the U.S. late in 2019 to pursue baseball. He ended up at Miami Dade Community College, where he learned English from scratch in about a year and hit .407 with 15 homers in his second season. He committed to Miami but instead signed for $150,000 as a 16th rounder. He’s doing okay as a 22-year-old at Low-A, and we’d like to see Shin perform against more advanced arms even though it makes sense to have avoided a JUCO to High-A leap. Shin’s hands create a lot of power in a short distance. He’s a squat 6-foot, 220 pounds and is still learning to play defense at this level.

Peters has a solid hit tool, but he’s yet to show enough game power to warrant his corner outfield defensive profile and has also seen his strikeout rate inflate against Triple-A pitching. He’s an average defender who has some on-base ability, but he lacks both the ability to play a premium position and defensive versatility. Murray has feel to hit and sprays his contact around the field. He’s a solid defender at second base but lacks the extra-base impact to carry a second base-only defensive profile. He’s gotten some time at shortstop, where he looks passable, but he’ll need to improve there to have true up/down value. Signed for $3.2 million in 2022, Colmenarez is swinging and missing at an untenable rate and has seemingly moved off of shortstop almost entirely (though he’s a good 2B/3B defender). Baker has maintained a quality hit tool, but he’s been completely void of power against Double-A pitching, and he isn’t a good enough defender for his bat to be punchless.

Depth Arms with Relief Profiles
Enmanuel Mejia, RHP
Cesar De Jesus, LHP
Gerlin Rosario, RHP
Adam Boucher, RHP
Duncan Davitt, RHP
Engert Garcia, RHP
Garrett Acton, RHP
Haden Erbe, RHP

Mejia was part of that huge Pirates minor league Rule 5 draft exodus of a couple years ago. He’s been sitting 94-98 with a mid-80s slider and poor command at Durham. His MiLB player page indicates he was levied a three-game suspension last week. De Jesus is a 20-year-old lefty who was sitting 93-96 with a plus slider on the complex before he was promoted to Charleston, where things came totally unraveled for him. He has a lefty relief ceiling if he can reclaim something approaching viable command. Rosario is a big-framed 22-year-old righty with a nasty splitter and slider. He’s a high arm slot guy whose fastball only sits about 90 and he lacks great fastball command, but hitters don’t seem to see either of his secondary pitches and he dominated in a long relief role this year until his walks got out of control more recently. The 6-foot-5 Boucher was the club’s 10th rounder out of Duke last year. He has a riding fastball up to 96 and a pretty nasty slider/cutter combination, but imbalance in his lower half causes the consistency of his delivery to break down.

Davitt is a low-slot sinker/slider starter whose delivery looks like a lot of Giants prospects. He’s having A-ball success as an old-for-the-level starter. An undersized 24-year-old righty, Garcia has been up to 97 as a starter at Charleston and could be a reliever if he can find a second good pitch and some mechanical consistency. A former A’s prospect who debuted and then was released in 2023, Acton signed with the Rays and is currently on the full season injured list. His funky, short-armed delivery creates nasty action in on the hands of righties. He looked like a good fastball/slider reliever while healthy in Oakland’s system. Erbe has a riding 94-97 mph fastball that he throws from a high three-quarters slot and struggles to harness in the zone. There’s also a hard cutter with a bit of depth and a fading changeup in his arsenal, but he’s prone to wildness with those as well. He’ll need to find the zone more frequently to be trusted to have even up/down value.

Strike-Throwing Starter Depth
Cole Wilcox, RHP
Nathan Wiles, RHP
Sean Hunley, RHP

Wilcox signed for a record-setting $3.3 million bonus in the third round in 2020, then was dealt to the Rays as part of the Blake Snell deal. His stuff has backed up. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s and he complements it with a short mid-80s slider and a changeup that struggles to produce consistent action. His strike-throwing record has been solid since entering the pro ranks, and he can provide length if needed, but he isn’t missing bats or getting a huge rate of groundballs. Wiles commands his 90-94 mph fastball well and his 84-88 mph cutter stays off barrels with its late bite. He throws his changeup to both left- and right-handed hitters and his best ones show significant depth. Hunley is light on velocity but he fills up the zone with his 88-90 mph sinker, a slider with big depth, a mid-70s curveball, and a fading changeup. There isn’t a pitch in the arsenal that’s capable of generating consistent whiffs, but Hunley sprays his mix in the zone and produces weak contact.

Altered by Injuries
Nick Bitsko, RHP
JJ Goss, RHP

Bitsko has had such a strange and unfortunate career to this point. If you recall, he was originally supposed to be in the 2021 draft but reclassified as a 2020 not long before the pandemic, which made him tough for teams that hadn’t prioritized underclass looks to evaluate at all. Bitsko still went in the first round, but he began having injury issues almost immediately and those have persisted to this day. He returned from his latest ailment in May but only made two rehab appearances before he was shut down again. Goss ran an ERA over 5.00 last year. This season, he has shifted to the bullpen, where his velo (sitting 93-94 mph) and ability to miss bats has rebounded some. He’s still using all of his pitches from when he was a starter and might be able to junkball his way into a long relief role.

System Overview

Once again one of the very best systems in baseball, the Rays have a high-end combination of big time impact talent at the very top of their org to go with overall depth. As is typically the case, their pro scouting department has had a huge impact on the farm system, in part because the Rays are a highly transactional team that tends to move a big name player every few years due to their budgetary limitations. A willingness to acquire high-variance players in the lower levels of the minors has helped them trade for a few of the impact prospects on the list. Several of the pro trade acquisitions are recently drafted college pitchers who the Rays then develop, sometimes for a while. Nearly five years passed between when they acquired Jacob Lopez and when he debuted.

The Rays also tend to attempt an upward shift in role once they draft or acquire a player. There are many pitchers in the system who were college relievers but are being developed as starters in pro ball, or players who are playing a tougher defensive position than they did as amateurs. That applies to three of the top 10 players in the system.

The big league team began the season behind the eight ball because of pre-existing injuries to Jeffrey Springs (who rehabbed against in Durham yesterday), Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, and Shane Baz (who was in the tail end of his rehab). The Rays have suffered through disappointing performances from too many of their hitters (especially Randy Arozarena) to overcome this. They’ve just traded away Aaron Civale, a starting pitcher in whom they invested quite a bit to acquire last year. It feels like the Rays will take a seller’s posture at the deadline and that this system might get foie gras’d with prospects. There is so much depth at third base, specifically, that they may need to be involved in deals in which they part with prospects to avoid a massive 40-man crunch in the near future.

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