All this week, we'll take a look at some players from one of the Rays' three short-season teams(Hudson Valley, Princeton, and the GCL Rays) who didn't make our top 15 lists last season, but will at least garner consideration for next season. Of course, with any stats at this point, it's a very small sample size.
The Past: Brad Furdal was rated by BaseballAmerica as the 8th best prospect in Canada for the 2008 draft, and the Rays took him in the 11th round. His stock fell a bit during an inconsistent spring, where his velocity dipped from touching 91-92 MPH to sitting in the high-80's. High Point University, where he was committed, had their coach resign, possibly causing him to be more likely to sign. The Rays gave him an above-slot bonus($140,000) and he reported to Princeton.
With the P-Rays, he made seven appearances and pitched 16.2 rather non-descript innings. He allowed 17 hits, 9 earned runs, 8 walks, and struck out 12.
The Present: Furdal was assigned to the GCL Rays for 2009, technically a demotion, but understandable because he's so young(he's younger than Jason McEachern) and still raw(having pitched in cold-weather Canada, he simply hasn't thrown as many innings as kids from California and Florida). He's only made two appearances so far, relieving Jake McGee and making a start of his own, but the early results are encouraging. In 7.2 innings, he's gotten 13 groundball outs and only 1 flyball out(he's also struck out 8). Now, he's allowed 12 hits so far, and while drawing conclusions from 7.2 innings would be absurd, it's at least feasible that some of those hits were groundballs that would have been converted into outs with a better defense behind him.
The Future: He has a nice pitcher's body, listed at 6'2" and 185 pounds. His fastball velocity could creep up as he gets stronger and throws more innings, while his curveball should theoretically improve as he continues to throw it more. He could be bumped back up to Princeton if a spot in the rotation opens up, but the big thing right now is just to accumulate innings. Even if he spends all of 2009 in the GCL, you might see him skipped over Princeton to Hudson Valley next year, but since this is the first year of the GCL team, there's no track record to see how the Rays promote players from there. He's probably on the outside looking in as far as making the top 30 prospect list, but a solid showing in the GCL/Princeton would at least earn him "guy to keep an eye on" status.