Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Updated Top 30 Prospects Lists - Pre-Draft Edition

With the minor league season about one-third complete it's time for our latest personal Top 30 Rays Prospects lists. The last ones were done around Thanksgiving, so we want to give you an update prior to the huge influx of talent from next week's draft.

The new lists will begin posting on Thursday. Joining Kevin and I this time will be BurGi, who replaces Jake, who replaced Andy. We are still working on the lists, so there is plenty of time to lobby for the players you feel should be included. Let us know what you think!

For convenience, the November lists by Kevin and I are republished below.

Rk   Doug Milhoan        Rk   Kevin Gengler
1    Jeremy Hellickson   1    Jeremy Hellickson
2    Matt Moore          2    Matt Moore
3    Desmond Jennings    3    Desmond Jennings
4    Alex Cobb           4    Alex Torres
5    Jake McGee          5    Alex Cobb
6    Alex Colome         6    Alex Colome
7    Alex Torres         7    Jake McGee
8    Jake Thompson       8    Josh Sale
9    Joseph Cruz         9    Joseph Cruz
10   Drew Vettleson      10   Nick Barnese

11   Josh Sale           11   Jake Thompson
12   Nick Barnese        12   Wilking Rodriguez
13   Tyler Bortnick      13   Justin O'Conner
14   Enny Romero         14   Luke Bailey
15   Wilking Rodriguez   15   Drew Vettleson
16   Justin O'Conner     16   Tim Beckham
17   Albert Suarez       17   Ty Morrison
18   Scott Shuman        18   Derek Dietrich
19   Luke Bailey         19   Enny Romero
20   Tim Beckham         20   Ryan Brett

21   Kyle Lobstein       21   Scott Shuman
22   Stephen Vogt        22   Hector Guevara
23   Shane Dyer          23   Todd Glaesmann
24   Wilmer Almonte      24   Tyler Bortnick
25   Ryan Brett          25   Albert Suarez
26   Aneury Rodriguez    26   Jesse Hahn
27   Zach Quate          27   Kyle Lobstein
28   Todd Glaesmann      28   Zach Quate
29   Ty Morrison         29   Cesar Perez
30   Derek Dietrich      30   Braulio Lara

- The only players from the November lists who are no longer eligible are Jeremy Hellickson (over MLB innings cutoff) and Aneury Rodriguez (lost in Rule 5 draft). We use the same prospects cutoffs as BA: 130 MLB at-bats, 50 MLB innings pitched, and 30 MLB relief appearances.

- The November lists were done prior to the Rays trades with the Padres and Cubs, so none of the players acquired were included. You might see a couple of those players in our new lists.


- Original summary post (including Jake's rankings) is here.

- Doug's November list with commentary is here.

- Kevin's November list with commentary is here.

Updated Cumulative Mock Draft Board and More Draft News

This time I have done something different. After posting some draft news and the updated cumulative mock draft board (you can find the last one here) with new mock drafts by John Sickels, Baseball America and Diamond Scape Scouting I've pointed out the Rays haul in these drafts. Afterwards I've done my own mock based on these three drafts. These sums up to 6 potential Rays draft hauls. Please comment on and even grade these hauls in the comment section.

First some draft news
  • Austin Hedges (HS/C) is more and more linked to the Boston Red Sox. They really seem to like him and his excellent defensive and okay offensive potential. This makes an Andrew Susac or Blake Swihart selection by the Red Sox more unlikely. His reportedly high price seems to make him fall to the 1st supp. or even 2nd round.
  • Trevor Story (HS/SS) who has often been connected with the Rays, as he is the typical helium up-the-middle prospect the Rays covete, is rising up draft boards. He is being considered as a late 1st round selection.
  • The Oklahoma prep pitching talent is very impressive in this draft. Next to Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley, Michael Fullmer is the states latest high-ceiling talent. He has the potential for an above average 4-pitch-mix (FB, SL, CH, CU) with excellent FB velocity (mid 90s).
  • Some players who are could to be taken within the top 20 picks, mostly due to signability, are college players C.J. Cron, Kolten Wong, Michael Levy, Alex Meyer and Tyler Anderson. As Kevin and I mentioned, lots of teams follow the strategy to take college position players early on as this easily is the talent pool with the least depth.
The updated cumulative mock draft board

I've weighed the new 3 mocks more (200%) as they are more up-to-date. If anybody wants the Excel-Spreadsheet, just send me a mail and I will send it to you.

(Click at the table for a larger view)

The draft hauls:

(Click at the table for larger view)
  • My take on the BA draft: Overall I like it very much, but I would have taken two picks differently. I would have taken Henry Owens over Fernandez as I slightly prefer him and I would have taken Brandon Nimmo over Blake Swihart. I don't think Swihard is very easy to sign and I overall rate them fairly even in talent level.
  • My take on the John Sickels draft: I don't specifically like his haul. While I very much like the prep pitchers taken, I think some of them are slight overdrafts at the points they were taken.
  • My Take on the Diamond Scape Scouting draft: The first five picks are a dream come true. I agree with them nearly completely. With the next five picks I especially like the Smith Jr. and Gaines drafts. The other three don't offer the upside of other players available at this point in my view.
  • What do you guys think of my Rays drafts based on these three? While one is very pitching heavy (John Sickels) and one is very hitter heavy (DSS) I like each of them. I have tried to take the best player available and I am okay with it. Regarding the Purke and Bell picks: Take a flyer on them. If they sign you got potential impact players in return.

Game Pictures from 5/30: Extended Spring Training Rays vs Red Sox

Weekend Mock Draft Update

I believe BurGi has an updated cumulative post coming soon, but two new mocks came out over the weekend. The latest from Keith Law has the Rays popping Andrew Susac, the Oregon State catcher, Travis Harrison, a high school 3B from California, and Johnny Eierman, a Missouri high school SS. In John Sickels' newest, the Rays got Robert Stephenson, a California HS righty, Jorge Lopez, a Puerto Rican RHP, and Levi Michael, the UNC shortstop. Sickels also did the supplemental round, where the Rays picks were Matt Purke, the TCU LHP, Granden Goetzman, a Florida high school OF, Hudson Boyd, a Florida high school RHP, Kes Carter, an OF from Western Kentucky, Dillon Maples, a North Carolina high school RHP, Chris Reed, a LHP from Stanford, and Tyler Marlette, a Florida high school catcher.

Scores and Highlights from 5/30

Durham Bulls 7, Columbus Clippers 4
Alex Torres didn't issue a walk for the first time this season, but he did allow eleven hits leading to four runs (three earned) in 6.2 innings. He struck out five. Jake McGee struck out two in a perfect 9th inning. Brandon Guyer hit his eighth home run of the year, and Russ Canzler and Chris Carter also went deep. Desmond Jennings came in as a defensive replacement and hit a triple in his one at-bat.

Jackson Generals 7, Montgomery Biscuits 4
Nick Barnese struck out four and walked two in four scoreless innings. Paul Phillips allowed a run but the big damage was done against Matt Bush, who allowed six runs in one inning of work. Cole Figueroa, Daniel Mayora, Matt Sweeney, and Reid Fronk had the only four Biscuit hits, with Sweeney driving in three with a bases-clearing double in the first inning.

Charlotte Stone Crabs off day

Lansing Lugnuts 11, Bowling Green Hot Rods 7
Jimmy Patterson made the spot-start and allowed five runs in 3 innings. Omar Bencomo and Steve Hiscock allowed three runs each. Cody Rogers went 3-5 at the plate, Robby Price was 2-5, and Robi Estrada finished 2-3 with three runs scored. Alejandro Torres hit his first home run of the year.

Monday, May 30, 2011

RaysProspects Podcast: Episode 3

Quick note: We're 99% sure why the audio is the way it is (me on the left speaker, Scott on the right) and it should be back to normal for next week.

0:00 - Greetings and salutations
0:10 - A look at what the Rays got in return for Matt Garza; a comparison to the Shawn Marcum and Zack Greinke deals; Scott calls Brett Lawrie "Odorizzi"
6:43 - Trading James Shields?; The dulcet, faintly-audible tones of Scott's cats; I forget the word "not" in the sentence "Brian Cashman will fight tooth and nail to not add another veteran." thus saying the exact opposite of what I meant
16:47: Talking about Matt Moore; Skype makes it sound like I'm calling from inside a well
19:31: Strikeout rates and Wade Davis' approach
25:24: Draft talk: Does Jose Fernandez's local connection matter? What does Josh Bell's letter mean? Is John Stilson the new Jesse Hahn?
34:39: Let's get philosophical: Being right about a player failing vs. a player succeeding and proving you wrong
39:56: Please send us email! Plus, follow us on Twitter, and one day I'll remember to plug everything I need to

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Draft News Update And More Players To Watch For Rays 1st Pick

Firstly, I'm going to point out some draft news of interest for the Rays:
  • John Stilson will miss the rest of the season due to a SLAP tear in his shoulder. This could first of all mean that he can not handle a starting role and immediately becomes the most intriguing relief pitching prospect of the draft. Therefore he could be of interest for the Rays (and their plethora of picks) in the 1st supp. and 2nd round or later on.
  • The Rays' dream come true pick for their 1st selection, Josh Bell, informed the major league scouting bureau that he does not want to sign a pro contract. If true, this makes him this years' Austin Wilson (who is hitting .313-.349-.415 in Stanford by the way) and he highest likely will not be selected with an early round pick.
  • Baseball America and Diamond Scape Scouting recently put new mocks out. After John Sickels' next mock on Monday I'll post an updated cumulative mock draft board. Both drafts have the latest draft riser Cory Spangenberg rising even more.
3 more players to watch for the Rays 1st selection:

Kevin and I have mentioned 11 players of interest for the Rays 1st round already here and here. These players are:
  • Kolten Wong (2B/COL)
  • Andrew Susac (C/COL)
  • Brandon Nimmo (OF/HS)
  • C.J. Cron (1B/COL)
  • Josh Bell (OF/HS)
  • Jose Fernandez (RHP/HS)
  • Henry Owens (LHP/HS)
  • Tyler Beede (RHP/HS)
  • Dillon Howard (RHP/HS)
  • Robert Stephensen (RHP/HS)
  • Michael Kelly (RHP/HS)
Now I'm looking at even more possibilities I would love for the Rays 1st selection:
  • Tyler Anderson, LHP, University of Oregon - He will be one of the most polished pitchers selected in this draft. Together with Alex Meyer (while being totally different) he is - amongst college pitchers - ranked right behind the top tier talents. He sports an above average 3 pitch mix (plus change, above average FB and slider) which he commands very well.
  • Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS (NM), Texas commitment - Do the Rays need another prep catching talent after selecting Luke Bailey and Justin O'Conner in the last 2 drafts? That's the big question. Swihart is an elite talent, though ... definitely worth a 1st round pick. He is a switch hitter with a quick bat and top offensive potential. Behind the plate he projects to be good while not elite. His commitment to Texas lets him fall in some mocks. My take: If Swihart is the best player on the board and the Rays think they can sign him, they should take him.
  • Javier Baez, IF/C, Arlington CD HS (FL), Chipola JC commitment - Javier Baez is very versitale and could end up at 3B, 2B or even behind the plate. He has all the tools for catching but plays short right now. Scouts think he will outgrow the position though. His bat should cary him at third or second as well. Some scouts even project him as "face of franchise" player. I'd love the Rays to grab that high upside players and while some mocks even project him to go to Arizona at 1-7, other have him falling to 1-24 and the Rays. If he falls, grab him.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bulls Week in Review: May 21 to May 27

The Bulls were 2-4 on the week and have fallen to 26-21 on the season. They still have a slim one game lead over Gwinnett in the division. The Bulls snapped a five game losing streak that carried over from last week with a win against Toledo on Thursday. Felipe Lopez was named the International League Player of the Week for the week ending on May 22 when he had multiple hits in each of the five games he played in with 4 double, a home runs and 8 RBI's. The Rays rewarded Lopez with a call-up to the big club.

Hitting Leaders:
Average: Brandon Guyer (.324, fifth in INT)
Slugging: Brandon Guyer (.554, fifth in INT)
On Base Pct: Russ Canzler (.432, first in INT)
Hits: Desmond Jennings (49)
Doubles: Russ Canzler (16, tied second in INT)
Triples: Desmond Jennings, Jose Lobaton (1)
Home Runs: Brandon Guyer and Desmond Jennings (8, tied seventh in INT)
RBI’s: Chris Carter (36, third in INT)
Stolen Bases: Desmond Jennings (9, tied eighth in INT)

Pitching Leaders:
ERA: Alex Cobb (1.14, first in INT)
Wins: Alex Cobb (5, tied third in INT)
Saves: Brandon Gomes (6, tied sixth in INT)
Strikeouts: Alex Torres (54, tied second in INT)

Team Hitting Stats (league rank):
Average: .275 (3 of 14)
Slugging: .419 (4 of 14)
On Base Pct: .347 (2 of 14)
Hits: 453 (3 of 14)
Doubles: 101 (2 of 14)
Triples: 3 (14 of 14)
Home Runs: 43 (7 of 14)
Runs Scored: 238 (3 of 14)
Stolen Bases: 38 (5 of 14)

Team Pitching Stats (rank):
ERA: 3.89 (5 of 14)
Runs Allowed: 215 (7 of 14)
Strikeouts: 393 (2 of 14)
Walks: 155 (tied 7 of 14)

Transactions: Felipe Lopez promoted to Tampa Bay (5/22/11). Craig Albernaz added to roster from extended spring training (5/22/11). Dan Johnson added to roster from Tampa Bay (5/24/11). Jay Buente added to roster (5/25/11). Rob Delaney added to roster from Tampa Bay (5/27/11). Jeremy Hall transferred to extended spring training (5/27/11). Craig Albernaz transferred to extended spring training (5/27/11).

Disabled List: Richard De Los Santos and Dirk Hayhurst.

The Week Ahead: 5/28/11-5/29/11: at Toledo Mud Hens (22-27). 5/30/11-6/2/11: vs Columbus Clippers (34-14). 6/3/11: vs Pawtucket Red Sox (24-23).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Biscuits Week in Review: May 20 to May 26

The Biscuits struggled this week, going just 1-5 on the week. They have fallen to 22-25 on the year and are in fourth place in the division. Matt Moore increased his league leading strikeout total by 20 this week to 76 on the season after two starts this week where he struck out 20 and only allowed 1 run in 12 innings on the mound.

Hitting Leaders:
Average: Daniel Mayora (.337, fifth in SOU)
Slugging: Stephen Vogt (.528)
On Base Pct: Daniel Mayora (.443, second in SOU)
Hits: Daniel Mayor and Stephen Vogt (56, tied seventh in SOU)
Doubles: Henry Wrigley (15, tied fourth in SOU)
Triples: Stephen Vogt (3, tied eighth in SOU)
Home Runs: Stephen Vogt (7, tied seventh in SOU)
RBI’s: Stephen Vogt (36, third in SOU)
Stolen Bases: Daniel Mayora (5)

Pitching Leaders:
ERA: Matt Moore (2.91, fifth in SOU)
Wins: Matt Bush (4, tied fourth in SOU)
Saves: Zach Quate (6, tied sixth in SOU)
Strikeouts: Matt Moore (76, first in SOU)

Team Hitting Stats (league rank):
Average: .262 (6 of 10)
Slugging: .411 (tied 4 of 10)
On Base Pct: .343 (5 of 10)
Hits: 418 (5 of 10)
Doubles: 91 (4 of 10)
Triples: 15 (4 of 10)
Home Runs: 39 (tied 3 of 10)
Runs Scored: 250 (2 of 10)
Stolen Bases: 26 (tied 8 of 10)

Team Pitching Stats (rank):
ERA: 4.75 (9 of 10)
Runs Allowed: 232 (7 of 10)
Strikeouts: 363 (3 of 10)
Walks: 159 (5 of 10)

Transactions: Lucas Montero transferred to Charlotte (5/23/11).

Disabled List: Ricky Orta, Emeel Salem and Isaias Velasquez.

The Week Ahead: 5/27/11-5-29/11: vs Jacksonville Suns (25-22). 5/30/11-6/2/11: at Jackson Generals (26-20).

Scores and Highlights from 5/26

Durham Bulls 12, Toledo Mud Hens 3
Brandon Guyer and Desmond Jennings each hit their 8th home runs and Chris Carter added his 6th. Jennings finished 2-5 with a walk, Guyer went 3-3 with two walks, Russ Canzler was 3-3 with three walks, and Carter and J.J. Furmaniak each had two hits. Brian Baker allowed three runs in five innings, and Cory Wade and Dane De La Rosa each pitched two scoreless innings.

Jacksonville Suns 3, Montgomery Biscuits 0
Matt Moore shut Jacksonville out for six innings, allowing three hits, a walk, and 11 strikeouts. For the season, his K/9 is 13.0 and his BB/9 is at 2.4. Marquis Fleming got the loss, allowing two runs in 1.2 innings. Nevin Ashley was the only Biscuit with multiple hits, though Shawn O'Malley had a single and two walks.

Tampa Yankees 12, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
Drew Leary allowed six runs -- four earned -- in five innings. Michael Jarman allowed four in two innings, and Scott Shuman struggled again with his control, walking four and allowing two runs in an inning. Brett Nommensen hit his third home run of the season; he and Mike Sheridan each had two hits.

West Michigan Whitecaps 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3 (7 innings, game one)
C.J. Riefenhauser struck out four and didn't issue a walk, but allowed four runs -- three earned -- in five innings. Kevin Kiermaier and Todd Glaesmann each had two hits. Nick Schwaner added an RBI triple.

Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, West Michigan Whitecaps 2 (7 innings, game two)
Enny Romero struck out five, but also walked five, in 4.1 innings. He allowed both runs, with Chris Rearick pitching the final 2.2 scoreless. Cody Rogers was 2-3 with two doubles and a walk, and Derek Dietrich and Phil Wunderlich also had two hits.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stone Crabs Week in Review: May 19 to May 25

The Stone Crabs were 4-3 on the week, marking just the second time this season that they had an above .500 tally for the week. They are now 18-29 on the season and are in fifth place in the division. The Stone Crabs even recorded their first winning streak of the season, a brief three game streak from 5/22-5/24 against a Dunedin team that was on a seven game winning streak going into the series. Kyle Lobstein was named the FSL pitcher of the week following a seven inning shut-out performance on 5/19 against Clearwater.

Hitting Leaders:
Average: Hak-Ju Lee (.371, first in FSL)
Slugging: Hak-Ju Lee (.517, sixth in FSL)
On Base Pct: Hak-Ju Lee (.451, first in FSL)
Hits: Greg Sexton (57, tied fourth in FSL)
Doubles: Tyler Bortnick and Greg Sexton (12, tied ninth in FSL)
Triples: Hak-Ju Lee (5, tied second in FSL)
Home Runs: Anthony Scelfo (3)
RBI’s: Greg Sexton (37, tied third in FSL)
Stolen Bases: Hak-Ju Lee (13, second in FSL)

Pitching Leaders:
ERA: Merrill Kelly (2.08, second in FSL)
Wins: Kyle Lobstein and Josh Satow (3)
Saves: Josh Satow (4)
Strikeouts: Alex Colome (51, fifth in FSL)

Team Hitting Stats (league rank):
Average: .265 (5 of 12)
Slugging: .368 (8 of 12)
On Base Pct: .339 (3 of 12)
Hits: 430 (3 of 12)
Doubles: 85 (tied 3 of 12)
Triples: 14 (tied 4 of 12)
Home Runs: 18 (11 of 12)
Runs Scored: 212 (5 of 12)
Stolen Bases: 54 (1 of 12)

Team Pitching Stats (rank):
ERA: 4.30 (9 of 12)
Runs Allowed: 231 (9 of 12)
Strikeouts: 361 (5 of 12)
Walks: 177 (12 of 12)

Transactions: Lucas Montero added to roster from Montgomery (5/23/11). Julio Cedeno transferred to Bowling Green (5/23/11). Mickey Jannis transferred to extended spring training (5/23/11). Merrill Kelly activated from disabled list (5/23/11).

Disabled List: Chris Andujar, Ty Morrison, Albert Suarez, Jake Thompson and Kirby Yates.

The Week Ahead: 5/26/11-5/29/11: vs Tampa Yankees (20-27). 5/30/11: Day Off. 5/31/11-6/1/11: vs Daytona Cubs (35-12).

Scores and Highlights from 5/25

Note: Sorry for the delay, Blogger wouldn't play nice and let me log in.

Durham Bulls off day

Jacksonville Suns 7, Montgomery Biscuits 6
Matt Bush got the loss, allowing four runs in 1.1 innings. Nick Barnese started and lasted 5 innings, allowing a run on five hits. He struck out three and walked one. Shawn O'Malley (4-6) and Daniel Mayora (4-4 with a BB) starred offensively while John Matulia and Henry Wrigley chipped in with two hits apiece.

Dunedin Blue Jays 10, Charlotte Stone Crabs 9
The Crabs rallied late, but four in the 9th wasn't enough to help overcome an early deficit. Alex Colome allowed eight runs in just 1.2 innings, but Sergio Espinosa, Deivis Mavarez, and Josh Satow controlled the game after, allowing two runs over 6.1. Tyler Bortnick was 2-4 with a double, triple, stolen base, and five RBIs. Mark Thomas collected three hits including a home run and Anthony Scelfo and Mayobanex Acosta each had two.

Bowling Green Hot Rods rained out

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minor Moves: Buente

Jay Buente was claimed off waivers by the Rays and assigned to Durham. He was designated for assignment by the Florida Marlins on Tuesday and was claimed by the Rays today.

Buente was drafted by the Marlins in the 14th round of the 2006 Draft out of Purdue. He has spent six years in the Marlins system reaching as high as MLB in 2010 and 2011.

Hot Rods Week in Review: May 18 to May 24

The Hot Rods struggled this week, finishing 2-5 on the week. They have fallen to 25-21 on the season. They remain in third place in the division and trail the leaders by 2.5 games. The Hot Rods have a chance to close the gap as they play a four game series at home against the division leading Lansing Lugnuts this week.

Hitting Leaders:
Average: Robby Price (.299)
Slugging: Derek Dietrich (.521, seventh in MID)
On Base Pct: Robby Price (.455, first in MID)
Hits: Derek Dietrich (41)
Doubles: Derek Dietrich (10)
Triples: Kevin Kiermaier (6, first in MID)
Home Runs: Derek Dietrich and Phil Wunderlich (7, tied fifth in MID)
RBI’s: Phil Wunderlich (34, third in MID)
Stolen Bases: Kevin Kiermaier (11)

Pitching Leaders:
ERA: CJ Riefenhauser (2.64)
Wins: Victor Mateo (4, tied eighth in MID)
Saves: Chris Rearick (6, tied sixth in MID)
Strikeouts: CJ Riefenhauser (48)

Team Hitting Stats (league rank):
Average: .244 (9 of 16)
Slugging: .388 (2 of 16)
On Base Pct: .322 (8 of 16)
Hits: 364 (5 of 16)
Doubles: 72 (10 of 16)
Triples: 11 (8 of 16)
Home Runs: 40 (1 of 16)
Runs Scored: 222 (2 of 16)
Stolen Bases: 45 (9 of 16)

Team Pitching Stats (rank):
ERA: 4.29 (15 of 16)
Runs Allowed: 222 (15 of 16)
Strikeouts: 391 (3 of 16)
Walks: 153 (9 of 16)

Transactions: Kyle Holloway transferred to extending spring training (5/23/11). Julio Cedeno added to roster from Charlotte (5/23/11).

Disabled List: Jairo De La Rosa, Will Kline and Wilking Rodriguez.

The Week Ahead: 5/25/11-5/26/11: at West Michigan Whitecaps (17-26). 5/27/11-5/30/11: vs Lansing Lugnuts (27-18). 5/31/11: vs Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (26-19).

Updated Cumulative Mock Draft Board

Since my last posted cumulative mock draft board lots of highly regarded sources posted their mock drafts. Right now the cumulative board includes the mock drafts of the following 9 sources:
Lets take a look at the board first. At the bottom I'm giving my take on the board and on other draft observations.

(Click at the table for a larger view)

My takes:
  • The mock drafts have the Rays selecting the following players with their 1st pick: Jose Fernandez (3 times), Robert Stephensen (2), Taylor Guerreri (1), Blake Swihart (1), Henry Owens (1) and Josh Osich (1). That's 8 pitchers in 9 mocks. I personally agree with Kevin, though. While the Rays should take the best player available, I think they should prefer hitters early on as the pitching class is very, very deep and they can get 1st round talents in the 1st supp. and even 2nd round. Therefore I'd like them to take one of Bell, Baez, Mahtook, Wong, Cron, Nimmo and Susac (in that order) with the 24th overall selection unless Daniel Norris or Tyler Guerreri fall to them. The only other pitcher (with the exception of the defenitely not falling guys) I'd consider with the 24th selection is Tyler Anderson as he is very advanced.
  • More and more mock drafts have signable guys and slightly overdrafts being selected early on. I see this happening even more this year than in the last years as this draft class is that deep and as teams want to save some money for later rounds. Popular candidates for being selected above their reported talent level are Alex Meyer, C.J. Cron, Tyler Anderson and Michael Levy.
  • The first late risers (a la Michael Choice last year) are being mentioned. These late risers often are draft favorites of few teams and they mostly sign for slot money. The most popular late riser is Larry Greene. Greene is a power hitting corner outfielder with enough speed and a good throwing arm. His profile makes him an excellent fit for RF.
  • I see the Rays selecting their first pitcher with the 31st or 32nd overall pick. Their should be a combination of very well regarded high ceiling pitchers available with these picks. Henry Owens, Robert Stephensen, Dillon Howard, Tyler Beede, Anthony Meo and Josh Osich are just some of them.
  • One more draft board riser and faller: Cory Spangenberg is more and more mentioned as 1st round selection. Derek Fisher, however, seems to be seen as a 1st supp. round selection after being mentioned as 20-30 pick before. I would be thrilled if the Rays could grab him with one of their supp. round picks.

Scores and Highlights from 5/24

Columbus Clippers 5, Durham Bulls 3
Alex Torres allowed five runs on seven hits in 5 innings. He struck out two and walked three. Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer each homered. Ray Olmedo went 4-5, and Russ Canzler and J.J. Furmaniak each reached base twice.

Montgomery Biscuits off day

Charlotte Stone Crabs 12, Dunedin Blue Jays 2
Hak-Ju Lee went 3-4 and also reached on a walk and hit by pitch. He stole his 13th base of the season. Tyler Bortnick hit his first home run of the season and Jake Jefferies and Anthony Scelfo also went deep. Those three plus Greg Sexton and Mark Thomas all had two hits apiece. Kyle Lobstein struck out five and walked one over 5.1 innings. He allowed two runs on six hits.

Bowling Green Hot Rods 10, West Michigan Whitecaps 2
Hector Guevara went 3-5 and Cody Rogers, Kevin Kiermaier, and Robby Price each had two hits. Price also drew two walks to raise his OBP to .455 on the season. George Jensen pitched five scoreless innings and Eliazer Suero pitched the final four, allowing the only Whitecaps runs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scores and Highlights from 5/23

Columbus Clippers 3, Durham Bulls 2 (8 innings, rain)
Alex Cobb lowered his ERA to 1.14, allowing no earned runs (but two unearned) over 6 innings. He gave up nine hits, struck out six, and didn't walk a hitter. Robinson Chirinos hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot. Leslie Anderson was 2-3.

Huntsville Stars 5, Montgomery Biscuits 2
Shane Dyer allowed two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings, striking out four and walking one. Paul Phillips allowed five hits and recorded just one out. John Shelby homered for the Biscuits and Daniel Mayora was 2-4 with a double.

Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Dunedin Blue Jays 0
Merrill Kelly (two innings), Adam Liberatore (four), Deivis Mavarez (one), and Scott Shuman (two) combined on the shutout. Kelly, Liberatore, and Shuman each struck out four. Hak-Ju Lee was 2-5 with a double while Brett Nommensen and Greg Sexton drove in two. Chris Murrill also had two hits.

Lansing Lugnuts 12, Bowling Green Hot Rods 7
Braulio Lara allowed eight runs on seven hits in just 4.1 innings, and Steve Hiscock allowed four runs in 1.2. Cody Rogers, Robby Price, and Derek Dietrich each had two hits. Price drew two walks and has his season OBP up to .447.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scores and Highlights from 5/22

Columbus Clippers 7, Durham Bulls 6 (10 innings)
Omar Luna was 3-5 while Robinson Chirinos, Leslie Anderson, and Chris Carter each had two hits, including a home run from Carter. Edgar Gonzalez started but was taken out after one inning, and Dane De La Rosa allowed four runs in two innings. Jake McGee allowed a run on three hits, and Mike Ekstrom got the loss with a run in the 10th.

Huntsville Stars 8, Montgomery Biscuits 3
Joe Cruz allowed five runs on 12 (!) hits in three innings and Chad Thall allowed three runs in as many innings. Marquis Fleming pitched two scoreless innings. Tim Beckham and manager Billy Gardner were ejected in the 6th inning. Stephen Vogt and Matt Sweeney each had two hits.

Charlotte Stone Crabs 5, Dunedin Blue Jays 3 (11 innings)
Jake Jefferies and Chris Murrill each drove in runs with doubles in the 11th. Hak-Ju Lee was 1-4 with two walks and Tyler Bortnick was 1-3 with three walks. Murrill was the only Stone Crab with multiple hits. Sergio Espinosa, Matt Stabelfeld, and Josh Satow combined for five scoreless innings in relief.

Lansing Lugnuts 14, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1
Victor Mateo (five runs in five innings), Nate Garcia (six runs in two innings) and James Patterson (three rules, two earned, in an inning) had trouble all day with the Lansing offense. Cody Rogers was the lone offensive bright spot with a 2-4 day.

The draft order is not kind to the Rays

I just wanted to post something I realized after looking at even more mocks. Looking at the updated draft prospects rankings over the last published version, there seems to be a little gap talent wise between the top 15 and again after the top 21 prospects in this draft. Nevertheless, some teams like the NY Mets (conservative draft approach for some years now; will new regime change that?), the Milwaukee Brewers (connections to Alex Meyer, Larry Greene), the Washington Nationals (linked to Alex Meyer even for pick 1-6) and the LA Dodgers (tight on money) have been linked to players who seem to be an overdraft with their selections. Reasons for that are the signability of some high ceiling players (A. Bradley, D. Bundy, B. Starling, ...), the depth of this draft (spreading the budget), the draft approaches of some of these teams and the yearly rise of some players right before the draft.

This means, that some players could and will fall a bit. And while I'm still dreaming about some really top notch talents like Josh Bell, Mike Mahtook or Daniel Norris falling to the Rays, the probability is really slim. What's the main reason for that?
  • Pick 1-19: Boston Red Sox (They will take best player available ... I could easily see Archie Bradley falling to them)
  • Pick 1-20: Colorado Rockies (They have a history of taking the best player available. They are not shy of high bonus demands)
  • Pick 1-21: Toronto Blue Jays (The new regime is not afraid of putting money into prospects. They will take the best player on their board)
  • Pick 1-22: St. Louis Cardinals (They also are not afraid of spending big in the draft)
I am afraid that any top 15 or maybe even top 21 talents (the talents 16-21 seem to be M. Mahtook, J. Bell, A. Meyer, B. Swihart, J. Fernandez and J. Baez) will be gone before the 1st Rays pick. Just good to know that the Rays have 12 picks in the first 2 rounds and that this draft is incredibly deep in talent.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

RaysProspects Podcast: Episode 2

Here's episode two of the podcast. Scott and I talk about how the top 15 hitting prospects are doing, where the players in extended spring training might go, the upcoming June draft, and whether hitting prospects are more valuable in a pitching-heavy draft/era. The audio is a little wonky, CallGraph decided to record in mono instead of stereo. We're still in the trial and error stage for sure.

Remember, you can e-mail us at podcast@raysprospects.com

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Game Pictures from 5/20: Extended Spring Training Rays at Orioles

I was able to catch a portion of my first extended spring training game during lunch yesterday.

The first game had Juniel Querecuto, Justin O'Conner, Cesar Perez, Deshun Dixon, Felix Gonzalez, Henry Rodriguez, Cesar Guillen, Brian Bryles, Chris Winder and Ian Kendell on the mound. Perez had a two run homer to left field. Baserunning was not sharp, not sure if they were trying stuff out or players were missing the signals, but there were quite a bit of players getting caught in rundowns after rounding first.

The second game was Gerardo Olivares, Daryl George, Ariel Soriano, Tanner Biagini, Keith Castillo, Lucas Montero, Leonardo Reginatto, Drew Vettleson, Jeff Malm, Josh Sale with Jason McEachern and Hunter Hill on the mound. McEachern looked sharp during the brief time I saw him, he seemed to be locating his pitches well. Vettleson and Sale both hit triples in the same inning.

This was my first extended spring game and I was only able to see each hitter hit once. My observations above are just what I saw during this small sample and may not be indicative of the players progress overall in the game or camp, I can't make a determination of how a player is doing based on one at-bat or two innings on the mound.

Here is a slideshow of photos from the game.

Bulls Week in Review: May 14 to May 20

The Durham Bulls were 2-3 on the week and had two games against Syracuse cancelled due to rain. They are now 24-17 on the season and lead the division by two games. The Bulls scored 12 runs against Louisville which matched the season high for this season.

Hitting Leaders:
Average: Brandon Guyer (.323, seventh in INT)
Slugging: Brandon Guyer (.526)
On Base Pct: Russ Canzler (.406, third in INT)
Hits: Desmond Jennings (44)
Doubles: Russ Canzler (13, tied sixth in INT)
Triples: Desmond Jennings, Jose Lobaton (1)
Home Runs: Brandon Guyer (6)
RBI’s: Chris Carter (28, eighth in INT)
Stolen Bases: Desmond Jennings (9, tied eighth in INT)

Pitching Leaders:
ERA: Alex Cobb (1.31, first in INT)
Wins: Alex Cobb (5, tied third in INT)
Saves: Brandon Gomes (6, tied fourth in INT)
Strikeouts: Alex Torres (52, third in INT)

Team Hitting Stats (league rank):
Average: .271 (tied 3 of 14)
Slugging: .409 (tied 4 of 14)
On Base Pct: .340 (3 of 14)
Hits: 389 (2 of 14)
Doubles: 89 (3 of 14)
Triples: 3 (12 of 14)
Home Runs: 35 (10 of 14)
Runs Scored: 200 (3 of 14)
Stolen Bases: 32 (5 of 14)

Team Pitching Stats (rank):
ERA: 3.76 (5 of 14)
Runs Allowed: 183 (7 of 14)
Strikeouts: 355 (2 of 14)
Walks: 140 (8 of 14)

Transactions: JP Howell transferred to Charlotte (5/17/11). Justin Ruggiano promoted to Tampa Bay (5/20/11). Rob Delaney added to roster from Tampa Bay (5/20/11). Dan Johnson added to roster from Tampa Bay (5/20/11).

Disabled List: Richard De Los Santos and Dirk Hayhurst.

The Week Ahead: 5/21/11-5/24/11: at Columbus Clippers (28-14). 5/25/11: Day Off. 5/26/11-5/27/11: at Toledo Mud Hens (21-22).

Scores and Highlights from 5/20

Louisville Bats 9, Durham Bulls 8
Felipe Lopez was 4 for 5 with a home run and 2 RBI's. Robinson Chirinos was 3 for 4 with a double. Leslie Anderson was 3 for 4. Russ Canzler was 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored. RJ Swindle provided 2 no-hit innings of relief.

Montgomery Biscuits 5, Huntsville Stars
Nevin Ashley was 2 for 2 with a double. Tim Beckham was 2 for 5 with a triple, home run and 3 RBI's. John Shelby was 2 for 4 with a double. Daniel Mayora also had a double. Matt Moore struck out 9 in 6 innings

Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Clearwater Threshers 2
Tyler Bortnick was 2 for 3 with an RBI. Hak-Ju Lee had a triple. Alex Colome allowed 1 run on 3 hits with 9 strikeouts in 7 innings.

Bowling Green Hot Rods 2, Lansing Lugnuts 5
Robby Price was 3 for 4 with an RBI. Cody Rogers had a double. Steven Tinoco had a home run. Chris Rearick struck out 6 in 3 innings.

Draft risers and fallers + updated cumulative draft board

Some players rising up draft boards:

With the depth of this draft class, I see lots of teams with top 15 selections settling for signable guys. Thus, lots of COL pitchers will be selected in the top 15. I expect 8 COL pitchers to be signed before the 16th pick (Cole, Hultzen, Gray, Bradley, Bauer, Barnes, Jungmann and Meyer).
  • Danny Hultzen ... With Cole and Rendon having question marks he is even rumored to be selected 1st overall. I can see the Pirates selecting him (as he has the least bonus demands of these 3 as well) and safe some money for later picks.
  • Alex Meyer ... He put some things together this year (command) and was even rumored to go to the Nationals at 1-6. I don't see him falling past the 2nd Brewers pick (1-15) while being rumored as a 20-30 pick earlier on.
  • Francisco Lindor ... He seems to overtake Bubba Starling as the top prep position player. Nevertheless, he could still not be selected in the top 8. I don't see him falling past the Cubs at 1-9, though.
  • Brandon Nimmo ... After showing his pretty swing at a showcase, his stock is rising. I wouldn't be shocked at all if he's drafted in the teens while I'm still hoping that he falls to the Rays in this draft.
  • Michael Levy ... With the tools of a 1s/2nd round pick and questions about him being able to stay at short, he was rumored as a 2nd pick earlier on. Now (as he shows polish and seems to be staying at short) it would surprise me if he'd be available at the beginning of the 1s round. I don't see him falling past the Reds (1-27) or then the Rays (1-32).
  • Larry Greene ... The latest high riser a la Matt Hobgood (in '09) or Delino DeShields (in '10). I see some prep players like him moving up draft boards if they agree to sign for slot money before the draft. Greene has lots of raw power with solid speed and a good arm, making him very suitable for RF.
Some players falling down draft boards:

Nearly all players listed in this category are falling because of their high bonus demands
  • Anthony Rendon ... Most predict Gerritt Cole going 1-1 (some even Danny Hultzen or Dylan Bundy) as he seems to be less risky. He highest likely won't fall past the Mariners at 1-2, though.
  • Dylan Bundy ... He is not falling yet, but if the first 3 picks are Rendon-Cole-Hultzen (in any order) and if the Orioles don't take him and his very high bonus demands, he could fall to the Cubs (1-9) or even out of the top 10.
  • Bubba Starling ... Early considered as the consencus Royals pick at 1-5, the Royals are reportedly looking at college pitching right now. In addition, Francisco Lindor seems to overtake him as the first selected prep bat. I could even see him falling out of the top 10 with Kansas (1-5), Washington (they want to win in '12 --> I see them going with COL pitchers; 1-6), Arizona (1-7; Compensational pick --> Highest likely COL pitcher) and Cleveland (1-8; Nearly sure to take a COL pitcher) looking at COL pitchers. He won't fall past the Padres (1-10) and Astros (1-11), though.
  • Archie Bradley ... Is reported to be asking for more than 20 mio. $. This way the top 10 talent could land at 1-19 (Red Sox), 1-20 (Rockies) or 1-21 (Blue Jays). I don't see him falling more.
  • Jackie Bradley Jr. ... I always considered him as a 20-30 pick talent (while he was sitting in the 10-15 range) and now - as he is injured - he is falling. I think he'll be selected in the 1s round.
  • Matt Purke ... Injuries, inconsistent performance and high bonus demands make a prospect fall. Once at the top of draft boards along Rendon and Cole he now doesn't project to be selected in the 1st round. The "Da'Quan Bowers of Baseball" could fall to the 1s and even 2nd round where I see the Blue Jays, Rangers, Giants, Red Sox and especially the Yankees and Tigers targeting him. While some mock drafts predict the Rays selecting him, I just don't see them paying 3-4 mio. plus for him. Not with the amount of picks they have.
  • Austin Hedges ... He's #30 on the cumulative draft prospect rankings and #50 on the cumulative mock board. What does that tell you? Right: Incredibly high bonus demands. He could again be a pick for some big market teams (and Detroit), but his commitment to UCLA is very strong.
Cumulative draft board:

In my last post about this I've had 4 mock draft sources included (BA, John Sickels, Prospect Junkies, SB-Nation Mock). Including the latest mocks by PG Crosschecker/Perfect Game and Jim Callis (Baseball America), the cumulative draft board looks like this:

(Click at the image for a larger view)

The top 17 talents won't fall to the Rays according to these experts and I agree with them. The 8 COL pitchers will definitely not fall as well as the COL hitters (Rendon, Springer, Mahtook). Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley could fall, but not far enough while Tyler Guerreri and Daniel Norris seem to be more signable. Josh Bell, Bubba Starling and Francisco Lindor also won't be available with the 24th pick as it looks like. I also don't expect Alex Meyer (21st on the list) to be available at 24.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Biscuits Week in Review: May 13 to May 19

The Montgomery Biscuits were 5-2 on the week, improving to 21-20 on the season. They are currently in fourth place in the division, 3 games out of first. The Biscuits finished the week on a four game winning streak. Nick Barnese and Frank De Los Santos combined to throw the Biscuits first shut-out of the season on Thursday night against Huntsville.

Hitting Leaders:
Average: Stephen Vogt (.327, tied ninth in SOU)
Slugging: Stephen Vogt (.577, fourth in SOU)
On Base Pct: Daniel Mayora (.435, fourth in SOU)
Hits: Stephen Vogt (51, tied fourth in SOU)
Doubles: Henry Wrigley (13, tied fifth in SOU)
Triples: Stephen Vogt (3, tied sixth in SOU)
Home Runs: Stephen Vogt (7, tied fourth in SOU)
RBI’s: Stephen Vogt (35, third in SOU)
Stolen Bases: Daniel Mayora (4)

Pitching Leaders:
ERA: Matt Moore (3.54)
Wins: Matt Bush (4, tied second in SOU)
Saves: Zach Quate (6, tied sixth in SOU)
Strikeouts: Matt Moore (56, first in SOU)

Team Hitting Stats (league rank):
Average: .263 (6 of 10)
Slugging: .417 (5 of 10)
On Base Pct: .345 (3 of 10)
Hits: 366 (4 of 10)
Doubles: 81 (4 of 10)
Triples: 14 (4 of 10)
Home Runs: 35 (tied 3 of 10)
Runs Scored: 225 (2 of 10)
Stolen Bases: 21 (tied 8 of 10)

Team Pitching Stats (rank):
ERA: 4.61 (9 of 10)
Runs Allowed: 197 (7 of 10)
Strikeouts: 313 (3 of 10)
Walks: 142 (5 of 10)

Transactions: Nick Barnese activated from disabled list (5/14/11). Shawn O'Malley activated from disabled list (5/15/11). Cody Cipriano released (5/15/11).

Disabled List: Lucas Montero, Ricky Orta, Emeel Salem and Isaias Velasquez.

The Week Ahead: 5/20/11-5/23/11: at Huntsville Stars (19-21). 5/24/11: Day Off. 5/25/11-5/26/11: Jacksonville Suns (21-20).

Minor Moves: Ruggiano, Johnson, Delaney

The Tampa Bay Rays made the following roster moves today:

  • Justin Ruggiano was promoted to Tampa Bay from Durham.
  • Dan Johnson was designated for assignment to Durham from Tampa Bay.
  • Rob Delaney was optioned to Durham from Tampa Bay.

When to draft college guys and when HS players?

I was looking at the recent Rays drafts and I started to figure out kind of a tendency. I’m sure the Rays mostly go with the best player available approach (maybe taking signability a bit into account), but maybe they are weighing college guys and the higher security that comes with them more in a particular spot while weighing the more developable players more in another spot.

First I looked at the, by the Rays drafted, players on the 40 man roster and the round as well as the level (COL, HS, CC) these players were drafted out of. I didn’t take ex-players (CC, Rocco Baldelli, Johnny Gomes) into account as they were developed in the minor leagues before the Friedman-regime took over. Looking at the table below we see that only 4 players out of college (not counting CC) are on the 40-man roster. 3 of them have been taken within the first 4 picks of the respective drafts. Only Andy Sonnanstine made it to the majors while being drafted later than the first round. Of the 8 HS draftees on the roster only one of them was drafted in the first round. This tells me that the Rays are way better in finding later round gems out of high school than out of college. They even found above average MLB starters in rounds 3 (Davis), 4 (Hellickson) and 16 (Shields). And don’t forget about Alex Cobb (4th round) and top prospect Matt Moore (8th round, 2007). The Rays are really good in finding top pitchers later on as they are exceptionally well in developing them.

Looking at the drafts from 2006-2009 which are the first 4 drafts of the Friedman-regime we can see a similar picture (I didn’t take 2010 into account as it’s way too early to tell for these prospects). While the first rounders out of college (namely Evan Longoria and David Price) have been perfect selections, the Rays couldn’t find any top prospect out of college later than in the first round (Tyler Bortnick seems to be the best later COL pick). High college picks like Josh Butler (2nd round, 2006), Will Kline (2nd, 2007), David Newmann (4th, 2007), Jake Jefferies (3rd, 2008) and Mike Sheridan (5th, 2008) have not developed as hoped. At least the 2010 draft looks a bit better with Derek Dietrich and Jake Thompson. Meanwhile, the HS selections from 2006-2009 brought lots of potential future major leaguers to the system (Moore, Morrison, Barnese, Cobb, Beckham, Bailey) while only Tim Beckham was a first round pick.

So … what does this tell me for the upcoming draft? The Rays like it to draft nearly finished college guys whom they like very much early on (who doesn’t?). And as this draft is pretty deep also in the college ranks, I think they’ll take one or two nearly finished college guys and/or a guy they like very much while not being that polished in the first round. The names that come to my mind are Kolten Wong, C.J. Cron and Tyler Anderson as very far developed quality picks and Mike Mahtook (higher upside but with some holes in his swing), Alex Meyer (exceptional upside, control problems) and Anthony Meo (#2 starter potential, lacks a bit polish) as picks the Rays could love cause of their upside. They all are legitimate candidates for the selections 24, 31 and 32. After that I do think that the Rays will only go the college route if they think that the respective player has ways to go in his development, but therefore a high ceiling. Names popping to my head are for example Jack Armstrong out of Vanderbilt, Ryan Carpenter whom the Rays drafted 3 years ago. Other than that I think they’ll go with lots of prep picks after the first round. There will be lots of excellent HS players available in the first supplemental round for example.

So … I see the Rays taking 2 college players in the first round if they think the talent level is as deep as everybody says. They won’t draft a college player in the first round if the upside is not at least that of an average major leaguer. Later on I see them going more the HS (and CC) route. They’ll mix in some college picks (some to save money and some they particularly like) here and then, but the amount of prep talent they can select will simply be way too enticing for them. Look at the success rate they have when developing HS kids, especially pitchers. Of the 7 supplemental round and 2 2nd round picks I see them at least going with 5-6 prep players.

Based on John Sickels mock draft (1st rnd., 1st supp. rnd.) and the players available at his draft for every Rays pick) I like the following selections for the Rays. What do you think?

  • 1st, 24: Kolten Wong (2B; COL; above average MLB potential, simply a player)
  • 1st, 31: C.J. Cron (1B; COL; he fills the only big hole in the Rays MiL-system: power AND a great approach at the plate)
  • 1st, 32: Anthony Meo (RHP; COL; 3 college guys in a row! Meo has a very high ceiling but is not as polished as Tyler Anderson for example; The Rays have to go for high ceiling!)
  • 1st supp, 38: Brandon Nimmo (OF; HS; typical Rays pick. Great tools and swing. Prep kid out of Pacific NW)
  • 1st supp, 41: Trevor Story (SS; HS; John Sickels made this pick, stating that it’s a typical Rays pick. I agree!)
  • 1st supp, 42: Michael Kelly (RHP; HS; Could be the next top pitching prospect; Exceptional potential)
  • 1st supp, 52: Ryan Carpenter (RHP; COL; A project out of college; Rays drafted him before; Good potential)
  • 1st supp, 56: Charlie Tilson (CF; HS; Another typical Rays pick; Has some power and great speed)
  • 1st supp, 59: Jack Armstrong (RHP; COL; Was hurt at beginning of season; Now in relief; Rays could see him as a starter with great FB and #3 potential)
  • 1st supp, 60: Cody Kukuk (LHP; HS; Just one of the nearly endless amount of high ceiling prep pitching prospects; workhorse build)