Here are Tampa Bay's 2022 Top 30 Prospects

March 22nd, 2022

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – The Rays’ success last season was a testament to their depth. Not just at the Major League level, where they won 100 games and a second straight American League East title, but throughout their Minor League system as well.

While the big league team used a franchise-record 61 different players, including 38 pitchers, Tampa Bay’s Minor League clubs enjoyed unprecedented success in 2021. The Rays finished the season with an incredible domestic organizational winning percentage – accounting for Triple-A Durham, Double-A Montgomery, High-A Bowling Green, Single-A Charleston and the Rookie-level Florida Complex League Rays -- of .653.

The Rays are guided by the belief that winning is a byproduct of good development. So all the winning they did up and down the organization last season is perhaps the best indication of how well they develop talent, year after year, at every level.

But it’s also evident in the sheer depth of their system, as their foundation of farm-system talent extends well beyond MLB Pipeline’s new list of Tampa Bay’s Top 30 Prospects. And that depth is necessary, in their view, to create the kind of self-sustaining contender they want to be.

“It’s difficult to overstate how important it is for us to have depth throughout our system. Just last year we had 60 different players contribute at the Major League level to a team that won 100 games,” Rays director of Minor League operations Jeff McLerran said. “It’s hard to predict what needs will arise over the course of the season, so we want to be prepared for all scenarios."

Last season, the Rays handled just about everything thrown their way. They graduated a huge group of prospects on this list a year ago to the Majors, including Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena, Shane McClanahan, Luis Patiño, Taylor Walls and Josh Fleming. But they still have elite, high-end players in the system, headlined by five Top 100 Prospects.

What makes the Rays’ system special, though, is its depth of talent – the envy of the industry – from top to bottom.

“Last year, we had a really impressive group that reached the big leagues for the first time, but we had a number of guys take big steps forward that are ready to fill the next wave,” McLerran said. “Our scouts continue to do an amazing job finding talent through all different avenues -- Draft, international and trades -- which helps raise the overall competition level, pushing everyone to develop and improve.”

Here’s a look at the Rays’ top prospects:
1. Shane Baz, RHP (MLB No. 12)
2. Josh Lowe, OF (MLB No. 50)
3. Taj Bradley, RHP (MLB No. 74)
4. Vidal Bruján, 2B/OF (MLB No. 77)
5. Greg Jones, SS (MLB No. 91)
Complete Top 30 prospects list>>

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 preseason list to the 2022 preseason list.

Jump: Curtis Mead, 3B (2021: unranked | 2022: 6)
This is a classic Rays story. Mead wasn’t a particularly well-known prospect when Tampa Bay acquired him from Philadelphia for lefty reliever Cristopher Sánchez in November 2019. After a year spent working out at home during the canceled 2020 Minor League season, Mead turned into a stud hitter in his organizational debut a year ago. The Rays had been impressed by his work in the Australian Baseball League leading into 2021, creating some offseason buzz around him, but he surpassed just about all expectations and earned a spot just outside MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list with a dominant full season at the plate. Shortstop Willy Vasquez made a similarly huge leap, going from unranked to the No. 10 spot.

Fall: Brendan McKay, LHP (2021: 5 | 2022: unranked)
This is not a reflection of McKay’s potential as a pitcher, but rather a reality of where he now stands after a few frustrating years. For one, the former fourth overall Draft pick is pretty close to graduating from prospect status; that made it difficult enough to rank the 26-year-old compared to his younger peers. He’s also now focused exclusively on pitching, so he’s lost some of his former two-way shine. Most of all, he’s barely pitched since his 2019 debut in the Majors due to shoulder surgery and a thoracic outlet syndrome decompression procedure, and nobody can say for sure how he’ll bounce back until he makes a healthy return to the mound. There’s just a lot of uncertainty facing McKay, making it tough to properly rank him on this list. But McKay was once one of the game’s top overall prospects, so it won’t be a surprise to anyone if he lives up to his lofty potential.

Top 30s

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.

Hit: 65 -- Xavier Edwards
Power: 60 -- Heriberto Hernandez, Junior Caminero
Run: 70 – Bruján, Jones, Edwards
Arm: 65 – Carson Williams
Field: 60 – Lowe, Blake Hunt
Fastball: 80 -- Baz
Curveball: 60 – Nick Bitsko
Slider: 60 – Baz, Bradley, Seth Johnson, Cole Wilcox
Changeup: 55 – Wilcox, JJ Goss, Ian Seymour
Control: 60 – Baz, John Doxakis

How they were built
Draft: 13 | International: 6 | Trade: 11

Breakdown by ETA
2022: 11 | 2023: 8 | 2024: 5 | 2025: 6

Breakdown by position
C: 2 | C/INF: 1 |1B: 2 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 3 | SS: 5 | OF: 4 | RHP: 9 | LHP: 2