For our predictions series this year we'll be running one question each weekday through Monday, with answers coming from across the Rays blogosphere. You can find a complete list of the panelist's various blogs and websites in this post.
Today's question is: Which prospect is the most over-hyped (who's getting too much love heading into 2011)?
R.J. Anderson: Jake Thompson’s scouting report sounds nice –plus fastball with mid-90s velo, good curve, averageish change—and his prospect status has its merits, but at the same time, I cannot help but wonder whether his short season ERA is inflating his stock.
Jason Collette: Justin O'Conner. I keep reading/hearing about those who have doubts about his bat playing at the big league level yet he's continually ranked in the Rays' top 12 spots. I am not big on ranking high school catchers that high after closely watching Max Sapp from this area flame out with the Astros.
FreeZorilla: Justin O'Conner seems to be pretty high on most prospect lists. He may someday prove it justified, but I can't help but feel the learning curve will force a move down the rankings next season before he puts it together and moves back up.
Cork Gaines: Josh Sale. Baseball America and MinorLeagueBall.com have Sale as the sixth best prospect in a very strong Rays farm system. Baseball Prospectus has him seventh and Keith Law ranked him ninth. That seems like a lot of love for a high schooler that is yet to play a single pro game. I hope they're right, but history has shown that even if he does eventually succeed, we should expect some growing pains first.
Kevin Gengler: Chris Archer. There are a lot of reasons to like him (and I do), but I think he'll have some trouble living up to the hype this year. A big reason for that is that his 2010 season was so good, it's a tall task to ask him to repeat it. He had a 1.80 ERA in 80 Southern League innings, but his control was much closer to his career average than his Florida State League showing. His stuff will still be fine, but we'll realize he's a little more raw than we thought.
Erik Hahmann: I'm in the front seat of the Robinson Chirinos bandwagon, and feel like he'll be a nice major league catcher when the time comes. I'm just worried that the Rays faithful are putting TOO much faith into him after only one season's worth of data.
Jason Hanselman: All due respect to Alex Cobb, but I'm not sure if he'll be able to have quite as solid of a season going forward as he did in 2010. I love that he gets ground balls by the dozen, but I'm not sold on his ability to throw in punch outs as well which could manifest itself as he continues to climb the ladder. Here's to one instance where I hope I'm way off-base.
Jake Larsen: Luke Bailey. Love the kid's upside, but I gotta think that Chaim Bloom must've seen something worrisome to draft Justin O'Conner and Jake DePew in 2010.
Mike Lortz: Hak-Ju Lee. I’m not completely sold yet. He is incredibly young, fast, and has a great arm. But the lack of power is disturbing. As well, as RP writes, he his trouble with good fastballs. I know this is going to seem wrong or a lazy ethnic comparison, but I see him as more Kaz Matsui than Rafael Furcal. Matsui was good at times, but never a star. I hope to see a lot of Lee this year in Port Charlotte.
Doug Milhoan: LHSP Alex Torres (over Matt &%#*@ Bush). The walk rate hasn't improved and he's hittable. Expect AAA hitters to take advantage of all those baserunners this season at Durham. Will move to the bullpen this season or next.
Tommy Rancel: As much as I like Hak-Ju Lee, I feel that he pretty far away from being considered a can't miss major leaguer. At his age, that's not a knock on him; however, all the talk about him being the Rays shortstop of the future seems premature at this point.
Steve Slowinski: I hate saying this, but I think Matt Bush has been getting a bit too much lovin' recently. He's an incredible story and I thought he looked really good in Spring Training (from my limited MLB.tv time), but a lot of people were hoping he'd break the season in the Rays bullpen... myself included. He only pitched 8 innings last season in Advanced-A, though, so I think he's farther away from the majors than many of us were hoping in Spring Training.
2- Hak-Ju Lee
2- Justin O'Conner
1- Jake Thompson
1- Matt Bush
1- Alex Torres
1- Alex Cobb
1- Luke Bailey
1- Robinson Chirinos
1- Chris Archer
1- Josh Sale