A few days ago we learned that Keith Law of ESPN ranked the Rays as the second best minor league system despite the graduation of Evan Longoria and the loss of Jake McGee for a year. Now we know why. Six of Keith Law’s top 100 prospects are players in the Rays organization, including #2 David Price and two others in the top 25 (Tim Beckham #11, Desmond Jennings #25). Wade Davis (33), Jeremy Hellickson (47) and Reid Brignac (78) round out the Rays on the list.

2. David Price: Price, like Wieters, is ready to play in the majors right now, although he has a little more development ahead of him that may have to come at the big league level… He’ll need to continue to develop [his changeup] and improve his fastball command to reach his ceiling as a No. 1 starter, and his workload may be somewhat limited since he threw only140 innings in total in 2008…Given more development time, whether in Durham or in St. Petersburg, he will become a workhorse at the top of the Rays’ rotation who racks up strikeouts and shuts down hitters on both sides of the plate.

11. Tim Beckham: Beckham has average or better tools across the board, with the potential to be plus in every tool if his power develops fully. He was better on defense than at the plate last summer; he’s athletic and fast with an above-average arm, but his footwork needs improvement. At the plate, he has some mechanical issues to work through as he transitions to the wood bat.

25. Desmond Jennings: The lost year of development hurts [due to injury], but Jennings remains a top prospect due to his tool set and tremendous feel for the game. Jennings is a great athlete, a plus-plus runner who’s well-built and has a compact stroke geared toward contact. He is strong enough and should be big enough to hit 20-25 homers a year (if not more), but his power hasn’t shown up in games yet, and it’s not likely to do so until he’s 100 percent physically. He also has outstanding baseball instincts in the field, on the bases, and even at the plate, where he shows good pitch recognition.

33. Wade Davis: Like a lot of young power guys, his command and control lag behind his stuff, and he wasn’t challenged enough at lower levels to have to improve them. A good half-year or more in Triple-A should help, and the Rays are fortunate enough to have the depth to allow Davis to develop on his own schedule.

47. Jeremy Hellickson: Hellickson needed to improve one of his offspeed pitches to raise his ceiling beyond that of a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, and he did, as his changeup was significantly better this year…A pitcher needs to do two of three things to be successful in the majors: miss bats, avoid walks and keep the ball in the park. Hellickson looks like he’ll be able to do the first two, so even if he ends up a 30-plus homer per year pitcher, he’ll be valuable.

78. Reid Brignac: That’s two disappointing years in a row for Brignac, this one more disappointing than the last, and 2009 is a make-or-break year for him as a prospect…Another bad year will probably doom Brignac to utility-infielder status.

The Rays and the Rangers are the only organizations with five players in the top 50. San Francisco (4) is the only other organization with more than three in the top 50.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Dioner Navarro visited a local elementary school to help start a program funded by the Rays Baseball Foundation to use baseball statistics as a means for making math more fun. [Bradenton Herald]
  • While at the elementary school, Dioner Navarro spoke about his impending arbitration case saying there would be “no hard feelings.” [Tampa Bay’s 10]
  • The Rays Party of America argues that the Rays have the best catcher in the AL East. [Rays Party of America]
  • Doug Miller looks at the 2007 Rockies and the 2008 Rays and sees some stark differences. [MLB]
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