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Tampa Bay Rays: Top 10 Prospects For 2013

Tampa Bay Rays prospectsIgnited by the game’s top pitching staff, the Tampa Bay Rays were in contention to earn their fourth playoff appearance in five years last season. The reason they fell short was an anemic lineup that struggled to score runs. This offseason, the club finally dipped into its pitching surplus to upgrade the offense by dealing James Shields and Wade Davis  to Kansas City for uber outfield prospect Wil Myers, starting pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and minor league third baseman Patrick Leonard.

The Rays still have gaping holes in their lineup, especially if third baseman Evan Longoria spends any amount of time on the disabled list, but their farm system is still among the best in baseball. Though they parted with innings-eater Shields and the versatile Davis, they added Odorizzi, who projects as a middle of the rotation starter, and the left-hander Montgomery, who has potential if he improves his command.

With names like Chris Archer (who the Rays acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade), Taylor Guerreri, Alex Colome, Blake Snell and Enny Romero to accompany Odorizzi and Montgomery, Tampa Bay remains loaded with promising arms.

Aside from Myers and third baseman Richie Shaffer, though, the Rays do not have potential impact bats among their top prospects, so the club’s front office will need to tap into pitching to acquire more bats via trades.

Here are the top 10 prospects in the Rays farm system entering the 2013 season:

1) Ranked No. 3 on the Baseball News Source Top 10 Prospects List for 2013, 22-year-old right fielder Wil Myers is widely regarded as the top hitting prospect in the minors. Though the Rays desperately need offense, they could assign him to Triple-A Durham to open  the 2013 season to delay his free agent eligibility clock. When he finally makes his Major League debut, Myers is a right-handed bat who can hit for average and power as his .314/.387/.600/.987 slash line with 37 home runs and 109 RBI between Double-A and Triple A last season show.

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2) Featuring four pitches (a mid-90s fast ball, a curve ball, a change-up and a cutter), 20-year-old right-hander Taylor Guerreri is yet another Rays starting pitching prospect with a high ceiling. A first round pick (24th overall) out of high school in 2011, he logged a 1.04 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 12 starts for Tampa Bay’s new York-Penn League affiliate last season.

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3) When the Rays traded Matt Garza to the Cubs in January 2011, they landed promising shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (see below), catcher Robinson Chirinos, outfielder Sam Fuld and right-handed starting pitching prospect Chris Archer. Boasting a power fast ball and slider, the 24-year-old Archer has middle of the rotation potential, and he could also emerge as a late-inning reliever.

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4) A 22-year-old right-hander, Jake Odorizzi has now been part of two significant trades for pitchers. A supplemental first rounder (32nd overall) by Milwaukee in 2008, he was sent to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke trade and then this offseason he was packaged to the Rays for Shields and Davis. Featuring a low 90s sinking fast ball, a curve ball,  slider and a change-up, Odorizzi started the Futures Game last summer and won 15 games between Double-A and Triple A before making his Major League debut (4.91 ERA, 1.64 WHIP in two starts).

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5) An exceptional defensive shortstop, 22-year-old Hak-Ju Lee can hit for average, though he batted just .261 at Double-A Montgomery last year. He has plus speed and stole 37 bases. An oblique injury shortened his season, but he is one step closer to the majors.

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6) A first round selection (25th overall) in 2012 out of Clemson University, 21-year-old third baseman Richie Shaffer has prodigious power. With Evan Longoria entrenched long term at third base, Shaffer will likely shift to first base or right field as he climbs the Rays farm system.

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7) A 24-year-old right-hander our of the Dominican Republic, Alex Colome has spent six seasons in the Rays minor league, producing a 3.66 ERA and recording 535 strikeouts in 529 innings. He made his Triple-A debut at the end of 2012, appearing in three games. He features a plus fast ball and curve ball but has more work to do on his change-up.

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8) Enny Romero has a mid-90s fast ball with movement, and when he masters his curve ball and change-up m- and improves his overall command – he has a chance to join the ranks of potential frontline starters for the Rays.

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9) A supplemental first rounder (42nd overall) out of high school in 2010, 21-year-old outfielder Drew Vettleson showed his all-around skills when he batted .275 with 15 home runs, 69 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 505 at-bats at low Single-A Bowling Green last year. He was also a pitcher in high school and has a strong arm, which is ideal for his current position in right field.

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10) Blake Snell was a supplemental first rounder (52nd overall) out of high school in 2011, and he is another high-ceiling left-hander in the Rays organization. He dominated the Appalachian League last season with a 2.09 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and a .202 batting average against in 11 starts.


Jeff Louderback is a professional writer, author, editor and publicist whose work about the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and general Major League and Minor League columns and features appear in print and online media outlets.