Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/2/11

The World Series is over. The long major league baseball season is finally over. But baseball is never over. Rays prospects and prospects all over baseball are currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and others are currently playing overseas. Let’s take a look on how the Rays prospects are doing in the AFL. These stats truly mean nothing, but they can give the players great confidence going into next season.

Mahtook has hit well to start his pro career. (MiLB.com)

Mike Mahtook

Mahtook, the Rays’ second 1st round pick in their ridiculous 2011 draft, is beginning his professional career in Arizona and it has been going well. The 21 year old LSU product has put up a .320/.420/.375 line with 1 homer, 7 RBI, and 5 stolen bases while being caught just once. His .320 batting average is 20th in the league, and his stolen bases are tied for 8th. That’s pretty impressive for a player with no prior pro experience. Hopefully we’ll start seeing his power tool as well, but the Rays have to have very satisfied from what they’re seeing from Mahtook in the AFL. He’s shown flashes of his five tools and the results have been great. Seeing Mahtook hit like this, I feel like the Rays will be agressive and send Mahtook to Low-A Bowling Green in 2012. Mahtook could have a bright future for the Rays.

Beckham starting finding his power swing toward the end of the year in 2011, and he's starring in the AFL. (MLB.com)

Tim Beckham

Tim Beckham was the number one overall pick by the Rays in the 2008, but the 21 year old still has to prove himself every day after an awful start to his pro career. But Beckham had his best season in the minors in 2011, hitting .271 with 28 doubles, 4 triples, 12 homers, 70 RBI, 94 runs, a .328 OBP, and a .408 SLG in 131 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He struggled other than with the home run in his first taste of Triple-A (.255/.282/.462, 5 home runs in 24 games), but scouts are getting more and more positive about Beckham’s ability to be a big league regular, albeit not the superstar we thought he would be back in ’08. In the AFL, Beckham has continued to impress. His power tear at Triple-A Durham has continued, and he’s gotten the average and OBP up as well, posting a .279/.405/.623 (!) line with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 14 RBI, 14 runs, and 3 stolen bases while being caught once. He’s tied for 7th in home runs and tied for 12th in RBI, and he’s up among the leaders in slugging percentage and OPS as well. Beckham will never live up to the player the Rays drafted him to be. But he has the ability to be a good big league middle infielder. He’ll start 2012 in Durham, and expect to see him in the big leagues for the first time at some point in the season.

Tyler Bortnick

Second baseman Tyler Bortnick, 24, was the Rays’ 16th round pick in 2009, has impressed as a pro and continued that in 2011, hitting .306  with 34 doubles, 7 triples, 4 homers, 70 RBI, 96 runs, 43 stolen bases, and a .428 OBP in 132 games for High-A Charlotte. The Rays decided to give him a challenge in the AFL, and while Bortnick has not dominated, he has held his own, hitting .244 with 3 doubles, 1 homer, 2 RBI, 2 stolen bases (but 2 CS), a .311 OBP, and a .390 SLG. Those kind of numbers aren’t great, but they shouldn’t hurt Bortnick either. Bortnick will head to Double-A Montgomery in 2012.

Shane Dyer

Shane Dyer is a somewhat enthralling prospect. A 6th round pick by the Rays in the 2008 draft, the 23 year old throws in the low-90′s with a good knuckle-curveball and a decent changeup. Dyer was pretty good in his first couple of season in the minors, but his lack of premium stuff caught up to him to some extent in 2011 at Double-A Montgomery. Dyer went 7-11 with a 4.47 ERA, 66 strikeouts, 45 walks, and 11 home runs  allowed in 28 starts and 157 innings pitched. The 157 IP were second in the system and the 11 losses were tied for the system lead. Dyer posted good walk and home run rates (2.6 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9), but he couldn’t strike anyone out (3.8 K/9), and he allowed a ton of hits (191, a 10.9 H/9). But he did post a good 1.41 GO/AO (ground out to air out ratio). In the AFL, Dyer has been pitching similarly, going 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA, 7 strikeouts and 6 walks in 5 starts and 19.2 IP. His GO/AO has been an impressive 2.25. Dyer, at least in another organization, could be able to survive as an innings-eating 4th or 5th starter in the big leagues if he can get a few more swings-and-misses. But in the short-term, Dyer will head to Triple-A Durham in 2011 and provide some pitching depth for the Rays when the inevitable occurs and they need a big league arm to throw some innings.

Relievers: Marquis Fleming, Adam Liberatore, Kirby Yates

Fleming, 25, posted a 3.48 ERA and an impressive 11.4 K/9 in 43 relief appearances between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011. He also posted a great 0.6 HR/9, but his Achilles’ heel was walks as he posted a 4.7 BB/9. Walks have also been his problem in the AFL as he has struck out 10 in 11.1 innings, but walked 8, leading to a 4.76 ERA. Fleming has a live arm and if he can stay in control of his pitches he could be a good big league middle reliever. Fleming will start 2011 at Triple-A Durham, but he could be on the Durham-St. Petersburg bus much of the season if he pitches well.

Sinkerballing lefty reliever Adam Liberatore, 24, posted a 3.09 ERA, a 7.0 K/9, a 3.1 BB/9, and a great 0.3 HR/9 in 38 relief appearances and 90.1 iP for High-A Charlotte in 2011. His GO/AO was an incredible 2.67. In the AFL, Liberatore has posted a 4.22 ERA, 11 strikeouts, and 4 walks in 10.2 IP. His GO/AO is still great at 2.40. Liberatore just finished a season at High-A, but he could be a big league option as a reliever within a couple of years. We’ll see him in Montgomery in 2012.

Another 24 year old, Kirby Yates, was dominant when healthy at High-A in 2011, posting a 1.62 ERA and a 12.2 K/9 and not allowing a single home run in 16 relief appearances. However, he posted a 5.9 BB/9 and just a 0.65 GO/AO. In the AFL, Yates has posted a 5.40 ERA, 7 strikeouts and 4 strikeouts in 5 innings. Yates is a nice story, having made it to High-A after blowing out his arm and missing two seasons in college, but he needs quite a bit more work. Yates will likely head to Double-A in 2012.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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