ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon and Jake Bauers are four of the most promising players in the Rays' farm system, and they are among the game's Top 100 Prospects entering the 2017 season, as rated by MLB.com.The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is
ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon and Jake Bauers are four of the most promising players in the Rays' farm system, and they are among the game's Top 100 Prospects entering the 2017 season, as rated by MLB.com.
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
• MLB Pipeline's 2017 Top 100 Prospects list
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Adames is ranked No. 21 after being ranked No. 19 in 2016. He took over shortstop at Double-A Montgomery last season and became a Southern League All-Star, hitting .274 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 132 games for the Biscuits.
Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said he has seen a steady progression from Adames.
"He's more consistent from the time that we saw him in Bowling Green to his year last year at Montgomery," Lukevics said. "He just has better strike-zone awareness. He knows the different angles of a ground ball better. He uses his arm better, it's not as wild. It's under control more. So he's improved in every area."
Right-hander Honeywell moved up nine places to No. 31 after a solid 2016 season that saw him go 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 20 starts between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Montgomery.
"Honeywell has been amazingly consistent," Lukevics said. "His ability to repeat his delivery was in his favor from Day 1. And when you have a good delivery like he does, and it's repeatable, you can count on consistent, quality strikes. And that's what he brings."
De Leon came in at No. 33, the same ranking he received in 2016. The Rays acquired the right-hander on Monday in a trade that sent John Forsythe to the Dodgers.
De Leon broke into the big leagues in 2016, going 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA through four starts in September. The Puerto Rico native owns a 3.35 ERA with 446 strikeouts through four seasons (67 games, 64 starts) in the Minors.
"Tremendous makeup, tremendous character, the personality on and off the field is something that we're really excited about having," said Rays senior vice president baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander. "[The next step is] getting him into our pitching program and continuing his development from where he's at presently."
Finally, outfielder/first baseman Bauers dropped two spots to No. 75 on the rankings.
Bauers is a pure hitter with a knack for barreling the ball, employing a short, direct stroke from the left side and an approach that allows him to utilize the whole field. He doesn't strike out much and will take his walks, and his on-base skills should continue to translate as he moves up the Minor League ladder. Bauers made strides with his power in 2016, when he hit a career-best 14 home runs at Montgomery. He also had 28 doubles and 78 RBIs.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.