Friday, December 30, 2011

Projecting the Full-Season Ball Rosters for 2012: Third Base

In this series I'm going to take a quick look at the probable roster of each full season minor league affiliate at the beginning of the 2012 season. I'm going through it position by position. Keep in mind that these projections are very much subject to change (trades could happen, Rays could be more aggressive/conservative with some players, ...). We are going to do more in-depth pieces about the final roster for each affiliate when they are set. This is only to give you a short peek. For more information on the current state of the Rays Depth Chart, check out Doug's great work.

The next position I'm going to look at is Third Base.

The Rays are very well set at 3B for years to come (at least until 2016) with Evan Longoria being above average offensively and even more impressive defensively at the hot corner. Nevertheless, they need to develop talent at third base in order to continue having long-term talent there after the Longoria-era and in order to having depth in case of an injury. The Rays have enough 3B-depth already within their current major league roster with Sean Rodriguez and Elliott Johnson being able to play very well at 3rd behind Longoria.

Durham Bulls:

Matt Mangini (L)

The Bulls will have a very good starting Third Baseman in 2012 with Matt Mangini and his very good hit-tool providing depth for the majors. Behind him, Russ Canzler and especially Henry Wrigley provide excellent depth while a versatile player like Cole Figueroa also being able to help out. Overall, the Bulls are very well set at the infield corners.

Montgomery Biscuits:

Greg Sexton (R)

With Dan Mayora gone and Cole Figueroa (hopefully) moving up to AAA it's Gregory Sexton who will be handling 3B most of the time. He moved up to AA mid-way last season (for the 2nd time) and should play in AA all season long. The versatile Matt Hall, Omar Luna and Anthony Scelfo could give him some time off at the hot corner as Sexton might have to help out at First as well.

Charlotte Stone Crabs:

Julio Cedeno (R)

It's very tough to predict who is going to play most of the time at third in Port Charlotte. After Sexton moved up to Montgomery midway last season, the position was mostly handled by Omar Luna and Matt Hall. I, however, see both of them providing depth in Montgomery next season. Therefore, Julio Cedeno and Bobby Price should be handling most of the 3B-duties in Port Charlotte next season. Riccio Torrez, a 2011 draftee, could also be a dark horse to start in A+, while I see him starting in A-ball before eventually being promoted mid-season. Another possibility to get some playing time at third is Derek Dietrich. Most scouts think that he'll eventually have to move to the hot corner. In 2012, however, I think that he will - at least mostly - stay at short.

Bowling Green Hot Rods:

Riccio Torrez (R), Leonardo Reginatto (R)

Riccio Torrez, Leonardo Reginatto and Taylor Motter (mostly at short) should handle 3B for the Hot Rods in 2012. And even if Reginatto, who is one of the first Brasilian players in the Rays organization, doesn't improve upon his mediocre '11 season, the Hot Rods should be very well represented at third. Torrez (4th round pick last year) and Motter (17th round pick; impressive '11) look to be impact bats in a very potent Hot Rods lineup which could feature Jeff Malm, Cameron Seitzer, Ryan Brett, Drew Vettleson, Kes Carter and Alejandro Segovia next to them.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Australian Baseball League Update

The Australian Baseball League resumed last night following an eight-day break for Christmas and the All-Star Game. The ABL plays a 45-game regular season schedule, beginning in early November and ending in late January. This is the first year the Rays have participated in the league, sending five players along with Princeton Rays Manager Mike Johns as a coach. Todd Glaesmann, Ty Morrison, Mark Thomas, Kevin Keiermaier and Johns are members of the Canberra Cavalry, while Darryl George is with the Melbourne Aces. Glaesmann and Morrison were scheduled to play in the first half of the season (11/4 - 12/20), followed by Thomas and Kiermaier primarily in the second half (12/29- 1/22). Some thoughts so far:

Todd Glaesmann - The 21 year-old outfielder only played in 74 games last summer due to injury, so winter ball gives him a chance to make up for lost time. In 22 ABL games Glaesmann hit .310/.385/.476 over 84 at-bats. Seven of his 26 hits were for extra bases, including three home runs, and he stole seven bases in nine attempts. Strikeouts continued to be a concern, ending 20% of his ABL at-bats, but still an improvement over his 40% k-rate for Bowling Green in 2011.

Overall it was an excellent performance, culminating in him being named to the roster for the December 21st All-Star Game. Unfortunately he was unable to participate due to an injury a few days before game, described as either a broken hand or a fractured right wrist. According to Marc Topkin he will be healed in time for spring training.

Ty Morrison - Like Glaesmann, Morrison needed work in winter ball after playing in only 67 games for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2011. For Canberra he hit .245/.330/.363 in 102 at-bats with nine stolen bases. The 21 year-old outfielder struggled towards the end of his ABL stint, hitting only .176 (6-34) over his final eight games. Morrison replaced Glaesmann on the World Team roster for the All-Star Game, going 0-5 with an RBI.

Mark Thomas - The 23 year-old catcher didn't begin ABL play until December 16th after undergoing off-season surgery. In three games so far he's one for eleven with a double. After a full season of catching for Charlotte and then surgery, simply coming back healthy would a successful trip in my opinion.

Kevin Kiermaier - The third of the three 21 year-old outfielders the Rays sent to Australia, Kiermaier began play on December 15th. In five games he's gone three for 17 (.176) with two doubles, including 0-3 last night in the first game of the second half. He and Thomas are expected to play for Canberra for the rest of the ABL season, which ends January 22nd.

Darryl George - George is the youngest of the Rays Australian contingent at only 18 years old, and the only one not with Canberra, playing instead for the Melbourne Aces. He is also the only player in the Rays organization from Australia, born in Carlton in 1993.

After signing for a $100,000 bonus in May of 2010, George hit .243/.360/.284 with three doubles in 74 at-bats for the 2011 Gulf Coast League Rays in his professional debut. So far in the ABL the third baseman has a .230/.288/.295 line with four doubles in 61 at-bats over 23 games. Despite his youth, George's power upside is beginning to be a bit of a concern: in 135 at-bats between the GCL and ABL he has yet to hit a triple or a home run (he has seven doubles).

Projecting the Full-Season Ball Rosters for 2012: First Base

In this series I'm going to take a quick look at the probable roster of each full season minor league affiliate at the beginning of the 2012 season. I'm going through it position by position. Keep in mind that these projections are very much subject to change (trades could happen, Rays could be more aggressive/conservative with some players, ...). We are going to do more in-depth pieces about the final roster for each affiliate when they are set. This is only to give you a short peek. For more information on the current state of the Rays Depth Chart, check out Doug's great work.

The next position I'm going to look at is First Base.

Right now one of Russ Canzler/Juan Miranda seems to be the best choice for the 1st Base job in the majors. But, that will almost definitely change till Spring Training with the Rays needing an adequate First Baseman as well as depth in the minors. Candidates include some Padres sluggers (Blanks, Rizzo, Guzman, Alonso), two Angels (Morales PLEASE, Trumbo PLEASE NOT) as well as some Free Agents or other trade targets (Pena, Kotchman, Barton, ...). Therefore I'm projecting Canzler and Miranda to be in Durham come Spring Training.

Durham Bulls:

Russ Canzler (R), Juan Miranda (L), Henry Wrigley (R)

Durham seems to be very well set once again at First Base. Russ Canzler will almost definitely see some time in the Majors in 2012 but unless the Rays only sign one more 1B/DH I don't see him being part of the big league club out of the Spring (barring injuries of course). In Durham, he, Juan Miranda and Henry Wrigley (let's see what he can do in AAA) should share 1B while also rotating into 3B (mostly Wrigley), LF (mostly Canzler) and DH (all three of them). I expect the Rays to sign one more power bat for major league depth (Nick Johnson, please) who will share the 1B/DH/3B/LF duties with Canzler, Miranda, Wrigley, Vogt, Mangini and Leslie Anderson. If then no major leaguer is injured by the start of the season, I could even see Henry Wrigley starting back in AA again. He'd then have his back packed all the time as he should be the first player called up if an injury occurs. But even without this additional bat the Bulls are very well represented at 1B.

Montgomery Biscuits:

Michael Sheridan (L)

That's where it becomes tricky. If Wrigley moves up to AAA the only true First Baseman now within the organization and whom I can imagine being in AA next year is Michael Sheridan. The 2008 5th round draftee was well regarded for his hit tool at the time of the draft but that didn't translate into pro ball (yet). Since Matt Sweeney was picked up by Baltimore in the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft I can only imagine a) Henry Wrigley also starting in AA and manning 3B/1B with Sheridan and Gregory Sexton, b) Gregory Sexton playing some 1B as well and versitale players like Matthew Hall helping out at 3B or c) the Rays bringing in a minor league free agent.

Charlotte Stone Crabs:

Philip Wunderlich (L)

The First Base picture in Port Charlotte should be the same as last year in Bowling Green. Philip Wunderlich will play there most of the time with Steven Tinoco (mostly in the OF) and possibly also Nick Schwaner (also a primarily outfielder) filling in on his days off. Another possibility could be the Rays being aggressive in promoting Jeff Malm or Cameron Seitzer to advanced A. And while I could see both of them playing in Port Charlotte in 2012, I don't think it will be by the start of the season.

Bowling Green Hot Rods:

Jeff Malm (L), Cameron Seitzer (L)
, Junior Rodriguez (R)

While Montgomery and Charlotte lack high-end 1B prospects, the Hot Rods have two very interesting prospects on their roster come 2012. Jeff Malm was drafted with high praise for his power and while he disappointed in his first two stints in rookie ball, he showed a bit of what he can do last year. His plate approach is solid and he has HR power. Now, he is step-by-step facing better pitching, which will test his hit-tool. Cameron Seitzer was very impressive last year after being drafted in round 11. He should start in A-ball as I think that a jump from Princeton to Port Charlotte might be too steep. Nevertheless, I'm not surprised if Jeff Malm joins his fellow '09 draftees Luke Bailey and Todd Glaesmann in A+ next season, nor if Cameron Seitzer mans 1B in Port Charlotte anywhen in 2012. Junior Rodriguez hit well in limited action last year and seems to be a back-up for both corner infield positions in Bowling Green.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Projecting the Full-Season Ball Rosters for 2012: Catching

In this series I'm going to take a quick look at the probable roster of each full season minor league affiliate at the beginning of the 2012 season. I'm going through it position by position. Keep in mind that these projections are very much subject to change (trades could happen, Rays could be more aggressive/conservative with some players, ...). We are going to do more in-depth pieces about the final roster for each affiliate when they are set. This is only to give you a short peek. For more information on the current state of the Rays Depth Chart, check out Doug's great work.

The position I'm going to look today is Catching.

Right now Jose Molina and one of Jose Lobation/Robinson Chirinos seem to handle the catching in St. Petersburg. I think that, barring any trade or acquisition, Lobaton will be Molina's back-up as he seems to be out of options and as he is more sound defensively than Chirinos.

Durham Bulls:

Robinson Chirinos (R), Nevin Ashley (R), Stephen Vogt (L)

The Bulls seem to have an above average catching due/trio once again in 2012. Robinson Chirinos has a bat that is major league ready but he has more work to do defensively. Nevin Ashley finally should be allowed to play a full season in Durham as his defense is excellent and his bat adequate (at least for AAA). Stephen Vogt's calling card is his bat while most people don't think he'll be able to play behind the dish in the majors. He'll spend time in the outfield (LF), at DH as well as occasionally behind the plate.

Montgomery Biscuits:

Mark Thomas (R), Craig Albernaz (R)
, David Wendt (R)

Mark Thomas seems to be having made great strides defensively as BA named him the best defensive catcher in the Rays system (ahead of good defensive catchers like Nevin Ashley and Jose Lobaton). His arm is excellent (48% CS) and his bat once was very well regarded. This is me hoping for him improving his hit-tool. The power is above average for a catcher anyway. With Jake Jefferies being traded to the Marlins (for Burke Badenhop ... and excellent trade by the way), the back-up catching job in Montgomery is up for grabs. Craig Albernaz in his role as an upper-level insurance catcher, David Wendt, Alejandro Torres, Mayobanex Acosta and Keith Castillo seem like options for this catching opening in Montgomery.

Charlotte Stone Crabs:

Lucas Bailey (R), Keith Castillo (S), Mayobanex Acosta (R)

Count me in as one of the last believers in Luke Bailey. But, if he doesn't show some promise in Port Charlotte even I have to give by. Together with 2 of Keith Castillo, Mayobanex Acosta and Kyle Holloway he'll form the Stone Crabs catching group.

Bowling Green Hot Rods:

Matt Rice (R), Alejandro Segovia (R), Kyle Holloway (R)

With highly coveted prospects Justin O'Conner and Jake DePew struggling heavily in rookie ball, I don't see them making the jump to full-season ball in 2012. Nevertheless, the catching group in Bowling Green is one to look out for. Matt Rice played very solid upon being drafted and adds leadership to the Hot Rods team. International prospects Alejandro Segovia and Gerardo Oliveras (UPDATE: Selected by the Red Sox in the AA portion of the Rule 5 Draft ... forgot about that, sorry!) are slated in behind Rice. Especially Segovia, who dominated in the Liga Paralela this off-season, is a very interesting prospect to follow. A possible third catching job could be filled by the catcher who doesn't get a job in Port Charlotte.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Projecting the Full-Season Ball Rosters for 2012: Starting Pitching

In this series I'm going to take a quick look at the probable roster of each full season minor league affiliate at the beginning of the 2012 season. I'm going through it position by position. Keep in mind that these projections are very much subject to change (trades could happen, Rays could be more aggressive/conservative with some players, ...). We are going to do more in-depth pieces about the final roster for each affiliate when they are set. This is only to give you a short peek. For more information on the current state of the Rays Depth Chart, check out Doug's great work.

The first position I'm going to look at is Starting Pitching.

Right now I'm projecting the following 6 starting pitchers to start in the majors in 2012: James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann. Come March I think one of these 6 will be traded. Nevertheless, this leaves Alex Cobb and Alex Torres in Durham.

Durham Bulls:

Alex Cobb (R), Alex Torres (L), Chris Archer (R), Nick Barnese (R), Matt Torra (R), Jim Paduch (R)

The rotation in Durham should be very solid in 2012. Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Alex Torres provide the Bulls with three prospects who are projected to end up in a major league rotation (with Cobb and Torres (nearly) being major league ready) and Nick Barnese is a solid prospect on his own. The rotation will be filled out with a bit older minor leaguers like Matt Torra, Jim Paduch and whomever I'm missing or will be signed in recent months. Shane Dyer (R) and Frank De los Santos (L) could be other possibilities.

Montgomery Biscuits:

Alex Colome (R), Jacob Thompson (R), Joseph Cruz (R), Kyle Lobstein (L), Shane Dyer (R), Frank de los Santos (L)

Alex Colome is the big name here in the rotation. It will be interesting to see whether he can take the next step in his development (offspeed pitches). Joseph Cruz is coming off an injury plagued season while showing solid results and stuff in years past. Kyle Lobstein has transformed into a nice pitchability guy. We'll see whether he'll hit the AA-wall. Jacob Thompson, Merrill Kelly and Alex Koronis seem to be better suited for the pen. Nevertheless, I think at least Thompson will be tried out in the rotation at the beginning of the season. Shane Dyer and Frank de los Santos are a bit older and could be slated into the end of the Bulls rotation as well. Overall, I don't see this rotation dominating the Southern League in 2012. Come midseason, though, help could be on its way to Montgomery (especially Albert Suarez and Wilking Rodriguez).

Charlotte Stone Crabs:

Enny Romero (L), Albert Suarez (R), Wilking Rodriguez (R), C.J. Riefenhauser (L), Braulio Lara (L), George Jensen (R)

I'm much more looking forward to the Stone Crabs' compared to the Biscuits rotation. Enny Romero is the most intriguing SP prospect in full season ball (with Moore in the bigs and Guerrieri in SS-ball) in my eyes and I'm looking forward to seeing him grow. Albert Suarez and Wilking Rodriguez had injury plagued seasons but are very much liked by the Rays. I hope and think that we see why in 2012. C.J. Riefenhauser was excellent in Bowling Green and I'm very much looking forward to see what he can do in Port Charlotte and Braulio Lara has intriguing stuff while not showing it on the mound (yet). George Jensen, Victor Mateo (R) or Jason McEachern (R) add depth to the rotation.

Bowling Green Hot Rods:

Parker Markel (R), Ryan Carpenter (L), Felipe Rivero (L), Andrew Bellatti (R), Grayson Garvin (L), Jake Floethe (R)

This will be another very intriguing rotation in 2012. Parker Markel (can he pitch according to the scouting reports?), Ryan Carpenter (can he re-gain some velocity) and Felipe Rivero (I think he'll make the jump over Hudson Valley) are very interesting prospects. Andrew Bellatti showed no weaknesses on the mound as well and he is very young. And Grayson Garvin is another highly anticipated prospect who might start his professional career in Bowling Green. Jake Floethe and Jason McEachern (can he finally show in BG what he did in the NY-P League?) give even more depth to the rotation while 2011 1st. supp. pick Jeff Ames, Matt Spann or Ian Kendall could join Felipe Rivero and move up from Princeton to Bowling Green. If they do, they (especially Spann and Kendall) seem to be unlikely to crack the rotation, though. Jesse Hahn (R), who had TJS before being drafted in 2010, could start his professional career in Bowling Green as well while I think that the Rays will take it slow with him, letting him throw in extended spring training before starting for the Renegades. Hudson Valley could have some very high draft picks coming their way in '12. Josh Sale, Taylor Guerrieri, Jesse Hahn, Jake Hager and Justin O'Conner are only some names who could play in Wappinger Falls next year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Top 30 Prospects List

Here is our overall Top 30 Rays Prospects List. This is the same as the combined list Kevin posted a couple of weeks ago, just in a different format. The individual lists can be found here: Kevin, BurGi, Scott, and Jake. Our next updated list should come out sometime between the end of spring training and the draft in early June.

This list is always available by clicking on the 'Top Prospects' tab at the top of each page.

On a related note, I've seen some Rays prospects lists on other sites lately that have included players who are no longer eligible. Here is part of the summary of eligible 'prospects' that was posted after the season:

We use the same playing time cutoffs for prospect status as Baseball America:
130 MLB at-bats, 50 MLB innngs pitched, or 30 MLB relief appearances.
Here are the players who were prospects at the beginning of the 2011 season and how much career playing time they accrued through the end of 2011 (regular season only):

Pitchers: No Longer Eligible
Jeremy Hellickson - 225.1 innings pitched.
Alex Cobb - 52.2 innings pitched.
Cesar Ramos - 76 relief appearances.
Jake McGee - 45 relief appearances.
Brandon Gomes - 40 relief appearances.

Pitchers: Still Eligible
Jay Buente - 10 games (9 in relief) and 16.0 innings pitched.
Dane De La Rosa - 7 relief appearances and 7.1 innings pitched.
Rob Delaney - 5 relief appearances and 6.0 innings pitched.
Alex Torres - 4 relief appearances and 8.0 innings pitched.
Matt Moore - 3 games (2 in relief) and 9.1 innings pitched.

Hitters: No Longer Eligible
Desmond Jennings - 268 at-bats.
Justin Ruggiano - 195 at-bats.
Elliot Johnson - 179 at-bats.

Hitters: Still Eligible
Robinson Chirinos - 55 at-bats.
Jose Lobaton - 51 at-bats.
Brandon Guyer - 41 at-bats.
Russ Canzler - 3 at-bats.

Liga Paralela Wrap Up

The Liga Paralela winter league in Venezuela ended a few days ago. Unlike the Venezuelan Winter league which features many major leaguers, the Liga Paralela has young players from the lower levels of the minors. The Tampa Bay team finished at 9-31, 25 games out of first and dead last among the 15 teams. There were a few highlights:

Alejandro Segovia - The 21 year-old catcher only played in 18 games for Hudson Valley last season (plus five in the GCL), hitting a respectable .276/.364/.414 in 58 at-bats. This winter he led the entire Liga Paralela in home runs with 11 while batting .358/.500/.852 in in 81 at-bats. He added seven doubles for a total of 18 extra-base hits and walked (19) more than he struck out (13). He did struggle defensively, committing five errors and allowing 18 stolen bases in 24 attempts over 28 games. I'd expect to see him in some role with the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2012, probably as a part-time catcher and DH.

Cesar Perez - In his second go around with the GCL Rays the 18 year-old third baseman only hit .147/.207/.147 in 150 at-bats while committing 15 errors in 42 games. His 2011 numbers regressed across the board from 2010, dropping him from every Rays prospect list I've seen. Last fall we ranked him at #35, but after going 150 at-bats without an extra-base hit in his second time through the GCL it's understandable he didn't warrant a mention this year. He may be out to prove us wrong after finishing second in the Liga Paralela in home runs with nine (behind Segovia) and seventh in league in slugging at .594 (Segovia didn't bat enough to qualify). Overall he was .292/.333/.594 in 106 at-bats. His defense remains a questions after committing 13 errors in 30 games, a .919 fielding percentage. If he's moved up to Princeton next year I doubt he'll be the primary 3B. I'd expect Brandon Martin as the primary SS with Johnny Eierman splitting time between short and third, leaving Perez some 3B and DH.

Leonardo Reginatto - As Hudson Valley's primary third baseman in 2011 he hit only .198/.254/.251 in 207 at-bats. He improved in the Liga Paralela to .242/.288/.355 in 62 at-bats. Heading into his fourth year in the organization, and despite the improvement this winter, I'm not sure the 21 year-old will have a roster spot after spring training.

Julio Cedeno - In his fifth season in the Rays organization Cedeno split time at third base with Robby Price and DH'd for Bowling Green in 2011. Over 264 at-bats he hit .246/.278/.394 with eight home runs in his second season with the Hot Rods. This winter he led the Liga Paralela in total bases and doubles, was second in hits, and finshed fourth in RBI. His overall line was .333/.358/.520 in 150 at-bats. (Note: not sure why, but he played for the Magallanes team instead of Tampa Bay.) Despite the nice numbers he was old for the league at 22 and and more experienced than the other players, having played in two years of full-season ball. He missed half the year in Bowling Green with injury, so it was nice to see him playing often and well in winter ball. Despite the success this winter it would be a surprise if he is the starting 3B for Charlotte next season. His bat hasn't developed, he rarely walks and strikes out way too often, and his defense has been passable at best. His best hope is if Hector Guevara repeats at Bowling Green, giving Robby Price the majority of time at 2B for the Stone Crabs. Otherwise, Price and Robi Estrada and possibly Taylor Motter will by vying for time at third with Cedeno. Another thing to think about is if/when the Rays move Derek Dietrich off shortstop, he will probably take over at 3B. I wouldn't expect it in 2012 for Charlotte, but it wouldn't be a shock either.

Felix Gonzalez - The switch hitting 21 year-old played 5 positions (3B, SS, 2B, LF, RF) for Princeton in 2011, hitting .289/.319/.344 in 90 at-bats. In limited action in the Liga Paralela he hit .267/.267/.400 in 15 at-bats. Expect him in a utility role for Bowling Green or Hudson Valley in 2012.

Ismel Antunez - The 20 year-old outfielder split time between the VSL and GCL Rays in 2011, batting .241/.346/.319 in 257 at-bats with 29 stolen bases overall. Like Gonzalez he barely played in the Liga Paralela, hitting .200/.368/.267 in 15 at-bats. Listed at 5'7", 166 pounds, he really only projects as a CF. Expect him to compete for time with James Harris in Princeton.

Turning now to the pitchers, let's begin with Albert Suarez - Another player who has seen his prospect status drop in the past year, he remains the second youngest member of the Rays 40-man roster at age 22 (Wilking Rodriguez is still 21). Injuries limited him to eight games for the GCL Rays and Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2011. Overall he posted a 2.15 ERA with 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 29.1 innings. In the Liga Paralela he started six games and had a 2.05 ERA with a 15-4 SO-BB ratio in 22.0 innings. He also pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League against older, more experienced players. In the VWL he's 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in two starts. After pretty much a lost season in 2011 I would expect him to begin 2012 in the Charlotte rotation.

Eli Echarry - The 19 year-old righthander was 0-5 with a 7.05 ERA in 12 games (six starts) for the GCL Rays in 2011. He struck out 38 and walked 19 in 44.2 innings. In the Liga Paralela he had a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings over four games (two starts). I'm guessing we'll see him in the Princeton bullpen in 2012.

Hugo Duarte - After four seasons in the VSL Duarte made his stateside debut for the GCL Rays in 2011. In 12 games (six starts) the 21 year-old righty posted a 3.33 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 17 walks in 54.0 innings. In the Liga Paralela he had a 5.14 ERA in 7.0 innings. He should join Echarry in the mix at Princeton next year.

Reinaldo Lopez - A 20 year-old righthander, Lopez completed his fourth year in the organization with Princeton in 2011. He appeared in 14 games (6 starts) and posted a 3.66 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 15 walks in 51.2 innings. In the Liga Paralela he had a 1.00 ERA over 9.0 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks. He's a solidly built guy at 6'2", 221 pounds. He's been used quite a bit as a starter so far in his career, 26 starts in 46 appearances, but I expect him to be in the Hudson Valley bullpen next year due to competition with draftees for starting roles and his low strikeout rates throughout his career.

Most of the rest of the Tampa Bay team was made up of VSL players, including one of note, Oscar Hernandez - After posting the greatest offensive season in the history of the Rays organization for the VSL Rays in 2011, he pretended to be a mere mortal in the Liga Paralela this winter. In order not to destroy the confidence of his young opponents he limited himself to a .185/.267/.333 line with only one home run in 27 at-bats. Behind the plate he threw out three of five basestealers. He doesn't turn 19 until July 9th, so I would expect him to make his American debut catching for the GCL Rays this June.

One last note on a personal favorite, Omar Bencomo - Omar was released this fall after posting a 3.97 ERA in 38 games for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2011. Over his five years in the Rays organization he struck out 208 batters and walked only 34 in 270.0 innings. This winter, pitching for the Magallanes team, he led the Liga Paralela in walks (three in 38.0 innings) and was ninth in ERA at 2.13. Here's wishing Omar all the best in his future baseball career.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from RaysProspects

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays from all of us here at the site. Hope Santa brought you what you wanted!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BaseballAmerica Unveils Rays Top 10

BaseballAmerica has put out their annual Rays top 10 prospect list today, and it is as follows:

1. Matt Moore, LHP
2. Hak-Ju Lee, ss
3. Chris Archer, rhp
4. Taylor Guerrieri, rhp
5. Alex Colome, rhp
6. Alex Torres, lhp
7. Tim Beckham, ss
8. Enny Romero, lhp
9. Drew Vettleson, of
10. Mikie Mahtook, of

You can compare that to the composite top 10 from our lists here:

1. Matt Moore
2. Hak-Ju Lee
3. Enny Romero
4. Alex Torres
5. Mikie Mahtook
6. Taylor Guerrieri
7. Drew Vettleson
8. Chris Archer
9. Tim Beckham
10. Brandon Guyer

And here is their Best Tools list:

Best Hitter for Average - Drew Vettleson
Best Power Hitter - Derek Dietrich
Best Strike Zone Discipline - Tyler Bortnick
Fastest Baserunner - Hak-Ju Lee
Best Athlete - Ty Morrison
Best Fastball - Matt Moore
Best Curveball - Matt Moore
Best Slider - Chris Archer
Best Changup - Marquis Fleming
Best Control - Matt Moore
Best Defensive Catcher - Mark Thomas
Best Defensive Infielder - Hak-Ju Lee
Best Infield Arm - Tim Beckham
Best Defensive OF - Kevin Kiermaier
Best Outfield Arm - Brandon Guyer

Friday, December 16, 2011

Player Trends on our Prospect Lists

I think it is a good idea to compare the combined top prospect list before the '11 draft (here) to the combined list we posted just days ago (here) in order to look at some trends. I am especially focusing on ranking changes on the lists. Before going into detail I wanted to point out that I'm only looking at players who had prospect status and have been within the organization at the time of both lists (so, I'm not looking at the '11 draftees and also not at graduated players like Alex Cobb or Desmond Jennings).
  • New on the lists:
Parker Markel (not ranked to 13th), Oscar Hernandez (18th), Felipe Rivero (24), Russ Canzler (28), Matt Bush (29), Jeff Malm (31) and Yoel Araujo (39).

Most of these players played in summer leagues or in short season ball. Therefore they haven't played (a lot) when we did our mid-season/pre-draft rankings. Their individual performances combined with more information about their stuff made them jump on our lists. Russ Canzlers IL-best 2nd half and Matt Bush showing developments in his pitchability made them also jump on at least one of the lists.
  • Big jumps up:
Enny Romero (13 --> 3), Ryan Brett (24 --> 14), Drew Vettleson (12 --> 7) and Alex Torres (8 --> 4).

That Enny Romero was able to jump from 13 mid-season to 3 post-season shows two things. First of all he became more consistent due to better command in the 2nd half of the season. Secondly it shows that the player-rankings in the system are as volatile as they have never been before. Lots of players are very difficult to compare and rank. And at this point I want to point out that we do those lists because they give a good overview of the talent in the system. They also are fun to do and for most people to look at. But, we don't judge a player by all means, we don't wish any player bad luck and we try to be as objective as we can be.
  • Not changing much:
Hak-Yu Lee (3 --> 2), Chris Archer (9 --> 8), Tim Beckham (10 --> 9), Matt Moore (1 --> 1), Derek Dietrich (19 --> 20), Brandon Guyer (7 --> 10), C.J. Riefenhauser (31 --> 35)
  • Falling back:
Alex Colome (5 --> 11), Scott Shuman (35 --> 43), Joshua Sale (6 --> 15), Nick Barnese (16 --> 25), Tyler Bortnick (17 --> 27), Luke Bailey (20 --> 31), Justin O'Conner (14 --> 30), Ty Morrison (17 --> 33), Wilking Rodriguez (22 --> 40), Albert Suarez (21 --> 40)

There is a clear trend to be seen in this category. Most of us wanted to get a bigger sample size (some of these players haven't had even played by mid-season due to injury or being in SS-ball) in order to learn more about a players' progress. Now, after the season, the sample size is bigger and the players in this category didn't show enough progress in order to stay where they were on our rankings. The exception: Tyler Bortnick. He held his excellent performance level over the full season. The influx of talent through this years' draft migh have been the main reason for him dropping down.
  • Dropping off:
Jacob Thompson (15th mid-season), Todd Glaesmann (23rd), Joseph Cruz (25), Kyle Lobstein (26), Stephen Vogt (27), Cody Rogers (27), Robinson Chirinos (29), Ian Kendall (29), Marquis Fleming (31), Brian Price (31), Jose Lobaton (34), Jesse Hahn (35), Braulio Lara (37)

I'd like to split this group up in order to explain them dropping off our lists. The Thompson/Glaesmann/Cruz/Lobstein/Rogers/Kendall/Hahn/Lara group didn't show enough in the 2nd half of the season (sometimes due to injury) in order to stay on our lists. The players of the Vogt/Chirinos/Fleming/Price/Lobaton group on the other side played extremelly well in the 2nd half and only fell off the lists due to the influx of talent through the '11 draft.

Monday, December 12, 2011

RP's 2012 Combined Rays Top Prospects List

Here's the list combining mine, Scott's, Jake's, and BurGi's lists which were all posted last week. 30 points were assigned to #1, 29 to #2, down to 1 point for #30. In all, 43 players appeared on at least one list. Here are the results:

1. Matt Moore (120)
2. Hak-Ju Lee (116)
3. Enny Romero (108)
4. Alex Torres (104)
5. Mikie Mahtook (101)
6. Taylor Guerrieri (98)
7. Drew Vettleson (90)
8. Chris Archer (87)
9. Tim Beckham (84)
10. Brandon Guyer (83)

11. Alex Colome (80)
12. Tyler Goeddel (76)
13. Parker Markel (69)
14. Ryan Brett (65)
15. Josh Sale (53)
t-16. Jake Hager (51)
t-16. Brandon Martin (51)
t-18. Lenny Linsky (42)
t-18. Oscar Hernandez (42)
20. Derek Dietrich (39)

21. Ryan Carpenter (33)
22. Johnny Eierman (28)
23. Granden Goetzman (27)
24. Felipe Rivero (23)
t-25. Grayson Garvin (22)
t-25. Nick Barnese (22)
27. Tyler Bortnick (19)
28. Russ Canzler (17)
29. Matt Bush (14)
30. Justin O'Conner (13)

t-31. Jeff Malm (12)
t-31. Luke Bailey (12)
t-33. Cameron Seitzer (11)
t-33. Ty Morrison (11)
35. C.J. Riefenhauser (8)
36. John Alexander (6)
t-37. Blake Snell (5)
t-37. James Harris (5)
39. Yoel Araujo (4)
t-40. Wilking Rodriguez (3)
t-40. Albert Suarez (3)

42. Jeff Ames (2)
43. Scott Shuman (1)

Our top 15 hitters and pitchers lists will be beginning soon!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Future Considerations Podcast (Episode 11: Matt Moore's Extension, Personal Top 30 Lists Rundown, MLB Winter Meeting Craziness)

This week, Scott and Kevin lead off by discussing the Matt Moore extension that could keep him as a Ray through 2019. Then they get to the main attraction as the two run down their personal top 30 prospects and take a deeper look at the players they differed on, as well as touching on Jake's and BurGi's list. After the break, they try to make sense of the Angels' and Marlins' spending sprees at the Winter Meetings along with some of the smaller moves and how they all change the 2012 outlook.

[Note: Due to some problems with Libsyn, the embed code may not be working properly. However, the direct mp3 link is, so if you usually listen via the embedded player and it's not working, just click on the direct mp3 link to listen. iTunes downloads should be unaffected by this, but if you notice any problems please let us know.]

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Matt Moore locked up for 5 (and up to 8) years

The Rays just locked Matt Moore up for 5 years (14 mio.) with 3 team options (if excercised: 37.5 mio.). This is EXCELLENT news as it should mean that Matt Moore starts 2012 out of the Rays rotation.

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/8

Venezuelan Winter League
Aguilas de Zulia 8, Leones del Caracas 1
Justin Ruggiano was 1 for 2 with a double, 2 walks and a run scored.
Stephen Vogt was 0 for 4.

Dominican Winter League
Toros del Este 9, Estrellas de Oriente 2
Mayo Acosta was 2 for 4 with a double, RBI and 2 runs scored.

Aguilas Cibaenas 7 Gigantes del Cibao 2
Omar Luna was 1 for 4 with a run scored.

Australian Baseball League
Adelaide Bite 4, Canberra Cavalry 1
Todd Glaesmann was 0 for 4.
Ty Morrison was 1 for 4.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Personal Top 30 List - Kevin Gengler

1. Matt Moore
2. Hak-Ju Lee
3. Enny Romero
4. Alex Torres
5. Mikie Mahtook
6. Drew Vettleson
7. Taylor Guerrieri
8. Chris Archer
9. Tim Beckham
10. Brandon Guyer

11. Tyler Goeddel
12. Alex Colome
13. Ryan Carpenter
14. Parker Markel
15. Josh Sale
16. Ryan Brett
17. Jake Hager
18. Derek Dietrich
19. Brandon Martin
20. Johnny Eierman

21. Matt Bush
22. Grayson Garvin
23. Felipe Rivero
24. Granden Goetzman
25. Lenny Linsky
26. Tyler Bortnick
27. Oscar Hernandez
28. Russ Canzler
29. Jeff Ames
30. Justin O'Conner

Matt Moore at 1, Hak-Ju Lee at 2, and Enny Romero at 3 are clear-cut for me (but obviously I like Romero more than just about everyone else)... and then from there it's ridiculously bunched-together. I'm happy to answer any questions in the comments section.

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/7

Venezuelan Winter League
Leones del Caracas 5, Tigres de Aragua 1
Justin Ruggiano was 1 for 4 with an RBI.
Stephen Vogt was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a walk.

Dominican Winter League
Tigres del Licey 4, Aguilas Cibaenas 0
Omar Luna was 2 for 4.

Leones del Escogido 9, Toros del Este 6
Mayo Acosta was 0 for 3.

Puerto Rico Winter League
Criollos de Caguas 6, Leones de Ponce 2
Sergio Espinosa pitched 1 1/3 no-hit innings.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top 30 Prospect List: Burgi

This time I tried something different. I wanted to calculate my top prospect list in a way which diminishes (at least a bit) the influence of my own gut feelings and which is more objective. Therefore I chose and weighted 4 criterias which should evaluate a players' prospect status. I'd like to make them transparent here in order to get some input from you guys. Before posting them I wanted to say that especially the weights of the criterias is a preliminary one and that I'll keep monitoring and adjusting them. A player can achieve a grade between 0 and 10 in each criterion. I've analysed 94 current Rays prospects with this method:
  1. Stats (weight: 0.25) ... This criterion represents the players' stats of the last years (weighing '11 more than '10, ...). I tried to relativate the stats a bit towards league averages and ballpark factors. Small sample sizes are considered as well (score is then nearer to a 5) [Best score: Matt Moore and Oscar Hernandez with 9.5; worst score: Cesar Perez with 0.5]
  2. Level of play in '12 (weight: 0.125) ... This criterion ranges from "MLB ready/on verge of playing in the majors" in '12 (10 points) to "will play in foreign rookie ball in '12" (0 points). It accounts for a players' development stage, for a players' readiness for and way to the majors as well as also a bit for the probability a certain player has of reaching the majors. [Best score: Moore, Guyer, Canzler, Torres, Lobaton, Chirinos with 10; worst score: Hernandez, De la Cruz a d Araujo with 1]
  3. Relative age in '11 (weight: 0.075) ... In order to relativize the stats-criterion I've also included a criterion which looks at the relative age of a player compared to his level of play in '11 and before. Young players for their level of play get a higher score than older ones. It's important to note that I haven't compared a players' age to the league average age but to the average age of the prospects in this league. By that I tried to eliminate taking life-long minor leaguers into account here. [Best score: Beckham, Lee, Hager, Faria, Martin, Harris Jr. with 9; worst score: Josh Satow with 0]
  4. Talent (weight: 0.55) ... Now it becomes very, very subjective. Within this criterion a players' ceiling is very important. His floor or the probability of reaching his ceiling (as both are included in criterias 1 and 2) have less weight. Nevertheless, the "talent" criterion can't be interpreted as "ceiling" alone as the probabilities of reaching it (based on shown stuff/stats, injury history, level of play, development stage, ...) play a role in it as well. [Best score: Matt Moore with 10; worst score: Josh Satow with 1]
Okay then ... that's the "method" and here are the results (if anybody wants the .xlsx-Sheet, just mail me):
(Click at the image for a larger view)
Some tidbits to the ranking:
  • For those of you who are curious, the next 15 (in that order) are: Lobaton, Chirinos, Guevara, Thompson, Hahn, Bortnick, Riefenhauser, Shuman, Cruz, Glaesmann, Vogt, W. Rodriguez, Kang, Bush and Fleming.
  • I'm very surprised of the following rankings (but after checking the "method", I'm okay with it for now and thus these players stay where they are for now): Russ Canzler at 17 and Oscar Hernandez (14) are higher ranked than anticipated while Tyler Bortnick at 36, Wilking Rodriguez (42), Justin O'Conner (50 ... despite a 7.5 score for talent), Taylor Motter (56) are way lower than I thought ... but, I've checked all the scores and I'm okay with them. And you have to know that I really like Bortnick, O'Conner and Motter as prospects, so no (negative) bias I can think of here.
  • While 4 of the top 5 prospects are pitchers, there only are 12 pitchers in the top 30 (18 in top 40; 22 in top 50). This means that pitching is top heavy while the hitting has very, very much depth but no "elite" prospects (yet).
  • Nine 2011 draftees are in the top 30.
  • The rankings are extremely volatile. A change of the talent level for just a tiny little bit means a ranking-change of up to 5-8 places (especially in the lower parts of the rankings). That's a good indicator for the description of the Rays system: Lots and lots of depth with less "elite" prospects than usual but incredible depth.

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/6

Venezuelan Winter League
Aguilas de Zulia 7, Cardenales de Lara 6
Ryan Reid pitched a scoreless ninth to record the save.

Dominican Winter League
Aguilas Cibaenas 5, Toros del Este 4
Omar Luna was 2 for 5 with a run scored.

Tigres del Licey 5, Gigantes del Cibao 2
Nevin Ashley was 0 for 2 with a walk.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Personal Top 30 List Week - Scott Grauer

Rays Prospect readers, if you're not familiar with the Future Considerations podcast, first of all I'd recommend listening, although I don't myself so maybe not. Secondly, I'm Scott, Kevin's co-host of the show. Thanks to him for giving me this opportunity to do some written work for the site. My credibility in the Rays community is probably a 20 on the scouting scale, but I'd like to at least to reach below average at some point. Lists are always fun to make, and I hope I can justify my opinions for you. The challenge in creating lists is measuring upside against proximity to majors, and it's especially difficult when it comes to comparing pitchers to position players. Enjoy the list and thanks for reading.

1. Matt Moore, LHP - This is a slam dunk pick. It would be a shame if he started in AAA due to service time considerations, but that's a debate for another day. He's one of a handful of prospects in the minors with ace potential, and he's likely a top three prospect in all of baseball.

2. Hak-Ju Lee, SS - Lee provides a combination of high end talent and close proximity to the majors. He'll only be 21 on Opening Day 2012, so there's no reason to worry about his bad month at Montgomery to finish the season. He could provide very good defense at shortstop and hit at the top of a major league lineup.

3. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP - For now, it seems like the make-up questions surrounding Guerrieri at draft time were overblown. Thanks to MLB's late signing deadline, he hasn't made his pro debut yet, and he could be headed for Princeton next June. The Rays were fortunate to get a pitcher with his talent with the 24th pick.

4. Mikie Mahtook, CF - Like Guerrieri, the Rays could have gotten a bit of a steal with Mahtook being available with the 31st pick. He was also unable to make his official pro debut, but he reported to the Arizona Fall League and hit very well. He could finish the season at Montgomery if all goes well, but I expect him to start the season with Charlotte.

5. Enny Romero, LHP - Romero's command took a big step backwards in his full season debut, but 140 strikeouts in 114 innings showed his stuff is as advertised. If his increase in walks is just a blip on the radar, his ranking could be even higher next year. Matt Moore made progress from his age 20 to 21 season moving from Bowling Green to Charlotte, and Romero has that opportunity in 2012.

6. Brandon Martin, SS - I'm anticipating that I'll have Martin higher than the rest of the staff, so I'll pre-emptively explain. Besides Lee, he has a better chance to stay at shortstop than anyone else in the system with his strong arm and athleticism. His bat showed a lot of improvement in his senior season, and he'll play most of next season at only 18 years old. Princeton will likely be where he starts.

7. Parker Markel, RHP - Markel was only a 39th round pick out of Yavapai JC in 2010, but the Rays convinced him to sign and could have a tremendous steal. Improvements in his mechanics helped him add velocity to his fastball into the mid 90's, and he complements it with a potential plus slider and good changeup. His strikeout numbers with Hudson Valley didn't reflect his stuff, and he'll look to improve his K/9 with Bowling Green in 2012.

8. Alex Torres, LHP - Torres has impressive stuff and even has a little major league experience under his belt, but questions about his future role are why I don't have him higher. He has over 150 strikeouts in three consecutive seasons, but he has a lot of trouble throwing strikes. If he can't iron out his command and control issues, he could still be a very good set up man with the potential to pitch more than one inning at at time.

9. Tyler Goeddel, 3B - Goeddel is another player who is yet to make his pro debut, but his tools have to interest any Rays fan. His 6'4, 170 pound frame shows that he can add strength and hit for more power to go along with his great bat speed. He's not a bat only player either; his above average arm and athleticism should make him a good third baseman. He should start his pro career in Princeton.

10. Chris Archer, RHP - Like Torres, Archer frequently displays command and control issues. His fastball and slider combination could make him a very good late inning reliever, but his changeup is improving too. His career BB/9 is 5.2, and like Torres, he needs to start throwing strikes consistently soon to fulfill his potential in the rotation. He finished 2011 with Durham, and he'll be back there to start 2012.

11. Alex Colome, RHP - I admit that this may be a few spots low for Colome. If he pitches well in AA in 2012, there will be no reason to keep him out of the top 10. His strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction in 2011, and a pitcher with his stuff should be striking out more than seven batters per nine innings. If he has the durability and ability to maintain his stuff through multiple innings which has been a problem, he can be a very good starter. If not, he'll have to become a reliever, albeit a very good one.

12. Drew Vettleson, COF - Unlike fellow Washington prep bat Josh Sale, Vettleson adjusted to pro ball nicely in 2011. He has some better secondary skills than Sale and won't need to be quite so reliant on his bat to advance. He's a smart baserunner with a strong arm and could profile in right field. He should get a chance at Bowling Green in 2012, and the Rays would like to see him hit lefties better and add some power.

13. Jake Hager, SS - The Rays surprised many when they took Hager 32nd overall, and the reports on him have been good so far. His defense may be better than first expected, and his assignment directly to Princeton after signing suggests he's more polished than the typical high school player. His competitiveness should allow his tools to play up in game action, similar to Ryan Brett.

14. Tim Beckham, SS - Without a doubt, this will inevitably be lost in the ether of the internet's never ending Tim Beckham debate. He's done a good steadily advancing through the system without being overmatched, but he still has many questions to answer. Will his defense be good enough to stick at shortstop? Will his bat be good enough to profile at another position if necessary? The best word to describe his career so far may be nondescript.

15. Brandon Guyer, OF - Guyer's upside probably isn't as an every day major leaguer, but he's ready to play a role in the big leagues now. He doesn't have the athleticism to be a regular in CF or the bat to profile in a corner, but he should still have value as a platoon player against lefties with his all-around skill set.

16. Ryan Brett, 2B - Brett is a tough player to evaluate. His pro career has been very good so far, and his hit tool, patience and competitiveness are all better than average. That skillset can lead to a major league career, but with his size and defensive questions, I'd just like to see how he does when he gets a taste of a full season league with Bowling Green in 2012. He could easily be higher.

17. Nick Barnese, RHP - As we talked about in episode 9 of the podcast, Barnese had a bit of an unusual season. Typically players with average stuff get exposed in AA with a sharp decline in strikeout rate and allowing harder and more frequent contact. Barnese's H/9 remained the same and only saw a slight decrease in his K/9. Instead, his BB/9 shot up to 4.4, and he continued to battle injury problems. I can't write him off yet, but he needs to show improvement and stay healthy in 2012.

18. Grayson Garvin, LHP - Injury concerns cost Garvin a few hundred thousand dollars, but it wasn't a big enough issue to keep him from signing entirely. His stock rose on the heels of a great junior season at Vanderbilt and a great Cape Cod performance the previous summer. If his slider improves, he could be a solid starter, but he could be an effective reliever with his fastball/changeup combo.

19. Lenny Linsky, RHP - Linsky is the first true reliever I have on my list and for good reason. He should rise through the system quickly and could make an impact late in games for the Rays soon. As expected, he dominated the New York Penn League, and he could even reach Montgomery by the end of 2012. His fastball and slider have good velocity and sink.

20. Ryan Carpenter, LHP - As Kevin showed in Prospect A-Z recently, Carpenter and Garvin are quite similar. They're both big bodied lefties, and Carpenter's ceiling is probably similar to Garvin's. His fastball velocity fluctuates, but with his size, it could always return to its previous heights. Carpenter is a player I like, and he could easily be higher on this list next year.

21. Granden Goetzman, COF - Goetzman was able to sign not long after the draft, but an injury cut short his season. The reports from his time in the GCL weren't great, but it wouldn't be fair to judge him from a few weeks of action. If he doesn't have five tool talent, he's close to it with an advanced hit tool, above average power and good athleticism. He needs to get healthy next year and show his talent at Princeton.

22. Johnny Eierman, SS - Eierman has a lot of talent if he can find a defensive home. He's fast, produces nice bat speed that helps him generate potential plus power along with his high effort swing. He'll need to cut down on the length of his swing to consistently hit better pitching, but it shouldn't stop him from developing his power. He played shortstop in high school, but he may eventually find himself in the outfield with an average arm and bad hands.

23. Felipe Rivero, LHP - I might have Rivero too low here. In his stateside debut, he had a solid season with Princeton. His ERA was a bit worse than the league average, but he had a great K:BB ratio of 4.38. His impressive 8.5 K/9 rate came with improved fastball velocity to go along with his plus curveball. Moving forward, he'll have to prove he has the durability to handle a full workload with his 6'0, 150 pound frame and develop a third pitch, but his fastball and curveball could make him a reliever down the road.

24. Josh Sale, COF - It's safe to say that Sale had a disappointing pro debut. He's an unathletic player with a below average arm, and he has to be carried by his potential middle of the order bat. He hit just .210 without much power and left fans hoping his low BABIP was an indicator that he wasn't very lucky and not that he wasn't making hard contact. The coaching staff made some changes to his swing near the end of the year and he finished the season well, and next year he needs to show that they're changes with a long-term positive effect and not just a brief hot streak.

25. Derek Dietrich, SS - When Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee were simultaneously promoted to higher levels, it was believed by many that Dietrich would be promoted from Bowling Green to Charlotte to take Lee's spot, but he spent the entire season in the Midwest League. He showed great power for the middle infielder, slugging a little over .500 in a pitchers league. There are some question marks though which is why I gave him a lower ranking than most probably will. He can't play shortstop, so will his bat be good enough to profile in a corner position? His plate approach isn't great, and I just want to see how he performs at a higher level.

26. Tyler Bortnick, 2B - I initially didn't have Bortnick in my top 30, but it's difficult to not acknowledge the solid season he had with Charlotte. He may be short on tools, but he could eventually reach the majors in a bench role. He's been a .300 hitter in his career so far with a very good plate approach. He's fast, and he's a smart baserunner that stole 43 bases with only 47 attempts this season. He's never going to hit for power, but if he shows he can play short or third base in a pinch, he could be a utility player.

27. Matt Bush, RHP - Bush is one of the best stories in the minors, and now it looks like he could be a major league reliever. After being drafted first overall and failing as a shortstop with the Padres, he was eventually converted to reliever and after a serious elbow injury, trade to the Blue Jays and a subsequent release, he landed with the Rays. It appears that he's moved past his off-field issues and is showing the stuff to pitch in the majors. If he can harness his hard fastball and slider and throw more strikes, he'll get off the short list of first overall picks to never play in the majors.

28. Wilking Rodriguez, RHP - Rodriguez battled injuries most of this season after finishing last year with a career high of 106.1 IP while wearing down at the end of the season. With his slight 6'1, 160 pound frame, injuries and durability may always be a concern. When he's healthy, he'll show a fastball with nice velocity and movement, and he has a feel for a curveball and changeup. He was supposed to pitch at Charlotte in 2011, but his injury held him back at Bowling Green another year. He has the stuff to move up on this list if he can pitch a full season.

29. James Harris, CF - The Rays took Harris a little sooner than anyone expected, but if they wanted a premium athlete, they got their man. His top notch speed is an asset both on the bases and while he's roaming center field, but his arm is just okay in the field. He's expected to develop into a player able to get on base frequently which would be a huge asset at the top of the lineup when combined with his patience. It's going to take some time for him to develop, and he might drop out of the top 30 in his first couple years because he's so raw.

30. Oscar Hernandez, C - If Hernandez doesn't have the greatest variance of prospects ranked here this week, I'd be surprised. I just don't know where to put him. His numbers were absolutely incredible, but how much can be gleaned from that? Teams are abandoning Venezuela and some are taking their best prospects out of there and into the Dominican Summer League, so the competition is watered down. The Rays' affiliate's stadium is very hitter friendly, but the few reports about him say that there is some talent there. I'm interested to see how he does in the states next season.

This has probably gone on long enough already, but I'll provide some more general commentary and self-critique:

-Shiny new toy syndrome - I admit that I'm a serial offender of this. Four players in my top 10 are from the 2011 draft class, and 1/3 of my total list is from June's draft. Since the Rays had so many early picks it's not shocking, but I may have still been too aggressive with them. I justify it to myself because the only thing I have to go on when evaluating them is a scouting report from high school or college and perhaps a small sample size of games. That doesn't necessarily make it right, but in a way, they haven't had a chance to fail yet. The only information on them is a very favorable scouting report, and we all know that warts will start showing for all of these guys once they take the field.

-Undervaluing the scrappy players - My guess is many readers hate this term and frankly so do I, so let me explain. Players like Brett and Bortnick have value beyond the five tools. Their makeup and effort allow their tools to play up and they put up better statistics than some of their teammates that look better in a uniform. I think it's tough to evaluate those players because one more promotion and their lack of natural ability could catch up to them, not that those guys are stiff. If they keep performing above their perceived talent level, it'll be time to acknowledge they're better than the initial reports say, and I'm prepared to do that.

Readers, it's been fun. I hope I didn't prove to be completely unknowledgeable and that I have a chance to write for you again in the future. Thanks for reading.

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/5

Venezuelan Winter League
Leones del Caracas 13, Caribes de Anzoategui 3
Justin Ruggiano was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Stephen Vogt was 1 for 5 with a double, RBI and a run scored.

Australian Baseball League
Perth Heat 18, Canberra Calvary 0
Todd Glaesmann was 1 for 4.
Ty Morrison was 1 for 3.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Personal Top 30 List Week - Jake Larsen

Each day this week we'll be running a personal top 30 prospect list from someone at the site. Batting leadoff is Jake Larsen:

1. Matt Moore
2. Hak-Ju Lee
3. Enny Romero
4. Taylor Guerrieri
5. Alex Torres
6. Drew Vettleson
7. Mikie Mahtook
8. Tim Beckham
9. Ryan Brett
10. Brandon Guyer

11. Oscar Hernandez
12. Tyler Goeddel
13. Alex Colome
14. Jake Hager
15. Chris Archer
16. Lenny Linsky
17. Josh Sale
18. Brandon Martin
19. Justin O'Conner
20. Cameron Seitzer

21. Parker Markel
22. Tyler Bortnick
23. CJ Reifenhauser
24. Luke Bailey
25. John Alexander
26. Blake Snell
27. Yoel Araujo
28. James Harris
29. Johnny Eierman
30. Scott Shuman
31. Jesse Hahn

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/4

Venezuelan Winter League
Cardenales de Lara 3, Leones del Caracas 2 (5 innings)
Justin Ruggiano was 1 for 2 with a 2 run homer.
Stephen Vogt was 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored.

Dominican Winter League
Aguilas Cibaenas 4, Tigres del Licey 0
Omar Luna was 0 for 3.

Leones del Escogido 6, Toros del Este 3
Mayo Acosta was 0 for 1.

Estrellas de Oriente 2, Gigantes del Cibao 1
Nevin Ashley was 0 for 3.

Australian Baseball League
Canberra Calvary 6, Perth Heat 3
Todd Glaesmann was 2 for 5 with a run scored.
Ty Morrison was 1 for 3 with 2 RBI's.

Puerto Rico Winter League
Leones de Ponce 5, Indios de Mayaquez 3
Sergio Espinosa pitched 2 scoreless innings with 2 strikeouts and a hit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Future Considerations Podcast (Episode 10: Josh Lueke Trade, Rule 5 Eligibles, Corner Outfield Prospects)

This week, Scott and Kevin break down the John Jaso for Josh Lueke trade, how fans could root for him, and where Jaso exiting leaves the catching situation, Andrew Friedman interviewing for the GM job with the Astros and some Rays prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this week. After the break, they tackle their position of the week (corner outfielders) and move into some general MLB news, including the closer carousel and Bobby Valentine.

Questions or comments? E-mail

Music is from Isle of Q

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Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/3

Venezuelan Winter League
Cardenales de Lara 1, Leones del Caracas
Justin Ruggiano was 0 for 4.
Stephen Vogt was 0 for 3.

Aguilas del Zulia 3, Tigres de Aragua 2 (12 innings)
Ryan Reid allowed a run on 4 hits with 3 strikeouts and a walk to earn the win.

Dominican Winter League
Aguilas Cibaenas 7, Leones del Escogido 6 (17 innings)
Omar Luna was 2 for 2.

Gigantes del Cibao 9, Toros del Este 3
Nevin Ashley was 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Australian Baseball League
Adelaide Bite 5, Melbournes Aces 4
Darryl George was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Canberra Calvary 12, Perth Heat 3
Todd Glaesmann was 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored.
Ty Morrison was 2 for 4 with a double, RBI and a run scored.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/2

Dominican Winter League
Gigantes del Cibao 6, Leones del Escogido 3
Nevin Ashley was 0 for 4.

Tigres de Licey 4, Toros del Este 1
Mayo Acosta entered the games as a defensive substitution in the ninth.

Aguilas Cibaenas 15, Estrellas de Oriente 2
Omar Luna was 0 for 1.

Australian Baseball League
Adelaide Bite 9, Melbourne Aces 6
Darryl George was 0 for 2.

Melbourne Aces 3, Adelaide Bite 2
Darryl George started at third base but was pulled before getting his first at-bat.

Canberra Calvary 7, Perth Heat 0
Todd Glaesmann was 0 for 3 with 2 walks and a run scored.
Ty Morrison was 1 for 5 with a run scored.

Puerto Rico Winter League
Leones de Ponce 2, Indios de Mayaguez 0
Sergio Espinosa pitched a no-hit inning.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 12/1

Venezuelan Winter League
Leones del Caracas 3, Caribes de Anzoategui 2 (11 innings)
Justin Ruggiano was 0 for 4.
Stephen Vogt was 0 for 4 with a walk.

Australian Baseball League
Melbourne Aces 4, Adelaide Bite 0
Darryl George was 0 for 3 with a walk.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter League Scores and Highlights from 11/30

Venezuelan Winter League
Tigres de Aragua 6, Leones del Caracas 4
Justin Ruggiano was 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored.
Stephen Vogt was 1 for 4.

Dominican Winter League
Aguilas Cibaenas 7, Leones del Escogido 6 (12 innings)
Omar Luna was 0 for 1.

Toros del Este 13, Gigantes del Cibao 4
Nevin Ashley was 1 for 2.

Puerto Rico Winter League
Leones de Ponce 3, Criollos de Caguas 1
Sergio Espinosa pitched a no-hit frame, striking out all three hitters faced.