The latest on Rays top prospects

July 25th, 2022

Welcome to the Rays prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.

Rays top prospect: Rankings | Stats | Box scores

Bradley dazzles in debut for Triple-A Durham (July 24)
DURHAM, N.C. -- In a famous mound meeting from Bull Durham, Nuke LaLoosh tells Crash Davis he wants to throw the heater and “announce my presence with authority.” Another right-handed pitching phenom used fastballs, cutters, curveballs and changeups to achieve the same goal in his Triple-A debut.

Rays top prospect Taj Bradley threw five scoreless innings to lead the Bulls to a 5-3 win over Norfolk at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. He struck out eight, walked none and scattered three hits in the opening International League gem.

As if the game didn’t carry enough significance, MLB Pipeline's No. 33 overall prospect had to wait out a 30-minute rainless delay as he itched to take the ball on a Triple-A mound for the first time. Full story »

Mead exits early with arm issue (July 23)
Any early exit this time of year can lead to speculation. But cancel any hug watches when it comes to Curtis Mead, at least for one night.

The Rays' No. 2 prospect was lifted in the third inning of Triple-A Durham's 9-8 win over Norfolk on Saturday with an arm issue. The move was considered precautionary, and Mead will be reevaluated Sunday to determine if he'll need to miss more time.

"He's a young kid," said Durham manager Brady Williams. "We just don't want to push it."

The 20-year-old infielder made one play at third base in the top half of the third -- a nearly wayward throw to first that was still snagged by first baseman Tristan Gray -- before being removed for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the frame. He struck out looking in his only at-bat.

Mead was called up to Durham on June 28 and has hit .250/.358/.482 with three homers in 16 games since. The Australia native represented Tampa Bay at the SirusXM All-Star Futures Game last week. -- Sam Dykstra

Misner delivers in five-hit game (July 10)
Kameron Misner was on fire for Double-A Montgomery.

The Rays No. 13 prospect completed a five-hit game in the Biscuits' 7-6 victory over Biloxi.

The 24-year-old's had two extra-base hits in the game. The first was a double lofted into left field in the second inning followed by another double flown out to center. The lefty would collect two singles in the sixth and eighth inning before the game was suspended. When the Biscuits returned, Misner would reach his fifth hit with a single to left.

According to Montgomery hitting coach Wuarnner Rincones, Misner's improvement with his consistency at the plate has lead to his success.

"He's been more aggressive," Rincones said. "He's been hitting the ball better, or more consistently, lately. So he's in the right lane right now. He does a really good job on swing decisions. He walks a lot. It's more about continuing doing what he's doing right now, so I know he will end the year with good numbers -- and he's putting up some good numbers already."

Miser raised his season slash line to .371/.426/.707. -- Alyssa Gomez

Bradley collects seven strikeouts in scoreless outing (July 7)
 continues to roll in Double-A Montgomery.

The Rays No. 2 prospect logged seven strikeouts in six scoreless in the Biscuits' 2-0 loss to Biloxi. Bradley threw 51 strikes in his 70 total pitches.

The only blemishes in the 21-year-old's dominant outing were a single lined into center in the fourth, followed by a knock pulled to right in the fifth.

Bradley lowered his season ERA to 1.51 and brought his strikeout total to 83. -- Alyssa Gomez

Aranda collects four hits ... again! (July 6)
For the second time in three games, Jonathan Aranda put together a four-hit night as Triple-A Durham charged past Memphis, 10-5, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The 21st-ranked Rays prospect laced a two-run double to center in the third, lined another two-bagger to right in the fourth, recorded his third double of the game in the sixth and capped the Bulls' scoring with an RBI single back up the middle in the seventh.

It's the fourth four-hit game of the season for Aranda who is sporting a .326/.400/.542 slash line with 32 extra-base hits and 54 RBIs over 70 games with the Bulls this year. -- Rob Terranova

Mead among three top-performing prospects on the move (June 29)
Monday was moving day for three of the most productive position-player prospects in the Rays’ system this season. Infielder  was promoted to Triple-A Durham, infielder  to Double-A Montgomery and outfielder Mason Auer to High-A Bowling Green, and all three joined their new clubs on the field Tuesday.

Mead, the Rays’ No. 4 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 87 overall, earned his promotion by hitting .305/.394/.548 with 10 homers and 21 doubles in 56 games for Montgomery. The 21-year-old Australian soared through the Rays’ system last year and actually spent four games at Triple-A when the Bulls' roster was wracked by injuries. He returned to Durham’s lineup on Tuesday, starting at third base and going 1-for-4 as the No. 3 hitter.

Basabe, the club’s No. 27 prospect, was excellent in 55 games for Bowling Green. The versatile 21-year-old infielder hit .315/.370/.463 with four homers and 16 doubles, a noticeable tick up in power after he slugged .388 with 10 doubles and three homers in 70 games last season. With No. 5 prospect Greg Jones holding down shortstop for Montgomery, Basabe made his Double-A debut at third base Tuesday and went 1-for-5.

Auer is unranked among the Rays’ Top 30 Prospects, but he’s earning consideration amid a strong professional debut. A fifth-round pick in last year’s Draft, the 21-year-old outfielder hit .293/.378/.478 with 13 doubles, nine triples, four homers and 24 stolen bases in 60 games for Single-A Charleston. Auer spent most of his time in right field but also made 13 starts in center and one in left. He started in right, batting fifth, and delivered an RBI single in his Bowling Green debut Tuesday. -- Adam Berry

Alika Williams displays his power in multihomer game (June 26)
Alika Williams
showcased his power in a big way.

The Rays’ No. 30 prospect has been having his best month of the season, slashing .294/.351/.765 in the month of June. Williams stayed hot, going 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs in High-A Bowling Green's 9-5 win over Greenville.

The 23-year-old struggled early, striking out in the first and flied out in the second inning. He broke out late, blasting a two-run homer to left-center field in the fifth and a solo shot to right field in the eighth inning.

The Arizona State alum had his second multi homer game of the month, which brought his HR tally to seven on the season. -- Edwin Perez

Bradley tosses six scoreless (June 24)
 continues to impress in Double-A Montgomery.

The Rays' No. 3 prospect hurled six scoreless innings in the Biscuits' 2-1 victory over Mississippi. Bradley threw 70 pitches (45 for strikes) and tallied four strikeouts.

The 21-year-old added to his dominant month of June, during which he's tallied 29 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings and posted a 1.11 ERA.

Bradley lowered his season ERA to 1.82 and brought his WHIP to 0.91. -- Alyssa Gomez

Back from cancer, Hess dominates for Durham (June 21)
Time can pass in inexplicable ways. An offseason of normal length that feels like an eternity. An inning that stretches out like a rubber band in the moment only to snap back to a whirlwind when recounted.

David Hess has seen it all now.

In his first game back at Triple-A since a cancer diagnosis nine months ago, Tampa Bay right-hander Hess roared through a perfect inning with a strikeout, needing just nine pitches in a triumphant return.

“As cliché as it might sound, I just tried to tell myself, ‘Take one breath at a time,’” Hess said after his Durham side fell to Jacksonville, 9-3. “I knew the emotions were going to be high. I knew what I was probably going to be feeling. I tried to just go in and make it as normal as possible. The first pitch -- getting the sign, coming set, just thinking about everything and then throwing -- everything kind of clicked back into place. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any big emotions because inside, I felt like I was going a million miles an hour. I was just trying to make it a normal outing and keep it as low-key as possible. I don’t think there was necessarily anything low-key on the inside that I was feeling.” Full story »

Mead homers twice for Montgomery (June 19)
Curtis Mead’s seventh multihit effort of the month was also his first multihomer one.

Tampa Bay’s No. 4 prospect launched two solo dingers in Double-A Montgomery’s 7-2 loss to Rocket City. It’s his first two-homer effort of the season and his first since July 1, 2021. The 21-year-old got the scoring started by capping off a seven-pitch at-bat with a long ball to left-center in the first. His second homer in the ninth went to the same spot, giving him 10 jacks on the season through 50 games. 

Mead is slashing .305 /.395/.561 with 18 doubles, 22 walks and 34 RBIs. -- Stephanie Sheehan

Bitsko, 2020 first-round pick, makes pro debut (June 9)
Right-hander , the Rays’ first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, made his professional debut for the Rookie-level Florida Complex League Rays on Thursday afternoon at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

Facing the FCL Twins, who had rehabbing infielder Daniel Robertson batting leadoff, Bitsko recorded three consecutive groundouts in his first inning of work. The Rays’ No. 16 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, ran into a little more trouble in the second inning. The 19-year-old gave up a single and a one-out walk followed by an RBI double. After logging his first pro strikeout, Bitsko walked another batter before exiting the game.

That was the end of a long road back for Bitsko, who had his senior season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in December 2020 -- months after Tampa Bay made him the 24th overall pick and signed him for $3 million. But after a healthy spring and a long-awaited return to competitive game action, the Rays hope it’s also the beginning of his road to the big leagues. -- Adam Berry