Welcome back to the second edition of the Grading on the Curve Top 15 prospects lists. In today’s list, we move down the alphabet in the AL East to take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays. We’re going to give a big shoutout and thank you to our FanSided sister site, Rays Colored Glasses, and in particular Robbie Knopf who helped us with the list.
Tampa’s minor league affilates are:
Triple-A: Durham Bulls (International League)
Double-A: Montgomery Biscuits (Southern League)
High-A: Charlotte Stone Crabs (Florida State League)
Class-A: Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League)
Advanced-Rookie: Princeton Rays (Appalachian League)
Complex-Rookie: GCL Rays
Tim Beckham – SS
Date of Birth: January 27, 1990
Height/Weight: 6′/190 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (1st overall) in the 2008 draft
Analysis: Despite having to deal with the pressures of being a number one overall pick and serving a 50-game suspension in 2012 for testing positive for a drug of abuse, Tim Beckham still has some upside. Scouts like his raw power and his arm and his overall numbers in Triple-A show a solid ability to hit and get on base.
Beckham finally cracked the major leagues, going 1 for 2 with a sac fly in his only start, but his future still remains extremely cloudy. Beckham will be 24 in January yet his raw power has never come out and you have to go back to 2011 for the last time he hit better against lefties than righties. His defense at second base still needs improvement, and he is only serviceable at shortstop.
2014 Prognosis: Beckham still isn’t ready for a big league bench role and will likely return to Durham to get some more development time in.
Richie Shaffer – 3B
Date of Birth: March 15, 1991
Acquired: 1st round (25th overall) of the 2012 draft
Analysis: Shaffer’s full-season debut did not go nearly as well as the Rays would have hoped, but he redeemed himself to an extent with a strong Arizona Fall League (walking as many times as he struck out and posting a .478 OBP), giving them faith that his poor regular season did not lower his upside. Shaffer was known for having good plate discipline, but his pitch recognition is still something he is working on, and until he harnesses that, his raw power will not come out in earnest.
The Clemson product is, however, showing some good upside with 33 doubles and 11 home runs in a notoriously tough league on hitters (the Florida State League) and his 2013 results actually sat around league average (99 wRC+). Still considered a good prospect to play third base or even right field down the road, Shaffer is looked at as being one of the better power bats in the Rays organization.
2014 Prognosis: Shaffer could move up to Double-A Montgomery in 2014.
Felipe Rivero – LHP
Date of Birth: July 5, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’0″/150 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2008; signing bonus unknown
Analysis: As a hard throwing lefty, Rivero will have a lot of leeway and he’s already developing very well. While he walks a few too many and doesn’t strike out enough, he was only 21 last season and pitching in the High-A Florida State League. Scouts like the way he mixes his pitches and his plus-fastball has good sink when he keeps it down, generating a lot of ground balls. Rivero’s fastball touches the mid-90′s and he does a good job controlling it and he also shows flashes with his curveball and changeup. But issues with fastball command and secondary stuff consistency have prevented Rivero from taking off.
2014 Prognosis: How Rivero develops at Double-A in 2014 will go a long way towards telling us whether he turns into a number two or three starter or more of a relief type.
Blake Snell – LHP
Date of Birth: December 4, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’4″/180 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (52nd overall) of the 2011 draft
Analysis: Despite the Rays generally being patient with their young pitchers, they had Snell take a fairly significant step up to full-season ball where he had mixed success. Snell was particularly enigmatic in 2013, striking out over a batter per inning and forcing a groundball rate over 50% but walking 6.6 batters per 9 innings which represents a marked increase over his previous two seasons in Rookie Ball. He has three potential plus pitches in his sinker, slider, and changeup but he has to find a way to figure out where they are going more consistently. He has a high ceiling but the Rays won’t rush him.
2014 Prognosis: With some very good peripherals in many areas in 2013, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Snell pitching in a much more pitcher-friendly Florida State League in High-A in 2014.
Oscar Hernandez – C
Date of Birth: July 9, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’0″/196 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2009; signing bonus unknown
|2013||19||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–A||TBR||46||192||176||23||40||6||0||6||34||9||1||13||25||.227||.286||.364||.650|
Analysis: Hernandez just keeps getting better defensively at catcher with his rocket for an arm and strong receiving, and he even shows solid plate discipline and flashes of power at the plate. However, his hitting goes on and off and his defense still needs more work–Hernandez could be the Rays’ catcher of the future or yet another flame-out. Playing mostly at Short-Season A Hudson Valley, Hernandez posted very impressive throwing stats, catching 57% of attempted base thieves. That kind of defensive work is always going to attract attention but Hernandez’s bat hasn’t really come around yet.
2014 Prognosis: With a small taste of Class-A ball in 2013, Hernandez will likely return to Bowling Green in 2014 which will be a good challenge for a young catcher who will only be 20 years old next season.