Tampa Bay Rays Top 30 Prospects

February 18, 2024

The 2024 Preseason Top 30 lists are built around the idea of certainty and future Role. Similar to industry projection systems such as Future Value (FV), Overall Future Potential (OFP), and Grade, Role is a way to describe to what degree a player will add value to his organization at peak.

Our scale is a bit more conservative than other grading systems. We take into account recent seasonal performance, proximity to impact, metric/data analysis, and industry conversations to build a case for the most likely outcome for any given player.

It is important to note these Role labels are fluid and can change as a player moves up the developmental ladder. It is not uncommon for a player to change his role projection over even one month. Players jump from a Role 35 to a Role 40 quite quickly.

Things like mechanical adjustments and physical maturation can alter a player’s projection seemingly overnight. Players change. Keep that in mind.

Below is our Role chart used to place future projection on players.

20No organizational value. Non-prospect.
30Organizational value, filler. Likely peaks at Triple-A or below.
35Potential up-and-down, Quad-A prospect. Has some tools. Development necessary to secure prolonged MLB role.
40Back-up at MLB level. No. 5 starter on non-competitive team. Depth.
45Potential starter on contender. Bench player for championship-level team.
50Starter on a championship-level team. Lacks star ceiling. Steady. Potential No. 4 starting pitcher.
55Potential all-star. Some impact. Above average big-league regular. Mid-rotation starter on a contender.
60All-star level player. Impact. Middle-of-the-order bat. No. 2 starter on good team.
70Perennial all-star. Will contend for seasonal awards. Potential MVP/Cy Young upside. No. 1 starting pitcher. Ace.
80Hall of Fame upside. Generational. MVP/Cy Young Favorite some years. Organizational pillar who can carry an entire franchise at times.

You will not find players with a sub-50 Role on our Top 100 Prospect List. You are also unlikely to find any sub-35 Role players on a Top 30 board. Generally, organizations will have at least 30 players with big-league projection.

All rankings and roles by Joe Doyle
Player notes by Jason A. Churchill

Tampa has graduated (and traded) its way closer to the middle of the pack in farm system strength, and it’s weird. No, seriously, it’s weird, and we need a nap after this, OK?

The Rays now lack pitching in the minors, with their best arm, Shane Baz, carrying significant risk and an adjusted ceiling from his peak days as a prospect.

But there’s impact at the top in Junior Caminero and Carson Williams, depth up the middle, and plenty of talent close to the majors, so after our nap, we should, probably, have confidence the Rays will be just fine.

1Junior Caminero3B70
2Carson WilliamsSS55
3Brayden Taylor3B50
4Xavier Isaac1B50
5Shane BazRHP50
6Curtis Mead3B50
7Osleivis BasabeSS/3B50
8Yoniel CuretRHP45
9Adrian SantanaSS45
10Marcus JohnsonRHP45

As Caminero was racing through the minors, his teammates were in awe. “I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball as hard as he does as often as he does. It’s ridiculous,” said one org mate in 2023. “You have to stop and watch.”

Camerino, who came over in a trade with the Cleveland Guardians after the 2021 season, has done nothing but mash as a pro and has been 3-5 years younger than his competition each step of the way.

It’s at least 70 power generated from plus-plus bat speed and a clean swing path which also leads to above-average contact rates.

He’s still developing consistent backspin so we may not see him max out his game power for a year or two, but he broke through to the majors late last season and could start get back early in 2024.

He’s a solid athlete, though as he’s gained strength he may be limited to average third-base defense. But wind him up and let him swing. We’ll worry about his post-prime defense after he’s raked his way to a big market.

Williams has developed power quickly and has looked the part of the everyday defender at shortstop after entering pro ball with some questions about the impact of his bat and where he’d end up on the field.

He’s an above-average runner with good quickness, helping him cover ground in the field and steal some bases. But the 48 homers he’s hit the last two years stand out the most. It’s plus bat speed with at least average power to the opposite field and plus to his pull side. The loft is natural and easy.

He will draw walks and make the most of contact, but he’s chased more than is ideal and the strikeout totals suggest the Rays may slow down his ascent through the minors. He batted .254/.351/.506 in High-A last season, then made two short stops in Double-A and Triple-A to end the season.

He won’t be 20 until late June, however, so there’s plenty of time for Williams to make some adjustments and turn a 35-grade hit tool into one that plays better in the big leagues, and scarily enough it could unlock even more power.

Williams boasts the tools and projections of a future star.

Brayden Taylor was the Rays’ first-round pick last July, a left-handed hitting infielder from TCU who may have the feet to play second base, perhaps covering for his less-than-optimal power profile if he remains at third base.

But most scouts like the bat enough to move quickly, with an ETA of 2025.

Mead may be a long-term first baseman, but he should hit enough for the position, both in terms of average and power.

While he doesn’t project to post high walk rates, he should hit .270 or better, and the 23-year-old makes a lot of contact for a hitter with 20-plus homer power.

11Dominic KeeganC45
12Cole WilcoxRHP45
13Mason MontgomeryLHP45
14Mason AuerOF45
15Austin Shenton3B40
16Willy Vasquez2B/3B40
17Colton LedbetterOF40
18Tre' Morgan1B40
19Chandler SimpsonOF40
20Andrew LindseyRHP35
21Colby WhiteRHP40
22Brock JonesOF40
23Carlos ColmenarezSS40
24Kameron MisnerOF35
25Shane SasakiOF35
26Jacob LopezLHP35
27Evan ReifertRHP35
28Brailer GuerreroOF35
29Jalen BattlesSS35
30Hunter HaasSS35

Cole Wilcox has at least average stuff when healthy, perhaps above average, including a big fastball and a bat-missing slider, but his control took a hit in his first season after UCL surgery, and his breaking ball often flattened and was non-competitive.

Most importantly, he surpassed 100 innings last season and should be full-go in 2024. He’s 24 now, but creates sink and plane to set up the slider.

In his limited time on the mound as a pro, he’s been control over command, but because the heater won’t miss bats much he needs to locate better as he moves up the ladder.

Austin Shenton, acquired in the 2022 trade for Diego Castillo, is an older prospect with OBP skills, and legitimate power from left-center to the right-field line.

The swing-and-miss is a bit high, but he batted .300 at both stops last season, mashing 29 homers and posting a 16% walk rate, showing off good swing decisions and strike zone judgment.

Shenton is probably a first baseman in the majors, and while he’s 25 and struggled versus lefties in 2023, he can probably help a club in a platoon role in 2024.

Brock Jones, Tampa’s second-round pick in 2022, got to more power in 2023, but he continued to struggle to make consistent contact, so his average took a major hit.

He’s a good athlete and can play center, profiling as a power-first hitter with a chance to swipe 15 bags. He may take some time to reach Tampa as he works on the hit tool, but Jones is the quintessential Rays prospect: It looks like he may be missing something and the Rays help him find it, and end up finding even more, like a modern-day Goonies adventure.

Evan Reifert is a reliever-only right-hander with a wipeout slider and above-average velocity, but 30-grade control which has left him in High-A at age 24. There’s some high-leverage ability here if he throws more strikes.

Joe Doyle
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