A Minor Review of 2013: Rays

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

The Graduate: Wil Myers, OF: Myers became one of the rare rookies who actually hit better in the Majors than in the minors after he was promoted in mid-June. Like any inexperienced rookie, he showed some rough edges at times but displayed the ability to hit for both average and power. The trade that sent the young outfielder from Kansas City to Tampa Bay hasn’t worked out horribly for the Royals but I’d imagine they’re doing some second guessing on their decision.

The Riser: Jeff Ames, RHP: The organization has been extremely cautious with Ames. The college product spent two seasons in short-season ball and then all of 2013 in Low-A ball. The 2014 season should be a big year for the right-hander who turns 23 in January and he will be old for his league yet again if he starts out in High-A ball. Fellow pitching prospect Jesse Hahn also received consideration for this slot but his time on the DL gave the edge to Ames.

The Tumbler: Hak-Ju Lee, SS: After a disappointing offensive season in 2012, Lee was off to a strong start with the bat at the Triple-A level when he blew out his knee and missed the remainder of the season. If he recovers fully, the South Korea native offers plus defense, a plus arm and plus speed with league-average offense.

The 2013 Draft Pick: Kean Wong, 2B: The brother of Cardinals prospect Kolten Wong, Kean displayed a pure swing and hit for a high average in his debut. He struggled early against southpaws but made adjustments as the year progressed. The organization is quietly building up some impressive middle infield depth.

The Sleeper: Brandon Martin, SS: The ultra-toolsy Martin continues to be hampered by poor pitch recognition, leading to high strikeout rates. The good news is that he still has time for things to click, as he only turned 20 in August and now has three pro seasons under his belt. A horrible month of August (.148 average) pulled his numbers down quite a bit.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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I’ve been fascinated by Vince Belnome’s statline, but I haven’t seen much analysis or buzz on him whatsoever. Does he actually look viable as a major league infielder, or is there some glaring flaw I’m not seeing? It would seem that a 2nd basemen who walks more that 1 out of every 7 at-bats must be valuable to someone.