Archive for Rays

Nathan Eovaldi Might Be the Best Starter on the Market

I’ve gone around and around on this point. It’s possible that J.A. Happ is the best starter on the market. I used to think Tyson Ross would be the best starter on the market. And the Mets, of course, could blow everyone away if they start taking real offers for Jacob deGrom. There is no clear favorite; the trade-deadline picture is always cloudy. But I can tell you I’m coming around on Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi is eight starts into the season, now that he’s on the other side of Tommy John surgery, and he’s already recorded three starts of at least six innings with no more than one hit. On Sunday, against the Mets, he made an attempt at a perfect game. All of Eovaldi’s old arm strength remains intact. And now he’s improving on what he does with it.

Back when Eovaldi was younger, back when we understood a little less about pitching, he was somewhat confounding to analysts. It didn’t make immediate sense why someone who threw so hard would allow so much contact. Where we stand today, Eovaldi has what would easily be a career-high strikeout rate. He also has what would easily be a career-low walk rate. I can rattle these things off if you’d like. Among starters this season, Eovaldi ranks first in strike rate. He ranks second in chase rate. He ranks first in the rate of pitches thrown while ahead in the count. He ranks first in the rate of pitches thrown in the zone. Eovaldi is blossoming, and you could argue he has the Yankees and Rays to thank.

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The Rays Used a Catcher To Protect a Late Lead

No one ever wants to play 16 innings. Pretty much no one ever wants to watch 16 innings, but, certainly, no one ever wants to play them. Even Ernie Banks would want those 16 innings spread over two games, instead of just one. At a certain point, baseball breaks down. The rosters get warped and everyone’s tired, and while you could say it becomes more of a psychological battle than a physical one, the baseball at the end of a marathon resembles only slightly the baseball at the start. There’s a reason Rob Manfred has talked about changing the rules in extra innings, and it’s not because he hates baseball. It’s because, when a game goes too long, the players hate baseball. And based on how few people remain in the stadium, many of the fans do, too.

The Rays and Marlins played 16 innings on Tuesday. The Marlins are out of it, and the Rays might as well be, but there’s no giving up, not in the regular season. Definitely not in early July. The game took place in the NL ballpark, and things inevitably got weird. The Rays, of course, don’t have a conventional pitching staff, so they quickly ran low on pitchers. Meanwhile, over the past three years, no one with at least 150 plate appearances has a lower wRC+ than Dan Straily, but the Marlins were forced into using him as a pinch-hitter. A game that goes 10 feels like it’ll end after 11. A game that goes 15 feels like it’ll end after the heat death of the universe. At any moment, a team might score a run. But after it’s been long enough, scoring feels impossible.

At last, in the 16th, things broke the Rays’ way. The game had been tied at four since the fifth. Then the Rays put up a five-spot. The rally featured an RBI single by long reliever Vidal Nuno, and the hit was his second in as many innings. As Nuno batted in the 16th, he’d thrown only 26 pitches. It looked as if Nuno would be fine to close the game out. Then he ran down the line after contact.

Vidal Nuno strained his hamstring. He was replaced. Though the Rays wound up ahead 9-4, they’d need someone to record three outs. They didn’t turn to their bullpen. They turned to their bench.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 7/2

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Today is July 2, the first day of the new international signing period. Both our rankings and scouting reports on the top players signing today are available by means of this ominous portal.

Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Chicago Cubs (Profile)
Level: Short Season   Age: 19   Org Rank: 14  FV: 40
Line: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 8 K

Marquez has a 20:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Eugene. I saw him up to 96 last year, but he was 88-93 in extended spring training, and his body had matured and gotten somewhat soft pretty quickly. It didn’t affect his advanced fastball command, though, or his arm-side command of his breaking ball, which comprise a large chunk of Marquez’s current plan on the mound. He projects as a No. 4/5 starter with several average pitches and above-average control.

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The Most Unhittable Arm in the Minors

The most unhittable arm in the minors is a 24-year-old lefty reliever. Two months ago, he was selected as a player to be named later in a major-league trade swung in February. He’s never made a prospect list of any significance, be it league-wide or organizational, and he doesn’t have any video clips on the official Minor League Baseball website. Whenever we write posts here, we’re supposed to include photos to go out to accompany the tweets, and I had to use a photo of the player from his previous club. I didn’t even know how to pronounce the guy’s last name until this morning.

The most unhittable arm in the minors is Colin Poche. Last year, he led the minor leagues in strikeout rate. This year, he again leads the minor leagues in strikeout rate, having increased his own strikeout rate by a dozen points despite going up against much stiffer competition. When Poche pitched in High-A last year, he struck out 37% of the hitters. In Double-A this year, he struck out 60% of the hitters. In Triple-A this year, he’s struck out 50% of the hitters. All year long, over 41.1 innings, he’s allowed just three runs. He’s allowed an OBP of .185, and he’s allowed a slugging percentage of .184. Colin Poche is turning in one of the most unbelievable performances you might ever see. Better still, it’s not entirely clear how he’s doing it.

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The Rays Played a Pitcher at First Base

It’s been a strange few months for the Tampa Bay Rays. The front office spent the spring denying accusations they were trying to tank, and even at a half-decent 39-40, the club is nowhere particularly close to the playoff hunt. And yet, if you prefer the BaseRuns standings to the actual ones, the Rays have been a top-ten baseball team, even while playing a difficult schedule. And while injuries and being shorthanded led the Rays toward their “opener” experiment in the middle of May, as a team they’ve allowed the lowest ERA in baseball ever since. They’ve also allowed the lowest wOBA. This is where the Rays have gotten without Brent Honeywell. This is where they’ve gotten without Jose De Leon. Injuries have sidelined Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Archer, Anthony Banda, Jake Faria, and Kevin Kiermaier, among others. A month ago, Denard Span and Alex Colome were traded.

Through one lens, the Rays have been mediocre. They are how they were designed. Through another lens, the Rays have been an inspiring success. One could argue only luck separates them from a wild-card spot. No matter the lens, though, the Rays haven’t been boring. It’s a young club, stocked with talent. The strategy around the starting rotation and the subsequent relievers has been inventive. And on Tuesday, in the ninth inning of a one-run game, manager Kevin Cash played a pitcher at first base. The circumstances weren’t extraordinary. It was done very much on purpose.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 6/24 and 6/25

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Joe Palumbo, LHP, Texas Rangers (Profile)
Level: Rehabbing   Age: 23   Org Rank: 18  FV: 40
Line: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 R

Sunday was Palumbo’s first start back from Tommy John surgery. He was into the mid-90s with a plus curveball before the injury, which caused him to miss all of 2017. Yerry Rodriguez (more detail here) had a second strong outing in relief of Palumbo, striking out seven in six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. Video of Rodriguez appears below.

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Sunday Notes: Snapshots from SABR 48 in Pittsburgh

A pair of PNC Park official scorers spoke at SABR’s 48th-annual national convention on Thursday, and both shared good stories. One came from Evan Pattak, who explained why beat writers are no longer hired into the position. The precipitating incident occurred on June 3, 1979.

Bruce Kison took a no-hitter in the late innings against San Diego,” recounted Pattak. “A Padre (Barry Evans) hit a ball down the third base line that the third baseman (Phil Garner) couldn’t handle. The official scorer was Dan Donovan of the Pittsburgh Press, and he ruled it a hit, ending the no-hitter. Everybody at the park agreed with the call except Kison.

“This created a very awkward situation for Dan, who had to go into the locker room after game. He asked Kison, ‘What did you think of the call?’ Bruce let him know, in no uncertain terms. At that point, the newspapers realized they were placing their beat writers in untenable situations. At the end of the 1979 season, they banned beat writers from scoring, a ban that exists to this day.”

Bob Webb told of a game between the Brewers and Pirates on August 31, 2008. In this case, he played the role of Donovan, albeit with a notably different dynamic. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

Fringe Five Scoreboards: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013.

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a few years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion among the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above who (a) was omitted from the preseason prospect lists produced by Baseball Prospectus,, John Sickels, and (most importantly) FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel* and also who (b) is currently absent from a major-league roster. Players appearing Longenhagen and McDaniel’s most recent update have also been excluded from consideration.

*Note: I’ve excluded Baseball America’s list this year not due to any complaints with their coverage, but simply because said list is now behind a paywall.

For those interested in learning how Fringe Five players have fared at the major-league level, this somewhat recent post offers that kind of information. The short answer: better than a reasonable person would have have expected. In the final analysis, though, the basic idea here is to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents or performance might otherwise warrant.


Josh James, RHP, Houston (Profile)
Every time James produces a strong start — an event that has occurred with considerable frequency this season — FanGraphs contributor and traveler within the world of ideas Travis Sawchik sends a note to the present author that reads, “His name is JOSH JAMES.” While I can’t argue with the literal sense of Sawchik’s message — namely, that this right-hander’s given name literally is Josh James — I suspect that my colleague is attempting to communicate something more profound than a single datum from James’s biography. Have I pursued the topic? No. Not because I’m afraid to, either — but rather because I am infested by indifference.

James made one start this week, recording an 11:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio against 23 batters while facing Houston’s affiliate in Fresno (box).

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Trading Season Is Open Early

It’s funny the way little, unpredictable things can change the course of a season. Baseball is about more than BaseRuns, of course, but, according to BaseRuns, the Rays should have a winning percentage of .528. The Mariners, meanwhile, should have a winning percentage of .529, and both team would be looking up at the .539 Angels. It would be a half-game separation from the second wild card. Despite everything the Rays have experienced and encountered, they might say they should be in the thick of the hunt.

BaseRuns sometimes has only a loose relationship with reality. According to what has actually gone on, the Rays have a winning percentage of .479. The Mariners, meanwhile, have a winning percentage of .592. The Mariners are 5.5 games ahead of the Rays, and, in between them, there are also the Angels and the A’s, to say nothing of some other teams in the neighborhood. Thanks to the early standings, the Mariners’ playoff odds have increased from 9% to 30%. The Rays’ playoff odds have decreased from 5% to 1%. As similar as the Rays and Mariners have arguably been, their current circumstances are undeniably different.

The Mariners also found themselves in a recent bind, requiring an outfielder after Robinson Cano was both hurt and suspended. The Mariners want to win, and they’ve been desperate for help. The Rays have become increasingly willing to shed short-term help. Given everything, it makes sense that we have a pre-draft trade. Such deals are uncommon, but when you have these two front offices in these two situations, you should never allow yourself to be shocked.

Mariners get:

Rays get:

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Jerry Dipoto Does Not Care About Your Friday Plans

Whatever else you might say about Jerry Dipoto, he’s demonstrated an indomitable desire to engage in trades. Big trades, little trades, all sorts of trades. And with injuries and Robinson Canó’s suspension forcing Dee Gordon to move back to the infield (before going on the disabled list himself), and with an extra $11 million of loose change suddenly freed up by Canó’s absence, it seemed likely that Dipoto would ride again, provided he could find a willing partner.

This afternoon, Dipoto found his man, or men rather. Per Marc Topkin.

The Mariners will also receive $4.75 million in cash considerations, so not all the Canó money is spent. The deal makes all the sense in the world for the Mariners. Denard Span and his heretofore 114 wRC+ will provide additional depth in a suddenly thin outfield, with Dipoto indicating that the initial plan is for Span to spend his time in left field, while Guillermo Heredia and Mitch Haniger roam center and right, respectively. Ben Gamel will remain in the mix for the left-field spot. Span also gives the team additional options in center should Heredia falter against right-handed pitching.

Alex Colomé, meanwhile, reinforces a bullpen that, outside of closer Edwin Diaz, has been shaky at times. James Pazos and Nick Vincent have pitched their way to a respectable FIPs, but offseason signing Juan Nicasio’s velocity has declined slightly, as has his effectiveness. According to Pitch Info, his average fastball has climbed back closer to 95 mph rather than the 91 mph Mariners fans were seeing in spring, but he’s still lost a tick, which may help to explain the increase in his home-run rate. Colomé’s season got off to its own rough start, marred by inexact command that lead to an 11.7% walk rate, but May has gone considerably better, with his FIP dropping to 1.35. He represents an additional option in late innings and beyond making the ball more likely to get to Diaz, should also allow the Mariners to rest Diaz a bit more.

Tampa’s side is bit stranger. For a team with the Rays’ pitching strategy, it seems odd to trade a good closer, an oddity that isn’t lessened by the acquisition of Wilmer Font. The Rays do get Andrew Moore and prospect Tommy Romero, which isn’t nothing. As with any set of young arms, there’s always the risk that they’ll bloom into something Seattle regrets giving up. Moore pitched big-league innings with middling results last year, and started the season in Double-A, but he’s still thought to have back of the rotation potential. That isn’t useless, but it also isn’t likely to help the Mariners win right now. And as Jerry and this trade show, winning right now is what Seattle is interested in.

The Rays Have Innovated Again

Necessity is said to be the primary motivator behind innovation. And no franchise is faced with a more difficult environment in which to compete, is confronted by a greater need for innovation, than the Tampa Bay Rays.

In possession of either the worst or second-worst stadium situation in the majors, with small-market revenues, the Rays also share a division with coastal elites like the Yankees (+76) and Red Sox (+75), who rank second and third in the majors in run differential, respectively, behind only the Astros (+98).

Because of this, the Rays have been more willing to experiment than just about every other club over the last 15 years. They brought defensive shifts to the American League, signed Evan Longoria to a club-friendly deal six days after he debuted in the majors, and have limited starting pitchers to two trips through the order more aggressively than any other club. This spring, they planned to employ a four-man rotation.

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Sunday Notes: Indians Prospect Will Benson Has Power and a Plan

The Cleveland Indians were looking into the future when they selected Will Benson 14th overall in the 2016 draft. The powerfully-built Atlanta, Georgia product was a week shy of his 18th birthday, and his left-handed stroke — lethal against prep competition — was going to require polish if he hoped to reach his sky-high ceiling. Two years later, that process is well underway.

“You really wouldn’t,” Benson responded when I asked if now-versus-then film footage would show the same setup and swing. “In high school, you’d see a very athletic kid just competing and somehow getting it done. What you’d see now is more efficient movement — that’s a big thing I’ve worked on — and I’m maintaining better posture throughout my swing. Mechanically, making sure I’m getting behind the baseball is huge for me.”

Hitting the ball long distances isn’t a problem for the young outfielder. His power potential is a primary reason he went in the first round, and 545 plate appearances into his professional career — keep in mind he’s still a teenager — Benson has gone yard 23 times. The youngest position player on the roster of the Lake County Captains, he currently co-leads the low-A Midwest League with seven round trippers.

While Benson’s swing is conducive to clearing fences, his mindset is that of a well-rounded hitter. While he’s embraced launch-angle concepts, his focus is on simply squaring up the baseball. Read the rest of this entry »

This Spring in Tommy John Surgery

Last week, the bell tolled for the 2018 season of the Diamondbacks’ Taijuan Walker. The week before that, it tolled for the Padres’ Dinelson Lamet, and before him, the Angels’ JC Ramirez and the A’s A.J. Puk. If it feels like March and April are particularly full of Tommy John surgery casualties, that’s because they are, at least when it comes to recent history. In early March, just after Rays righty Jose De Leon discovered that he had torn his ulnar collateral ligament, I noted some recent trends regarding everyone’s favorite (?) reconstructive elbow procedure, including the extent to which those early-season injuries are rather predictive of the season-long trend. With April now in the books, and with my nose still in Jon Roegele’s Tommy John Surgery Database, the situation is worth a closer look.

Via the data I published in the De Leon piece, just under 28% of all Tommy John surgeries done on major- or minor-league pitchers (not position players) from 2014-17 took place in March or April, with the figure varying only from 24.8 % to 30.0% in that span. Even expanding the scope to include February as well, which doesn’t increase the total number of surgeries by much but does capture significant ones such as that of Alex Reyes last year — gut punches that run counter to the optimism that reigns when pitchers and catchers report — the range is narrow, with 27.5% to 33.0% of pitcher surgeries taking place in that span.

After my piece was published, a reader pointed out that The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh took an in-depth look at the phenomenon, but intuitively, it’s not hard to understand. Not only do pitchers’ activity levels ramp up dramatically once spring training begins, as they move from lighter offseason throwing programs to facing major-league hitters and therefore place far more stress on their arms, but many pitchers are finally forced to reckon with injuries that did not heal over the winter.

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Players’ View: Learning and Developing a Pitch, Part 6

Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.

In the fifth installment of this series, we’ll hear from three pitchers — Danny Duffy, David Price, and Sergio Romo — on how they learned and/or developed a specific pitch.


Danny Duffy (Royals) on His Changeup

“My changeup used to be a two-seam circle. It was a really good pitch in the minor leagues because of the difference in velocity — I could get away with lack of movement — but, up here, it was starting to get ineffective.

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Daniel Robertson on His New Swing

Daniel Robertson has been scorching the horsehide. With 84 plate appearances under his belt — just enough to qualify for our leaderboards — the 24-year-old Tampa Bay Rays infielder ranks fourth from the top in both wOBA (.451) and wRC+ (189). His slash line heading into the Month of May is a stand-up-and-take-notice .333/.476/.561.

He credits an adjustment for his fast start. Rightly unsatisfied with his rookie-season output — Robertson logged a .634 OPS in part-time duty — he spent the winter revamping his stroke under the tutelage of a pair of hitting gurus. No longer satisfied with a “pretty generic swing,” he’s now embracing launch angle (a term he uses cautiously) and adopting a rhythm-conscious mindset that allows him to transfer his energy through the baseball.

Robertson talked about his new mechanics and approach when the Rays visited Fenway Park over the weekend.


Robertson on making the adjustment: “I got knocked for what I did offensively last year. I feel that I impressed with what I did defensively, but for my whole career I’ve always been a hitter. I think I’m starting to show that again this year, thanks in part to things I worked on in the offseason. I’m putting myself in a better position to hit and that’s translating into me seeing the ball a lot better, as well as doing damage rather than having a defensive swing and just slapping it around.

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Jonny Venters and the Official Tommy John Threepeat Club

On the same night that top prospect Ronald Acuña made his made his major-league debut, a former Brave had his own memorable moment. In Wednesday night’s Rays-Orioles game at Camden Yards, in the bottom of the sixth inning, 33-year-old Rays lefty Jonny Venters made his first major-league appearance since October 5, 2012. He faced just one hitter, Chris Davis, and needed just four pitches to retire him on a routine grounder to shortstop, but in doing so he became the rare pitcher to return to the majors after a third Tommy John surgery.

Exactly how rare is in dispute, which I’ll examine in greater depth below, but first, let’s appreciate the man and his moment. A 30th-round draft-and-follow pick in 2003 out of a Florida high school, Venters was such an obscure prospect that his name was misspelled “Benters” on some draft lists according to John Sickels. He began his professional career in 2004, but by the end of 2005, when he was 20, he had already gone under the knife of Dr. James Andrews for his first Tommy John surgery. That cost him all of the 2006 season. Working primarily as a starter, he reached Double-A in late 2008 and Triple-A in 2009. Though he didn’t make the Braves the following spring, he was soon called up and debuted against the Rockies on April 17, 2010 with three shutout innings.

Able to Bring It with rare velocity for a southpaw (95.1 mph average according to Pitch Info), Venters proved effective against righties as well as lefties and quickly gained the trust of manager Bobby Cox; by June, he was working in high-leverage duty. In 79 appearances as a rookie, he threw 83 innings and struck out 93, finishing with an ERA of 1.93, a FIP of 2.69, and 1.5 WAR. The next year, he made an NL-high 85 appearances and turned in similarly strong numbers in 88 innings, making the All-Star team along the way. The heavy usage was a bit much for his elbow to take, however. By mid-2012, a season during which he made a comparatively meager 66 appearances, he was briefly sidelined by elbow impingement. He began the 2013 season on the disabled list due to lingering elbow pain and soon received a platelet-rich plasma injection to promote healing. On May 16, he underwent his second TJ surgery, also by Dr. Andrews. To that point, he owned a 2.23 ERA, 3.00 FIP, and 26.6% K rate in 229.2 major-league innings.

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Sunday Notes: Jonny Venters Returns to Kill More Worms

Jonny Venters was in the news this week after becoming the first pitcher to appear in a big-league game after undergoing three Tommy John surgeries. The 33-year-old veteran worked one-third-of-an-inning for the Tampa Bay Rays after having last pitched for the Atlanta Braves in the 2012 postseason. It’s a great story, worthy of the attention it’s garnered (and will continue to garner; colleague Jay Jaffe will have more on Venters in the coming days).

On Friday, I approached Venters to discuss a tangentially-related subject: the worm-killing sinker that made him an effective setup man before his elbow became stubbornly uncooperative. Since the stat began being tabulated, no pitcher with at least 125 career innings under his belt has had a higher ground-ball rate than the 68.4% mark put up by the come-backing left-hander.

Venters transitioned to a sinker-ball pitcher in 2009 when he was a starter with the Double-A Mississippi Braves. He’d been primarily a four-seam guy, but the organization asked him to put that pitch in his back pocket and begin prioritizing his two-seam. Helped initially by the tutelage of pitching coach Marty Reed, it eventually became his go-to.

Success wasn’t instantaneous. Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Kiermaier on His Career Path With the Bat

Kevin Kiermaier has come a long way since I first talked to him in the spring of 2014. At the time, his big-league experience consisted of two games — two very important games — as a defensive replacement with the Tampa Bay Rays. Already considered elite with the glove, he was seen as the club’s centerfielder of the future — assuming he could hold his own with the bat.

A little over a year later, in May 2015, I followed up with the uber-athletic former 31st-round draft pick. As he was coming off a rookie season where he’d slashed a better-than-many-expected .263/.315/.450, the resulting Q&A was titled “Kevin Kiermaier on Turning a Corner”.

The years that have followed have been a combination of prosperous and unkind. The now-28-year-old Kiermaier accumulated 11.3 WAR between 2015-2017, in large part because his defense has been nothing short of exemplary. Despite multiple trips to the disabled list, he led MLB with 89 Defensive Runs Saved over that three-year stretch. At the plate, he slashed a credible .262/.320/.426, with a dozen home runs annually.

Staying on the field has obviously been a major issue. Kiermaier has missed chunks of time with hand and hip fractures, and earlier this month he went on the shelf with a torn ligament in his right thumb. Prior to the most-recent injury, I sat down with Kiermaier to discuss his career thus far, with the main focus being his continued development on the offensive side of the ball. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Notes: Trey Mancini Kept His Kick

Trey Mancini did some tinkering prior to the start of the season. Hoping to “limit a bit of pre-swing movement,” he decided to lower his leg kick. The Baltimore Orioles outfielder hit that way throughout the offseason, and he continued the experiment in spring training.

Then, about a week and a half before opening day, he returned to doing what feels natural.

“I am who I am,” Mancini told me last weekend. “The leg kick is just something that works for me — there’s a comfortability factor involved — so once I realized what I was trying didn’t feel totally right, I went back to my old one.”

Mancini felt that the lower kick disrupted his timing. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 34 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Tampa Bay Rays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

Rays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 Willy Adames 22 AAA SS 2018 60
2 Brent Honeywell 22 AAA RHP 2018 60
3 Brendan McKay 22 A LHP/1B 2019 60
4 Jake Bauers 22 AAA RF 2018 50
5 Jesus Sanchez 20 A+ RF 2020 50
6 Wander Franco 17 R SS 2022 50
7 Anthony Banda 24 MLB LHP 2018 50
8 Christian Arroyo 22 MLB 3B 2018 50
9 Nick Solak 23 AA 2B 2020 45
10 Josh Lowe 20 A+ CF 2021 45
11 Joe McCarthy 24 AAA OF 2018 45
12 Vidal Brujan 20 A 2B 2021 45
13 Resly Linares 20 A LHP 2020 45
14 Tobias Myers 19 A RHP 2021 45
15 Lucius Fox 20 A+ SS 2021 45
16 Brandon Lowe 23 AA 2B 2019 45
17 Justin Williams 22 AAA OF 2018 45
18 Ronaldo Hernandez 20 A C 2022 45
19 Garrett Whitley 21 A OF 2021 45
20 Jose DeLeon 25 MLB RHP 2018 45
21 Diego Castillo 24 R RHP 2018 40
22 Yonny Chirinos 24 MLB RHP 2018 40
23 Michael Mercado 18 R RHP 2022 40
24 Austin Franklin 20 A RHP 2021 40
25 Nick Ciuffo 23 AA C 2019 40
26 Ryne Stanek 25 MLB RHP 2018 40
27 Genesis Cabrera 21 AA LHP 2019 40
28 Jermaine Palacios 21 AA SS 2020 40
29 Chih-Wei Hu 23 MLB RHP 2018 40
30 Curtis Taylor 22 A+ RHP 2021 40
31 Orlando Romero 21 A RHP 2022 40
32 Jaime Schultz 26 AAA RHP 2018 40
33 Deivy Mendez 22 A+ RHP 2021 40
34 Ian Gibaut 24 AAA RHP 2019 40

60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 55/55 45/55 45/40 45/50 60/60

He doesn’t have jaw-dropping physical tools, but Adames has a well-rounded offensive skillset, has produced a long track record of above-average offensive performances at levels for which he’s been young, and plays a competent shortstop. Adames’s frame is maxed out and he’s not likely to grow into much more power without better incorporating his lower half into his swing, but he’ll hit plenty of doubles and reach base at an above-average clip. Even with Tim Beckham’s departure, the shortstop picture in St. Petersburg is crowded by Christian Arroyo, Matt Duffy, Adeiny Hechavarria, Daniel Robertson, and, some would say, Joe Wendle. It’s worth noting that Adames got his first in-game reps at second base last year. He’ll likely debut in 2018, and his bat will have big impact at second base or shortstop.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Walters St CC
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Splitter Cutter Command
60/60 50/55 60/65 55/55 45/50 50/55

Honeywell’s kitchen-sink repertoire is headlined by a potential plus-plus changeup, but he also has a quality curveball, cutter, and mid-90s fastball. He can throw just about any pitch in any count and has at least average command right now despite some mechanical inconsistency. He had a 172:35 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Triple-A last year and probably deserved to be in the majors. He would have gotten there this year if not for blowing out his elbow early in the spring. He profiles as a No. 3 starter and should reach the majors next year, assuming his stuff returns after surgery.

3. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Louisville
Age 21 Height 6’2 Weight 212 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
25/55 65/65 35/55 35/30 45/50 60/60 50/55 55/60 50/55 40/50

McKay is an incredibly rare prospect in that he would make our top-100 list as both a hitter and pitcher and was a top-10 prospect in the 2017 draft both ways, as well. He’s stood out both ways since high school. Scouts also laud his makeup, nor is it difficult to see why. He improved as both a hitter and pitcher at Louisville while also serving as a team leader and managing the fatigue and preparation necessary to be the staff ace once a week while hitting in the middle of the lineup everyday for three straight years.

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