I generally don’t like to talk about minor league guys that I haven’t seen, but couching this post with a blanket caveat that this is strictly based on this year’s numbers in the minors should keep the critics off my back, I think. This is going to be a heavy numbers post so let me give an idea as to how I arrived at these rankings. All statistics current through the All-Star Break.
First off, I used the truly excellent Minor League Central to grab virtually every play in the minors this year. I removed a few players that played for two different teams within a league, but that’s minor, and I set some age limits to keep the oldest of the older players out of our pool:
International League <= 30 YO
Southern League <= 28 YO
Florida State League <= 26 YO
Midwest League <= 25 YO
NYP <= 24 YO
You’ll also notice that I’ve only drawn players from leagues that the Rays play in so sorry PCL/CAL/Texas/Mars leagues.
After establishing the pool of players I then used Baseball America’s Park Factors to adjust wOBA (wOBA*) for batters and ERA/FIP (ERA*/FIP*) for pitchers. These are the only park adjusted statistics so keep that in mind, but I think it helps put everyone on an even keel.
The next step for each league was to create weighted averages (including age) and standard deviations for the following statistics for each league:
Now that we have these important figures we can start creating z-scores for each player for each statistic. I’m going to focus on those that have more than 25 PA/BF and add up the z-scores for Age, K%, BB%, Iso, and wOBA*. Here’s the top-25 hitters for each league and note that I have highlighted Rays in yellow:
We see a couple of post-prospect hype Rays here in Guyer and Moore looking incredibly well compared to their league, albeit, in very small samples. Many of these names should be familiar, particularly J.D. Martinez who is having a fantastic season in the Show.
Here we see a couple of more Rays pop up with all three being pretty young for their levels and HOLY COW Cubs. One of my favorite players to follow right now is Jesse Winker who doesn’t get a ton of press, but is having a third very good season in a row and looks like a polished, bat-first guy that will be graduating to a hitters park if he ever sticks there.
Florida State League:
The lottery ticket of the Wade Davis trade continues to put up very good numbers relative to his league with a higher than norm strikeout rate the only thing keeping him back from being above-average across the board.
Here we see no Rays, but again the Cubs (KC) stand out with just how much talent they have at every level.
Annnd again, no Rays. I will focus on the Rays further along, but for now, let’s flip over to pitchers:
The highest level sees more guys that hope to make the bigs do so as relievers and the Rays are no different here. Still a ton of starters including many that have already been promoted.
They Rays have three guys on the list from their second highest level with Old Man Burns leading the charge. Dylan Floro is one of the most interesting starters in the minors. He doesn’t have swing and miss stuff, as you can see, but he has faced more batters than any other minor leaguer, gets a TON of ground balls and refuses to walk anyone. Most scoutheads don’t really like this pitch to contact philosophy as it tends to get blown up the higher up the ladder one goes, but Floro is pitching even better than a very good 2013. Keep an eye on him.
Florida State League:
No Rays from the Charlotte rotation here, but Luis Severino graded out as the best pitcher in the minors by this method and he’s gaining tons of helium as Yankee prospect having a very good season.
Bowling Green has a couple of guys on here in Marquez and Snell. Snell has been in the mid-grade of Rays prospects for a while, but if he can bring the walks down some he should move up the team list a bit. Marquez has a similar issue, and doesn’t get as many strikeouts, but he has age on his side.
The lowest level looked at here sees a couple of Rays on the list. Gannon has age on his side, while Gil is pretty long in the tooth. You’re talking about the other side of the moon away, but Gannon could be a guy to keep an eye on. Tons of strikeouts and almost no walks is a great start for a guy that’s pretty young for his league.
We’ve seen how the rest of the league stacks up, but let’s take narrow the scope and zoom in on just the Rays for each level starting with the pitchers:
Remember when Gomes and Lueke were in the Show pitching this poorly? Things haven’t turned around for them in Durham. In addition to the previously mentioned guys we see a Mike Montgomery appearance slightly outpacing off-season trade addition Matt Andriese. Nate Karns was another guy we gave up future value to acquire and he’s not looking as good with an elevated walk rate his biggest issue. Sooo many of these guys struggle to get grounders, though strikeouts rates look pretty strong nearly across the board.
I didn’t highlight it here, but the “Total” column continues to be a summation of zAge, zGB%, zBB%, zKs%, zERA, and zFIP. Grayson Garvin makes an appearance on the positive side of the ledger, though there isn’t much to write home about here. Good thing this team can hit!
Charlotte Stone Crabs:
Wow if you thought the Biskies had pitching issues… Ryne Stanek brings hope, but the numbers aren’t very good for his one start prior to the break and this doesn’t include his most recent shelling. Still, it’s two starts from what could be a live arm. Lots of work to get done here.
Bowling Green Hot Coffees:
Marquez and Snell made the big boards, but we see Schultz and Faria emerge from the muck and we can see that Stanek’s numbers for Bowling Green give a more positive tale than what he has done in one start with Charlotte. There looks to be a little bit more depth here, but we’ll see how many guys make it through the A+ shredder ahead.
Hudson Valley Renegades:
Bradley Wallace didn’t make the >25 BF threshold for the big board, but you can see that he has been impressive in a very small sample. Other than Gannon and Armenta and maybe Wood, none of these guys are extremely young for the league, though some of them are starting to figure it out a little. The late start for short-season leagues makes it difficult to put a ton of confidence in these numbers. Hopefully this is something I have time to revisit at the end of the year. On to the batters:
We’ve seen how well Kiermaier has hit in the Show which could bode well for a guy like Mahtook that may be tapping into his gifts a little later than most thought he might. He’s striking out a bit more than you would like, but it’s coming with walks, at least, and the power has been a welcome addition. On the other side of the coin is a guy like Hak-Ju Lee who is still very young for the league, but has only shown an ability to take a walk at an above average level. We cannot derive anything about his glove from this, but Lee is going to have to continue to develop as a ball striker before he can ever be thought of as a big league SS.
I love what Jake Hager is doing with the bat and it looks even better when you notice that he’s more than two deviations away from the average age for AA. Forget about Hak-Ju Lee, this is the best SS prospect in the organization, at least as a hitter. This has to be a fun team to go see, because they don’t have much pitching, but this is probably the most hitting talent that we have at any level. Ryan Brett is probably my favorite player to root for even if he needs to work on his approach, Curt Casali just got his first big league hit, already, and Richie Shaffer shows promise in between bouts of ineptitude. Luke Maile and Cam Seitzer are two other guys that look like they can hit, and the former can even play a position of importance!!! Maybe.
Charlotte Stone Crabs:
Tyler Goeddel is showing some promise though he needs to cut down on the strikeouts and fan favorite Marty Gantt continues to rake even if he is long in the tooth for A+. Goetzman is a disappointment to many that thought he could be 5-tool stud someday, but he’s going to be given a ton of rope. Josh Sale is a disappointment to everyone as the former first rounder still hasn’t made any positive news even if he has avoided the negative. There’s still time, but he lost two years of development and the team doesn’t get that back when he becomes eligible for Rule V. Lastly, Bustin O’Conner gets raves for his gun and game behind the dish and if he can continue to make strides avoiding the strikeout he may climb the prospect ladder. It would be nice if the reason his K% has decreased had anything to do with ability to differentiate balls and strikes, because without the walks it’s evident that he’s just up there hacking putting the ball in play a ton.
Bowling Green Hot Coffees:
Young, Field, and Wong have pretty similar total scores, but you can see they go about it in wildly divergent ways. Field is the old man with good power and looks like a good hitter. Young is average aged with even better power, but a propensity to strikeout and walk. Wong is the young gun that profiles as the opposite of a three true outcome guy as he’s has no power and doesn’t walk, but doesn’t strikeout much either. Pretty crazy that all three have virtually the same OBP despite their different ways of getting there.
Hudson Valley Renegades:
Lots of names on here as this is basically a mill turning weak players into dust and granting those that pass muster access to higher levels. Again, short-season leagues haven’t been up and running very long so I don’t put a ton of confidence in this stuff. GUT HOW ABOUT GRANT KAY IN 10 PA!!! WOOOO. Most of these guys were very recently drafted and one example that’s maybe earning himself a pass through is Bralin Jackson who’s striking out a bit more than you’d like especially with the low level of power, but he’s walking and hitting rather nicely to go with what should be a pretty solid defensive package. Casey Gillaspie was just drafted and he’s already looking like a guy that is going to hit, though you’d like to see him cut down on the strikeout. Write these guys down in pencil because just so very much can change over the next couple of months.
Thanks for slogging through this. The words are a bit extraneous as I think the tables tell you everything you need to know, but my editors are tougher than a nickel steak so here we are. Good luck to everybody in the system. I hope all of these players graduate levels and become future Rays, but in the meantime it’s fair to see what makes them tick.