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December 20, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks


Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Rays list

The Top Ten

  1. LHP Enny Romero
  2. RHP Jake Odorizzi
  3. RHP Alex Colome
  4. SS Hak-Ju Lee
  5. C Nick Ciuffo
  6. RHP Jesse Hahn
  7. RHP Taylor Guerrieri
  8. CF Kevin Kiermaier
  9. 2B Ryan Brett
  10. CF Andrew Toles

1. Enny Romero
Position: LHP
DOB: 01/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 0.00 ERA (4.2 IP, 1 H, 0 K, 4 BB) at major-league level, 0.00 ERA (8 IP, 4 H, 2 K, 2 BB) at Triple-A Durham, 2.76 ERA (140.1 IP, 110 H, 110 K, 73 BB) at Double-A Montgomery
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 7 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: After a somewhat disappointing 2012 campaign, Romero failed to crack the top 10 in a strong Rays system, but after a solid season in Double-A, nice flash appearances in the Futures Game and in the majors, and a downturn in status for the farm, Romero jumps the queue to claim the top prospect distinction.

Strengths: Excellent size; remaining projection; loose arm; big arm strength; fastball works in the low-mid 90s; can sit in plus-plus velocity and touch higher; good movement; hard curveball has wipeout potential; slider velocity and two-plane break; changeup will flash above-average potential in the mid-80s with late action.

Weaknesses: Well below-average command; release point/slot inconsistency; can get around on the curve and lose snap/rotation; more slurvy action and less bite; changeup is often overthrown and true; more deliberate with secondary stuff.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup/closer)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 27 starts at Double-A level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: As a likely reliever, Romero is one of the least valuable of all the organizational top guns in this series in the fantasy world. Even if he does stick in the rotation, the lack of control will go a long way toward suppressing his potential in WHIP and wins. And if he ends up in the Tampa Bay pen soon, both the logjam of relievers ahead of him and the disincentive for small market teams to give pre-arb players save opportunities will likely leave you looking elsewhere for saves.

The Year Ahead: My opinions on Romero have often been schizophrenic, as I dance between the reality of his skill set and the fantasy about what he has the potential to become. In bursts, Romero is a legit late-innings weapon, a lengthy lefty with a mid-90s heater (he can go get more) and a bat-missing breaking ball. The command is very limiting, but several industry sources suggested Romero could still find success in a rotation as an effectively wild type, and I’m starting to come around to the idea that he could find his way as a starter. Romero has made 77 minor-league starts the last three seasons, so he has the durability to take the ball every fifth day and log innings. His biggest roadblock is his command, and any step forward on that front could propel him into a major-league rotation where the stuff will most definitely play.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

2. Jake Odorizzi
Position: RHP
DOB: 03/27/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2008 draft, Highland HS (Highland, IL)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org), #83 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.94 ERA (29.2 IP, 28 H, 22 K, 8 BB) at major-league level, 3.33 ERA (124.1 IP, 101 H, 124 K, 40 BB) at Triple-A Durham
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5 SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Another strong minor-league season for Odorizzi, and a good showing in his four major-league starts, which should put him in contention for a full-time gig in the 2014 rotation.

Strengths: Consistent; clean, athletic delivery; repeats; throws strikes; fastball works in the low 90s; some late arm-side movement; slider is solid-average; works in the 82-84 range with some tilt; changeup is average/flashes above-avg potential; good deception and action; shows low-70s curveball; can locate his offerings; competitive approach.

Weaknesses: Lacks true plus offering; has to mix pitches and hit his spots; can run into hard contact; slider can get slurvy and loose; curveball is sequence dependent and easy to track; high floor/low ceiling.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Odorizzi is what he is, and at this point, he’s essentially a replacement level starter in shallower leagues. As the depth of your league increases, the more it makes sense to roster him, but without a strong strikeout profile or much of an ability to keep the ball on the ground, Odorizzi may be on the outside looking in at the Top 100 Fantasy Prospects list this year.

The Year Ahead: After 114 career starts across all levels, Odorizzi has shown a consistency rarely found in the often-erratic developmental journey of a high school arm. He’s a solid but not sexy starter, with a four-pitch mix of average (or slightly better) pitches that he can locate and sequence. The ceiling and the floor exist in close proximity, and there is very little risk in the profile. Barring injury, Odorizzi is going to be a major-league-average starter, and that’s a very valuable commodity to have while he’s under team control.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2012

3. Alex Colome
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/31/1988
Height/Weight: 6’2” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2007, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2013 Stats: 2.25 ERA (16 IP, 14 H, 12 K, 9 BB) at major-league level, 3.07 ERA (70.1 IP, 63 H, 72 K, 29 BB) at Triple-A Durham
The Tools: 7 FB; 6 potential CT; 6 potential CB; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Colome once again failed to eclipse the 100 innings mark on the year, as injuries continue to keep the live-armed righty from exploding as a frontline prospect.

Strengths: Electric arm; easy and explosive out of the hand; multiple fastball looks; can work mid-90s; sit higher in bursts; plus-plus offering with “rising” action; can show power sinker as well with good weight; cutter is above-average offering; looks like a short slider, thrown with velocity and late horizontal slice to the glove side; tight curveball will show plus; changeup plays well off fastball; impact arsenal.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent delivery/release points; command is below average; likes to work up with the fastball; inconsistent breaking balls; changeup can be overthrown; can get deliberate and lose deception in the delivery; struggles to stay healthy; limited pitchability.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 20 starts in Triple-A/ML

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: A lazier man would copy and paste much of Enny Romero’s write-up and put it here as well, but I am not said lazier man. In another organization, I would like Colome’s chances of pitching in the back of a rotation in 2014, but the Rays continue to be stacked with starting pitching and unless a David Price trade returns no major-league-ready pitching, Colome will take his plus stuff and shaky command to the bullpen, where he is also unlikely to get saves.

The Year Ahead: Colome has really, really nasty stuff, especially when he feels confident in the secondary arsenal and can locate the fastball early in counts. On paper, the stuff would make him a mid-rotation starter, and perhaps even more if the command were sharp. But the command isn’t sharp, and the 25-year-old Dominican has struggled to stay healthy, so his likely home will come in the bullpen, where his deep mix of plus stuff could make him a late-innings weapon, perhaps even a closer if the command refines.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

4. Hak-Ju Lee
Position: SS
DOB: 11/04/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2” 170 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, South Korea
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2013 Stats: .422/.536/.600 at Triple-A Durham (15 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential glove; 6+ arm; 6 run; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: 15 games into the 2013 season, Lee tore ligaments in his left knee and missed the remainder of the season.

Strengths: Assuming full-recovery (same report pre-injury) Fast-twitch athlete; frame is lengthy and can hold additional strength/mass; high-end defensive profile at shortstop; actions are extremely fluid; soft hands; arm is very strong; first-step quickness and plus range; well above-average speed; continues to improve as baserunner; hit tool has potential; will work himself into favorable counts; the bat has a chance to play.

Weaknesses: Bat can play empty; show some contact ability, but pitchers not afraid to challenge the zone; well below-average power; questions about ability to square up velocity, especially stuff on the inner third; range questions because of knee injury.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average regular

Realistic Role: 5; second-division starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; torn ligaments in knee; defensive chops for major-league level.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: While his defense anchors his future real-life value, Lee’s future fantasy value is tied directly to his speed. Without much pop or hope for a .300 average, he’s going to need to steal 25-30 bases to be worth starting, even at a shallow position like shortstop. Prior to 2013, he had stolen 105 bases in his last three seasons—but major knee injuries don’t tend to increase baserunning skill.

The Year Ahead: Because his calling card was his defensive prowess, which included well above-average range, the ability to return to form will be paramount to his status as a prospect and as a player. If you assume he makes a full recovery, which isn’t farfetched, the speedy shortstop has impact potential at the highest level; Lee has plus-plus speed, excellent hand-eye coordination at the plate that should allow for consistent contact, and the defensive chops to play above-average defense at a premium up-the-middle position. It’s a very nice profile, and a healthy Lee could find a way to contribute to the major-league team at some point in 2014.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Nick Ciuffo
Position: C
DOB: 03/07/1995
Height/Weight: 6’1” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Lexington HS (Lexington, SC)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .258/.296/.308 at complex level GCL (43 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 5+ potential glove; 5 power potential; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2013: Selected 21st overall in the 2013 draft, Ciuffo projects to have one of the most sought-after profiles in the game: a dual-threat catcher.

Strengths: Strong, athletic build; short, quick actions behind the plate; projects to be above-average defensive catcher; arm is strong and accurate; aggressive and confident with actions; lefty swing is simple and easy; good plane to the ball; power potential; highly competitive with baseball IQ.

Weaknesses: Needs general refinement as a receiver; can get overly aggressive, especially with back picks; aggressive swinger at the plate; struggled against spin debut.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; second-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; dual-threat development; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: As I continue to say, holding a catcher on your dynasty farm team is not the best use of a roster spot unless he has star-level upside offensively. Ciuffo, despite the strength of his all-around game, is not at that point and he is forever away from contributing.

The Year Ahead: I’m actually pretty excited about Ciuffo, as every amateur source I contacted adored the young catcher, and Gulf Coast League eyes echoed the glowing reports. Dual-threat development is inherently high risk, and while that is true of Ciuffo, the makeup and natural aptitude for the game give him a big advantage and better odds than most high-ceiling dual-threat high school draftees. It might take a few years to see the type of production the hype suggests, but the present skill set and promise of ceiling will keep him securely in the top 10 for years to come. In the direct parlance of amateur scouts, Ciuffo is “a dude.”

Major league ETA: 2018

6. Jesse Hahn
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/30/1989
Height/Weight: 6’5” 182 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2010 draft, Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: 2.15 ERA (67 IP, 55 H, 63 K, 18 BB) at High-A Charlotte, 0.00 ERA (2 IP, 4 H, 4 K, 0 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 7+ FB; 5+ CB; 5 SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, the former Virginia Tech arm made 19 starts in the Florida State League, allowing only one home run in 67 innings.

Strengths: Excellent size/strength; big leverage; fastball is meaty pitch that can work in the mid-90s; nasty bore into right-handed bats; hard to lift; true power pitch; good feel for mid-80s changeup; good arm-side action; deep curveball flashes plus in the low-mid-70s; shows harder breaking ball with more tilt in the low 80s; good overall feel for pitching/good command profile.

Weaknesses: 24-years-old and yet to reach Double-A level; can overthrow at times; good control at present, but command within the zone is still loose; some sources think delivery and arm action better suited for the bullpen.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; TJ on resume; yet to pitch at Double-A level.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Of all the players mentioned thus far on this list, Hahn has the most likely future in a fantasy rotation. With a very strong 58.2 percent groundball rate—predicated on his difficult-to-lift fastball—he has the skill set I like to look for in a future mid-rotation fantasy starter. #holytrinity

The Year Ahead: Hahn is legit, with a late-innings fastball that he can maintain into starts, a deep secondary arsenal that he can throw for strikes, and a good overall feel for pitching. Sources are mixed on his ultimate role, but I see a starter—and perhaps a very good one. He’s behind the developmental curve, and the Rays tend to barbeque their pitching prospects (low and slow), but 2014 could be the year that Hahn is pushed, most likely starting at the Double-A level.

Major league ETA: 2015

7. Taylor Guerrieri
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/01/1992
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Spring Valley HS (Columbia, SC)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #48 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 2.01 ERA (67 IP, 54 H, 51 K, 12 BB) at Low-A Bowling Green
The Tools: 7 FB; 7 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: Fourteen starts into his full-season debut, injury forced Guerrieri to undergo Tommy John surgery, effectively halting his encouraging developmental progress.

Strengths: Ideal size/strength; delivery and arm work very well; fastball would routinely work in the low 90s and bump the mid-90s; excellent movement to the offering; can sink the ball, run the ball, and cut it; curveball is easy plus offering; big depth and tight rotation; bat-missing pitch; good pitchability and command profile.

Weaknesses: Tendency to overthrow the changeup; secondary delivery can look more deliberate; more control than command (at present); makeup concerns.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; TJ surgery on resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If I could take one player from this system for my dynasty league, it would be Guerrieri. No one can match his upside, and while the Tommy John surgery should push back his ETA, it doesn’t detract much from the upside he has. If you thought Hahn’s groundball rate was impressive, Guerrieri’s 62.2 percent puts it to shame. With potentially top-notch groundball and walk rates, he projects as a very strong ratio play who can give enough strikeouts to be a top-20 starter. Don’t let the risk scare you off.

The Year Ahead: Guerrieri is a power pitcher, one that can ride his lively fastball and wipeout curve all the way to a major-league rotation. The injury effectively presses pause on his development, and the late-season drug suspension adds to the already existing concerns about his overall approach. But a setback of this nature could be a blessing in disguise for the young arm, as Guerrieri will be forced to focus all of his attention on baseball to make a complete recovery, and the flash-boiled maturity could elevate his already impressive profile to the next level. He’s going to be on the shelf for most of 2014, so it will be a lost year on the field. But the rehab process and road to recovery will be the most important test of Guerrieri’s young career.

Major league ETA: 2017

8. Kevin Kiermaier
Position: CF
DOB: 04/22/1990
Height/Weight: 6’1” 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 31st round, 2010 draft, Parkland College (Champaign, IL)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .263/.338/.423 at Triple-A Durham (39 games), .307/.370/.434 at Double-A Montgomery (97 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 6+ glove; 6 arm

What Happened in 2013: Kiermaier continued to flash his impressive outfield profile, establishing himself as one of the top defensive center fielders in the minors.

Strengths: Physical athlete; good present strength; plus-plus run; excellent range; reads/routes are very good; glove is easy plus; arm is plus; weapon defender in center; good approach at the plate; can swing the bat a little.

Weaknesses: Defense-first profile; struggles to drive the ball against arm-side pitching; hit tool likely to play below average; power to play well below average; baserunning needs work.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; bench outfielder/below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 140 games of upper minors experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The defense is spectacular, but unless you’re playing in a sim league, Kiermaier is best left on the waiver wire. If he were to get time in center for Tampa, his speed would play up on the base paths due to Joe Maddon’s aggressiveness, but it wouldn’t make up for his lack of offensive value.

The Year Ahead: Kiermaier is a fantastic defensive outfielder, with well above-average speed, instincts for the position, and a strong arm. The bat isn’t nearly as sexy, although he puts himself in good hitting conditions and isn’t a pushover out. If the bat plays above expectations, he could be a second-division type, but he’s a valuable major leaguer even if the bat is too light to start.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

9. Ryan Brett
Position: 2B
DOB: 10/09/1991
Height/Weight: 5’9” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2010 draft, Highline High School (Burien, WA)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .340/.396/.490 at High-A Charlotte (51 games); .238/.289/.400 at Double-A Montgomery (25 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 run; 5 arm; 5+ glove

What Happened in 2013: Coming off his 50-game drug suspension, Brett continued to hit ropes all over the Florida State League and earned a promotion to the Double-A level and finished the season playing in the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Excellent barrel control; great hands; hits lasers all over the park; stays inside the ball and makes consistent hard contact; hit tool could play above plus; runs well; good range in the field and smart baserunner; glove is above average at second; arm plays well on the right side; high-energy player.

Weaknesses: Can play too fast; rushes actions/throws in the field; good approach but can get too aggressive on the fastball and get jumpy on secondary stuff; limited power potential.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average regular

Realistic Role: High 4; utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited experience at Double-A level; hit tool has to carry.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: A points league late-round darling, Brett has the eligibility, hit tool and speed to be worthy of ownership in dynasty leagues. He may not project to hit double-digit homers, but with usable 25-30 steal potential along with an average that could brush up against .300 in his better seasons, Brett has a shot to be a starter, even in shallow formats.

The Year Ahead: If you love small, grinder, proletariat gamers, Brett fits the profile perfectly, including an amphetamine suspension as the cherry on top. Put him in whatever box you need to, but this isn’t a fringy player, as Brett has a very good (and real) hit tool, with above-average speed and glove at second. He plays with his hair on fire sometimes, but these tools show up in game action, and despite his limited size and power, Brett could end up a major-league regular if the bat plays to its projection. If not, he would make a decent utility option because of his overall feel for the game and athleticism. Fun player to watch. He should get a longer look in Double-A in 2014, and could put himself in the major-league discussion for 2015.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Andrew Toles
Position: CF
DOB: 05/24/1992
Height/Weight: 5’10” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft, Chipola College (Marianna, FL)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .326/.359/.466 at Low-A Bowling Green (121 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 6 potential glove; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: The former third-round pick had a breakout campaign in his full-season debut, ripping 169 hits in 121 games, while stealing 62 bags.

Strengths: Impact athlete; plus-plus run; above-average defensive profile in center, with obvious plus range; ball comes off the bat with some pop; shows back spin; gap ability; leadoff offensive profile.

Weaknesses: Aggressive approach; balance issues in swing/setup; fooled by breaking balls; will pull off; swing-and-miss; arm is fringe; needs refinement on reads/routes.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average regular

Realistic Role: High 4; bench player; below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; Low-A resume; more tools than skills.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Steal 62 bases in full-season ball, and you have my attention. Toles’ fantasy relevance will be all about speed, but it will hinge on his hit tool, as he’s going to have to have to earn enough playing to allow those steals to pile up. The upside makes him the second-best fantasy investment in this system (behind Guerrieri), but there is a lot of work left to be done here.

The Year Ahead: Toles can really run, both as a basestealing threat and as somebody who can go get it in center. He hit for a very high average in Low-A, but the swing [itself] might prove to be problematic as he climbs the professional ladder, with bat speed but balance issues and an approach that puts him at the mercy of secondary offerings. High floor because of the speed and the defensive profile, but the offensive prowess is overstated by the stats and not nearly as projectable as his defensive tools.

Major league ETA: 2017


Prospects on the Rise:
1. LHP Blake Snell
: Lefties with impressive size and stuff are rare breeds, and Snell would be a no doubt top 10 prospect if the command concerns didn’t exist. But after 73 walks in 99 Midwest League innings, the status launch remains in a holding pattern until he can show some refinement on that front.

2. RHP Jeff Ames: A supplemental first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Ames has been on the slow and steady developmental climb, reaching and pitching well in his full-season debut. The big, strong righty already has an above-average fastball, and the secondaries (slider/change) project to be average or better major-league offerings, although he lacks a true knockout weapon in the arsenal. Ames will continue his climb next season in the Florida State League, and with steady improvements, he could emerge as a top 10 prospect in the system at this time next year.

3. CF Thomas Milone: The tools are very raw, but the profile could offer impact, with plus power potential in the bat and a chance to stick around in center field. With his high school football career behind him, a focus on baseball could push the Connecticut native up prospect lists in 2014.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. 1B Cameron Seitzer: While not a name prospect, Seitzer has a chance to eventually contribute to a major-league team, as the abnormally large human from the University of Oklahoma has a very advanced approach at the plate and defensive chops at first, a profile with minimal value to most but one that could find utility for the Rays. The power is unlikely to impress and he doesn’t project as a major-league regular, but the on-base ability is legit, and the major-league bloodlines won’t hurt his cause.

2. RHP Matt Ramsey: A 19th round pick in the 2011 draft, Ramsey is a short right-hander with a thick build, with the stuff to pitch in the major-league bullpen, perhaps as early as the 2014 season. While the arsenal isn’t going to strike major-league hitters with fear, the 24-year-old has shown the ability to miss bats with his 92-94 mph fastball and two-plane breaking ball, but he also finds hard contact, so his command will have to improve if he wants to find sustainable success. He should start the season in Double-A, and a step forward could push him to the majors before the season is over.

3. LHP Mike Montgomery: It seems like I’ve been writing about Mike Montgomery for my entire adult life, as the 24-year-old has been on the prospect landscape since he was popped by the Royals in the first round of the 2008 draft. With suspect command and inconsistent stuff, Montgomery’s future looks brighter in the bullpen, where his stuff could play up and hopefully avoid more barrels than he found as a starter.


Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Wil Myers
  2. Matt Moore
  3. Chris Archer
  4. Enny Romero
  5. Jake Odorizzi
  6. Alex Colome
  7. Hak-Ju Lee
  8. Nick Ciuffo
  9. Jesse Hahn
  10. Taylor Guerrieri

Maintaining a young, cost-controlled core is one of the most difficult tasks in all of baseball, requiring successful amateur acquisition and development, as well as trade savvy in parleying experienced major-league players into future contributors. The Tampa 25U list highlights the full assortment of evaluative skills, boasting draft successes, international signs, and traded-for assets, in the aggregate forming yet another impressive compilation of current and future Major League contributors.

This year’s list is topped by right fielder Wil Myers, the centerpiece in last year’s James Shields trade (which also netted fellow 25U selection Jake Odorizzi). Myers stepped into the Tampa lineup in mid-June and proceeded to triple-slash .293/.354/.478 over 88 games and 374 plate appearances in route to AL Rookie of the Year honors. It was an impactful debut, made even more impressive by the fact that Myers played the entire year at age 22. There’s more over-the-fence pop to come, and Rays fans can look forward to seeing Myers penciled into the middle of the lineup card for years to come.

On the farm, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and 2013 first round draftee Nick Ciuffo are the remaining representatives for the 25 and under position player contingent. Lee saw surgery end his season after just 15 games as a second base collision left the South Korean standout with torn ligaments in his left knee. When healthy, Lee shows smooth actions, sure hands, and second-nature footwork at the six-spot, with a high-six arm to complete the defensive package. The bat is probably best suited for the bottom third of the order. Ciuffo is a well-rounded backstop with an intriguing, if unrefined, defensive profile to go with good power potential and a strong feel for the game.

The Rays flaunt an embarrassment of riches on the mound, with Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Enny Romero, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Colome all logging innings with the big club last summer. Moore and Archer appear ready to provide front-end production, with Romero and Colome also possessing that upside, with strong safety nets as shutdown late inning power arms. Odorizzi profiles more as a mid-rotation producer that will eat innings while offering four average or better offerings.

Jesse Hahn made positive strides this year, notching 20 starts and showing well with High-A Charlotte. Now that he is finally healthy, the Rays could push him over 100 innings in 2014, with an outside shot of a late-season promotion should Tampa require some help in the pen. Guerrieri underwent Tommy John surgery in the middle of the summer, than achieved the near-impossible task of seeing his status drop further this October when he tested positive for a “drug of abuse” for the second time, landing him a 50-game suspension. Guerrieri’s raw stuff is eye-popping, but the makeup issues that surrounded him leading-up to the draft have yet to dissipate. He is still young, and perhaps this extended time on the shelf will help the young hurler refocus his efforts. A healthy and dedicated Guerrieri could give the Rays yet another front-end arm right as this current wave of carvers enters arbitration. —Nick J. Faleris

A Parting Thought: With the graduations of Myers and Archer, injuries to Guerrieri and Lee, and developmental years from Shaffer, Vettleson, and Rivero, the system as a whole is weaker than last season. But Romero, Colome, and Odorizzi will all contribute to the major-league team in 2014, and positional contributors are on the way, like Brett, Kiermaier and (hopefully) a healthy Hak-Ju Lee.

***

Show your #want for the Rays here:

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

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