Baseball America releases the Rays’ top ten prospects for 2023
Baseball America has released its top ten prospects for the Rays organization, which includes a familiar name at the top of the list – you’ve seen him in the majors! — but new names for those who don’t follow the Rays system closely, making this year’s roster a bit more dynamic than most.
The full list can be found here here and it’s behind a paywall, but it’s also well worth reading as profiles can clock in at around 500 words. So while we’ll provide you with some details below, you’ll need to check out Baseball America for the complete information on each player.
1. Shane Baz, RHP
When healthy, Baz has some of the best pure stuff in baseball. His 94-99 mph fastball is very similar to Gerrit Cole’s in terms of velocity and movement.
Scouting degrees: Fastball: 80. Slider: 60. Curveball: 45. Changeup: 50. Control: 60
At this point, you should be familiar with Shane Baz, one of baseball’s top pitching prospects who is coming off two elbow surgeries in 2022 (preseason for loose ends and Tommy John surgery in July). Baz’s first five of six starts of the season, before the injury, showed he has the stuff. Now it’s a matter of getting back on the mound.
2. Curtis Mead, 2B/3B
Mead should become the first regular Australian position player of the 21st century […] one of the best pure hitters in the minors. He ranked among the best in the minors in average exit velocity (91 mph) and hard hitting percentage (over 50%). He’s a gunner who will adjust his position and setup to see what works and what doesn’t, in part because his hands work so well. Mead’s swing is relatively level and favors line drives and high batting averages more than massive home run numbers, but he is expected to become a 25+ home run threat as he learns to better utilize the batter counts.
Scouting degrees: Hitting: 70. Power: 60. Running: 40. Fielding: 45. Arm: 40.
Because of concerns about arm strength and elbow health, BA projects Mead to be a regular at second base.
3. Taj Bradley, RHP
Bradley’s fastball and cutter/slider give him a pair of big-league-ready pitches. […] Bradley’s late-season struggles in Triple-A are likely helpful for his long-term development. His intelligence and athleticism make him likely to become a mid-rotation starter
Scouting degrees: Fastball: 65. Curveball: 40. Changeup: 45. Cutter: 60. Control: 60
Bradley has proven to be the real deal and may be one of the few prospects who developed well during the pandemic, which limited the number of innings in the arm after being drafted as a pitcher despite a limited track record at the time in 2015.
4. Carson Williams, SS
There were no doubts about Williams’ defense, but his bat has proven better than expected. He showed more power all year in 2022 […] His 32% put rate should improve as he gains more experience.
Scouting degrees: Hitting: 40. Power: 60. Running: 55. Fielding: 60. Arm: 70
Williams is tall (6′ 2”) and plays tall, with a soft but open approach to his defense. He was a stud in Low-A this season, with 19 HR, 22 2B and 28 SB. Overall, it’s nice to see that the top pick in the 2021 draft has already been reached, but he’ll have to stick with it.
5. Kyle Manzardo, 1B
Manzardo’s stance and left swing are simple and timely. He is a pure hitter that presents pitchers with a puzzle. It rarely swings and misses […] Despite his poor foot speed, Manzardo is a competent first baseman
Scouting degrees: Hit: 70. Power: 55. Run: 20. Field: 50. Arm: 50
Manzardo, a 2021 second-round stat draft pick, has proven the Rays’ process right with this pick that was surprising at the time. Hitting Double-A was his first big test, and Manzardo passed with flying colors.
6. Jonathan Aranda, 2B
Aranda’s bat is League-ready, but with his defensive limitations, his best shot at a regular job in Tampa Bay is to claim a spot as a first baseman/DH who can play anywhere else.
Scouting degrees: Hit: 65. Power: 50. Run: 30. Field: 40. Arm: 50
Aranda made his major league debut last year with a bat that went hot and then cold.
7. Mason Auer, OF
has proven to have more polish than expected. It has a smooth and level swing with some adjustability. […] it makes sense to put the barrel on the ball. He also has more raw power and above-average game power.
Scouting degrees: Hitting: 55. Power: 55. Running: 70. Fielding: 55. Arm: 80
It’s hard to look at these scouting grades (including pulling out BA’s 80 grade) and wonder how Light Tower Auer is only seventh on this list, but combine it with the insinuation in the editorial that Auer is ” better”. Josh Lowe and it boggles the brain. Combine that power: 15 HR, 21 2B, 12 3B (the most in all the minors) with a sub-25% strikeout rate and over 10% BB rate, the Rays have something special in the fifth round of selection of 2021. .
8. Junior Caminero, 3B
Caminero is physically more mature than many 18-year-olds […] A thinker at the plate, Caminero rarely makes the same mistake twice.
Scouting degrees: Hitting: 50. Power: 60. Running: 45. Fielding: 45. Arm: 60
Acquired for Tobias Myers last offseason, in a manner consistent with the Rays dealing a prospect who needs to be added to the roster for a teenager willing to perform beyond his years. Caminero made his US debut with a bang, reaching Low-A earlier than expected. Its position is still undetermined, but it is far enough away that there is no problem. BA projects his power to be the best in the Rays system.
9. Mason Montgomery, LHP
Montgomery’s plus fastball has a loft and flat approach angle to baffle hitters. His fastball plays above his 89-94 mph velocity because of his movement […] Montgomery’s profile as a smart lefty with a fastball and fringe-average secondary doesn’t always work against more advanced hitters. He will need to develop his slider and changeup better as he moves up the ladder
Scouting degrees: Fastball: 60. Slider: 45. Changeup: 40. Control: 55
The Rays’ 2021 sixth-round pick shows that this was a solid draft for Tampa Bay. Montgomery has already made it to Double-A, which is a very quick rise for any Rays draft pick. BA’s top ten ranking is aggressive given the lack of major league ready secondaries right now.
10. Cole Wilcox, RHP
Assuming his arm strength returns to pre-surgery levels by 2023, Wilcox should profile as a pen/slider power pitcher.
Scouting degrees: Fastball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 45. Control: 60
Acquired in the Blake Snell trade but sidelined by Tommy John, Wilcox returned to health late last year with four essentially rehab appearances in Low-A to finish the year. If he can get back in shape in 2023, he’ll add to the Rays’ prospect list again.
A couple of names missing from the list get honorable mentions from BA: SS Greg Jones is listed as the fastest baserunner, INF Osleivis Basabe with the most strike zone discipline, and Austin Vernon (who had a season-ending back injury) with the best shift.
In fact, here are the full launch honors:
- Best fastball: Shane Baz
- Best Curveball: Calvin Faucher
- Best Slider: Shane Baz
- Best Change: Austin Vernon
- Best Control: Taj Bradley
Don’t sue me, BA!
The 2022 top pick would normally jump into the Rays’ top ten, but 1B Xavier Isaac only received a write-up at the questions and answers after a question from a man named Adam in Tennessee. Also discussed in the link are worthy top ten names like INF Willy Vasquez, 2B Cooper Kinney, SS Greg Jones, and SS Carlos Colmanerez.
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