The Rays system is much more pitching-heavy, so an honorable mention on this list isn't necessarily equal to one for the hitters list. The five who have a brief write-up are in the 16-20 range, presented in no particular order. After that are a few more names to keep an eye on in 2010. Last year, Alex Colome, David Newmann, Jason McEachern, and Matt Gorgen were all honorable mentions, and they've each graduated to the main list. Chris Mason also made the honorable mention list, and he was released by the organization halfway though the season.
Anyway, here are the guys who just missed the cut:
Zach Quate, RHRP - Taken in the 14th round of the 2009 draft, Quate was arguably the most dominant reliever in the New York-Penn League. In 26 innings, he allowed just a single earned run while striking out 34 and walking just four. Then again, Quate might be exactly the type of guy who would dominate a short-season league: He played four college seasons(although he didn't turn 22 until September), has a bit of a deceptive delivery, and everything he throws moves. His statline is very similar to Matt Gorgen's from 2008 in Hudson Valley(Gorgen struck out 35 and walked five), but he doesn't throw as hard as Gorgen or have quite the same bite on his off-speed stuff.
While Quate will have to prove himself each time he moves up the ladder, he does have the potential to be a major-league middle reliever. He pitched in a non-elite college conference, so it will be interesting to see how he does against more experienced hitters in full-season ball in 2010. The Rays could skip him over Bowling Green like they did with Gorgen, but whether it's with the Stone Crabs or Hot Rods, Quate will be the closer.
Heath Rollins, RHP - Rollins ranked #8 on our list last season, but ran into his first struggles as a pro in 2009. After helping anchor the 2007 Columbus championship rotation, Rollins had another fine season in 2008 between Vero Beach and Montgomery. But back with the Biscuits in 2009, his strikeouts fell from 138 in 161 innings to 87 in 140 innings(including 6 with Durham), a drop from 7.7 per 9 down to 5.5. He was moved to the bullpen later in the season, but his numbers weren't much better, and he got lit up in the Arizona Fall League working in relief(small sample size alert).
Rollins has never had great stuff, and it simply might not play at the higher levels. His control isn't bad, but he'll need to tighten it up even more. Though he's capable of working deep into games and handling a lot of innings in a season, the move to the bullpen is probably permanent, and appropriate, given the wealth of starting pitchers the Rays have. He'll open the season with Durham, hoping to get his strikeout rate back on track while refining his command further. Rollins turns 25 in May.
Jacob Partridge, LHSP - A two-sport athlete from the state of Washington, Partridge was at a disadvantage starting the spring late because of basketball and the colder weather. Projectable, athletic lefties are a valued commodity, but Partridge had a relatively strong commitment to Gonzaga, and teams thought he would be a summer follow, best-case. The Rays drafted in him in the 18th round, and he quickly signed for near-slot money, probably slightly over. He made eleven appearances, including seven starts, for the GCL Rays, where he was easily their best statistical starting pitcher.
In 36 innings, he posted a 1.75 ERA, struck out 39, and walked 13. The GCL was a huge pitcher's league, so those stats may be a little bit inflated, but it was still a very impressive debut(also, Partridge didn't get to face the worst-hitting GCL team, which was the Rays). His fastball sits in the upper-80s, occasionally creeping into the 90s. He has the makings of a solid breaking pitch, but it's still inconsistent. He's athletic with a good pitcher's build, so he could be a steal for the Rays if he adds some velocity. 19 years old, he'll spend 2010 with either Princeton or Hudson Valley(he could start with the P-Rays and be promoted, much as Jason McEachern was in 2009).
Scott Shuman, RHRP - Speaking of potential draft steals, Shuman came out of nowhere to be one of the big surprises in the Appalachian League. After three unremarkable seasons with Auburn(his ERA was over 6.00 in 2008 and almost 8.00 in 2009), the Rays took him in the 19th round and assigned him to Princeton. Something must have clicked there, because he struck out 29 and walked nine in 22 innings, posting an ERA of 0.82. While he was a college guy in a lower level, his stuff is for real. With an unconventional low, three-quarters slinging delivery, he can ramp his fastball up into the 94-96 range with good movement. He backs it up with a good, hard slider.
He'll be 22 years old for the 2010 season, so a promotion past Hudson Valley into full-season ball is in order. His stuff is good enough that he could handle the Florida State League, but I can't recall the Rays ever skipping a player over two levels. Wherever he debuts, he has a chance to move quickly. The disparity between his college and pro stats is staggering, but the scouting reports on him have been glowing, and he's a nice sleeper heading into 2010.
Kevin James, LHSP - While the focus on the Rays draft has been on the high-ceiling, over-slot high school hitters they were able to get, they also reeled in James, a high school lefty with some big-time potential. A projectable 6'4" 190 pounder from Wisconsin, James has shown the ability to run his fastball into the low-90s, sitting in the 89-91 range. Beyond that, however, he's extremely raw. Hailing from the state of Wisconsin, he hasn't logged as many innings as pitchers from warmer climates, and it shows. His control has a long way to go, and his off-speed stuff is a work-in-progress. James won't be a quick riser, but patience with him may pay off big-time with his ceiling.
He signed just a little bit before the August 15th deadline, and as a result was only able to get one inning in with the GCL Rays. He's like to start 2010 with Princeton, though like Partridge, he could earn a promotion to Hudson Valley.
And here's a few more names to watch out for:
Matt Swilley, RHP - 21st round pick got a $150,000 signing bonus
Darin Downs, LHP - Excellent season statistically, but he's a little bit older and is coming off of a scary injury, having taken a line drive to the head
Chris Andujar, RHP - Quietly posted a 2.70 ERA for Bowling Green
Devin Fuller, RHP and Shane Dyer, RHP - Two top-10 round picks from community colleges the past two seasons have a chance to break out