Written By: Wrenzie
Follow him on Twitter: @GiantProspectiv
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW
**Right below is the Rays 2020 Top 20 Prospects list simplified. Please, scroll further down for FULL Present/Future Grades, FV, ETA, and summaries on EACH PLAYER ranked in the system! Tons of Statistics on each player as well! Some player highlights, future outlooks and more enjoy!**
|1||Wander Franco||SS||International FA signing – 2017|
|2||Vidal Brujan||2B/SS||International FA Signing – 2014|
|3||Randy Arozarena||OF||Trade with Cardinals – 2020|
|4||Xavier Edwards||OF/2B||Trade with Padres – 2019|
|5||Brendan McKay||LHP||1st Round: 4th Overall – 2017 Draft|
|6||Shane McClanahan||LHP||1st Round : 31st Overall – 2018 Draft|
|7||Shane Baz||RHP||Trade with Pirates – 2018|
|8||Nick Bitsko||RHP||1st Round: 24th Overall – 2020 Draft|
|9||Joe Ryan||RHP||7th Round – 2018 Draft|
|10||Brent Honeywell, Jr.||RHP||2nd Round – 2014 Draft|
|11||Josh Lowe||OF||1st Round: 13th Overall – 2016 Draft|
|12||Greg Jones||SS/OF||1st Round: 22nd Overall – 2019 Draft|
|13||Taylor Walls||SS||3rd Round – 2017 Draft|
|14||Ronaldo Hernandez||C||International FA Signing – 2014|
|15||Alejandro Pie||SS||International FA Signing – 2018|
|16||Seth Johnson||RHP||CBA: 44th Overall – 2019 Draft|
|17||JJ Goss||RHP||CBA: 36th Overall – 2019 Draft|
|18||John Doxakis||LHP||2nd Round – 2019 Draft|
|19||Nick Schnell||OF||1st Round: 32nd Overall – 2018 Draft|
|20||Moises Gomez||OF||International FA Signing – 2015|
1. Wander Franco – SS – Charlotte Stone Crabs (A Adv)
19 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: R – Ht: 5’10” Wt: 189 – ETA: 2021
Wander Franco is so, so good. There’s a reason why Franco will be the #1 overall prospect in all of baseball on this site, just as he is on almost every baseball prospect’s publication.
The crown jewel of the 2017 international FA class, Franco never stopped performing in the minor leagues, reaching high-A ball at the age of 18. Not only did he perform decently in high-A ball, but he also killed it just as he did in the lower levels.
Franco combines age, consistent performance, profile, innate baseball talent, maturity, and makeup to make him the best prospect in the sport. He is a true switch-hitter. He is not just a switch hitter who just switch hits for the sake of switch-hitting where you can shift him to his weaker side to get a competitive advantage. Franco does not show any weakness on both sides of the batter’s box, exhibiting Major League-quality approach and strike-zone control, as well as innate bat-to-ball ability with his strong wrists generating impressive bat speed.
While Franco shows off his raw power in batting practice, he is more of a line-drive hitter in a game where he posts above-average MLB level exit velocities. He does a good job of spraying baseball all over the field as well. With his thicker frame, I could see him lose a step as he matures where he posts plus home to first times. That leaves the possibility of him moving out of shortstop long-term. However, I am betting that he will stay at the position because he moves well in the dirt with very good footwork, above-average arm strength, and soft hands.
I love the passion and the level of confidence that he brings to the field, where he plays like his hair is on fire, and he has shown the ability to rally the troops to his side.
I don’t think that there is any question that Franco is going to be a star in the Majors once he gets there and settles in. The only debate in my opinion is whether someone is worthy of the 80 FV.
In my opinion, if someone that deserves an 80 grade can be a difference-maker on both offense and defense. And while my projected defense with Franco at shortstop is already good, I do not think he can be a consistent contender for Gold Gloves at the present. Also, I do want to see someone prove it in the big leagues that he is an 80-grade player for me to give him an 80. Nonetheless, I can see Franco turn into an 80-grade player with the Rays.
2. Vidal Brujan – 2B/SS – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
21 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: R – Ht: 5’10” Wt: 180 – ETA: 2020
Following a big breakout in the 2018 season where people started to list him as one of the best prospects in baseball, Brujan had a strong 2019 season where he reached Double-A and once again played shortstop.
Brujan continued his strong showing by continuing to exhibit the things that he is very good at making good contact with the bat, create havoc in the basepaths, and field his position cleanly.
Showing more power from the left side, where he’s shown definite confidence, quick twitch, plus eye-hand coordination, while his right-handed side is more contact-oriented. Nonetheless, he’s shown on both sides of the batter’s box the ability to control the strike zone and produce good at-bats often.
Once he gets on base, and Brujan does so at a very high rate, he takes his game to another level. His raw speed is plus-plus, and while he does get nabbed a good bit (27% caught stealing rate), the impact that he can generate is tremendous, as he’s very aggressive and plays with a lot of hustle. That aggression can get too much on defense, where he has some tendency to rush, but it can get cleaned up.
The knock against him that keeps him from not reaching the upper echelon of prospects is that his game power is only below-average at best. However, he’s shown that he can play the premium position well where his strong arm, first step, soft hands, and general actions can play at the Major League level. Add to that a potential pesky profile, and a frustrating one for the opposing team, where he can reach on base at a high clip and can be a game-changer in the bases and you got yourself a potential star, with All-Star potential at second base.
3. Randy Arozarena – OF – Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
25 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 5’11” Wt: 185 – ETA: 2020
Looks like Arozarena figured something out in 2019 because whatever it was, he really took his game to the next level when he was still in the Cardinals organization, posting career highs in plenty of his offensive categories. The Rays took notice of that and acquired him via trade that sent Matthew Liberatore to St. Louis.
Arozarena is very athletic and that shows up on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he posted much more respectable power numbers in both AA and AAA last year that he carried over in the Majors. Arozarena employs a quick bat with strong wrists and a physical build (looked like 20 pounds heavier than his listed weight) that gives him above-average raw power with potentially more. He’s now tapping to his raw power, with the ability to turn on fastballs and his hips rotate in a controlled violent fashion and have a short finish. He will always have decent at best walk rates and high strikeout rates because he is very aggressive at the plate but he’s shown in the past two years the ability to punish mistakes and drive the ball with authority to all fields.
Arozarena is more of a hit-over-power, speed-centric prospect with a questionable approach. While his athleticism is obvious in the outfield as well as in the base paths with his plus raw speed, he’s beginning to show signs of taking the bull by the horns and be less aggressive than being borderline reckless. He’s shown the ability to play all three outfield positions with an average arm.
As it stands, Arozarena is making a tremendous impact in the Rays lineup as they look forward to a deep playoff run. He’s already exceeding initial expectations but there could be potential to hit a sophomore slump once he graduates out of the system and hitters will take advantage of his aggressiveness and his tendency to chase pitches. There could also be a possibility that he’s going to continue to be great and be a true everyday player for the Rays.
4. Xavier Edwards – OF/2B – Lake Elsinore Storm (A Adv)
21 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: R – Ht: 5’10” Wt: 175 – ETA: 2022
Received by the Rays in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Padres last December, Edwards is in some sort of a dying breed of prospects: in a world where hitting balls with power is something that teams desire, Edwards deviates away from that norm by affecting the game with a contact-oriented, speed-centric approach.
When he was with the Padres, Edwards had the track record of performance. Edwards posts elite-level run times, and not only fast, but he has also shown the ability to steal bases at a high clip and stress out a pitcher in that regard. Edwards has also shown the ability to consistently put the barrel on the ball that he can avoid striking out. He’s made so much contact that it might be cutting down to his walk totals because he has a good feel for the strike zone as well. His set-up on both sides of the batter’s box is also sound with clean swing mechanics.
Edwards might hit a homer or two but he will never be a power threat. There is also the issue of his exit velocities being below average. However, he has a knack to “hit them where they ain’t” and turn those gappers into easy extra bases. With that kind of blazing speed, it gives him the range to become a terrific center fielder, where his arm even though fringy is palatable. He has shown the ability to stick in the dirt given his sheer range and sound actions, but he will move off to second because his arm strength will not be a fit for the position.
When you see Edwards, you can say off the top of your head that he’s “Billy Hamilton but he can hit” or he is essentially Vidal Brujan with way less power and less arm strength. The Rays are one of the best in terms of exploiting a player’s strength to the team’s advantage and in my opinion, they are going to use Edwards in a wide variety of looks. Either utilizing him as a pinch-runner threat at the very least or to have him either leadoff or be at the bottom of the order and exploiting his ability to get on-base often. Edwards will have to continue to hit to succeed and become a staple of the Major League club, and I am betting that he will.
5. Brendan McKay – LHP – Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
24 Years Old – Bat: L – Throw: L – Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 220 – ETA: 2021
Known as the greatest two-way college prospect in the 2000s, McKay’s now primarily focused on pitching full-time and barely missed graduating as a rookie last year (missed by a couple of innings). While there are still possibilities of him pinch-hitting or play DH at the very best, my grades are primarily focused on his pitching.
McKay’s performance in the MLB told us a lot about his potential role in the Majors moving forward. What’s shocked me the most is that he’s shown the ability to pump the fastball up to 97 MPH with above-average movement characteristics and his ability to spot his fastball and his low-90s cutter with a good vertical break inside both lefties and righties pretty well. His low-80s curveball looks competitive especially when paired with his fastball but the movement profile on the pitch is only MLB average the changeup looks underwhelming both on video and on the movement data.
The thing that I have against McKay is that he does not have a true out pitch to rely on aside from the uptick in his fastball. If he improves the vertical break on his curveball and generates more separation with his four-seamer, I think the ceiling will improve. The legitimate uptick in his fastball with what seems to be a compensation for less command is also going to be something to look at next season. As it stands, he is a mid-rotation material at best and he will be a reliable innings-eater for the Rays for years to come.
6. Shane McClanahan – LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
23 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 200 – ETA: 2020
After generating a ton of buzz as a first-round draft pick by the Rays in 2018, McClanahan has shown improvements in terms of refining his pitches and has continued to become a solid pitching prospect for the organization after a 2019 season where he pitched up to AA ball.
Most of the things that I saw on McClanahan a couple of years ago pretty much still holds true. His fastball is a true plus-plus offering, capable of reaching 100 MPH on the left side with plenty of life and with a high spin rate. Some can confuse his power curveball as a slurve or a true slider because of the velocity and the movement profile of the pitch. Nevertheless, it’s still another plus offering.
He’s made some changes with mechanics, particularly with his overall tempo on the mound and raising his arm slot ever so slightly. It did improve the overall control of his pitches but I still see some innate issues that are more likely to not be resolved. I actually liked the changeup more than others, as it can be a potential average pitch for him, but I do agree that it’s definitely a couple of steps behind his fastball-curveball combo.
In my opinion, you are going to get what you asked for from McClanahan, an overpowering fastball on the left side with tremendous life that will get outs on its own, and a power curveball that is a 1-2 knockout in the Majors right now. The Rays can legitimately utilize him as a power lefty right now but there are still improvements left in both his changeup and control to really think that he can reach his potential as a mid-rotation option for the big league club.
7. Shane Baz – RHP – Salt Lake City Bees (AAA)
21 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’3 Wt: 215 – ETA: 2021
The final player added to the hilariously lopsided Chris Archer trade, Baz underwent through a pretty big makeover with regards to his pitch design and his mechanics with the Rays. It earned him a spot in the Arizona Fall League last year.
While there are still issues in Baz’s ability to fully harness his ridiculous arm speed, he’s made visible progress in terms of his command. Baz’s mechanics are now refined enough to a point where he can maintain his eyes directly to the mitt more consistently. The arm action was also cleaner and the tempo’s less aggressive. He will never likely have better than average command as the energy that he generates will still be too much to have that consistent feel for the ball and the zone.
The Rays made Baz scrap his sinker-curveball approach that he was taught when he was with the Pirates and made him throw more four-seamers and sliders. As a result, Baz was now touching 100 MPH with his fastball out of the pen in the AFL with riding life and deception as a result of hiding his arm in his body. His slider flashes plus with a consistent tight break that generates whiffs on its own. Because his curveball was scrapped, he lost the consistent feel for the pitch and is now only the fourth-best pitch with his changeup flashing solid-average.
It will always come down to Baz throwing consistent strikes with his repertoire that will determine if he is a #2-#3 starter or a multi-inning, once-through-a-lineup kind of pitcher. I do see Baz sticking in the rotation in the foreseeable future but I would not be shocked if thrust into a piggyback-style rotation in an organization that is at the forefront of innovation.
8. Nick Bitsko – RHP – Drafted 2020
18 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’3 Wt: 215 – ETA: 2024
NO PROFESSIONAL STATS
The first-round selection of the Rays in the 2020 draft, Bitsko goes to an organization that will continue to develop him in a way that he’s been putting in the work in the off-season: in a pitching lab with the best possible coaching and in the forefront of pitch design.
Bitsko has the potential to become a star with the Rays as a starting pitcher. He has plus movement characteristics and spin rate with his fastball that can reach 98 MPH, albeit in a pitching lab setting. He has also shown the ability to spin two distinct breaking balls already with his slider and his curveball. His slider has shown true gyro rotation with a good, late snap that projects to be a potential putaway pitch for him. The curveball is a little bit behind, flashing above-average with a sharp, 11-5 break. His changeup, while thrown sparingly, was a true fourth pitch for him as it was a bit firm more often than not.
That four-pitch mix comes out of a high 3/4 release point that allows him to stay on the of the baseball often. There is not much projection left in his body as he is already pretty physically built but he has very good athleticism on the mound and repeats his mechanics with the old school windup well to have average command. All of the necessary ingredients are there for Bitsko to reach his ceiling as a #2-3 starter in the Majors.
9. Joe Ryan – RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
21 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 185 – ETA: 2021
Joe Ryan is a conundrum. He threw his fastball for a whopping 73% of the time last year. And yet, he’s dominated three levels last year, reaching AA ball while continuing to post more than a strikeout an inning. Is it actually rocket science, or not?
I do say that his dominance comes from his ability to produce an “invisi-ball“, where the ball really jumps on the hitters. Once he gets to the ready position, his flexibility and plus athleticism allows him to “hide” the ball once again by the flexion on his right elbow and then show the ball once again at pitch release. Even though his velocity is only in the low-90s with average spin rates and movement, it is definitely an uncomfortable at-bat against any hitter.
Pitching in the old-fashioned windup where he brings the ball over his head, his feel for his fastball is plus, as he has shown the ability to spot the ball in the upper third of the strike zone. However, his feel for spinning a breaking ball is pretty fringy, where his looping curveball, slider, and cutter looked fringy to average, with his curveball flashing a bit better. His changeup is his best secondary pitch with very good tumbling action.
It will be an interesting thing to follow on how his pitch mix will play in the Majors. He loves to throw his fastball high in the zone but his curveball is not up to the task in terms of striking hitters out with it. His changeup can play but his four-seamer is not really the best fit for his best offering. Ryan’s ceiling is a mid-rotation piece if he can improve the ceiling of his breaking balls.
10. Brent Honeywell, Jr. – RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
25 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 195 – ETA: 2021
NO PROFESSIONAL STATS SINCE 2017
Honeywell has been hit hard by consecutive devastating injuries when he went under the knife to fix his torn UCL in 2018, then a fractured elbow just after his Tommy John rehab last year, and a decompression procedure in his right ulnar nerve (throwing arm) in May this year. The good news is that he is back throwing a month ago to start his comeback trail.
However, when healthy, Honeywell is a pleasure to watch and a frustrating at-bat against opposing hitters. What has made Honeywell famous is his screwball. A legit plus-plus offering in my opinion because of its hard break inside to right-handed batters. Before Devin Williams made the screwball cool once again, Honeywell was supposed to be the guy for the Rays.
His changeup, a completely different pitch on its own as it is 5-7 MPH harder, has hard fade as well in a similar fashion as his screwball.
Honeywell’s fastball sits in the mid-90s when he was healthy, touching 99 MPH with good life up in the zone that he could have heavily relied on in the Minors but chose not to because his secondaries are just as good if not better.
His slider flashed above-average with good tilt and a crisp bite to give right-handers a pitch that moves away from them. His knuckle-curve, while an honest 5th best pitch for him, is still average at best. Even though with having that true five-pitch repertoire, Honeywell has a good feel for the baseball and never had any trouble pounding the zone.
The only thing that I noticed with Honeywell’s mechanics is that he does not ride off his back leg very well, resulting in him using more of his torso to generate the velocity. However, his arm action is still loose and generates very good hip-shoulder separation.
Quite honestly, Honeywell still has the best ceiling of all the pitching prospects in the Rays organization over the past couple of years given the combination of the quality of his deep repertoire. It’s just that there is now a big question mark with him with the myriad of injuries on his throwing elbow and the best predictor of future injuries is past injuries.
11. Josh Lowe – OF – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
22 Years Old – Bat: L – Throw: R – Ht: 6’4″ Wt: 205 – ETA: 2021
Since transitioning to the outfield after playing third base in his prep days, Lowe was aggressively promoted by the Rays organization. In 2019, Lowe finally put it all together, as he posted the top 5 numbers in both home runs and steals as a 21-year-old in AA ball and earned a trip to the Arizona Fall League where he also hit for power.
Lowe has always been a plus athlete throughout his career, and his move to the outfield put that into full display. Lowe’s plus speed allows him to cover plenty of grass and his cannon arm at the third base also played seamlessly in both center field and right field. On all three outfield positions, he’s shown the ability to track the ball very well with good jumps and run efficient routes. He has a solid knack for stealing bases and is not shy to put his speed to test. He could become an even base stealer if he can improve his jumps.
Offensively, Lowe has always been power-over-hit, and I’m cool with it. A thing I am not a big fan of his swing, where he struggles to catch up to fastballs inside because his backhand wraps itself unless he anticipates the pitch and rotates his hips early and cheats. Once he makes contact though, the ball jumps off the bat and he can hit into 20-home run seasons in the big leagues even if his batting average never reaches beyond .250.
He will strike out a good bit but he’s shown the ability to take pitches, recognize spin, have a good game plan at the box, and take walks.
Profile-wise, Lowe is a three true outcomes-type of player offensively with terrific value on both the base paths and in the outfield. Those kind of players do make an impact in the Majors but it will be interesting at how the Rays will utilize him because he does not have the quality hit tool that plenty of their middle of the field-type of prospects have.
I could see him as a starter in the Majors with room for more but the Rays depth could push him to a fourth OF role.
12. Greg Jones – SS/OF – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
22 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: R – Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 175 – ETA: 2022
Ever since his high school days, Jones has always been that elite athlete that needs to have his baseball skills catch up to his athleticism for him to become a good baseball player. He’s shown improvements in improving those said baseball skills last year and he will have a big opportunity to reach his ceiling with the Rays.
Jones has shown strides in terms of controlling the strike zone in his sophomore season and in his cup of tea in pro ball, although his BABIP was overly inflated. Even though he is a wiry athlete, he is strong and physical where he generates good bat speed with a clean and direct swing path.
He shows his raw power in batting practice with strong wrists where the ball does not look heavy at all. In-game action, he utilizes a contact-oriented on both sides of the batter’s box, showing off his bat control and his blazing speed.
Even though Jones has that plus-plus raw speed, he is not that refined as a base-stealing threat and he needs to become a smarter base stealer. While he has that range and enough arm strength to play shortstop, his hands do look to need more work because and he can overplay a ball at times. This speed and range will be a terrific fit at center field, where he can receive an above-average grade from me where he does not have to worry about his hands and let his legs churning.
Jones is another one of those switch-hitting, approach-oriented, middle of the field-type of prospects that the Rays currently have in their deep stable. I can see him becoming an everyday player in the Majors but he will be trapped in this organization as a bench-type in the Majors.
13. Taylor Walls – SS – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
24 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: R – Ht: 5’10” Wt: 180 – ETA: 2021
Yet another one of the seemingly never-ending switch-hitting shortstops in the Rays system, Walls has been a consistent performer in the minor leagues ever since getting drafted by the organization, where he made the postseason in the respective levels that he’s played.
Walls does not have any standout plus tool in my book, but his overall feel for the game is Major League-esque. He only has an average range at shortstop and that could very well move him out of the position, more likely to second base. If he does the transition to the other side of the dirt, he has excellent hands and his fundamentals are refined enough along with that strong arm to think he can be a plus defender at the position.
As a switch hitter, Walls has pretty similar and quiet set-ups on the batter’s box that allows him to see the ball very well and control the strike zone. He only has the below-average raw power to tap into but he can grind at-bats with his feel for the barrel to generate consistent contact and strike out at a low clip. However, I do see his swing being a bit stiff and not as loose as other switch-hitting shortstops in the system such as Greg Jones.
In an organization that is filled with shortstops with oozing potential, Walls fits that “grinder” or “gamer” profile where he will not be flashy with his play but will be a steady presence in the field with both the glove and with his bat. He does not have that power potential to become an everyday player though and he might be relegated to AAAA duties because this system is so damn good.
14. Ronaldo Hernandez – C – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
22 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: R – Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 185 – ETA: 2022
If there is one weakness that the Rays currently have in terms of their prospect depth, it might be in the squat with a canyon-esque gap between Hernandez and the next notable catching prospect in the farm system (Logan Driscoll). Hernandez dipped slightly in terms of his production at the high-A ball, where his walk rate is noticeably down and his power production is metaphorically sucked out of his body.
While listed in notable baseball publications as 185 pounds, Hernandez definitely does not look like someone like a guy weighing 185 pounds. It looks like he is a good 40 to 50 pounds heavier and looked like the cement is dry in terms of his physical projection. It does provide him plus raw power that he does tap in his breakout 2018 season but was not there last year.
Aside from the much better pitching that he faced at High-A ball, I am also not a big fan of Hernandez’s movements in his weight shift from his leg kick to ball contact. It is very timing-heavy and leaves little room for error, which could leave Hernandez as a streaky hitter. Starting with a pretty crouched set-up in the batter’s box, he also shifts his weight upwards, expanding his own strike zone ever so slightly and currently not fully tapping into his raw power as a result. His approach is also not the best in the world to draw decent walk totals but he does have some bat control even though there are flaws in his swing.
Defensively, Hernandez has a very strong arm at catcher where he nabbed just below 40% of would-be base stealers last season. He has tried a variety of set-ups behind the dish in order to improve his framing and overall receiving and blocking but there’s still plenty of refinement needed for him to become a passable defender at the position.
I can definitely see a bust potential with Hernandez but there is definite upside as a power-hitting catcher with a cannon arm for the Rays
15. Alejandro Pie – SS – DSL Rays (RK)
18 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’5″ Wt: 180 – ETA: 2025
Pie was signed by the Rays in 2018 and was designated to play in the DSL last year, where he played well enough to earn an All-Star nod and he hit a home run in the 5th inning.
Pie is a unique profile at shortstop, where his frame is extra large and there could be potential for even a taller and wider frame in the next couple of years. That gives him a potential raw power that is as high as they come. He’s skinny at the moment but I expect him to fill out that frame in the coming years. That will give him at least plus raw power, creeping towards plus-plus.
His swing on the right side has been cleaned up a good bit ever since he was signed by the Rays a couple of years ago, where his hands are now in his backside with an open stance that kind of reminds of me of an Edwin Encarnacion or Aristedes Aquino if I pull up a comparison in terms of size. He has a pretty good feel for putting the barrel to the ball but there are youthful issues such as aggressiveness at the plate as expected. However, there’s already in-game power in his pull side and he has good bat speed.
Because of his frame, I think he will eventually move off of shortstop if he ever loses a step or two since there are so many good shortstops in this system. He is nimble for his size with good fundamentals in the dirt and a strong arm. That could potentially make him a potential third baseman or in the corner outfield at the very worst.
There is still a good amount of years before Pie will truly break out and that is a cause for concern for some. However, there’s enough potential for me to think that he can be a Major Leaguer given how good this system is at developing prospects.
16. Seth Johnson – RHP – GCL Rays (RK)
22 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 200 – ETA: 2023
One of the purest throwers in the 2019 MLB Draft class, Johnson combines a combination of athleticism, very low mileage in his right arm, and present good stuff to make him as one of the most exciting pitchers in the farm system.
It is not the start of the conversation about Johnson if it’s not about his mechanics. I see Johnson as one of the best natural throwers in the farm system, with his arm circle looking smooth and is in sync of his body most of the time. It is a very easy mechanics to repeat, and Johnson could eventually have above-average command once he gets the reps with the very good player development staff.
A former shortstop, Johnson brings a low to mid-90s fastball in his pocket with decent life and thrown from a pretty steep downhill plane. He tunnels his slider very well with his fastball, a mid-80s offering with a hard vertical break that he uses to get his strikeouts and whiffs. While he can spin a slider very well, his curveball on the other hand looks loopy and without any competitive break. While his changeup has shown some promise as a solid average third pitch, his arm action is pretty long to think that he will struggle to turn over his cambio.
I can see Johnson as a Major League starter if everything comes together nicely. Even though he’s relatively new to pitching full-time, his feel for his fastball and his slider is already pretty astounding but he can struggle to carry his velocity deep into his starts. If he struggles to improve his curveball into an at least average offering or his changeup development stalls, his fastball-slider combination is good enough to make him a potential lethal two-pitch reliever.
17. JJ Goss – RHP – GCL Rays (RK)
19 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 185 – ETA: 2024
Goss was more known for his feel and projection rather than pure stuff before 2019. He experienced an uptick in velocity while also retaining that good feel for his pitches and the strike zone. That combination resulted in him being drafted by the Rays last year.
Goss’ fastball has reached 97 MPH in short bursts but will typically sit in the low-90s in starts. The pitch has good life up in the zone and he has a good feel for it. I am unsure of how his velocity will improve because even though he is a skinny athlete, I am not seeing him filling out much without compromising his present mechanics and overall athleticism.
His 79-82 MPH slider flashed plus in a vacuum but there are still inconsistencies with the quality and overall feel for the pitch. His changeup, while thrown sparingly, looked like a true third pitch for him with good fade.
Mechanically he looks pretty rough and there will be refinements that have to be made in order to translate his good feel for the ball into the box score. His spin rates are only average, where his breaking ball is below MLB average, so he will lean more on the deception caused by the crossfire in his delivery to produce the movement and not with his ability to spin the ball.
Goss has a long way to go and the Rays do take their prep talents on a journey to ensure that they are as ready as they come when they get the call to the big leagues. I do see potential in Goss if I am completely wrong on the physical projection (go, prove me wrong, JJ!) but as it stands, it is more of a back-end starter right now.
18. John Doxakis – LHP – Hudson Valley Renegades (A Short)
22 Years Old – Bat: S – Throw: L – Ht: 6’4″ Wt: 215 – ETA: 2022
After a breakout 2019 season as a junior for Texas A&M where he saw his numbers improve drastically, Doxakis was selected by the Rays in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft. Doxakis showed his maturity in his cup of coffee in the pro ranks, showing the feel of a potential quick-mover through the Minors.
There are a handful of lefties in the farm system that is renowned for their command rather than their stuff (Brendan McKay included before his sudden velocity uptick in the Majors), but Doxakis has the most interesting combination of stuff and funk in his mechanics. Doxakis does not have the smoothest arm circle in the world but that makes him really hard to time up in my opinion. Add to that his slight crossfire and his low to true 3/4 arm slot and that creates plenty of deception and uncomfortable at-bats especially to hitters who do not carry a game plan against him. Even though his motion is funky, he has a relatively clean arm action and drives off his back leg well with good extension.
Because Doxakis has plenty of funk and deception in his mechanics, it allows his rather decent fastball velocity of 88-92 MPH to play up, especially high in the zone where he can use his low arm slot to create a flatter approach angle. The fastball has good tailing action but tends to miss his spots to his glove-side more often.
His slider is his best secondary pitch at the moment, where he has a very good feel to spin the ball and get swings and misses as he tunnels it with his fastball very well. His changeup while looking pretty raw at the moment flashed above-average with good tumble and could be a weapon for him because of his arm slot and arm action.
While Doxakis will not wow you with his stuff, I can definitely see him reach the Majors because he has the combination of funk and feel for his pitches to become at least a fastball-slider lefty out of the bullpen. However, his ceiling is a back-end starter especially if his changeup develops the way that I see it.
19. Nick Schnell – OF – Bowling Green Hot Rods (A)
20 Years Old – Bat: L – Throw: R – Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 180 – ETA: 2024
Schnell’s blend of power and speed intrigued the Rays enough and selected him in the 2018 Draft. He’s been hampered a bit by injuries in two years (wrist in 2018, knee in 2019) but reached as high as full-season A ball last year, albeit with terrible offensive numbers.
One of the best athletes in the Rays organization, Schnell has plus raw tools: his athleticism, physical projection for his raw power, raw speed, and arm strength all grade as plus. However, his bat is still plenty raw, especially with his high whiff and strikeout numbers. His approach is still as raw as a cow in the field, chasing bad pitches, and looks like he does not have a game plan. His swing itself also has flaws, as his noticeable arm bar leaves him susceptible to getting pounded inside. While he does have that potential 30-homer ability, his combination of approach and mechanical issues bumps his potential in-game power a good bit. However, I do like his strong wrists and how loose he is on the batter’s box.
Schnell has plus raw speed and does a good job of getting out of the box quickly after his follow-through. However, I could see him lose a step after he fills out his frame. That could leave him to move away from center field, and his plus arm makes him a terrific fit in right field, where there is potential for him to become at least an average defender.
If Schnell can figure it all out offensively, he has the potential to become something special for the Rays. He’s still very young and he will be plenty of chances to improve. If he can improve his walk rate and strike zone control to a point where he can be a three true outcomes-type player offensively while playing good right field, he will provide good value. However, the gap between point A and point B is very wide.
20. Moises Gomez – OF – Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
22 Years Old – Bat: R – Throw: R – Ht: 5’11” Wt: 200 – ETA: 2023
In a farm system where having a good approach is in the utmost priority as a hitter, Gomez could be easily overlooked because of his really high strikeout totals and low walk rate (he got passed on the Rays 40-man roster). However, his power is as good as anyone in the system, setting a single-season record for his high-A ball team last year even though his batting average dipped close to the Mendoza line.
Gomez posts one of the highest exit velocities in the Rays system, as he’s able to shoot balls out of his bat with exit velocities close to 110 MPH. It sounds like a cannon going off when he makes good contact. His problem is the ability to make consistent contact. While having innate contact issues, he keeps on chasing pitches out of the strike zone almost without fail that gets him to troublesome counts and results in the 5th highest strikeout rate in the FSL last year.
He has average speed out of the box but he filled out his body frame could result in him getting close to below-average in the long run because he looked pretty stocky. His arm strength will limit him in the corner outfield, where he can play both the corner outfield spots where he looked pretty vanilla defensively.
Gomez has the look of a stud power masher capable of hitting at least 30 home runs in the Majors annually in the middle of the lineup. However, he got beat hard by playing in a much better pitching environment last year that leaves his potential as volatile as it gets. As it stands, he has time to put in the work and be that potential three true outcomes power masher that he can become.