Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
This is a similar system to San Diego’s, in that its greatest strength is premium depth at nearly every position. Of course, Matt Moore is a far better prospect than anyone the Padres have, but beyond Moore and Hak-Ju Lee, there aren’t any players that look like strong bets to become well above-average. That said, given the sheer quantity of B/B-/C+ grade guys, there are bound to be several breakouts here. It’s easy to get a little too excited about this system if you focus on Moore and Lee and happen to have a few favorites beyond them; it’s just as easy to go “They only have two top 100 guys, so it’s not that great.” Overall, it’s clearly a top-10 collection of talent, and its strengths become more apparent with closer inspection. In particular, the very early returns on the 2011 draft class are quite encouraging.
One thing you’ll see with this: the shortstop depth is insane. I’d love for my A’s to pry one of Tampa’s half-dozen good shortstop prospects away in a deal, but that’s neither here nor there.
Position Player Upside: B
Position Player Depth: A-
Pitching Upside: B+
Pitching Depth: A
System Grade: A-
Catcher: Stephen Vogt. Vogt is a lefty-swinging backstop with a solid bat; he ripped 59 extra-base hits in the upper minors last year, hitting .299/.335/.494. He’s a career .305/.362/.453 hitter. Vogt is 27, so don’t expect miracles from him, but he could be the long half of a platoon while also playing first base and the outfield corners. A quirky player, but a potentially valuable one from a roster construction standpoint. Grade: C+
First base: Cameron Seitzer. First base prospects are a bad bet, especially when they’ve never played in the upper minors. Seitzer hasn’t even seen full-season ball yet, spending 2011 in the hitter-friendly Appalachian League in his pro debut. He hit .285/.407/.498 there, walking nearly as much as he struck out, so that’s good, but he’s got a long way to go before he’ll look like a good bet to contribute in the majors. Grade: C
Second base: Ryan Brett. Brett is another player who hasn’t played above the Appy League, but he posted a similar batting line to Seitzer (.300/.370/.471) despite being nearly two years younger. At a squat 5’9″, Brett lacks physical projection, but he’s a grinder with a fantastic approach and great contact skills. He needs to work on his defensive fundamentals, but with added polish, he could be a switch-hitting version of Jeff Keppinger–i.e. one who is effective against lefties and righties. Grade: B-
Third base: Tyler Goeddel. The #41 pick in 2011, Goeddel is completely untested, but he is considered to have good polish for a high school hitter, and he should stick at third base. Obviously, he’s far away, and his power ceiling is somewhat in question, but he has a projectable frame and very good athleticism. Grade: B-
Shortstop: Hak-Ju Lee. Lee had a breakout season in High-A in 2010, hitting .318/.383/.443 in the tough Florida State league environment. His glove has never been in question, and he should be one of the best defensive shortstops in the majors when he gets there. He also boasts a good approach and solid contact skills, and his 6’2″ frame hints at a tick of power yet to come. A potential Rafael Furcal-type contributor, hopefully with better health than Furcal had. Grade: A-
Outfielder #1: Mikie Mahtook. Mahtook was the #31 pick in the 2011 draft out of LSU, and immediately hit .338/.410/.544 in the AFL. He’s more of a polished solid-across-the-board type than a future star, but he should move quickly and could be a solid starting outfielder. The biggest question is which outfield spot he’ll best profile for. Grade: B
Outfielder #2: Brandon Guyer. Guyer hit .344/.398/.588 in Double-A in 2010, and he followed that up with a .312/.384/.521 showing in Triple-A last year. He’s already 26, so like Vogt, his upside is somewhat limited. He’s also a corner outfielder who’s never even hit 15 home runs in a season, which further hammers that point home. Still, he could provide good defense and average offense in right field, and he obviously has a high floor. Grade: B-
Outfielder #3: Drew Vettleson. Vettleson is a former supplemental pick who hit .282/.357/.462 in the Appy in his pro debut, which wasn’t overwhelming for a right fielder in that league. Like Mahtook and Guyer, he’s a player with a wide base of skills who doesn’t have one overwhelming area of strength and who probably doesn’t fit in center field, which limits his potential impact. He’s also the furthest away of the trio, obviously. Grade: C+
Starting Pitcher #1 Matt Moore. If you’re reading this list, you don’t need me to tell you that Matt Moore is truly special, and the best pitching prospect in the game. Grade: A
Starting Pitcher #2: Taylor Guerrieri. The 24th pick in 2011, Guerrieri was considered a steal. He’s a big, athletic high school righthander with a clean delivery, excellent velocity, and a solid breaking ball. He obviously needs to prove himself in the pro ranks, and like most high school pitchers, he’ll need to work on his secondary stuff and durability, but he has a very impressive ceiling. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #3: Enny Romero. Romero struck out over 11 batters per nine innings in Low-A as a 20-year-old, and he boasts an impressive fastball/curve combination from the left side. He needs to cut his walks dramatically, though, as he’s struggled with them every year except 2010. Like most of the top arms in this system, if he could solve the control woes, he could be a #3 starter or perhaps better, but the control is a significant question mark. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #4: Alex Torres. Torres has a stunning three-pitch mix when he’s on, and he’s major-league ready now, but he’s another guy who regularly walks upward of five batters per nine innings. Given his small stature and advanced age, not to mention the Rays’ extreme rotation depth, he’ll likely end up in the bullpen, where his control will be less of an issue, though he’d be an interesting guy for a team like the Orioles to scoop up and try to fix as a starter. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #5: Blake Snell. The 52nd overall pick in 2011, Snell is often lost in the shuffle of pitchers and 2011 draft picks in this system, but he shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s a tall, projectable lefty who showed the ability to get strikeouts and groundballs in his GCL debut, good for a 2.48 FIP. He already sits in the 88-91 mph range and shows good life, and he has two offspeed offerings that need tightening but aren’t bad for his age. A very interesting sleeper who everybody could be talking about a year from now. Grade: B-
Relief Pitcher #1: Lenny Linsky. A 2nd-round pick in 2011, Linsky is a power sinker/slider reliever who pitched very well in the low minors upon signing and should move quickly. He may not have closer upside, but he should be a very effective high-leverage righthander in short order. Grade: C+
Relief Pitcher #2: Matt Bush. The former #1 overall pick has reinvented himself as a short, hard-throwing righty. Given his odd career path, he’s very old, already 26, and he has yet to see Triple-A, so it’s tough to know how much more room he has for growth–on one hand, he’s new to pitching, while on the other, he’s near the typical peak age. He’s struck out 14.2 batters per nine innings in his career thanks to his supreme velocity, so perhaps he can be a smaller Kyle Farnsworth. Grade: C+
Best of the Rest
#1.) Brandon Martin, SS. Yet another high 2011 pick (38th overall), Martin just might be my favorite player of the Rays’ 2011 class–he’s probably ahead of Mahtook, and he’s nearly on par with Guerreri. I can’t emphasize enough how eye-opening Rany Jazayerli’s work on high school hitter age is, and it bodes well for Martin, who not only didn’t turn 18 until late August, but shows impressive polish that belies his youth. He has five-tool ability and also brings a solid approach to the table. Martin projects to stay at shortstop down the line and could be a high-average, high-OBP hitter with 10-15 home runs–in other words, if he has a good 2012, he’ll be a prospect everybody gets to know. Grade: B
#2.) Jake Hager, SS. Hager was drafted six picks ahead of Martin, but he’s half a year older (again, that’s a pretty big deal) and is a bigger player who may struggle to stay in the middle of the diamond. He also needs to polish up his plate discipline, though he has a strong feel for contact and projects to hit for some power as he grows into his frame. He could be a third baseman with average offense and solid defense down the line. Grade: B-
#3.) Tim Beckham, SS. The former first overall pick has never overwhelmed at any level, but he’s a career .265/.331/.382 hitter who reached Triple-A at 21, and he topped ten homers for the first time last year. There’s increasing sentiment that he’s going to have to move to third base down the line, so he’ll need every bit of power he can get. I get a bit of a Wilson Betemit vibe here, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Grade: B-
#4.) Tyler Bortnick, 2B. Bortnick hit .306/.428/.432 in the tough FSL, which looks great until you realize he turned 24 in the middle of the season. Still, though, he’s got a fantastic approach, plays a good second base, steals bases at a tremendous clip (43-for-47 last year), and isn’t a completely punchless hitter. He’ll need to move quickly, but could evolve into a solid second baseman who hits at the top of the order. Grade: B-
#5.) Derek Dietrich, SS. A second-round pick in 2010, Dietrich hit .277/.346/.502 in Low-A in his first full season. Like Hager, he’s not the sort of athlete that profiles well for shortstop long-term, which means he’ll likely move to third base. His plate discipline (128/38 K/BB) is also of some concern, but if he can cut down the strikeouts by just a few ticks, his power lefty bat should be worth playing at third base. Grade: B-
#6.) Chris Archer, RHP. Like Romero, Archer threw strikes in 2010 but has struggled every other season with his walk rates, which compromises his tremendous fastball/slider combination and makes it difficult for him to project as a starter in the major leagues. He has tremendous upside in relief, though, and could be ready to assume a major league bullpen role as soon as Opening Day if the Rays decide to move him there. Grade: B-
#7.) Alex Colome, RHP. As you can tell by now, the Rays non-Moore pitching prospects seem to fall into two groups–experienced pitchers with great stuff but poor control, and untested 2011 draftees with upside. Colome is a member of the former group along with Romero, Torres, and Archer. He’s another pitcher who threw just enough strikes in 2010 (3.6 BB/9) but saw his walk rate slide to the wrong side of four in 2011 again. More troublingly, he lost the ability to miss bats when he reached Double-A, walking nearly as many as he struck out. Given the starting depth in this organization, he’s another guy that might not have too many more opportunities to get his pitches under control before seeing a move to relief. Grade: B-
#8.) Jeff Ames, RHP. Another supplemental pick–42nd overall–from the 2011 draft, Ames is a big righthander with a big arm, regularly throwing in the 92-94 mph range. He throws strikes, too, as evidenced by his 39/7 K/BB in 30 innings in his pro debut. However, his secondary stuff lags behind, and he’s an extreme flyball pitcher, and those two weaknesses have many projecting him as a power reliever down the road. Grade: B-
#9.) Ryan Carpenter, LHP. Carpenter is a massive lefthander who was picked in the 7th round of 2011. Like Ames, he got off to a great start to his career, with a 26/4 K/BB in 23 1/3 innings–he also allowed just nine hits. Also like Ames, he has extreme flyball tendencies that bear watching. Carpenter’s velocity was all over the place as an amateur, but he has a pair of solid secondary pitches, so if he can get his velocity consistently in the 90s and keep the ball down, his stock will rise quickly. Grade: B-
#10.) Jacob Faria, RHP. Another 2011 draftee (10th round), Faria is a great sleeper. He’s a projectable 6’3″ righthander who was young for a high school draftee, and he had a great pro debut, with a 14/1 K/BB in 15 2/3 innings. He already throws around 90 mph and should grow into more velocity, and he has a workable slider and changeup. He commands all three offerings well. For now, he projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but if he grows into his frame and picks up some velocity, his stock will rise. Grade: C+
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Rays, check out Rays Colored Glasses.
Topics: Alex Colome, Alex Torres, Blake Snell, Brandon Guyer, Brandon Martin, Cameron Seitzer, Chris Archer, Derek Dietrich, Drew Vettleson, Enny Romero, Hak-Ju Lee, Jacob Faria, Jake Hager, Jeff Ames, Lenny Linsky, Matt Bush, Matt Moore, Mikie Mahtook, Ryan Brett, Ryan Carpenter, Stephen Vogt, Taylor Guerrieri, Tim Beckham, Tyler Bortnick, Tyler Goeddel