Rays Plethora of Top Prospects
MLB Pipeline released their top 100 list last week, which is my favorite time of the year. This signals the ramp up to spring training and the start of a new year. Given last years weird season (among everything else) the list hasn’t really fluctuated. What sticks out to me the most is the sheer amount of prospects the Rays have. They feature eight players in the top 100, and after coming off a World Series run, they’re poised to stick around for a while. Here’s a quick profile on each player:
(1) Wander Franco, SS, Expected 2021, Future Value 80/80
For the second year in a row, Wander Franco tops the MLB’s prospect list. This switch hitting shortstop has all of the tools to be the centerpiece of an offense. He’s averaged more walks than strikeouts and hits most of his homers from the left side of the plate. Defensively, Franco plays an above average shortstop, but with his compact build, he may shift over to third or second later in his career. When a prospect grades at an 80, it's the best possible grade you can have. This means, the prospect is expected to have around a 7 WAR per season, making them an MVP candidate for years to come.
(19) Luis Patiño, RHP, 2021, FV 60/80
This off-season, the Rays traded ace Blake Snell in exchange for Luis Patiño, Francisco Mejía, and two other
prospects. Patiño has only been pitching for five
years, but he’s progressed a long way. Since coming into the league in 2017, he’s gained 40lbs, and added 10 MPH of velocity to his fastball. He regularly sits around 95mph, but can top out at 99mph. His short frame (for a pitcher) at 6’ and short arms leave question for his accuracy, but the makeup for a top of the rotation starter is there.
(34) Randy Arozarena, OF, 2021, FV 60/80
Another product of a trade, Arozarena was swapped over from the Cardinals for prospect pitcher Matthew Liberatore. We already saw Arozarena’s immense playoff run this past postseason. He hit 10 home runs and batted .421 in the ALDS. Looking at his power and strikeout numbers, it would be hard to recreate what he did last year. However, I’m expecting the strikeout rate (18%) to drop and the OBP to rise, given pitchers will now pitch to him as the power hitter they saw from the playoffs. He has the tools to be an above average outfielder and a mainstay in the Rays lineup.
(50) Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS, 2021, FV 60/80
Another switch hitting prospect, Brujan has been in the Rays farm since 2014. He does make a good amount of contact, but really is an average hitter at this point (career .780 OPS in the minors). He currently resides in the infield, but his 70 value speed can be useful in center field. With that speed, Brujan swiped 48 bases in 2019 and 55 in 2018.
(72) Brendan McKay, LHP, 2021, FV 55/80
McKay has been all over the top 100 list for a couple of years now. In August, McKay ended up getting shoulder surgery, which has led to him dropping to 72. McKay athleticism has him stuck between being a pitcher and a position player. As a pitcher, he has a decent repertoire, with a mid 90’s fastball and a commanding cutter. He also has power as a hitter. In college, he hit 18 homers his last year, which led to the allure of this prospect. He may not be ready for the league this year as he is still rehabbing the shoulder.
(84) Shane McClanahan, LHP, 2021, FV 50/80
McClanahan did get a chance to compete in the playoffs this past year, but it wasn’t pretty. In 4.1 IP, he gave up two homers and averaged a 2.3 WHIP. Regardless, McClanahan has an electric fastball, regularly averaging 97mph, topping out at 101mph. To start his career, he doesn’t have the best control, but he did manage 154 Ks in 120.2IP in Double A in 2019. His projection is a top tier reliever, which the Rays seem to have plenty of.
(85) Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, 2022, FV 50/80
Guess what? Edwards was from another trade that the Rays made this past season, along with Hunter Renfroe, swapping for Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth. Edwards struggles to hit the ball hard. In 756 plate appearances in the minors, he’s hit one home run. Edwards lacks power, but makes up for it in speed. He’s one of very few 80 grade run prospects that exist. He’ll turn singles into doubles, and will be a menace on the base paths. He’ll most likely be a utility player/pinch runner at his current projection.
(90) Shane Baz, RHP, 2022, FV 50/80
Another prospect, another trade. Baz was acquired in the trade Pirates that sent Chris Archer away. Baz’s fastball has touched 101 and has a potential grade of 70. His curve and cutter also are above average with a future value of 60. In 2019, Baz put together a sold season in Class A with a 2.99 ERA in 81IP. Obviously with an electric fastball comes with the command, averaging 4.1 BB/9 in that same Class A season.