2009 Top 5 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

Price tops the Rays list but is he the best prospect in baseball? (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Price tops the Rays list but is he the best prospect in baseball? (keithallisonphoto.com)

With what has become arguably the best Minor League organization in all of baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays have quickly built an army of top prospects that have already begun paying dividends in the form of a World Series appearance out of nowhere last season. What’s even scarier is that despite all the stars that have already joined the Rays, they still have another wave of future stars waiting in the wings for their opportunity. With a fan base that had many, many years of suffering through some very disappointing baseball, the ones that were true to their team are being rewarded tenfold here as we enter the 2009 season. Now let’s take a look at the top five Tampa Bay Rays prospects:

1.) David Price
Position: Pitcher | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: #1
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 225
Scouting Report: David Price is the best pitcher we have seen come out of college in a long, long time. His devastating fastball runs 90-95 mph and has a tailing motion away from righties making it extremely difficult to hit. The lanky-lefty also has a high-70’s slurve and a wicked 84-86 mph slider that he throws effectively with two strikes. If you want to try to find something to improve it would be that he needs to get a third plus-pitch such as the change-up he is working on and can at times have control problems. Otherwise he is going to be something special as a pro and already showed that in his much anticipated arrival on the Rays late in 2008 (make sure to check out my in-depth Prospect Spotlight of David Price).

2.) Tim Beckham
Position: Shortstop | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: NR
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 188
Scouting Report: With the first overall pick in 2008 the Rays once again added an incredible player to their organization with Beckham. Beckham is a five tool player in the truest sense of the word and has an incredible feel for the game. With tremendous bat speed and a lot of power potential, Beckham will most likely be able to hit for a high average with the chance to develop some fairly substantial power. He also brings a little above average speed with the ability to steal bases. What makes him even more valuable is the fact that he has all these offensive tools and yet has the defensive aptitude to stay at shortstop unlike many others before him. He’s very athletic which leads to very good range at short with a solid arm and great hands. Even with all these tools, Beckham still is a bit raw and has some areas to smooth out mechanically with his swing but look for him to be number one on my list in 2010.

3.) Wade Davis
Position: Pitcher | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: #4
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 220
Scouting Report: Davis rounds out one of the best collection of young arms in any Minor League system. Davis is a hard thrower with a fastball in the upper-90’s and a sharp moving plus curve. He is currently working on refining one more pitch (between a cut fastball and change up) to help in his battles and to make his other two pitches that much more effective. At first I saw him a middle of the rotation type guy with a ceiling of a number two starter. I’m now coming around more to him being a number two starter with the possibility of becoming an ace type if he can harness one more plus pitch and hold on to his command.

4.) Jeremy Hellickson
Position: Pitcher | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: NR
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 185
Scouting Report: Jeremy Hellickson has plus command of his three pitches which enables him to confidently throw them all at any point in the count. He throws a fastball in the low to mid 90’s and a better than average change up and curve. He has very impressive strikeout to walk ratios which will translate well to the major league level if he can continue it. Staying along this path will make him a strong middle of the rotation guy for the Rays down the road.

5.) Desmond Jennings
Position: Outfield | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: NR
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 185
Scouting Report: People have already questioned my putting Jennings here due to the history of injuries he has suffered including a season ending shoulder surgery last season. But when Jennings is healthy he’s a fantastic ball player. While his power has been slow to develop, he brings fantastic speed and a bat that produces laser line drives. Thanks to his plate discipline he should put up a pretty good on base percentage. His speed not only comes in handy on the base paths but also in center where he is able to cover a lot of ground. If he can shake the stigma of being “injury prone” Jennings should be able to have a solid Major League career.

2008 Rankings: (1) Evan Longoria, (2) David Price, (3) Jacob McGee, (4) Wade Davis, (5) Reid Brignac

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

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5 Responses to 2009 Top 5 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

  1. Mike says:

    I’m going to assume that we lost McGee cuz he’s hurt and Brignac cuz he’s really not that good? I’m not 100% sold on Davis yet, though. I think this is going to be a big year for him to either step up to be what he can be or just be what he is. I like the Jennings call, though. Just a feeling.

  2. Yeah McGee is hurt and Brignac had a horrible year last year. The Rays will most likely try to move him at some point with Beckham being their savior at short.

    Heck, they already tried trading their “team MVP” from last year in Bartlett.

    As far as Davis goes, I agree that he needs to show what type of pitcher he’s going to be this season and take that next step. He’s got the stuff and now its time to really show it.

  3. Mike says:

    I am shocked they tried to trade Bartlett. I figured they’d keep him around until Beckham’s ready to take over. It would be a big mistake to let him go.

    Even though you haven’t made it to Colorado yet- Jennings or Dexter Fowler?

  4. Mike says:

    I would put Nick Barnese in the top 5. With his strong moving fastball 91-93 touching 95, improving curveball, and a solid changeup. I see this kid becoming an ace IMO in the Brandon Webb mode.

  5. […] would even be worth it or not. We all know Upton has star potential and Davis has incredible stuff (click here for my scouting report on him from last year) so unless the Rays could guarantee he would sign an […]

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