John Manuel of Baseball America has released his list of the Top 20 prospects in baseball and the Rays are well represented…
4. Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
Why he’s here: Once he stayed healthy for a full season, Jennings showed true five-tool talent. He has size, speed, strength, explosiveness and skills.
What he’ll be: Jennings has many similarities to current Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, but his hitting track record is more consistent.
When he arrives: The Rays have an outfield spot open presently for 2010, and Jennings should be a big league-ready, inexpensive solution.
15. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays
Why he’s here: A 6-foot righty from Iowa, Hellickson has surprising stuff and feel for pitching. His changeup has been his best pitch, but his fastball command took a huge step forward in 2009, allowing him to be the ace for Durham’s Triple-A championship team.
What he’ll be: Yet another homegrown Rays pitcher for a franchise that couldn’t develop any pitching in its first six or seven years. Hellickson’s curve gives him a third quality pitch, and he gives the rotation another different look to play off Jeff Niemann’s size, David Price’s electric arm, James Shields’ premium changeup and Matt Garza’s power.
When he arrives: Wade Davis beat him to the majors, so Hellickson may have to bide his time back at Durham in 2010. His time may have to come after a trade.
This list shows just how deep the organization still is. Despite trading away three big league pitchers and an outfielder that was a former #1 overall pick, the Rays still have two players ranked in Manuel’s top 15 prospects of all baseball. Both players have triple-A experience. And still, there is a chance that neither player will see the big leagues before September.