Tampa Bay Rays (35 days until pitchers and catchers report)
[Update 1/15/08: We have added the Top 13 prospect list from Rays of Light.]

[Update 1/14/08: We have added Stacy Long's list of Top 30 prospects to the Meta-Analysis. Long's list is clearly needed in this meta-analysis as he has seen most of these players play on a first-hand basis while covering the Montgomery Biscuits.]

[Ed. Note: We have updated the list to include the rankings posted by the highly respected John Sickels at Minor League Ball. His list was just posted this morning. There was little change in the overall rankings]

Yesterday Baseball America unveiled their list of Top 10 Prospects for the Tampa Bay Rays. No big surprises. You can find the full write-up HERE along with their list of the Top Tools in the organization.

BA is the 5th website (that we are aware of) that has released a rankings list for Rays prospects. We decided to do a meta-analysis and compare the results from several websites. In the science community, a meta-analysis is what we do when we don’t want to do any work ourselves and instead want to take the work of a bunch of other people, tease the data a little, draw some conclusions that nobody had noticed before, and then pawn it off as our own.

A few notes on the Meta-Analysis..

  1. We included rankings from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Minor League Ball, DRays Bay, Rays Digest, Riverwalk Talk, and Rays Anatomy.
  2. When calculating the averages, we gave Baseball America a weight of 2. This is simply because, analyzing minor leaguers is what they do for a living. They are the experts and in many cases they have actually seen these prospects play and have been following them for several years. Not to mention their offices are in Durham.
  3. If a player was excluded from a list, we gave that player a ranking of 2 spots lower than the lowest ranked player in the list for the purpose of calculating the final average.
  4. The final list includes the 14 players that appeared in the Top 10 of at least one list.
  5. We included our own Trade Value Index, which can be found in the side-panel. Our list differs from the others in that we incorporate more to our rankings than just how good of a major leaguer the player will be. Our rankings are based on “value” to the organization. For example, it is our thought that Wade Davis has the better chance of being a top major league starting pitcher, but we give Jake McGee a higher “value” because he is left-handed and a power lefty with a plus-breaking ball is a very rare commodity.
  6. Notes on the individual rankings follow the Meta-Analysis.

  • The top 5 are clear-cut with only subtle disagreements on the exact order. The only outliers are Desmond Jennings whom BP slots at #4 and our own TVI list which includes Jeff Niemann at #5 a spot ahead of Reid Brignac. The thinking is that Niemann is a pitcher, he is closer to the big leagues and while Brignac is still an elite prospect, he did raise at least a few doubts in 2007. If Niemann fails to make the opening day roster, he will begin to fall down the TVI…very fast.
  • When it comes to strict major league projections, #8-15 are interchangeable in our eyes and while the names are fairly consistent across the lists, the actual order varies greatly.
  • In our eyes, the top 7 are can’t-miss prospects. Not necessarily all-stars, but all seven should be contributing major leaguers. We would also add Eduardo Morlan to that list.
  • We are not sold on Desmond Jennings. But, with the trade of Delmon Young and the injury struggles of Rocco Baldelli, Jennings and Fernando Perez will ultimately compete to be the third outfielder in 2009 or 2010.
  • We are also not yet ready to anoint Jeremy Hellickson as a legit major league prospect. For a right-hander he is not very big and he is not over-powering, which translates very well at Low-A Columbus. He will get his first big test in 2008 at the hitter-friendly Vero Beach. Until he shows us he can compete at the AA-level, we will remain skeptical. We rank Chris Mason higher. Mason was a college pitcher, so he is more polished and while he is also a not very big, not very overpowering right hander, he has proven it at the AA-level. Still we are skeptical that he will be a very good major leaguer.
  • BP and our own TVI give Eduardo Morlan his highest ranking of #7. Just look at the free agent market for relief pitchers this off-season and you will see that teams are starting to dish out big bucks for all relief pitchers, not just closers. For all the pitching depth spoken of in the Rays system, very little of it is relief pitchers. While starting pitchers that miss the cut will get a shot at the ‘pen, it is never guaranteed to be a successful transition. That gives Morlan a decided edge over others for an organization that is desperate for young talented relief pitchers.

RAYS PROSPECTS WEBTOPIA

  • Rays Digest breaks down the Tampa Bay Rays farm system. [Rays Digest]
  • Future Considerations breaks down BA’s prospect list. FC is in the midst of revealing their Top 30 prospects but have yet to unveil their Top 10 so we could not include their rankings in our meta-analysis. We should note that earlier this week FC took their own stab at predicting the “Best Tools” categories and we questioned whether Evan Longoria would be named both “Best Power Hitter” and “Best Hitter for Average”. We thought it might be John Jaso. FC nailed it, as Longoria was named in both categories. *Tip o’ the cap* [Future Considerations]

Top 10 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays [Baseball America]
Baseball America Names Rays Top 10, I Was Nearly Right… [Rays Anatomy]
Rays Prospect Preview [Rays Digest]
Rays Top 11 Prospects [Baseball Prospectus]
Baseball America’s Top Ten Rays Prospects [DRays Bay]
Top Rays Prospects [Stacy Long's Riverwalk Talk]

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11 Comments

  1. Big Mike says:

    I have long argued that Price is just as good a prospect as Longoria, but only give Longo a bit of an edge because he has done it at the minor league level.

    I would be curious to know exactly how clear-cut the others think it is between 1 and 2.

    But when it comes down to it. Who would other teams rather have? If you polled all major league GMs, i bet at least 25 of them would take Price over Longoria. If Price was 2 years away still i might understand it a bit better, but most think Price will see action in 2008 unless he just falls on his face and nobody seems to think that is even possible.

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  2. EricSanSan says:

    This is a great post that does justice to all the sites that try and rank prospects.

    I love what you did here, getting a view across the board of where Rays fans and bloggers feel these players are.

    I was the outlier with Hellickson, and while your points are valid, I just feel that if the reports of his velocity being in the low-90s are accurate (Baseball America) than his control is supplemented by solid stuff. Next year will be the test.

    Mason was 10th for me, and I got nailed by some bloggers for having him that high. It's glad to see that you agree with the performance he had this season.

    Like you said, and myself included, the rankings from about 8-16 are so interchangeable it is crazy, and most of the names that fall in that category would be in the top five of other organizations. It's nice to see the Rays finally put together something positive from all the struggles at the major league level.

    Great post Professor.

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  3. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    I have always held the position that NO hitting prospect is worth getting excited about unless he posts enormous minor league numbers.

    Pitchers on the other hand can be a top prospect even without big numbers as there is a better chance of the team asking him to work on specific details during games. for example a pitcher may be asked to throw X chang-ups in a game, which leads to change-ups being thrown in situations that would not normally call for it. they are often asked to work on things in games that may actually hurt them during that one game but will make them stronger in the long run.

    that doesnt happen to hitters as often. a team could ask a hitter to work on bunting or hitting the other-way, but those things should generally help a player in that games as well as in the future.

    i just feel that results in the minors mean a lot more for hitters than for pitchers. that's why i am not crazy about Jennings or Perez. I know they have speed and decent OBPs, but the numbers are not "awesome". They are just really good. i think both will make decent major leaguers, but i dont see either being a player that is a difference-maker. Jaso has consistently hit for a strong average which is a rarity for a catcher at his age. Royster is a mystery. His numbers are actually awesome, but some think he had a distinct advantage in the SAL at his age. He is a wait-and-see in my book.

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  4. The Professor says:

    I have updated the list to include John Sickels' list at Minor League Ball. One problem with his list is that he is less concerned with actual rankings and more concerned with grades, especially lower on the list. For example, he has Talbot at 14 and Rollins at 15. Both are C+ prospects, so it could be they are interchangeable at 14/15.

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  5. The Master says:

    great job on the list. I'm noticing that we have very few infield propspects. Not a problem short-term but may be if Brignac and Zobrist don't work out at short.

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  6. The Professor says:

    very true. the system used to be loaded with hitting prospects and devoid of pitching. now the opposite is true.

    Personally i am not ready to give up on Elliot Johnson at AAA. His 2007 was awful which is why he is no longer on any of these lists. Was that a case of being overmatched at AAA or ust a really bad season-long slump? It is hard to imagine that ANYBODY could have that big a drop-off from AA to AAA. If he struggles in 2008 he is done.

    The good news is the Rays infield in 2008 will be very young, and all positions should be spoken-for for the next three years, with Pena, Aki, Longoria and Bartlett/Brignac.

    Also keep in mind we still have Guzman lurking. He would still be a top 10 prospect in most organizations. He is only 23 and can play three different infield positions. So there is insurance with him.

    there is time to replenish the system, but they need to start now.

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  7. FLUBADUB2K says:

    My main criticism on Mason is that he got absolutely bent over in Visalia in 2006 and wasn't overly great in 2005. How does he go from a soft-tossing short righty one year to a possible back-of-the-rotation guy on most teams that aren't the Rays...with a possible 3 "above-average" pitches.

    Hellickson, on the other hand, is also a short guy(though, he's still growing) has better stuff(fastball touches 95) and decent off-speed stuff. He's also just 20 years old and will be just turning 21 when he starts his 2nd season in full-season ball.

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  8. The Professor says:

    I talk about this a little more in the TVI posts, but I generally remain skeptical of any player until they do something above A-ball.

    In Mason's case I am torn. I know the record at the lower-levels, yet the team still promoted him to AA. Maybe he was working on certain pitches in Visalia. Who knows. Still, he doesnt strike me as a major league starting pitcher. Maybe a reliever?

    As for Hellickson. He is young, but has progressed well so far. A solid outing in 08 and he will jump up in our ratings.

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  9. Robert Rittner says:

    I noticed that on the cork board you have Emeel Salem listed on the bench for the Renegades and an open slot for center field. I thought he was pretty much established as the starting center fielder throughout 2007. Am I wrong about that?

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  10. The Professor says:

    during the season we keep that board updated at least weekly. the last week of the season Salem missed a few games (rest/minor injury? dont recall). So he was not in the starting lineup at the end of the season. In the off-season we dont update the starting lineups, because we have no idea how the rosters are going to shake out with promotions and free agent singings, so we are more worried about keeping the actual rosters updated.

    As soon as the rosters start shaking out we might try and predict the lineups for each squad, but until then it is impossible.

    In Salem's case. He will be a starter no matter where he is and next time I update the board I should go ahead and move him up, but at this point I am not even sure which roster he will be on.

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