Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays Top 5 Hitting Prospects

The Rays have done a great job drafting and developing position players, and consequently all of their great young talent is currently in the majors. That leaves some pretty big gaps in the minors, filled mostly by over aged AAAA players. However, there are a few decent prospects, and of course the constant influx of #1 draft picks to keep the Rays going.

1. Tim Beckham, ss, 18 – Can’t bet against a #1 pick with Beckham’s skills. I have no idea how good he’ll actually be, but I trust the Rays enough to believe they knew what they were doing when they selected him.

Projection: ?
Comparable player: ?

2. Desmond Jennings, of, 21 – When you mix speed and an above average on-base percentage you usually can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, Jennings sustained a shoulder injury that will keep him out of action until 2009.

Projection: .290-.320 ave., 15-25 home runs, .775-.850 OPS, 40+ steals
Comparable player: Ron Gant with more speed

3. John Jaso, c, 24 – While not necessarily young, Jaso is at least talented. His greatest asset is his knack for picking up lots of walks wherever he goes without posting giant strike out rates. I’m not sure how many pitches he averages per plate appearance, but I would guess that it’s relatively high, making him a great asset to any team that likes to wear down opposing pitchers.

Projection: .285-.310 ave., 15-20 home runs, .820-.860 OPS
Comparable player: Sean Burroughs, Michael Barrett

4. Reid Brignac, ss, 22 – As long as Brignac can hang at shortstop, he’ll be fine. Even if he has to move somewhere like 2nd base he should be able to stick in the majors. However, his strike out rates aren’t going to translate well at the plate, and his power will lag as a result. Expect some good years, but definitely not right away.

Projection: .275-.290 ave., 25-35 home runs, .810-.875 OPS
Comparable player: Dan Uggla with a little more pop

5. Reid Fronk, of, 21 – I haven’t seen much about Fronk, but I like his skill set and I think he could be a solid fourth outfielder in a few years with a shot at starting in his prime. Above average speed, decent power, and an acceptable plate approach.

Projection: .275-.300, 25-35 home runs, .870-.910 OPS
Comparable player: Rickie Weeks in the outfield

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