Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prospects Looking For A Bounceback

Here's a few Rays prospects hoping to re-establish themselves on the prospect map:

RHP Chris Mason - Mason was a top-10 or 15 Rays prospect entering the year, coming off a strong season in Montgomery. Things completely fell apart in Durham in 2008, where he went 3-10 with an ERA over 6. He was eventually moved to the bullpen where he fared no better. Mason has relatively pedestrian stuff across the board, but if he mixes it up and controls it like he did with the Biscuits in 2007, then he can emerge as a middle-relief type. With as much pitching depth as the Rays have, Mason's best bet may be pitching well enough to catch the eye of another team.

OF Ryan Royster - Like Mason, Royster was pretty high on prospect lists coming into 2009, having won the system's triple crown in 2008. Royster moved up to Vero Beach and failed to adjust to the new league, hitting just .265 and having his slugging percentage plunge from .601 with Columbus in 2008 to .373. Royster still has some decent tools, including huge raw power, but he's not selective enough at the plate(only 32 walks last year) and strikes out a lot(110 times last year).

RHP Wade Townsend - Okay, this one's really on here for my benefit. Townsend was the Rays 1st rounder back in 2005 but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy. In 2008, he pitched 66 wholly ineffective innings between Vero Beach and Montgomery, and in fact he has a career 5.49 ERA in the Rays system. His stuff is obviously way, way down from his Rice days, but I'm going to stick him on this list anyway.

C Mike McCormick - In 2007, McCormick made the switch from 3B to C and, while still raw behind the plate, he showed solid defensive skills while putting up an .821 OPS in Hudson Valley. He got bumped to full-season Columbus and never got on track, his batting average hovering around .210 all season. He finished with a .216/.276/.365 line, though he did show some of his power hitting 13 home runs. Still, he's going to have hit and get on base more to be any sort of viable prospect. He's in a bit of tough spot, as the only way he'll get consistent playing time is by moving up to Port Charlotte, an iffy proposition considering how poor he hit in Columbus. But with Jake Jefferies the likely everyday catcher in Bowling Green, that might be his only shot.

RHP Matt Walker - Hard to believe this guy was right behind Wade Davis and Jake McGee on prospect lists a few years ago. He's battled injuries and a complete inability to throw strikes, but if he can somehow find his control, he has good enough stuff to emerge as a decent prospect. He won't ever be on the McGee/Davis level, and his ceiling is probably a set-up guy. But he has an excellent curveball when he's on, it's just a matter of being a lot more consistent with it(and being able to throw enough strikes early in the count). He could find himself in Montgomery's bullpen in 2009.


  1. Royster's probably the best bet to bounce back out of these guys. His second half OPS last year was almost .800, so he did show something, just too little too late, plus his first half was genuinely horrible.

    One other 'bounce back' candidate is David Newmann. He has yet to throw a pitch in the organization due to signing late and then getting injured, but he did have good stuff coming from the left side before getting hurt.

  2. Glenn Gibson is another who had a surprisingly bad 2008.

    Mason's fall is the one that amazes me. Not that I thought he was as good as 2007, but 2008 was atrocious.

    Just for fun, look at all of the awards Mason won in 2007: Southern League Pitcher of the Week 2 times, Southern League Mid-Season All-Star, Southern League Post-Season All-Star, Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher for the year, MiLB Most Spectacular Pitcher (AA), Baseball America Double-A All-Star, Double-A Starting Pitcher of the Year.

  3. Enjoyed this piece, Kevin. Nice job.