Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14
The Rays continue to have one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball, both in terms of high ceiling talent and depth. The off-season trade that added Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard added to the Rays’ embarrassment of riches.   #1 Wil Myers (OF) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 21 591 165 26 37 61 140 6 .316 .389 .602 .425 A former third round draft pick out of a North Carolina high school by the Kansas City Royals, the catcher-turned-outfielder has developed into one of the top power-hitting prospects in baseball. He’s now among the Top 5 prospects in all of baseball. Because of that fact, it was somewhat shocking that Kansas City was willing to move the top prospect in the winter of 2012-13 to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for pitching help in the form of James Shields and Wade Davis. Myers, 21, split the 2012 season between double-A and triple-A, and hit 37 home runs between the two levels. He has impressive raw power, obviously, but his approach at the plate is still a work-in-progress and he struck out 140 times in 134 games, mainly due to the conscious effort to hit for more pop. His .314 career average has been influenced by some very high BABIPs that will be hard to duplicate at the big league level until he improves against breaking balls and tightens up his two-strike approach. Defensively, Myers is still learning the nuances of right field but he has average range and a plus arm. He has also played some center field where he projects to be fringe-average, as well as third base where he’s raw but could develop into an average fielder. Myers should open 2013 back in triple-A for a little more seasoning – perhaps to push back his arbitration clock – but he could reach Tampa Bay by mid-season. He projects to develop into an all-star, run-producing right-fielder with 30-plus home run potential.   #2 Chris Archer (P) Age G GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP WAR 23 6 4 29.1 11.05 3.99 43.7 % 4.60 3.40 0.5 Archer finally had the breakthrough in 2012 that prospect watchers had been waiting for since his pro debut. The right-hander has made strides with both his control (trimming a walk per nine innings off his rate between 2011 and ’12) and his command, although both remain inconsistent. Archer, 24, can overpower hitters with easy velocity on his fastball that can touch 97-97 mph. He also features a good slider and the quality of his previously-below-average changeup surprised me. It showed some potential but he needs to keep the pitch down in the zone. He did a nice job of establishing and getting ahead with the fastball before mixing in his secondary pitches. A contact I spoke with made it clear that it’s not just Archer’s stuff that makes him a special pitcher. “You look at his stuff… it’s really good. This kid has top-notch character and he has really good work ethic,” he said. “These are the ingredients that give a player a chance to be a good big leaguer.” After taking five years to reach double-A, the pitcher made his big league debut in 2012 and showed that he’s capable of retiring big league hitters. After the trade of both James Shields and Wade Davis this past off-season, Archer has a shot at breaking camp as the club’s fifth starter. He has the ceiling of No. 2 or 3 starter.   #3 Hak-Ju Lee (SS) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 21 630 143 15 4 62 123 40 .257 .335 .345 .322 Lee is one of the most underrated prospects in the game and his name doesn’t pop up nearly as often as it should. A plus-fielding shortstop, the South Korea native also possesses the ability to hit for average while displaying above-average speed on the base paths. As a contact stated, “He’s a quick-twitch guy with foot speed, arm speed, and bat speed.” At the plate, Lee holds his hands very high and shows a quick bat that’s short to the ball with a level stroke. He looks a little too passive at times, allowing very hittable pitches to go by, and helping to explain why he struck out more than 100 times last season. When I saw him play, he showed the ability to make adjustments by going the other way for a single to left field on the exact same pitch he struck out on in his previous at-bat. In the field, Lee possesses above-average range as well as a strong, accurate arm and good actions. On the base paths he has the potential to steal 30-40 bases. The biggest need for Lee at this point is to get stronger — as witnessed by his one extra base hit in 20 Arizona Fall League games — but he looked stronger in 2012 than he did when I saw him in ’11. The talent evaluator stated, “As he matures physically and mentally, he should become a very good ball player.” The shortstop prospect should move up to triple-A Durham in 2013 and could be ready to assume the Rays’ starting shortstop job in 2014.   #4 Taylor Guerrieri (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 19 12 12 52.0 35 0 7.79 0.87 0.87 1.99 Guerrieri, who just turned 20 in December, was the 24th overall selection during the 2011 amateur draft and his stuff is undeniably good. The South Carolina native has a low-90s fastball that touches the mid-90s, as well as a potentially-plus curveball and a potentially-above-average changeup. His control grades as above-average for his age, thanks to his consistent delivery, but the command of his secondary offerings is a step behind. What caused him to slide in the draft, though, was concern over his maturity. However, as I discussed with a contact, the maturity of a teenager entering professional baseball for the first time is always a concern but often overblown. The contact stated that the right-hander had a great season both statistically and “how he conducted himself as a professional.” Guerrieri spent his first official season in pro ball (He didn’t pitch after signing late in 2011) in short-season Hudson Valley where he allowed just five walks and 35 hits in 52 innings of work. Tampa Bay is notoriously cautious with the development of its young pitchers but Guerrieri should open 2013 in A-ball and could move fairly quickly. The young hurler could be ready for the majors around late 2015 or early 2016.   #5 Alex Colome (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 23 17 17 91.2 81 3 8.84 4.22 3.44 3.10 Colome, 24, is entering his seventh pro season and the Rays’ patience is about to pay off. The right-hander split last season between double-A and triple-A — although an injury ended his season prematurely — and could be ready for the majors after about half a year of seasoning back in the upper levels of the system. The Dominican Republic native has an overpowering fastball that ranges from the mid-to-upper 90s and he backs it up with three complementary offerings, including a slider/cutter, curveball and changeup. He reportedly has a better curveball but I really liked what I saw from his slider/cutter. Colome has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter but, if he can’t stick in the starting rotation, a contact I spoke with said the prospect has a chance to develop into a dominating reliever. “He has a chance to do both,” he said. “It’s just a matter of command.” Colome is an impressive pitcher to watch when he’s firing on all cylinders. I saw him hit 97 mph with his first pitch of the game (stadium gun). He pitched with a low three-quarter arm slot that showed a little effort in the first inning while he struggled with his fastball command but looked better as the game progressed. Colome’s fastball showed impressive arm-side run when his mechanics were clicking. He also looked more comfortable from the stretch, possibly due to the simplified mechanics compared to his full wind-up. The stadium gun was probably a little hot but I saw him bury a 90 mph slider/cutter in the dirt and he featured an impressive 10 mph difference between his fastball and changeup. Credit certainly had to go to the young pitcher’s veteran catcher in that game — as well as to Colome for his coachability — for mixing up his pitches, changing speeds and moving the ball around the zone.   #6 Jake Odorizzi (P) Age G GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP WAR 22 2 2 7.1 4.91 4.91 26.9 % 4.91 5.41 0.0 A key component to the 2010 Zack Greinke trade between Milwaukee and Kansas City, Odorizzi rose methodically through both systems. He opened 2012 back in double-A but quickly moved up to triple where he made 19 appearances (18 starts). After the season, the right-hander was traded to Tampa Bay along with Wil Myers, and a collection of prospects, for James Shields and Wade Davis. Odorizzi’s biggest strength may be his athleticism, which helps him repeat his arm slot and field his position. He also has an impressive pitcher’s frame and has been durable over the past two seasons, pitching more than 140 innings each season. Odorizzi’s repertoire includes an average fastball that ranges between 88-92 mph. He also has a curveball, slider and changeup – all of which have the potential to be average or better with improved command. His control is currently ahead of his command. I have some concerns over his extreme fly-ball tendencies in 2012 and his ground-ball rates have dipped with each move up the ladder through the minor league system. A contact I spoke with said Odorizzi’s fly-ball rates are the result of relying heavily on his four-seam fastball. “As his changeup gets better and he starts using his two-seamer more, I believe his rates will hold up,” he said. The pitching prospect has the ceiling of a No. 3 or 4 starter. Now that he’s in a system with more pitching depth, Odorizzi, 22, will almost certainly return to triple-A to open 2013.   #7 Richard Shaffer (3B) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 21 199 50 9 4 22 50 0 .292 .387 .450 .392 Shaffer, 21, was a bit of a steal as the 25th overall selection in the 2012 draft. A solid all-around talent out of Clemson University, the North Carolina native is extremely polished and could move quite quickly through the system. He has t...
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