Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AL EastAmerican LeagueAnalysisMLBTampa Bay Rays

Rays Top Prospects: 11-20

This is part two of a three part series on the Tampa Bay Rays’ top prospects. For prospects 1-10, click here. For prospects 21-30, click here.

11. Randy Arozarena (OF)

The lesser known player in the trade that saw the Rays net Jose Martinez from the Cardinals, Randy Arozarena is expected to work his way into the team’s young core of impact players. He has the potential to be a five-tool player in the near future: his speed, defense, and arm are indisputably strong qualities, and his offense broke out tremendously in 2019. In AA, AAA, and a short stint in MLB, his wRC+ were 162, 151, and 138, respectively, and he also had a wOBA of .416 in AA, .432 in AAA, and .380 in MLB. There is still room for improvement, as his ground ball rate has typically been around 50%, which isn’t as bad as it could be, considering his speed. However, an ISO of at least .200 at each level in 2019 plus the potential of what more balls in the air will do to his well above average offense make Arozarena an intriguing member of the Rays’ roster.

12. Josh Lowe (OF)

Like Arozarena, Lowe also had a breakout season in 2019, posting a career high 128 wRC+ in AA (min. 100 G). His stats have been improving in his ascension through the minors, most noticeably his discipline and power stats. Since the start of 2018, he has kept his BB% over 10 while lowering his K% to 25 from his high of 28.4 in 2017. While Lowe is somewhat of a strikeout risk, his power is worth it: in 2019, he made progress in that regard, hitting a career high 18 HR with more career highs in a .190 ISO and a 13.7 HR/FB%.

Along with the hitting, Lowe projects to be the next great center fielder for the Rays. He’s the best defensive OF in the organization, according to MLB.com, and he has above average speed (near the top tier on Fangraphs’ speed score metric) and a strong arm.

In the Arizona Fall League, Lowe hit .327/.379/.558 in 15 games. He was on a path to potentially reaching the big leagues on the same team as his brother, Nate, this year, but an offseason shoulder surgery will likely keep him from the majors until 2021.

13. Ronaldo Hernandez (C)

Hernandez is the top catcher prospect in the organization, and he’s expected to make it to MLB in 2021. It appears as though he’s expected to be the next catcher when Mike Zunino leaves, since Zunino’s contract gives the club control for the next two years with a team option after the 2020 season. The intention is likely to bridge the Zunino era over to top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez. He is an offensive-oriented player: his wRC+ is consistently over 100, his wOBA is usually over .370, and his K% is always under 16. Even with his production, he still has raw talent left untapped. His hyper-aggressive approach doesn’t do him many favors, as he pulls over half his batted balls and hits an excessive amount of popups (over 20% of batted balls). Another side effect is that his walk rate is below average, something Hernandez could greatly improve by refining his approach.

Defensively, Hernandez has a strong arm but has work to be done behind the plate. The Rays converted him to catcher from third base, so it would be unreasonable to expect elite defense from him. It does benefit him, however, that good reactions being necessary for a third baseman should seamlessly transfer to blocking balls in the dirt. Having bridged the major league catcher situation to either 2021 or 2022, they must expect Hernandez to become at least average behind the plate, or they wouldn’t have made as clear a path for him.

14. John Doxakis (LHP)

Doxakis was selected in the second round of last year’s draft. In little time in Short Season A, he impressed with an ERA/FIP/xFIP line of 1.93/2.79/3.36. He kept the ball on the ground 49% of the time while not allowing a home run. In his sophomore and junior years of college at Texas A&M, Doxakis kept his ERA under 2.75, his WHIP under 1.10, and his HR/9 under 0.5. His fastball sits between 88 and 93 mph, but it has reached 97 in his freshman year of college, when he was a reliever. The fastball has some arm-side run, and Doxakis complements it with an effective slider and an underdeveloped but promising changeup. If Doxaxis can improve his changeup, he could develop an impressive three pitch mix in his rise through the ranks.

15. Kevin Padlo (3B)

Padlo was added to the 40-man roster last November for protection from the Rule 5 Draft. The last piece of the trade that brought Corey Dickerson to Tampa Bay and German Marquez to Colorado, Padlo has great potential at the plate. He has excellent power, hitting for a .255 ISO in AA and a .305 ISO in AAA last year, where .200 and above is considered very good. A hamate bone (hand) injury drained his power for a while before reemerging in 2019, but the on base skills remained throughout: his BB% is consistently in double digits and frequently hovers around 15. Padlo is a complete hitter, which is why he’s been able to produce a wRC+ of 150 or more several times, including 153 in AA and 151 in AAA last season. Along with the offense, Padlo should be able to stick in the infield when given an opportunity. He has good defense with a strong arm at the hot corner, and he also has experience at first base. It’s also possible they test him at second base this season, as the Rays lack a right handed hitting threat at that position. No matter where he plays, however, Padlo could be a force in the middle of the Rays lineup sometime in 2020.

16. Niko Hulsizer (OF)

Hulsizer, the return on Adam Kolarek at last year’s trade deadline, is a power hitting outfielder with a lot of upside. His ceiling is limited by the amount of times he strikes out — usually between 25 and 35% — but, as All Star Brandon Lowe showed in 2019, hard contact is enough to be a true threat. In single-A and High-A with the Dodgers, Hulsizer had an ISO of .306 and .247, respectively, with the Dodgers. He didn’t play much in the Rays system due to injury, but he played in the Australian Baseball League in the winter, hitting .270/.325/.562 and being awarded Southwest Division Player of the Year. Throughout his career, he’s been well above average, consistently hitting for a 120+ wRC+ with his highest being 174. A decent defender in the corner outfield, Hulsizer has a good chance to mash his way to the big leagues as long as the strikeouts don’t get too excessive.

17. JJ Goss (RHP)

Goss was drafted out of high school by the Rays in Competitive Balance Round A (between rounds one and two) in 2019. Considering his fastball is already able to hit 96 with an above average slider and a decent changeup working off it, he has potential to someday pitch at top of the rotation. Goss is a groundball pitcher, getting batters to keep it in the infield 46.2% of the time in Short Season A ball in the second half of 2019. Additionally, 22.5% of batters struck out against him, and a miniscule 2.8% walked. In only 17 innings, Goss had an ERA of 5.82, but his FIP (2.92) and xFIP (2.77) suggest he was a much better pitcher than the results on the field showed. With a full minor league season, Goss could quickly prove to be worthy of a much higher spot on this list.

18. Nick Schnell (OF)

Schnell has had a rough two years to start his time as a Ray: because of various injuries, he has only appeared in 74 games in his short minor league career. However, he has shown the tools to be a good player if he can stay on the field. He consistently keeps his BB% over 10 with his wRC+ being about 120 or better and his wOBA around .370. Schnell’s .218 ISO, along with his wOBA, indicate strong power alongside his on base skills. The one downside to his hitting is that he strikes out nearly 30% of the time. In the field, he is a good center fielder whose arm projects to be above average. In 2020, Schnell will look to put it all together in a healthy season in single-A.

19. Peter Fairbanks (RHP)

Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Fairbanks was a new man in 2019. With a fastball that sits in the upper 90s now, he climbed the minors faster than anyone, reaching MLB from High-A by summertime. In the middle of July, the Rays acquired him from the Rangers, and he spent most of his time before September in AAA. Throughout his 6 team stretch across 2 organizations, Fairbanks struck out between 22.4% (with the Rays) and 40% (in AAA with the Rangers). His electric fastball slider combo received recognition from Eno Sarris, who reported that Fairbanks ranked ninth among relievers in stuff by a private Driveline Baseball “Stuff“ metric. In his MLB career, he has an xFIP of 3.68, and he had a 2.89 FIP in his time with the Rays last year. Fairbanks is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring, and, whether he makes it or not, he has a real chance to be a dominant reliever in the back end of the bullpen for years to come.

20. Moises Gomez (OF)

Gomez stands out as a one dimensional player but is supplemented by having other decent tools. Power is what warrants recognition for Gomez, as he hit for a 131 wRC+ with a .223 ISO in single-A in 2018 before regressing to the mean a year later in High-A. Gomez strikes out between 20 and 30 percent of the time and doesn’t walk much. His HR/FB% is consistently 11 or higher, but he has to be more than just a power hitter to ever crack the Rays’ young group of talented outfielders. He has decent speed and defense with an above average arm, which would help him in right field. Gomez is still only 21 years old with time to develop, so all is not lost but his prospect stock has fallen from a year ago.

Nicholas Lobraico

High school student, former baseball player. Pitching enthusiast. Rays man in a Yankees land. Follow me on Twitter @LobraicoNick