Here are the Rays' 2020 Top 30 Prospects

February 27th, 2020

The Tampa Bay Rays reached the postseason last year for the first time since 2013, claiming the American League’s second Wild Card spot with a 96-66 record that trailed only the Yankees in the American League East. Those 96 wins were one short of matching a 22-year franchise record and followed a 90-win season in 2018.

The Rays continued to thrive in playoffs, knocking off Oakland in the Wild Card Game to advance to the Division Series, where they battled back from a 2-0 series deficit against the Astros before falling to the future AL champions in a decisive Game 5.

The strength of the Rays’ farm system, ranked as the second-best in baseball by MLB Pipeline going into 2019, was on full display throughout the season. Brandon Lowe, a third-round pick in 2015, garnered All-Star honors and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, and 2016 13th-rounder Nate Lowe continued to surpass expectations en route to a .779 OPS in 50 games. Two-way player Brendan McKay made his big league debut in late June, a little more than two years after the Rays selected him with the fourth overall pick, and then made the team’s postseason roster in October.

McKay should take on an even more significant role with the Rays in 2020, and there is a wealth of impactful young talent that should follow.

For a second straight year, teenage wunderkind Wander Franco, MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 overall prospect, headlines a Rays Top 30 list that is teeming with athletic, high-upside prospects at premium positions as well as on the mound. The switch-hitting shortstop is one of eight homegrown players ranked inside the Top 10, and, overall, there are 22 players on this year’s Rays Top 30 list who entered the system via the Draft or international market.

Many of those players, including Franco and McKay, are on the cusp of contributing in the Major Leagues. In fact, nearly two-thirds (19, to be exact) of the 2020 Rays Top 30 list project to debut in the next two years. That should provide the big league club with a steady stream of cost-controlled players for years to come as it looks to further its recent success.

Here’s a look at the Rays’ top prospects:

  1. Wander Franco, SS
  2. Brendan McKay, LHP/DH (No. 15 on Top 100)
  3. Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS (No. 45)
  4. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS (No. 72)
  5. Shane Baz, RHP (No. 90)
    Complete Top 30 list »

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list:

Jump: Joe Ryan, RHP (2019: NR | 2020: 8) -- The 2018 seventh-round pick ranked fifth among NCAA Division II hurlers in strikeouts (127) as a Cal State Stanislaus senior and finished second in the Minors (183) while reaching Double-A in his first full season. 
Fall: Lucius Fox, SS (2019: 10 | 2020: 25) -- The former $6 million international signee hasn’t hit as expected since he reached Double-A in 2018, though he does continue to offer value with his defense and on-base skills. 

Best tools
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.

Hit: 80 -- Franco
Power: 60 -- Moises Gomez (Franco, Niko Hulsizer)
Run: 70 -- Brujan (Xavier Edwards, Greg Jones)
Arm: 70 -- Ronaldo Hernandez
Defense: 60 -- Taylor Walls (Josh Lowe)
Fastball: 70 -- Baz (Peter Fairbanks)
Curveball: 55 -- Taj Bradley
Slider: 65 -- Baz
Changeup: 60 -- Brent Honeywell
Other: 60 (screwball) -- Honeywell
Control: 70 -- Michael Plassmeyer

How they were built
Draft: 17 | International: 5 | Trade: 8

Breakdown by ETA
2020: 9 | 2021: 10 | 2022: 8 | 2023: 2 | 2024: 1

Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 0 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 1 | SS: 4 | OF: 6 | RHP: 11 | LHP: 5