Results tagged ‘ Hak-Ju Lee ’
It’s been a rough start to the year for the Tampa Bay Rays. Anemic offense has been the theme of the first two weeks of the season, which shows in the Rays’ 5-9 last-place record.
But of course, it’s still very early, and anything can happen in the next 149 games. Life in the AL East is never easy, however, as the Rays have plenty obstacles to overcome in duration of the season if they want to be crowned division champs in October.
Without further adieu, here are the four biggest barriers for the Rays standing in the way of a division title.
The Rays have their work cut out for them this year, as they compete in what is maybe the toughest divisions in all of sports.
The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles are all potential playoff teams in 2013. Each one of them is a definite threat to a division title, but the Rays have a good enough team to compete with all four of these talented clubs.
There are a few things we’ve learned about Tampa Bay’s competitors after the first two weeks of the season. If one thing’s for sure, the Yankees are no team to overlook. Despite having a huge chunk of their roster out with injury, the Yanks stand at a surprising 8-5, as they’ve been finding ways to win ballgames while on the mend.
Once they get the rest of their team back—which includes Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Michael Pineda—they should be very dangerous.
The Red Sox didn’t come into the season with high expectations at all, but have started off the season very strongly with a first-place 10-4 record. Boston’s rotation was supposed to be the team’s main weak spot, but has shockingly been outstanding thus far. Their rotation has been by far the best in the division and probably the best in the American League, posting a 2.30 ERA and a 3.45 FIP.
The Orioles have began to prove that their 2012 success was not a fluke. They’ve played solid baseball and appear to have a pretty well-rounded team. The O’s are a team to watch out for if Chris Davis continues to put up big-time numbers at the DH spot.
As for Blue Jays, it’s been a disappointing start for them. As bad as they look right now, they’re a team that can turn things around quickly with that star-studded roster. Jose Reyes’ ankle injury, however, will be a big blow for them until he returns after the All-Star break.
The Rays’ offense has been flat-out awful in the first two weeks of the regular season. With a wOBA of .277 and a wRC+ of 77, they are currently the worst hitting team in the American League.
Outside of Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Kelly Johnson, who’ve all had solid starts to the year, nobody in the lineup has given the Rays any kind of significant production offensively.
Lack of power is one of the main issues for Tampa Bay, as they’ve posted just a .113 ISO. Another major concern is the how much runners the Rays are stranding on base. They’ve had a very tough time getting the man in, hitting just .192 with RISP.
Although the offense is very worrying for Rays fans at the moment, there is an optimistic way of looking at it: It will more than likely only get better from here.
Designated hitter Luke Scott has been out with a calf injury since spring training and has yet to play this season. Once he gets back, the lineup will surely be more potent with Scott in and Sam Fuld out.
As the season progresses, the Rays will also get a boost from their minor league system. Wil Myers should be terrific addition later in the year, and Brandon Guyer could also contribute.
In 2012, the injury bug was the largest barrier that stood in the way of a third division title for the Rays. Evan Longoria’s hamstring tear highlighted a plethora of injuries suffered by a very banged-up ball club.
So far this season, the Rays have done a pretty good job avoiding the DL. Luke Scott is the only player who has missed any time at all this year due to injury.
For this team to function properly, the entire team is going to have to stay relatively healthy throughout the season. I don’t see the Rays winning the division as a possibility if they’re hit with injury issues again.
Tampa Bay has a handful of prospects who could be a key part of the team later this season.
Wil Myers, who is arguably baseball’s top hitting prospect, may be the Rays’ X-factor once he’s called up to the majors. He appears to be about ready for The Show, but it’s possible he won’t make his MLB debut until July due to financial reasons.
Whenever he is called up, his immediate impact will be crucial, especially with the lineup as weak as it is.
Outfielder Brandon Guyer and middle infielders Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham are other position player prospects who could all see big league action this year. All three have the potential to bolster both the Rays’ offensive and defensive depth down the stretch.
the Rays have probably more pitchers on the verge of breaking into the majors this season than they do hitters. Chris Archer—the organization’s top upper-level pitching prospect—looks to be ready to take over a spot in the rotation once the time comes. This time, he’ll likely stay there for good.
The development of these Triple-A prospects will definitely come to play in this year’s pennant race. They Rays might need as many minor league contributions as they can get in order to win the AL East.
The Rays were on the losing side of a 9-2 rout Saturday afternoon, dropping their eighth Grapefruit League game of the spring to the Red Sox.
Roberto Hernandez got the start, and obviously a crucial one for him as he battles Jeff Niemann for the fifth spot in the rotation. Hernandez allowed 2 [earned] runs on 6 hits, a walk and 5 strikeouts.
Relievers Jake McGee and Jamey Wright also made appearances in this game, both giving up a run in one inning each.
Not much to talk about offensively from this ballgame. Leslie Anderson, who’s now hitting .425, continued his red-hot spring with a 3-3 day.
Sean Rodriguez went 2-2, hitting a homer to provide Tampa with their two only runs.
Speaking of S-Rod, the Rays’ utility man was involved in what nearly led to a bench-clearing brawl. After being hit by a pitch by Alfredo Aceves and then being barked at, tempers flared. Here’s Rodriguez’s take on the incident.
Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s game.
Rays News and Notes:
- Wil Myers, Brandon Guyer, Tim Beckham, Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee, Josh Lueke, Juan Sandoval, Wil Inman and J.D. Martin were all optioned back down to the minor leagues in the Rays’ latest rounds of cuts.
- Matt Moore was much improved in his start during the Rays’ 3-1 win over the Phillies Friday. Moore didn’t give up a single earned run on 3 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts through 5 innings. Stephen Vogt gave the Rays the victory with a walk-off homer in the 10th inning.
- World Baseball Classic news: The United States were eliminated from the tournament by Puerto Rico Friday night after a heart-breaking 4-3 loss. Ben Zobrist went 0-2 in the game with an RBI walk, finishing the Classic 3-for-11. The Dominican Republic clinched the top seed Saturday afternoon with a 2-0 win over Puerto Rico, and Fernando Rodney picked up his fifth save of the tournament. Puerto Rico advances to face Japan in the semifinals while D.R. will square off against the Netherlands.
- After being rejected by both Chipper Jones and Derek Lee, the New York Yankees have signed outfielder Brennan Boesch.
- Before Friday’s game against Philadelphia, 65 members of the Rays organization shaved their head in an annual event to raise awareness and funds for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The Phillies’ Michael Young also participated in the event.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports Sam Fuld (hamstring) won’t be returning for another 4-5 days.
The Rays came through with another Grapefruit League victory Monday afternoon, defeating Boston in Port Charlotte by a score of 6-3.
Alex Cobb got the start for Tampa Bay, and didn’t look sharp in his two innings pitched. Cobb allowed two runs on four hits and one walk in his spring debut.
A trio of relievers expected to make the Opening Day bullpen, on the other hand, strutted much better stuff. Jamey Wright, Cesar Ramos and Jake McGee combined for four scoreless (and hitless) innings.
The Rays got the job done offensively as well. Yunel Escobar and Ryan Roberts both hit two-run doubles early in the game. Ben Zobrist tacked on another run with an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Prospect Hak-Ju Lee remained hitless, going 0-2, and committed both of the teams errors on the field.
Here’s a full boxscore of yesterday’s game.
The logic of the rankings are based off of the prospects’ tools and potential, as well as previous performance in the minors leagues.
Because most of the prospects on this list are at different stages of development, future upside was a large factor in putting together these rankings.
Without further ado, here’s a look at my top 10 Rays prospects heading into spring training.
1. Wil Myers
Wil Myers was the top prize in the four-prospect trade package that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City. After putting together an outstanding 2012 season in Class AA and Class AAA ball, the 22-year-old has become arguably the best hitting prospect in all of baseball.
As you can see from the numbers, Myers’ main forte is his impressive raw power. He also has great bat speed and the ability to hit well for power and get on base proficiently. On the base pads, he’s an average runner with decent speed.
Myers’ main weakness overall is his plate discipline. The exciting power does come with some swing-and-miss tendency, as he struck out 140 times in 134 games last season. Hopefully, Myers will be able to fix the holes in his swing as he matures overall as a ballplayer.
Defensively, Myers is nothing special but nothing below average either. He played centerfield, right field and some third base in 2012, but right field will most likely be his main position in the majors. With a plus arm and average range, he should manage pretty well there.
Barring an injury, Myers will most likely get his first taste of the big leagues this season with Tampa Bay. The only question is how early. If he goes on a tear this spring he could even make the Opening Day roster.
2. Taylor Guerrieri
Drafted by the Rays in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, 20-year-old right hander Taylor Guerrieri didn’t hesitate at all to open eyes in his professional debut with Class A- Hudson Valley last year. Guerrieri posted an impressive 1.04 ERA through 12 starts (52 innings) with 7.9 K/9 and 9.0 K/BB.
He has a good feel for four pitches, including a two-seam fastball with excellent late sinking action and a plus curveball. He’s also in the process of developing a changeup which could also transform into an above-average pitch.
Guerrieri’s fastball reaches up into the mid-upper 90′s and he still has plenty of room to grow into his six-foot-three, 195 pound frame to build up velocity in the future.
Besides for having great stuff, Guerrieri has also displayed advanced control and command with the ability to pound the strike zone. He only walked five batters throughout the entire 2012 season.
3. Chris Archer
Chris Archer has been one of the top prospects among the Rays’ plethora of young arms for a while now, and it looks like his minor league days could be coming to the end as spring training rolls in.
Archer made his MLB debut last season, making four starts as a replacement in the rotation. He posted a 4.60 ERA through four starts (29.1 innings), but continued to show a bright ray of light with an outstanding 11.0 K/9 ratio.
The 24-year-old right-hander has great stuff, including a fantastic fastball that reaches velocities in the upper-90′s range along with great live movement. He also has a very good slider, giving him a nice two-pitch combination with the fastball. His changeup is still lagging behind, but it does seem to be improving.
Command and control are by far the biggest issues for Archer. He’s struggled throwing strikes in both the majors and minors, and it’s been holding him back from a breakout season.
With such a terrific arsenal, the sky is the limit for Archer. His big league future can be anything from a middle reliever to an All-Star starter. If he can just improve his command enough, the Rays are going to have yet another dangerous starter in their rotation.
4. Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi was another highly-ranked prospect acquired from Kansas City in this winter’s blockbuster trade. The Rays may have lost two talented starting pitchers in that deal, but they did gain one back in Odorizzi.
The 22-year-old right-hander had a very productive 2012 season, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 8.4 K/9 through 145.1 IP.
He has four pitches in his arsenal, including a solid fastball that reaches the mid-90′s and a plus curveball and slider. His changeup is still a work in progress, but he has displayed excellent command over all his pitches for a pitcher at such a young age.
Odorizzi already made his big-league debut last year, making two starts with the Royals, and will be fighting for a spot in the rotation this spring. If he stays on the path he’s on he’ll eventually make it, and should be exciting to watch with a very high ceiling to be a frontline starter in Tampa Bay.
5. Hak-Ju Lee
Like Chris Archer, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee was acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade back in 2011. Ever since, Lee’s appeared in two MLB Futures Games and rised to be the organization’s best position player prospect until the Wil Myers trade this offseason.
The 22-year-old Korean native posted an underachieving .261/.336/.360 line with 37 RBI and stolen bases last year in Class AA ball. He failed to make much progress and unfortunately didn’t even get the call for Triple-A Durham.
The main concern with Lee is hitting, which is really the only thing holding him back in Double-A. He has no power, so getting on-base is crucial for him, and he’s going to have to do a better job of that this season if he wants to break into the big leagues.
On the other hand, Lee’s strong points are fielding and speed. He’s a very good shortstop with both great range and a good arm, and definitely has high upside defensively at the position at the major league level.
6. Alex Colome
Alex Colome is definitely a name to watch for in the minor leagues in 2013. The 24-year-old right-hander went 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA and 8.8 K/9 through 17 starts last year in both Double-A and Triple-A.
What makes Colome such an exciting prospect is his electric stuff, making him one of the higher upside prospects in the entire organization.
Colome’s arsenal is highlighted by a great fastball which he throws up to 97 MPH with plenty of live action. He also throws a pretty good curve, along with a slider and changeup which are still developing.
Like many talented hard-throwers in the Rays’ farm system over the years, the team has done a nice job gradually transforming Colome from a thrower into a pitcher. His command—which is his main weakness—is slowly but surely improving as he moves up the ranks.
7. Richie Shaffer
The Rays drafted Richie Shaffer 25th overall in last summer’s draft, adding a talented bat to Tampa Bay’s farm system.
After a succesful college career with the Clemson Tigers, Shaffer made his pro debut with Short-Season Hudson Valley. There he hit .308/.406/.487 with four homers and through 33 games.
Shaffer—a right-handed bat—is a very good hitter overall, with big-time power and a nice plate approach. He does have holes in his swing and tends to strikeout often because of them, but he has his whole minor league career ahead of him to work on it.
Defensively, the 21-year-old’s main position is third base. Although his strong arm profiles well for the position, lack of range makes his future at third a question mark. Both first base and/or right field could be possibilities for him long term.
8. Blake Snell
Blake Snell is another pitching prospect on this top 10 list with the tools to become a frontline starter in the major leagues.
Selected by the Rays in the first round of the 2011 Draft, Snell shined in the Appalachian League last season being named Pitcher of the Year. He went 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 10.1 K/9 through 11 starts (47.1 IP).
The 20-year-old lefty has four pitches in his arsenal. He throws a low-90′s fastball that touches the mid-90′s, and with such a lanky physique the Rays can expect Snell to gain velocity as he matures.
Snell also throws a plus changeup, which leads his two other secondary pitches; the slider and curveball. The slider—which he developed last year—could serve as a good pitch for him down the road. The curve is also a work in progress and lacks sharpness a bit.
One thing to like about Snell is his command, which is pretty impressive for such a young pitcher. He does well throwing strikes, and is able to entice groundballs by throwing low in the zone.
9. Enny Romero
Another electric arm in the Rays’ system with very high upside, Enny Romero has steadily moved up the farm over the past five years level by level.
Romero spent the entire 2012 season with Class A+ Charlotte, going 5-7 with a 3.93 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and a .201 opponent’s batting average.
The 22-year-old southpaw throws a powerful fastball in the mid-to-upper 90′s, along with a hard curveball with very high potential as his secondary pitch. He also throws a changeup, but there’s still plenty of refining needed to be done there.
Unsurprisingly, Romero’s main area that needs improvement is his command and control. Throwing strikes and pitch location has frequent issue with the flame-throwing MLB Future Gamer.
Romero could also use good share of work on his mechanics, which has caused inconsistency in pitches.
10. Drew Vettleson
The Rays have an intriguing bat to keep an eye on with 21-year-old Drew Vettleson emerging in their farm system.
Vettleson had a solid 2012 season with Single-A Bowling Green after being drafted 42nd overall in the 2010 Draft, hitting .275/.340/.432 with 69 RBI, 15 homers and 20 stolen bases.
What I like about Vettleson is that he’s a very well-rounded player. His excellent swing and terrific bat speed provide him with both the capability to hit for average and for power.
He’s also a good baserunner, and has above-average speed which should help him continue to steal bases throughout his career.
Defensively, he fields well at both corner outfield positions. With a good arm (was a rare ambidextrous pitcher in high school) and good range, he should be able to play right field.
Baseball has returned, and spring training has officially started for the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte as players report to camp.
The Rays have a handful of exciting prospects and non-roster invitees who have plenty to prove this spring, and it should be interesting to see which surprise players will grab everyone’s attention.
Here are seven names to watch for in the next six weeks.
Ever since being drafted first overall by the Rays in 2008, Tim Beckham has been nothing less than a disappointment. The 23-year-old middle infielder was obviously drafted with sky high expectations, but has yet to break out in the minors during his four seasons in the organization.
Beckham will most likely be starting the season with Triple-A Durham, but is out on a mission this spring to prove that this is the year he’ll finally break into the big leagues.
Many thought that year would be 2012, but a 50-game suspension and injuries were huge setbacks in Beckham’s progress. Hopefully, spring training will serve as a clean sheet for Beckham to start over and turn things around in what has been an unfortunate young career.
The Rays acquired 23-year-old southpaw Mike Montgomery from the Royals in December’s blockbuster James Shields trade. Montgomery spent four seasons in Kansas City’s organization considered to be one of the teams top prospects, but has struggled the past two years at the Triple-A level posting a lopsided 8-17 record with a 5.46 ERA.
He probably won’t make an impact on the Rays in the near future, but he’s out to prove he’s not too far away from major league ready.
Although he has very good stuff and the tools to be an MLB starter, a career as a reliever seems more likely at the moment. If he pitches well enough in 2013, we could maybe even see him contribute to Tampa Bay’s bullpen this season.
Alex Colome is one sleeper prospect with very high upside who should be kept an eye on this season. The 24-year-old right-hander has gradually moved up the ranks over the past years in the Rays’ farm system and pitched his way into Triple-A last season.
Colome has impressive raw stuff that can blow away big league hitters, which should make him a sight to watch in Port Charlotte.
This could be the year he makes his MLB debut as he continues to develop as a pitcher. That being said, spring training will be a great opportunity for him to show off his potential to the Rays.
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi was one of four prospects acquired in the James Shields trade this offseason, adding yet another talented young starting pitcher to the Rays’ organization.
Odorizzi had somewhat of a breakout year in the minors in 2012, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA through 25 starts in both Double-A and Triple-A. He also got his first taste of the big leagues with the Royals, making two brief starts.
He’ll be battling for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring against teammates Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez and possibly even Chris Archer. His odds of making the Opening Day rotation are not good at all, but if he shines bright enough he could maybe just sneak in there.
Even if we don’t see Odorizzi with the Rays early in the season, we can expect to see him contribute to the team sometime later in the year.
Wil Myers is the prospect to watch in Major League Baseball this spring. The 22-year-old phenom slugger was the prize acquisition in the James Shields trade, and is considered arguably the top hitting prospect in all of baseball.
Even if Myers plays well during spring training, his chances of making the Opening Day roster are very slim. There is one backup outfielder on the 25-man roster, and although Myers may be good enough for the spot, the Rays are not going to want their top prospect to start the year on the bench.
Whether he makes the roster or not, his powerful bat will be a ton of fun to watch in the coming weeks.
After missing almost the entire 2012 season with a shoulder injury, outfielder Brandon Guyer is returning to baseball this spring hoping for a fresh start.
Guyer has already had two very brief stints in the majors in the past two seasons, but has spent most of his time with Triple-A Durham where he has produced pretty well.
After missing such a significant amount of time, Guyer is no longer considered a top prospect in the organization like he was once. Spring training will be a great opportunity for him to prove that he’s an MLB-caliber player.
He’ll also be competing for the backup outfield spot on the Opening Day roster, but it’s probably going to take a standout performance this spring to accomplish that.
One of the Rays’ better position player prospects and shortstop prospects in all of baseball, Hak-Ju Lee is definitely a must-watch this spring in Port Charlotte.
His blazing speed and tremendous defensive upside will surely attract plenty of attention in the next few weeks.
Lee has played with both Class A+ Charlotte and Class AA Montgomery for the past two seasons after being acquired in the Matt Garza blockbuster trade. He still hasn’t had the breakout year in the minors that Rays fans have been anticipating, but nonetheless has made slow progress up the organizational ranks.
Lee will be eyeing a spot on Triple-A Durham’s Opening Day lineup, and a good spring training performance would obviously help his case.
As the 2012 regular season winds down to another exciting finish, a handful of Rays minor leaguers look forward to breaking into The Show in 2013. Besides for Matt Moore, no prospects have really made a significant impact on the Rays thus far this season. Hopefully it won’t be the same story next season, and a few names will be able to give the Rays a boost. Here are some farmhands to keep in eye on for 2013.
Despite a mediocre 2012 season thus far, Hak-Ju Lee is currently considered the Rays’ No. 1 prospect by many. The 21-year-old is expected to be the franchise’s future at shortstop, and 2013 could be the year he begins his anticipated big league journey. Lee has spent the entire season with Double-A Montgomery, and has hit .261/.336/.360 with 37 RBI and 37 stolen bases. The offensive stats are nothing to get too excited about and neither are his defensive numbers, as Lee has posted a .954 fielding percentage this year. He’s still young and has good potential, so nobody should be surprised to see him with the Rays next September.
Chris Archer—who’s considered the Rays’ top upper-level pitching prospect—has already made an impact with the club in 2012. The 23-year-old right-hander put up a 3.66 ERA in 25 starts with Durham this season and a 3.86 ERA in his two first major league starts. With James Shields likely not returning next year and Jeff Niemann’s health seemingly always in question, Archer will likely have a much more significant role in the starting rotation in 2013.
Alex Colome flashed his high potential as he progressed nicely through the Rays’ farm system in 2012. A recent shoulder injury has ended his season, but at this rate many still expect to see Colome as a late-season call-up next year. Colome combined for an 8-4 record and a 3.44 ERA through 17 starts (14 with Montgomery, 3 with Durham) in the minors this year.
It’s been another disappointing year for former No. 1 draft pick Tim Beckham. The 22-year-old middle infielder is still fairly young, however, and is gradually progressing in the Rays’ organization. A 50-game suspension for drug use really hurt his chances of making a big league push this season, but he there’s actually still a possibility he gets called up this month. Beckham will likely join the Rays at some point in 2013, obviously depending on how he plays with Durham. This year Beckham has posted a underachieving .256/.325/.361 line with 28 RBI and a .946 fielding percentage through 72 games.
After a little over a month of baseball, the MLB—and MiLB season—is now in full swing. Back in February, I did an evaluation on the Rays’ top prospects on The Rays Rant, and I think it’s about time we check-in how they’re progressing thus far. As you can see from the list, Matt Moore is still technically considered a prospect. However, he’s already pitched nearly 50 innings as a Major Leaguer, so I decided not to include him in this article. Here’s the current status of the Rays’ top five minor league prospects:
It’s been a slow start to the season for 21-year-old shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, who earned a full-season promotion to Double-A Montgomery after a breakout 2011 season. He’s batting .229/.293/.314 as the Biscuits’ leadoff hitter, with 12 RBI and nine stolen bases (caught three times). He hasn’t gone yard yet, but he does have 10 extra basehits including three triples. Lee is not only struggling with the bat, as he hasn’t been sharp defensively either. He hasn’t been smooth at short so far this season, committing seven errors already (.955 fielding percentage). It’s clear that the talented youngster has not yet adjusted to the Double-A level, and seems to still be in the process of getting used to the speed of the game. Hopefully it’s nothing more than a slow start for Lee, as the Rays could really use a shortstop like him as soon as possible on the roster.
The Rays’ top right-handed pitching prospect is probably Chris Archer, who continues to provide the Rays with even more pitching depth down at the farm. After a poor April start to the year, it appears as if Archer is now on the right track. Archer currently owns a record of 3-4 with a 4.71 ERA this season with Triple-A Durham, but he’s had a great start to the month of May. In his three starts this month, Archer has gone 2-0 with an ERA of 2.00, going six innings deep in all three outings. He outdueled Yankees’ top prospect Manny Banuelos on Sunday, shining in the Bulls’ matinee matchup with the Yankees (Scranton/WB) throwing nine strikeouts without allowing an earned run. We know he has good swing-and-miss stuff, but the main concern with Archer is his command. The 23-year-old simply walks too many batters; he’s walked 28 already this season (averaging 3.5 base on balls per start). This is something Archer clearly needs to improve on if he hopes earning a promotion to the big leagues at any point this season.
After a good 2011 season, the former first-overall draft pick has disappointed the Rays once again in 2012. After just 13 games with Triple-A Durham, where he hit .204/.290/.278 four RBI, the 22-year-old shortstop was issued a 50-game suspension from MiLB for his second violation of the league’s drug policy (marijuana). This could not come at a much worse time for Beckham and the Rays, as 2012 was supposed to be a crucial year in his development as he continues to near is MLB debut. The Rays and their fans hope that Beckham won’t become the next Josh Hamilton.
Drafted in the first round of last year’s draft, Mahtook has had a solid start in his first year of full-season ball. He’s put up a .278/.340/.317 line with 13 RBI and nine stolen bases with Class A+ Charlotte in the Florida State League. The only thing that hasn’t come around yet this season is the power, as Mahtook remains homer-less with four extra base-hits after the first 34 games (126 at-bats). He definitely has some pop in his bat, and hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the power arrives.
Also drafted by the Rays in the first round last summer, Guerrieri gives Tampa’s organization another exciting young arm. The 19-year-old is starting the year in extended spring training, and is yet to throw his first pitch as a professional. He’s expected to soon start the season in the Rookie League, with the Princeton Rays. A complete scouting report on the hard-throwing right-hander can be found here.
The latest Rays news and notes:
- If you haven’t already heard, a total of 71 Rays shaved their heads yesterday on the Charlotte Sports Park boardwalk before their game against the Philadelphia to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children’s Hospital. It was definitely one of the Rays’ most exciting charity event ever, and probably had the most participation. Read and watch more about it at Raysbaseball.com.
- The Rays tied their second game in three days yesterday, finishing their game against the Phillies with a 6-6 ninth-inning draw. Wade Davis’ struggles continued, as he allowed 3 earned runs in 4 innings while allowing 8 hits in his third spring start. Despite another poor outing, Davis said he felt good. Kyle Farnsworth and Cesar Ramos followed Davis’ start, combining for three innings of scoreless work. Offensively, Sam Fuld and Reid Brignac both had themselves a good day going 2-3, while Luke Scott collected his first hit of the spring. Jesus Feliciano got the big hit of the day, driving in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out double. Click here for a full boxscore of Thursday’s game.
- Next up for the Rays is the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 in Dunedin. Jeff Niemann will start today’s game, here’s the starting lineup via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- As for injuries, the main focus is obviously concerning the scary collision between Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton that happened during Wednesday’s game versus the Marlins. Fortunately, both are okay and apparently not injured. Jennings is returning today while Upton will likely play tomorrow. Catcher Robinson Chirinos seems to be in a much worse condition, as his concussion is slowly healing. Chirinos, who’s battling for the backup catcher spot, has not yet set a date for his return.
- The Rays made their second round of roster cuts on Wednesday. Among the six assigned to the minors were Hak-Ju Lee, Alex Colome, and Wilking Rodriguez. The Rays had their first cuts on Monday when Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Alex Torres were optioned down.
Last year, The Rays Rant evaluated the Rays’ top prospects of 2011. This year, The Rays Rant will break down the top 20 Rays prospects of 2012, once again based off MLB.com’s rankings. Here’s a glance of what some of the Rays’ future players have to offer.
1. Matt Moore
Scouting Report: If anybody’s ready for The Show, it’s phenom pitcher Matt Moore. It’s very rare to discover any young baseball player with the talent like Moore; the kid’s an absolute natural. The young fireballer is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, having been ranked No.1 by MLB.com’s top 100 prospects of 2012 list. Moore has been ranked within the top three prospects by pretty much every source, making him one of the most recognized prospects in all of baseball. So, what’s the reason behind all this hype surrounding Moore? First of all, the kid features some wicked wicked stuff, making him a real nightmare for hitters. The young flamethrower lives off of his outstanding fastball, which effortlessly reaches blazing speeds in the upper 90s. He also features a nasty curveball, along with a plus curveball. His curveball has always been a big pitch for Moore, but the changeup is now coming into effect more than ever before. His hard slider and powerful sinker, both above average pitches as well, completing a terrific arsenal. As expected, the 22-year-old lefty enjoyed success in his first Major League season. After pitching ridiculously well during his 27 starts for AAA Durham—12 wins, 1.92 ERA, and 210 K—Moore finally got his chance to shine on the big stage. And shine he did, in most of his 19.1 innings of his 2011 experience. Moore really made his mark when the playoffs started, though. He had an unbelievable outing in Arlington after being called on to start Game 1 of the ALDS—just his second MLB start. He was looking like the ace of the Rays’ rotation, dominating Texas’ big bats by shutting them out through seven strong innings. Moore would finish his brief 2011 season—including playoffs—with a combined ERA of 2.09 with 23 strikeouts.
Conclusion: If Moore is able to stay healthy, he’ll be the future ace of an already-great Rays rotation, which includes David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Moore gives the Rays every reason to believe that their contract extension decision with him was a no-brainer. Moore has a lot of pressure on him, and I’m sure he’ll respond positively, just as he did last October. A lot is expected from him, and I won’t be surprised to see the major rookie impact from him that everyone is anticipating. It looks like the Rays will likely have a second Rookie of the Year winner in a row this season.
2. Hak-Ju Lee
Hak-Ju Lee may not yet be a household name among Rays fans, but it won’t be too long before he gains recognition in professional baseball. The 21-year-old Korean was acquired in the Matt Garza trade and is considered one of the top prospects in baseball. Lee was one of three players that represented the Rays at the MLB Futures Game last July.
Offensively: Lee was promoted in August to Class-AA after spending most of his 2011 season playing for the Charlotte Stonecrabs (Class-A+). His combined stats from his 2011 season included a .292 average with 30 RBI and 33 stolen bases. Some of Lee’s best attributes are part of his offensive game. He has great speed, is a good contact hitter, and is able to put up quality at-bats. However, Lee does have some offensive weaknesses as well. He doesn’t have much pop in his left-handed bat at all, and he also needs to improve his baserunning. Lee will probably never develop into any kind of a power hitter, but wise decisions on the base pads will definitely become a very important part of his game. Last season, Lee was thrown out 16 times out of 49 attempts; a ratio that simply must improve. He’ll likely make good progress in that department, as he already has advanced during his time in the minors.
Defensively: Overall, Lee is a plus defensive shortstop. He’s made huge strides with his glove throughout his pro career, bringing his defense to one of the highest levels in his minor league class. Lee’s quickness provides him with great range at short, and he also features a strong arm. Lee recorded 18 errors last year, which is a drastic improvement from his previous seasons in the minors.
Conclusion: Many believe that Lee has All Star potential in the big leagues, and it’s pretty easy to see why. At just 21, Lee has already convinced scouts he has a Gold Glove caliber future and can be an effective base-stealer in the big leagues. Faults in his game, such as careless baserunning and fielding errors, are not much of a concern at this stage and are very common amongst 20 year-old prospects. At the end of the day, Lee is a very exciting youngster for the Rays’ organization, and appears to be the club’s future shortstop. Excpect to see him arrive sometime during the 2013 season.
3. Chris Archer
Scouting Report: Chris Archer, another top prospect acquired from the Matt Garza trade, has been one of the biggest names in the Rays farm system. With all the pitching talent in the Rays’ farm system, Archer leads the pack of right-handed arms. Archer’s effectiveness is heavily based off his two main pitches; the fastball and the hard slider. He features a very live heater, that reaches speeds in the mid-90′s. Archer’s slider is absolutely nasty, giving him an outstanding secondary pitch. The 23-year-old also includes a changeup in his arsenal, but it’s clear that it needs work to become a reliable pitch. Archer’s overall stuff is pretty impressive, and is definitely not his main issue. Command is by far the biggest thing Archer needs to improve on to take the next step in his career. When Archer struggles, it’s almost always when he’s not able to place his pitches where he wants them. Past command struggles are shown in his stats, as Archer’s high walk rate has hurt his numbers throughout his pro career.
Conclusion: The future looks pretty bright for maybe the Rays’ most intriguing young righty. Archer finished his 2011 season on a high note, being promoted late in the year to AAA Durham after spending most of the season with AA Montgomery. He let in just one run through two excellent starts with the Bulls. Hopefully, Archer can start the season where he left off and improve his 4.09 ERA that he posted last year. His second-half turnaround re-convinced many people that Archer has the potential to become a frontline starter in the majors. At this point it’s pretty clear that only his command is holding him down. Archer may contribute to the Rays bullpen later this season, where he seems like he could fit in pretty well with his dangerous fastball-slider combo.
4. Tim Beckham
Tim Beckham proved a lot last year to remind everybody of the former No. 1 draft-pick he is. Some scouts wrote off Beckham before the 2011 season, but he apparently has made himself noticeable enough to move himself up on the Rays’ prospect list from No. 10 to No. 3 (via MLB.com).
Offensively: Beckham spent his 2011 season playing 107 games for AA Montgomery and 24 games for AAA Durham. He combined for a .271 average with 12 home runs and 70 RBI. Beckham improved his offensive game overall, especially in power and plate discipline. Being a six-foot middle-infielder, Beckham doesn’t feature any real big-time power, but he definitely can hit the ball hard with his excellent bat speed. The biggest thing Beckham has to work on offensively is increasing both his batting and on-base percentage. Besides his appearance at the plate, Beckham also can run the bases well. He increased his baserunning intelligence a lot last year, dropping his caught stealing total by nine while decreasing his stolen base total by just five. Beckham will never become an avid base-stealer, but he probably can be a threat on the bags at the big league level.
Defensively: Defense has been one of the biggest concerns for Beckham in the past. Sloppy defense at shortstop has made many question his future at the position. Fortunately, Beckham has made huge progress with his glove, cutting his error total down by the years. Errors are really the biggest issue for Beckham defensively, as he probably has the tools to become a big league shortstop. He features a strong throwing arm, but it’s debatable how good his range and hands still are.
Conclusion: Beckham has established himself as one of those “Late Bloomers” in the prospect world, but he still hasn’t really ‘bloomed’ to his full potential yet. He may not be the star that he was once predicted to be, but he does have bright potential. This season will be a crucial year for Beckham, as he needs to continue to make strides and rebuild his reputation. He appears to be on the right track, as he inches closer and closer to the big leagues. Beckham could make his MLB debut as early as late this summer.
5. Mikie Mahtook
Former LSU star Mikie Mahtook was drafted by the Rays last summer in the first round. The 22-year-old outfielder is a member of MLB.com’s top 100 prospects, being ranked at 96 on the list.
Offensively: Mahtook is arguably the best offensive prospects in the Rays’ farm system. He was a big-time hitter in college, batting .383/.496/.709 in his final season with Louisiana State. The impressive numbers didn’t stop there, as Mahtook continued his success into his professional baseball debut. Mahtook batted .338 with three homers and 9 RBI through 18 games during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. Overall, Mahtook is a very a good hitter. He has great mechanics at the plate, as well as quick bat speed that allows him to hit for both average and power. Mahtook also excels in the baserunning department, featuring average to plus speed. He’s a very intelligent baserunner as well, the type of player that won’t make too many blunders on the base pads. Mahtook’s power-speed combination can bring excitement to any lineup, and is the reason why the Rays drafted him.
Defensively: Mahtook was a centerfielder throughout his college career, but he’ll likely end up in the corner-outfield positions where he seems to fit better. He’s an all-around plus defender, with good range and a strong arm. Mahtook’s throwing accuracy is probably his most attractive asset in the outfield, something that will help in develop into an MLB outfielder.
Conclusion: The Rays have every reason to believe Mahtook’s bat skills and athletic abilities will make him a solid player at the big league level. His natural baseball instincts and energy will likely translate well when he arrives in the majors. The Rays should be eager to have an emotional and intense player like Mahtook joining them in the near-future.