Tampa Bay Rays
1. Desmond Jennings: As one of the most dynamic players in minor league baseball, Jennings represents the future leadoff hitter for a Tampa Bay organization hoping to compete year after year.
2. Jeremy Hellickson: He is a control artist with the repertoire of a mid-rotation starter. However, improved movement and an uptick in his secondary offerings could lead to even greater things. If Hellickson can stay healthy, he is the most sure thing that Tampa Bay has to offer.
3. Wade Davis: His overall repertoire has ace written all over it, but Davis’ control needs to improve across the board if he’s going successfully transition to the big leagues.
4. Matthew Moore: Representing the third true potential No. 1 starter in Tampa Bay’s farm system, Moore has fantastic stuff but needs to improve his control if he’s going to succeed at higher levels. He still has a ways to go.
5. Tim Beckham: He was an overdraft at No. 1 in the 2008 draft, but there is no denying his upside. As a true work in progress, his glove needs just as much improvement as his bat.
6. Reid Brignac: You would like to see him cement his play in the major leagues, but Brignac has a little bit of everything you look for in an everyday shortstop. A very solid player is in the works.
7. Nick Barnese: His stuff doesn’t turn heads, but Barnese has all the makings of a mid-rotation big-league starter. It’s doubtful at this point, but if one of his secondary pitches develops into a truly dominant “out” pitch, even greater things could be on the horizon.
8. Jake McGee: Back from Tommy John surgery, McGee threw limited innings in 2009. His goal in 2010 will be to recover what he had before the surgery, namely his plus fastball. Tampa may move him to the bullpen permanently, but I’m still willing to invest.
9. Kyle Lobstein: His reputation gets a bit overblown at times, but there is no denying Lobstein’s deliberate mechanics and solid repertoire. I do have to question how much projection is left in his arm, however.
10. Cody Rogers: Offering considerable upside, Rogers quietly put together a fantastic Appy League debut. He needs a lot of refinement, but he has a nice combination of power and speed to go along with his natural contact skills.
1. Brian Matusz: Matusz has everything you look for in a front-of-the-rotation prospect, including an arsenal full of potentially plus pitches, a feel for the type of control it takes to succeed in the big leagues, and an intimidating demeanor on the mound.
2. Jake Arrieta: He has an average four-pitch mix and a fastball that can occasionally touch the mid-90s, but it is time to question Arrieta’s endurance. It’s the only thing holding back his No. 2 starter upside.
3. Brandon Erbe: Erbe sports impressive stuff, but he doesn’t possess an out pitch and, frankly, he is far too hittable right now. His control is not where it needs to be either. He is more raw than he should be at his point, and he looks like a mid-rotation starter.
4. Matt Hobgood: With great endurance and advanced movement for his age, Hobgood has a good amount of upside. His repertoire has a long maturation process ahead, though.
5. Zach Britton: His groundball rate and natural, sinking action are his best assets, but Britton doesn’t have enough ability to miss bats, which will become more apparent as he moves through the system.
6. Josh Bell: Bell’s home run power busted out in 2009, but his overall upside is not indicative of his numbers. He has the makings of an average third baseman with his strong eye, solid contact skills and above-average power.
7. Xavier Avery: Avery is an eye-catching ballplayer. His raw playmaking ability is something every team craves, but the numerous holes in his swing and lousy plate patience have forced me to be patient.
8. Mychal Givens: Givens is a tremendous athlete with a killer arm at shortstop. He needs a lot of refinement in both his offensive and defensive game. He has a long way to go in order to obtain the smoothness needed to succeed as a line-drive-hitting shortstop.
9. Brandon Snyder: If Snyder weren’t a first baseman, his bat would be playable at the major league level. But his offense projects as below average as a first baseman. More development is needed, but his bat could be maxed out.
10. Ryan Adams: With some upside left, Adams has the contact skills to play at higher levels, but the question is whether or not his power, speed and patience will ever develop into usable skills at the same time.