We tackled the upper levels yesterday, so today we look to the lower levels for a breakout player in 2010:
Cork Gaines: Another player who pitched much better in the second-half was Kyle Lobstein. His FIP was close to 4.00 in the first-half and approximately 2.00 in the second-half. And while those that follow the minor league system closely were not surprised by the strong numbers, this will be the season that more casual observers recognize the talent.
Tommy Rancel: Going back to the Kazmir trade, I think Matt Sweeney, if healthy, could really have a good season and put himself in position to be the heir apparent at first base. I like his power and moving over to first base will help ease any defensive concerns people had at third base. The key for Sweeney is health, but if he's on the diamond, I expect big things.
FreeZorilla: Jason McEachern. Admittedly this is Kevin's train, but I am happy to be on board.
Ricky: Alex Colome. He definitely has the stuff to miss bats and the Rays need someone from their Latin America program to blossom.
Jason Collette: Jason McEachern. Besides the great first name, I love his 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio to date in his minor league career and he did all of that before turning 19. I think he's the next guy prospect pundits are raving about from the Rays system in 2010.
Jake Larsen: My lower-level "breakout" player is Hector Guevara. While I don't think he's going to stay long-term at SS, his bat will impress no matter. He's going to make his US debut in 2010 and should only continue to bash the ball like he did in 2009 playing in Summer Leagues.
Doug Milhoan: When the Rays drafted Tyler Bortnick in the 16th round last June out of Coastal Carolina University my reaction was pretty much limited to "well, at least this pick will sign." Now he's one of the top players I'm looking forward to following this season as he heads to Bowling Green. Why? He's the complete package: offense, defense, athleticism, and character. Offensively, last season at Hudson Valley he batted .300/.386/.470 with 24 steals and hit righthanders equally as well as lefties. He was reportedly timed at 6.7 in the 60 in college, so he should continue to be a threat on the basepaths. TheHardballTimes ranked Bortnick the top defensive collegiate shortstop for 2007-8 and he didn't disappoint in the New York-Penn League, displaying a strong arm, solid glove and fluid movement. All reports I've heard say he's a great teammate, a guy who helps younger players any way he can and a leader in the clubhouse. He's blocked at shortstop by Tim Beckham at Charlotte and Shawn O'Malley at Montgomery, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's moved to second if promoted mid-season.
Kevin Gengler: I see Ty Morrison having a big season for Hudson Valley. He showed good speed and patience at the plate with Princeton in 2009, but his bat still needs work. A raw talent, he has good contact and some power potential, and I think he'll start to tap into that in 2010. The New York-Penn League(and HV) have historically favored pitchers, but Morrison will emerge as a top hitting prospect for the Rays.