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Cron DFA'd as Rays shuffle 40-man roster

No. 4 prospect Sanchez among those protected from Rule 5 Draft
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

The Rays designated first baseman C.J. Cron for assignment and added five players to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's 8 p.m. ET deadline to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Cron, 28, had the best season of his career in 2018, slashing .253/.323/.493 with 30 home runs in 140 games for Tampa Bay. He was traded from the Angels to the Rays in February after spending the first four seasons of his big league career with the Halos.

The Rays designated first baseman C.J. Cron for assignment and added five players to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's 8 p.m. ET deadline to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Cron, 28, had the best season of his career in 2018, slashing .253/.323/.493 with 30 home runs in 140 games for Tampa Bay. He was traded from the Angels to the Rays in February after spending the first four seasons of his big league career with the Halos.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction (had been 10 days under the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement), the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

The Rays also DFA'd right-hander Oliver Drake and left-hander Hoby Milner and outrighted right-hander Jose Mujica to the Minor Leagues.

After clearing space on the 40-man roster, the Rays added left-handed pitchers Kyle Bird and Brock Burke, right-handed pitcher Ian Gibaut and outfielders Joe McCarthy and Jesus Sanchez.

Sanchez, 21, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rays' No. 4 prospect and No. 33 on the Top 100 overall. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in '14, and has ascended quickly through the Rays' farm system. He spent last season playing for Class A Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, hitting .282/.324/.433 with 11 homers in 117 games.

McCarthy, 24, is the Rays' No. 17 prospect. He hit .269/.377/.513 with eight homers in 47 games with Triple-A Durham last season.

Gibaut, 25, is the Rays' No. 29 prospect. He made 48 relief appearances for Durham, posting a 2.09 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 56 innings.

In 43 appearances (six starts) between Double-A Montgomery and Durham last season, the 25-year-old Bird posted a 2.39 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 75 1/3 innings.

Burke, 22, appeared in 25 games (22 starts) between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Montgomery, posting a 3.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 137 1/3 innings.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Tampa Bay Rays, C.J. Cron

Former Ray McGriff faces last shot at HOF

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Is the Hall of Fame ballot "logjam" almost at an end?

With the Baseball Writers' Association of America electing a record 16 candidates over the past five years, including at least two per year, Cooperstown has been plenty busy in recent summers. While plenty of holdovers remain on the ballot, the clock continues to tick on their candidacies, and this year's voting figures to say a lot about their ultimate chances of being elected.

Is the Hall of Fame ballot "logjam" almost at an end?

With the Baseball Writers' Association of America electing a record 16 candidates over the past five years, including at least two per year, Cooperstown has been plenty busy in recent summers. While plenty of holdovers remain on the ballot, the clock continues to tick on their candidacies, and this year's voting figures to say a lot about their ultimate chances of being elected.

In the meantime, a host of name-brand stars have entered the fray, headlined by one legend who figures to get Yankees fans flocking upstate in July. Below is a look at the players on the 2019 BBWAA ballot, announced Monday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with an early guess on their Cooperstown fates. The election results will be announced on Jan. 22, live on MLB Network.

Video: 2019 Hall of Fame ballot includes 20 newcomers

FIRST-BALLOT LOCK

Mariano Rivera
Closers typically face a divisive electorate when it comes to the Hall, but with a record 652 saves and an incredible 0.70 postseason ERA, Rivera is really in a class of his own. Rivera's induction could challenge the record crowd of 82,000 that saw Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. receive their plaques in 2007, with Derek Jeter's certain election in 2020 figuring to do the same.

Video: Yankees Retired Number: No. 42, Mariano Rivera

FIRST-BALLOT INTRIGUE

Roy Halladay
A pair of Cy Youngs and a pair of no-hitters (including one in the postseason) would figure to get the late Halladay over the hump. But his 203 wins may seem paltry to more traditional voters, and we just saw another ace from Halladay's era, Johan Santana, go one-and-done with just 2.4 percent of the vote. The guess here is that Halladay gets in, however, and perhaps even squeaks through on his first ballot.

Video: MLB remembers the greatness of Roy Halladay

Todd Helton
Only 19 players since 1900 have accrued 5,000 plate appearances and put up a .300/.400/.500 slash line, and Helton is one of them. But so is Helton's former teammate Larry Walker, who's entering his ninth year on the ballot as a longshot. Voters are still wrapping their heads around the Coors Field factor, so Helton's candidacy could be debated for a while.

Andy Pettitte
Postseason moments are strong boosters for election, and no pitcher has more wins in October than Pettitte. But the lefty's 3.85 career ERA and his admission to using human growth hormone might ultimately leave him just shy of the Plaque Gallery.

Video: Yankees retired number: No. 46, Andy Pettitte

LAST CHANCE

Edgar Martinez
Martinez's candidacy has a full head of steam, jumping from 58.6 percent to 70.4 percent last year. Will 2019 finally be Edgar's time? Last year, the Tacoma News Tribune pointed out that each of the past 10 players who received between 70-74 percent of the BBWAA vote gained election the very next year, and every candidate who's crossed the 70-percent threshold has eventually gotten into Cooperstown via either the BBWAA or a Veterans Committee.

With Rivera being the only first-ballot lock, the guess here is that a little more room on the ballot, coupled with the urgency of Martinez's final-year push, convinces a final few voters to check off the Seattle slugger's name.

Video: Martinez looking ahead to 2019 Hall of Fame vote

Fred McGriff
McGriff's Cooperstown case, which includes a 134 adjusted OPS+ and 493 home runs, might be better than you think. But the Crime Dog would need a miraculous jump after his name appeared on only 23.2 percent of ballots last year.

NOTABLE RETURNEES

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens
More voters are beginning to look past performance-enhancing drug allegations and choosing to view Bonds and Clemens as indispensable legends of the game. But there's still a large block of voters that will never vote for this pair, and they still have about 20 percent more ground to make up in next four years.

Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling
Their career lines are similar, but Mussina has jumped ahead, arguably due to Schilling's off-field transgressions. After languishing below 25 percent as recently as 2015, Mussina's 63.5-percent total last year has him on the doorstep with five years to go.

Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa
Ramirez's multiple suspensions for PEDs has left him with a long uphill climb to election. Sosa debuted alongside Bonds on the ballot with 609 home runs, but his relatively low average and on-base percentage -- plus PED suspicions -- have kept him from getting sufficient support.

Larry Walker
As mentioned, the Coors factor has held back Walker -- though he was a better road hitter than you might remember. He'll likely run out of time on the BBWAA ballot, but could be viewed more favorably by a Veterans Committee down the road.

Omar Vizquel
Vizquel made a solid start at 37 percent in his ballot debut last winter. He compares well to defense-first Hall of Fame shortstops Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith, but his career 82 OPS+ will keep many voters away.

Video: MLB Network debates if Vizquel will make Hall of Fame

Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen
These two defined their positions defensively and brought plenty of power in their primes. Their candidacies stayed alive in Year 1, but each player needs momentum in the voting.

Jeff Kent, Gary Sheffield and Billy Wagner
All three of these players have their mainstay voters, but have had trouble building momentum. Their best-case scenarios are to get somewhere within 20 percent before their 10th year on the ballot and hope for a massive final-year push.

FIRST-TIMERS WHO COULD GET A SECOND CHANCE

Lance Berkman
Berkman's career line has some gaudy numbers, including a 144 OPS+ that ranks among the top 30 in history. But longevity will be an issue -- Berkman logged only eight seasons in which he played in at least 140 games.

Roy Oswalt
The former Astros ace posted two 20-win seasons and placed within the top five in Cy Young Award voting five times. But Oswalt's 163 wins and 2,245 1/3 innings will have trouble convincing even new-school voters to write down his name.

Video: Duquette looks back at Oswalt's 13-year career

LIKELY ONE AND DONE (less than 5 percent of vote)

Rick Ankiel (13 wins and 51 appearances as a pitcher, 462 hits as an outfielder)
Jason Bay (2004 NL Rookie of the Year, 121 OPS+)
Freddy Garcia (156 wins, 2001 AL ERA title)
Jon Garland (136 wins, 2005 World Series champion)
Travis Hafner (213 HR, tied MLB record with six grand slams in 2006)
Ted Lilly (130 wins, 1,681 SO)
Derek Lowe (176 wins and 86 saves)
Darren Oliver (766 appearances)
Juan Pierre (2,217 hits, 614 SB)
Placido Polanco (.297 BA, 2006 ALCS MVP)
Miguel Tejada (816 XBH, 2002 AL MVP)
Vernon Wells (270 HR, 2003 AL hit crown)
Kevin Youkilis (.382 OBP, 123 OPS+)
Michael Young (.300 BA, 2,375 hits)

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Snell's sensational '18 nets AL Cy Young Award

Lefty becomes second Rays pitcher to receive honor
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

In the end, Blake Snell's innings were enough. It was his dominance on the mound that mattered most.

That's what members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America revealed Wednesday when Snell was named the winner of the 2018 American League Cy Young Award, capping the Rays' third-year southpaw's breakout season. Snell beat out a star-studded field of finalists for the award, as former AL Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander finished second and two-time winner Corey Kluber finished third. The announcement was made on MLB Network.

In the end, Blake Snell's innings were enough. It was his dominance on the mound that mattered most.

That's what members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America revealed Wednesday when Snell was named the winner of the 2018 American League Cy Young Award, capping the Rays' third-year southpaw's breakout season. Snell beat out a star-studded field of finalists for the award, as former AL Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander finished second and two-time winner Corey Kluber finished third. The announcement was made on MLB Network.

:: AL Cy Young Award voting totals ::

"To win it, it feels really good," Snell said. "I don't think it's going to hit me until I'm by myself and no one else is here. I had a lot of help to really be as elite as I wanted to be. I had to put the work in to do it. It only makes me more hungry to see what I can do next."

Snell won a tight race to become the Rays' second AL Cy Young winner, joining David Price in 2012. He garnered 17 first place votes, 11 second-place votes and two third-place votes for 169 points. Verlander (154 points) got 13 first-place votes, 13 for seond place and three third-place votes. Kluber (71 points) earned only second- and third-place votes. Red Sox ace Chris Sale finished fourth and Astros righty Gerrit Cole placed fifth to round out the balloting.

"For me, just starting to be in that field, it feels amazing. It really does," Snell said. "But my mindset is so focused on what's next, what's better. I'm more excited to get better next year and to continue being with those names. They're the best in the game and I want to be there every year."

Snell, the first AL left-hander to win the award since Dallas Keuchel in '15, dominated over a season that put him in rarified air in terms of run prevention. The 25-year-old entered 2018 as the Rays' No. 2 starter and spent the campaign emerging as an ace, pacing qualified AL starters in wins (21), ERA (1.89) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.6) while striking out 221 across 180 2/3 innings pitched. Snell's 1.89 ERA marked the fifth lowest single-season mark for a left-hander since the mound was lowered in 1969, and it is third lowest by an AL starter since the designated hitter was implemented in 1973. It was the lowest mark by a qualified AL starter since Pedro Martinez pitched to a 1.74 ERA in 2000.

• All-time AL Cy Young Award winners

Video: Blake Snell on joining David Price in Rays history

Snell also led all qualified southpaw starters in batting average against (.176), opponent slugging (.277), winning percentage (.808) and WHIP (0.98). He also earned his first career All-Star nod.

Wednesday's announcement came a day after Snell earned the Warren Spahn Award, given annually to the game's best left-hander, and made good on a little-known prediction Snell made this spring.

It was before the Rays reported to their spring complex in February that Snell, who at the time was just 8-15 with a 3.83 career ERA across parts of two big league seasons, told Rays pitching coach Kyle Johnson and former teammate Chris Archer his goal for 2018: win the Cy Young.

"I told them, 'I don't care what anyone thinks, I'm just going to do it,'" Snell said. "That's a moment we can share forever now that it happened."

While Jacob deGrom's candidacy over in the National League fueled debate over the importance of wins -- a debate that ended with deGrom earning the award nearly unanimously -- Snell's appeared to be buoyed by his gaudy total of that traditional statistic. He is the Majors' only 20-game winner since 2016 and went 9-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his final 11 starts of the season.

Video: Snell discusses his confidence going forward to 2019

Snell managed his incredible season in the ultra-competitive AL East, and he seemed to elevate his game against the game's best teams. Snell went 9-2 with a 2.00 ERA against the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, A's and Astros -- the AL's top scoring clubs and the five that qualified for the postseason.

If there was a case to be made against Snell, it lived in his workload. Snell's 180 2/3 innings pitched are the lowest ever for a 20-game winner and sit 33 1/3 innings behind Verlander, who finished 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an MLB-best 290 strikeouts over 34 starts. Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and struck out 222 in 215 innings, the most among AL hurlers.

Tweet from @MLB: The moment @snellzilla4 and his crew got the #CyYoung news. pic.twitter.com/iIukJZlHL5

Snell is largely not at fault for this discrepancy, which stems from the lefty's two trips to the disabled list and the Rays' organizational preference to avoid having starters pitch late in games. Snell was the only Rays pitcher to qualify for the ERA title. He threw 33 1/3 more innings than his next closest teammate, Ryan Yarbrough.

For large stretches, Snell served as the only traditional starter for a team whose lack of starting depth led to them to rely heavily on using "openers," relievers who throw an inning or two before piggybacking with others for matchup purposes. Snell averaged 5.8 innings per start, while Kluber averaged 6.5 and Verlander 6.3. Snell's innings total was the lowest for a Cy Young Award winner since David Cone threw 171 2/3 in the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Video: Feinsand on Snell being very deserving of Cy Young

"I would have been excited to see what an extra 30 innings look like," Snell said. "I thought I could've thrown more, honestly. Two-hundred innings, that has to happen next year. I finished the year the way I wanted, but I do want to go longer into games and make that a bigger point for next year. I'm excited to be able to do that and am excited for what this team can accomplish next year."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell

Rays trade Hu, acquire Turner from Indians

MLB.com @castrovince

With the Rule 5 Draft deadline approaching Tuesday, and some teams in need of making room on their 40-man rosters, the Indians and Rays completed a minor trade Monday. Tampa Bay sent right-hander Chih-Wei Hu to Cleveland in exchange for infielder Gionti Turner.

Hu, 25, made five relief appearances with the Rays in 2018, but he spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Durham. With Durham, he posted a 4.66 ERA in 24 games, including 19 starts, striking out 92 and walking 28 in 102 1/3 innings. With the Rays, he had a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings, striking out 12 and allowing just a .149 average against.

With the Rule 5 Draft deadline approaching Tuesday, and some teams in need of making room on their 40-man rosters, the Indians and Rays completed a minor trade Monday. Tampa Bay sent right-hander Chih-Wei Hu to Cleveland in exchange for infielder Gionti Turner.

Hu, 25, made five relief appearances with the Rays in 2018, but he spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Durham. With Durham, he posted a 4.66 ERA in 24 games, including 19 starts, striking out 92 and walking 28 in 102 1/3 innings. With the Rays, he had a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings, striking out 12 and allowing just a .149 average against.

A native of Taiwan, Hu was initially acquired by the Rays in the 2015 deal that sent Kevin Jepsen to the Twins at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He was a Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game participant in 2016.

Hu goes from the Rays' 40-man roster, which now stands at 39 players, to the Indians' 40-man, which now stands at 36 players.

Turner, 18, does not need to be added to a 40-man roster. He was the Indians' 27-round draft pick this year and hit .296 (50-for-169) in the rookie-level Arizona League.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Cleveland Indians, Chih-Wei Hu

Next year's top free agents -- 1 for each team

Sale, Arenado among marquee players who could hit the market
MLB.com @williamfleitch

Free-agent season is just getting started, and one of the challenges of assessing free agents sometimes can be separating what they did in the last year of their most recent contract and what they can expect to do in the future. There's not a ton of evidence that players are healthier or better in their contract year than they are the rest of their career, but teams can't help but bid sometimes on what they saw most recently.

So, today, we look at the most prominent pending free agent for next year, the guys who will be playing for their next contract in 2019. These are the names we'll be talking about a year from now come Hot Stove time … though the sort of offers they'll get will depend on what happens next season.

Free-agent season is just getting started, and one of the challenges of assessing free agents sometimes can be separating what they did in the last year of their most recent contract and what they can expect to do in the future. There's not a ton of evidence that players are healthier or better in their contract year than they are the rest of their career, but teams can't help but bid sometimes on what they saw most recently.

So, today, we look at the most prominent pending free agent for next year, the guys who will be playing for their next contract in 2019. These are the names we'll be talking about a year from now come Hot Stove time … though the sort of offers they'll get will depend on what happens next season.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Justin Smoak
The Blue Jays actually have several big free agents coming up -- Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Yangervis Solarte -- but Smoak is coming off the best season of any of them.

Orioles: Mark Trumbo
That hefty contract he signed before the 2017 hasn't paid off well for the Orioles, and the market has definitely contracted for players like Trumbo since.

Rays: None
Think the Rays are meticulous planners? They have no impending free agents on their team at all. Even Tommy Pham, who is 30 and playing on a minimum contract, has three years of team control.

Red Sox: Chris Sale
The final year of that team-friendly deal he signed in 2013 is finally upon us, and he could be the most coveted a free agent a year from now. Xander Bogaerts is also poised to hit the market, and J.D. Martinez has an opt-out in his deal, so the Red Sox could look a lot different in 2020.

Video: WS2018 Gm5: Sale strikes out the side to clinch WS

Yankees: Didi Gregorius
This is a player who could make himself a lot of money with a terrific 2019, but he just underwent Tommy John surgery and could miss a decent chunk of the year.

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Jason Kipnis
The Indians have three "expensive" players with club options -- Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion and Corey Kluber -- and Kipnis seems like the one they're least likely to pick up.

Royals: Alex Gordon
It is extremely unlikely that the club will pick up his $23 million mutual option.

Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
He could be a sleeper option for someone next offseason … and an obvious Trade Deadline candidate.

Twins: Kyle Gibson
He was sneakily the Twins' best pitcher this year. If he can do that again, he could be another Kyle Lohse.

White Sox: Jose Abreu
Both Abreu and Avisail Garcia seem like obvious Trade Deadline candidates this year. It's a little surprising neither has been traded already.

Video: Abreu expresses emotions after Silver Slugger win

AL WEST

Angels: None
Here's another team with no pending free agents. Unfortunately for the Angels, it's for very different reasons than the Rays. Mike Trout has just two years left, friends.

Astros: Gerrit Cole
Here's another pitcher who has made himself quite a bit more money in the last calendar year.

Video: ALCS Gm 2: Cole escapes a bases-loaded jam

Athletics: Khris Davis
Davis will be one of the most fascinating free-agent cases next season. If the A's are excellent again, that'll help.

Mariners: Felix Hernandez
There might be no pitcher in baseball whom the sport will be cheering for to have a great final (?) season in Seattle.

Rangers: Drew Smyly
He'll be on his way out the door before most Rangers fans had a chance to even say hello.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Arodys Vizcaino
He might quietly be the best closer on the market next season.

Marlins: Martin Prado
That extension he signed after the 2016 season feels like it happened in a different lifetime.

Mets: Todd Frazier
Whatever you think of the Mets, they don't have many long-term contracts laying around the roster anymore.

Nationals: Anthony Rendon
It's possible the biggest contract next season might end up going to Rendon.

Video: WSH@COL: Rendon drives an RBI triple to center field

Phillies: Tommy Hunter
The Phillies are clearly ready to spend this offseason, and they should be.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Jhoulys Chacin
He ended up being their best pitcher last season. Do that again, and he might be one of the top starters on the market.

Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna
If he has the year in 2019 that the Cardinals had wanted him to have in 2018 he might end up the big-ticket item next winter.

Cubs: Cole Hamels
The arbitration hearings are starting to pile up for all those young Cubs stars.

Video: Cubs pick up Hamels' option, deal Smyly to Texas

Pirates: Francisco Cervelli
One of the most underrated catchers in the game. Corey Dickerson's deal will be up too.

Reds: Scooter Gennett
Has any player raised his profile more in the last two seasons than Gennett?

NL WEST

D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt
There are some trade rumors swirling around Goldschmidt, so it's possible he isn't with Arizona next winter when he hits the market.

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig
In case you were wondering whether next year's Hot Stove will lack for hot takes … it will not.

Giants: Pablo Sandoval
That deal he signed with the Red Sox finally expires next year, presuming the Giants don't pick up the club option.

Padres: Craig Stammen
Stammen is destined to be the reliever your team signs whom you're not excited about but is the only reliever you trust in September.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Surely they're going to get an extension done at some point … right? Otherwise he's all we'll be talking about next winter.

Video: Nolan Arenado honored to be MVP finalist

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Jose Abreu, Nolan Arenado, Nicholas Castellanos, Francisco Cervelli, Jhoulys Chacin, Gerrit Cole, Khris Davis, Todd Frazier, Scooter Gennett, Kyle Gibson, Paul Goldschmidt, Alex Gordon, Didi Gregorius, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Tommy Hunter, Jason Kipnis, Marcell Ozuna, Martin Prado, Yasiel Puig, Anthony Rendon, Chris Sale, Pablo Sandoval, Justin Smoak, Drew Smyly, Craig Stammen, Mark Trumbo, Arodys Vizcaino

30 ROY candidates for 2019 -- 1 for each team

MLB.com

On Monday, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr. were named Rookie of the Year in the American and National Leagues, respectively. But they were far from the only first-year players to make an impact in the big leagues in 2018.

It would be difficult to find a team in the history of the modern game who went through an entire season without needing to use its farm system. Sometimes, jobs are given to rookies on Opening Day, as was the case with Ohtani and the Angels. Other times, a player has to wait to be called up to make an impact, just like Acuna did with the Braves.

On Monday, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr. were named Rookie of the Year in the American and National Leagues, respectively. But they were far from the only first-year players to make an impact in the big leagues in 2018.

It would be difficult to find a team in the history of the modern game who went through an entire season without needing to use its farm system. Sometimes, jobs are given to rookies on Opening Day, as was the case with Ohtani and the Angels. Other times, a player has to wait to be called up to make an impact, just like Acuna did with the Braves.

In 2018, both prospects entered the season as Rookie of the Year contenders, if not front-runners, in each league. But sometimes Rookies of the Year come on unexpectedly. With that in mind, here is a potential ROY candidate from each organization.

AL East

Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B
There's a strong case to made that Guerrero, MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, should have reached the Majors last season, even with the Blue Jays' struggles. But he didn't and ultimately finished with an absurd .381/.437/.636 line and 20 home runs while reaching Triple-A at age 19. His bat is 100 percent ready for the highest level, and once there, Guerrero is a candidate to run away with top rookie honors in the AL, regardless of when he arrives.

Video: EAST@WEST: Guerrero Jr. doubles, advances on error

Orioles: Yusniel Diaz, OF
The Orioles' key acquisition in the deadline deal that sent Manny Machado to Hollywood, Diaz is yet to tap into his above-average raw power but has a good idea of what he's doing at the plate, as evidenced by his .285/.392/.449 slash line and 11-homer last season in Double-A. Some other internal options may get first crack in either right or left field as the Orioles rebuild, but Diaz should become an everyday guy for them before long.

Rays: Brandon Lowe, 2B
Lowe struggled initially upon reaching the Majors, going 0-for-19 following his debut on Aug. 5. After that, however, he slashed .273/.357/.527 with six homers in 37 games to finish the year with a career-high 28 home runs between Double-A, Triple-A and MLB. He also finished with 129 at-bats, leaving him two ABs short of exhausting his rookie eligibility. Like so many young Rays players, Lowe has the defensive versatility that could make him a near regular for Tampa Bay in 2019.

Red Sox: Michael Chavis, 3B
The defending World Series champions have a depleted farm system and few opportunities at the big league level. One of the better power-hitting prospects in the upper Minors, Chavis could contribute if Rafael Devers struggles again or the need for a right-handed-hitting first baseman arises.

Yankees: Justus Sheffield, LHP
The Yankees' greatest need is starting pitching, and Sheffield should crack the Opening Day rotation. His fastball, slider and changeup all can be three plus pitches, so it won't be a shock if he's New York's second-best starter after Luis Severino.

Video: Mayo gives some 2019 AL Rookie of the Year contenders

AL Central

Indians: Yu Chang, SS
Though he continues to face an uphill battle towards carving out a spot in Cleveland's infield, Chang, a member of the Tribe's 40-man roster, saw increased reps at third base during the regular season and regular time there in the Arizona Fall League, suggesting the hot corner could be his path of least resistance. He has the hitting ability and raw power to profile there, as well as the defensive versatility to handle a utility role.

Royals: Nicky Lopez, SS/2B
Lopez is blocked at the moment by Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, but he's also sound in all phases of the game and has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. He should open the season in nothing less than a utility role and should claim at least semi-regular at-bats.

Tigers: Christin Stewart, OF
He's hit at least 25 homers in each of his three full seasons of pro ball and hit a pair of homers in 60 big league at-bats this past September. Stewart has improved his overall approach, drawing a lot more walks, while still hitting balls out of the park, something that should continue with a full-time gig in Detroit next season.

Twins: Stephen Gonsalves, RHP
The left-hander didn't fare well during his first taste of the big leagues in 2018, but he had a fantastic year, mostly in Triple-A, finishing second in the system in ERA and fifth in strikeouts, while keeping hitters to a combined .184 BAA. Gonsalves' upside might be limited, but he's ready to be a mid-rotation starter.

White Sox: Eloy Jimenez, OF
If anyone can challenge Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero for the title of best offensive prospect in baseball, it's Jimenez. Ready last summer but kept in the Minors for service-time considerations, he'll be the foundation the White Sox build their lineup around.

Watch: Jimenez crushes 12th homer for Charlotte

AL West

Athletics: Jesus Luzardo, LHP
Luzardo nearly reached the Majors in 2018 in what was his first full pro campaign as well as his first fully healthy, unimpeded season since his Tommy John surgery in mid-2016. Altogether, the left-hander (in his age-20 season) compiled a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 129 strikeouts and 30 walks in 109 1/3 innings while ascending from Class A Advanced to Triple-A. The A's will be without many of the starting pitchers that were lost due to injuries last season, so expect Luzardo to receive an earnest look during spring training.

Angels: Griffin Canning, RHP
The UCLA product projected as an advanced college arm and lived up to that advanced billing, racing all the way to Triple-A in his first full season. His four-pitch mix with excellent command allowed him to miss bats all the way up the ladder and is why he is just about ready to hit the Angels' rotation.

Astros: Kyle Tucker, OF
The No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Tucker has recorded back-to-back 20-20 seasons in the upper Minors. His Triple-A line (.332/.400/.590) is much more representative of his upside than the numbers from his big league debut (.141/.236/.203).

Watch: Tucker crushes game-tying homer

Mariners: Wyatt Mills, RHP
Viewed by scouts as a potential fast-riser when the Mariners took him in the third round of the 2017 Draft, Mills, 23, was just that in his first full season as he reached Double-A and followed it with an impressive turn in the Arizona Fall League. With right-handed delivery and profile that resembles Steve Cisheck's as well as comparable stuff, Mills has all the ingredients needed to become an impactful bullpen piece in 2019.

Rangers: Yohander Mendez, LHP
Mendez's prospect luster has dimmed a bit over the last two years, yet that won't prevent him from fitting in the middle of the Rangers' rotation. He still has a quality changeup but needs to refine his command and breaking ball.

NL East

Braves: Touki Tousssaint, RHP
The Braves have scores of young pitchers who could contend for Rookie of the Year honors next season. Toussaint gets the nod because of the pure stuff that helped him lead the system in ERA and strikeouts and because of how well his big league debut went, earning him a spot on the postseason roster.

Video: Mayo on potential 2019 NL Rookie of Year candidates

Marlins: Victor Mesa, OF
While there currently are quite a few unknowns with Mesa, whom Miami signed for $5.5 million on Oct. 22, the consensus is that the 22-year-old outfielder shouldn't require all too much seasoning in the Minor Leagues after his success in Cuba's Serie Nacional. His plus defense in center field gives him a high floor in the big leagues, and any offensive contributions that surpass expectations could make him a ROY candidate.

Phillies: Ranger Suarez, LHP
Suarez made four uneven appearances with Philadelphia in 2018, reaching the big leagues before he turned 23, and he's the kind of smart left-hander who will learn and make adjustments. He's moved very quickly since starting the 2017 season in A ball and should fit nicely into the back end of the young Phillies rotation.

Nationals: Victor Robles, OF
Robles has taken second chair to teenage superstar Juan Soto in the Nationals' long-term outfield outlook with good reason. Yet, the future remains incredibly bright for the now 21-year-old center fielder, who hit .288/.348/.525 with three homers and three steals over 21 games with the Nats after a right elbow injury cost him much of the Minor League season. That Robles is the club's projected Opening Day center fielder at the moment makes him a preseason ROY favorite in the NL.

Watch: Robles triples on four-hit night

Mets: Peter Alonso, 1B
New Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has said he isn't opposed to having Alonso start the year in New York, and for good reason. All the first baseman did in 2018 is tie for the Minor League lead in homers, while leading it outright in RBIs. More power was on display in the AFL, and he has nothing left to prove in the Minors.

NL Central

Brewers: Keston Hiura, 2B
The best hitter from the 2017 Draft class raked his way up to Double-A in his first full season, ultimately hitting .293/.357/.464 with 52 extra-base hits including 13 homers, and has been equally impressive in the Arizona Fall League, seemingly leaving him on the cusp of entering the Majors in'19. His knack for squaring up the baseball with authority to all fields is a truly special trait -- one that could make him a key Brewers run producer for a long time.

Cardinals: Dakota Hudson, RHP
Aside from some command issues (18 BB in 27 1/3 IP), Hudson was effective in relief for the big league club in 2018. It's a crowded rotation in St. Louis, so a relief gig might be his best full-time entry for the time being where his extreme ground-ball rate (2.03 GO/AO in his Minor League career) would play well.

Cubs: Duane Underwood, RHP
Underwood still needs some polish but was more aggressive and consistent in 2018 than he had been in years past. With a 92-97 mph fastball and a curveball that shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch, he could contribute in the bullpen and possibly the rotation.

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
The Pirates often are cautious with their young pitching prospects, but look for Keller to push them hard in 2019. After struggling upon first reaching Triple-A at age 22, the right-hander then had a 2.86 ERA in August. Room will have to be made in Pittsburgh's rotation, but Keller will be ready to jump through it once the door is opened.

Watch: Keller records 10th K

Reds: Nick Senzel, INF
A finger injury, not to mention a bout with vertigo, greatly shortened his 2018 season, and that likely kept the No. 2 pick in the 2016 Draft from getting called up this past season. He's played several positions and was working on the outfield at instructs this fall to make sure there's a spot for his advanced bat in the big league lineup in 2019.

NL West

D-backs: Taylor Widener, RHP
Widener has made a very successful transition from reliever to starter and has put his 2015 elbow surgery in his rear-view mirror with two successful, and healthy, seasons in 2017 and 2018. This last year was his first with the D-backs and he led the system in ERA and strikeouts, while holding Southern League hitters to a .197 batting average against.

Dodgers: Alex Verdugo, OF
One of the best pure hitters in the Minors, Verdugo also offers developing power, a strong arm and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield. The only thing holding him back from being a slam-dunk Rookie of the Year candidate is a clear opening in the crowded Dodgers lineup.

Giants: Chris Shaw, OF
The best power hitter in the Giants system, Shaw made his first big league home run a tape-measure shot: 468 feet off a Seunghwan Oh slider. As of now, he looks like the frontrunner to start in left field for San Francisco.

Padres: Luis Urias, 2B/SS
Urias reached the Majors late in August and showed that he can do a little bit of everything before a groin injury prematurely ended his season after just 12 games. Assuming he's on the Padres' Opening Day roster, the 21-year-old could have an early advantage in the ROY based his ability to hit near the top of an order and make everyday contributions on both sides of the ball.

Rockies: Brendan Rodgers, SS
With DJ LeMahieu set to depart as a free agent, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 Draft is ready to replace him at second base. He has more offensive potential than most middle infielders and the versatility to play anywhere in the infield that he's needed.

Watch: Rodger hammers a solo blast

Fox launches double in AFL championship

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Braxton Davidson delivered one of the most dramatic home runs in Arizona Fall League history, propelling the Peoria Javelinas to their second consecutive championship Saturday afternoon.

The Braves first baseman hammered a 2-1 pitch up in the strike zone from Salt River Rafters left-hander Taylor Guilbeau (Nationals) to give Peoria a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the 10th inning. Davidson's blast cleared the picnic area above the right-field bullpen at Scottsdale Stadium, making the Javelinas the only team to successfully defend their AFL title besides the 2004-08 Phoenix Desert Dogs. He apparently injured himself as he celebrated while rounding the bases and was taken to a nearby hospital to check on a possible fracture in his left foot.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Braxton Davidson delivered one of the most dramatic home runs in Arizona Fall League history, propelling the Peoria Javelinas to their second consecutive championship Saturday afternoon.

The Braves first baseman hammered a 2-1 pitch up in the strike zone from Salt River Rafters left-hander Taylor Guilbeau (Nationals) to give Peoria a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the 10th inning. Davidson's blast cleared the picnic area above the right-field bullpen at Scottsdale Stadium, making the Javelinas the only team to successfully defend their AFL title besides the 2004-08 Phoenix Desert Dogs. He apparently injured himself as he celebrated while rounding the bases and was taken to a nearby hospital to check on a possible fracture in his left foot.

:: Complete coveraege of the 2018 AFL championship game ::

A first-round pick in 2014, Davidson struggled mightily during the regular season in High Class A. He homered 20 times but also batted just .171 and struck out 213 times (second in the Minors) with a whiff rate of 44 percent. His feast-or-famine results continued in Arizona, where he tied for the regular-season home run lead with six but also ranked second with 31 strikeouts while batting .227.

The only other walkoff in AFL championship game history also came from a Braves first-base prospect. Mike Hessman hit a grand slam to cap a seven-run rally in the ninth in 2001, providing the Desert Dogs with their first title. Hessman retired in 2015 with a Minor League-record 433 homers, and also went deep 14 times in 109 big league games over five seasons.

While Davidson was the biggest hero for the Javelinas, he wasn't the only standout in the Fall League finale. Here are seven more:

Miguel Diaz, RHP, Peoria (Padres): Diaz didn't produce the cleanest line as the Javelina's starter, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings. But he did strike out five, pitched at 94-98 mph with his fastball and also recorded strikeouts with his slider and changeup. While he doesn't look like he has the command to stick in a rotation, he could make for an interesting bullpen weapon.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Diaz fans 5 in Fall League Championship

Lucius Fox, SS, Peoria (Rays): Fox is still a work in progress but shows the potential to become a top-of-the-order catalyst. He drew two walks and used his well above-average speed to steal a base, then laced a pitch from nasty sidearming right-hander Justin Lawrence (Rockies) into the left-center gap for an opposite-field double during the game-tying two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.

Monte Harrison, OF, Salt River (Marlins): After topping the Minors with 215 strikeouts during the regular season, Harrison toned down his approach throughout the fall. He fell behind 1-2 in the count during his first at-bat against Diaz but didn't panic or try to do too much, grounding a single up the middle to drive in the game's first run. He went hitless in his next three plate appearances but saw 17 pitches while doing so.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Harrison opens scoring with single to center

Keston Hiura, 2B, Peoria (Brewers): The league MVP and one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game, Hiura managed only a walk in his first four trips to the plate. Then he displayed his measured approach in the ninth, grounding a single up the middle against Lawrence to score Fox and tie the game 2-2.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Miller, Hiura key rally to tie the game

Carter Kieboom, 2B, Salt River (Nationals): Another of baseball's best hitting prospects, Kieboom had a hand in both of Salt River's runs, scoring after getting hit by a pitch in the second and singling to set up a run in the fourth. Normally a shortstop, he displayed a strong arm while turning two double plays at second.

Jesus Tinoco, RHP, Salt River (Rockies): Tinoco had the most effective fastball among the game's 11 relievers. He relied almost solely on his heat, working from 94-98 mph with good life and retiring six of the seven batters he faced. He needed just 19 pitches to breeze through two innings and fanned Hudson Potts (Padres) on a 97-mph fastball.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Yamamoto K's 6 over 4 scoreless innings

Jordan Yamamoto, RHP, Salt River (Marlins): Yamamoto blanked Peoria for five innings on Monday and again for four innings in the championship game. As usual, his best pitch was his curveball, and he also spotted his fastball (which sat around 90 mph) and mixed in some effective sliders and changeups. He walked five, including three in a row in the third, but allowed just two hits and struck out six (four on curves).

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

No denying Cash had an award-worthy season

MLB.com @ladsonbill24

NEW YORK -- Bob Melvin of the A's won this year's American League Manager of the Year Award, but I was one of five members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America whose first-place vote went to the Rays' Kevin Cash.

To me, it was a no-brainer to have Cash as my first choice, followed by Melvin and the Red Sox's Alex Cora. I'm aware Melvin dealt with the lowest payroll in baseball and that Cora guided the Sox to a franchise-record 108 victories.

NEW YORK -- Bob Melvin of the A's won this year's American League Manager of the Year Award, but I was one of five members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America whose first-place vote went to the Rays' Kevin Cash.

To me, it was a no-brainer to have Cash as my first choice, followed by Melvin and the Red Sox's Alex Cora. I'm aware Melvin dealt with the lowest payroll in baseball and that Cora guided the Sox to a franchise-record 108 victories.

:: AL Manager of the Year voting totals ::

Melvin wins 3rd Manager Award, Snitker his first

But Cash was my selection because he had a tougher situation going into the season yet guided the Rays to 90 victories. How he did it, in my opinion, was a miracle. Remember, the Rays were rebuilding, allowing players like Alex Cobb to walk away via free agency and trading away Evan Longoria, Steven Souza Jr., Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson.

Outside of Blake Snell, the Rays didn't have a consistent starter throughout the season. So Cash and the Rays' front office had to think outside the box. He had baseball experts scratching their heads when he decided to have relievers start games.

"I'm intrigued to see how it's going to continue to work, because I'm confident we're going to do it," Cash told MLB.com back in May. "It gives us the flexibility to be able to match up with the opposing lineup a little better when we can insert a guy in there to get three to six outs."

Cash finishes 3rd on AL Manager of Year ballot

Video: Cash discusses winning 90 games with Rays roster

Nobody thought it could last a whole season. It did. Others took note. Brewers manager Craig Counsell followed Cash's lead and had relievers start games in the postseason against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. In Game 5, he had left-hander Wade Miley face just one batter to start the game, then come back and start Game 6.

"We're using our full roster," Counsell said. "And I think that's what all teams are doing in the playoffs, trying to put together a 25-man roster and understanding that you're going to have to use all or most of your players during a game."

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Cash is deserving of the plaudits. He also had to use his full roster, especially after the Rays traded Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Denard Span and Wilson Ramos before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. How did the Rays respond to those moves? They had the Majors' best record (36-19) over the final two months of the regular season.

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Tampa Bay Rays

Cash finishes 3rd on AL Manager of Year ballot

Rays skipper credits players for making most of 'the opener' strategy
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

As summer waned and the Rays kept winning, Kevin Cash began admitting publicly what had become obvious: No one expected Tampa Bay to be in the position it was. Certainly few expected the Rays to finish 2018 as they did: winners of 90 games despite myriad challenges and arguably baseball's surprise team of the season.

Which is why it barely surprised anyone to see Cash's name among the finalists for this year's American League Manager of the Year Award, the voting for which was announced Tuesday night on MLB Network. Cash placed third for the award behind winner Bob Melvin and second-place finisher Alex Cora. Melvin's upstart A's, whom he steered to the AL Wild Card Game, were perhaps the only team that shocked more people this year than the Rays.

As summer waned and the Rays kept winning, Kevin Cash began admitting publicly what had become obvious: No one expected Tampa Bay to be in the position it was. Certainly few expected the Rays to finish 2018 as they did: winners of 90 games despite myriad challenges and arguably baseball's surprise team of the season.

Which is why it barely surprised anyone to see Cash's name among the finalists for this year's American League Manager of the Year Award, the voting for which was announced Tuesday night on MLB Network. Cash placed third for the award behind winner Bob Melvin and second-place finisher Alex Cora. Melvin's upstart A's, whom he steered to the AL Wild Card Game, were perhaps the only team that shocked more people this year than the Rays.

:: AL Manager of the Year voting totals ::

No denying Cash had an Award-worthy season

Cash received five first-place votes, six second-place votes and 14 third-place votes for a total of 57 points in the balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Melvin (121 points) received 18 first-place votes, and Cora (79 points) earned seven. Houston's AJ Hinch and Yankees skipper Aaron Boone placed fourth and fifth to round out the balloting.

The annual award historically favors skippers who do more with less, and in this vein, Cash impressed. The Rays opened the season with the second-lowest payroll in the Majors, succeeding despite near constant roster turnover and playing in baseball's smallest market. Cash earned praise from across the industry for his energy and leadership abilities, and an openness toward implementing progressive personnel strategies. He introduced the sport to the concept of "the opener," and used it to withstand a litany of injuries to the starting rotation.

"'The opener' is going to stay for us," Cash said on MLB Network on Tuesday. "We witnessed the benefit of allowing for these young pitchers to come up, potentially late-inning guys, to get their feet wet in the first inning, and also for the more durable guys, it allows us to manage the game a little bit so we affect how many times they get through the order. It's something we bought into. Our guys, I can't give them enough credit for buying into it. We have a lot of information to suggest that it works for us, and we're going to continue with it."

Video: Francona talks about his relationship with Cash

Tampa Bay used a record 54 players, 23 rookies, and won an MLB-best 52 one-run games in 2018. Ultimately, the Rays finished a calendar year that saw the departures of Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Wilson Ramos, among other veterans, with the most successful season of Cash's four-year tenure.

"You give a lot of credit to the guys in the clubhouse, the guys who got the opportunities," Cash said. "Our players responded. You have two choices. You can go down and pout about it, or you can bring it together. Our guys did a tremendous job of that."

The Rays rewarded Cash with a contract extension in September that could keep him with Tampa Bay through 2024. At 40 years old, he was the Majors' youngest manager in 2018 (new Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli is 37).

Cash is 318-330 since taking over for Joe Maddon in 2015, when he was hired despite having no previous managing experience. His third-place finish was the highest for a Rays manager since Maddon claimed the award in 2011.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Tampa Bay Rays

Snell wins Spahn Award as top lefty starter

Honor comes on the eve of Cy Young Award announcement
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

Blake Snell won't know until later this week whether he'll receive baseball's highest pitching honor, with American League Cy Young Award voting not set to be revealed until Wednesday on MLB Network. But he's already racking up postseason hardware.

In what could be a precursor to that announcement, Snell was named the winner of the 2018 Warren Spahn Award on Tuesday. Named after the Hall of Famer Spahn, the all-time winningest left-hander, the award has been given annually to the best left-handed pitcher in baseball since 1998.

Blake Snell won't know until later this week whether he'll receive baseball's highest pitching honor, with American League Cy Young Award voting not set to be revealed until Wednesday on MLB Network. But he's already racking up postseason hardware.

In what could be a precursor to that announcement, Snell was named the winner of the 2018 Warren Spahn Award on Tuesday. Named after the Hall of Famer Spahn, the all-time winningest left-hander, the award has been given annually to the best left-handed pitcher in baseball since 1998.

"Blake posted some impressive stats in 2018," said Greg Spahn, son of the late Warren Spahn. "This award is special to our family as it not only honors the sport's best left-handed pitcher, but my dad as well. It's also a wonderful way to celebrate his career and the game of baseball."

Video: Snell's case for the AL Cy Young Award

While Snell is a top candidate in what's projected to be a close AL Cy Young Award race with Justin Verlander, he faced far less competition for the Spahn Award. The 25-year-old emerged as an ace in his third big league season, leading the Majors with 21 wins and pacing the AL with a 1.89 ERA. Snell also led all qualified southpaw starters in batting average against (.176), opponent slugging (.277), winning percentage (.808) and WHIP (0.98). He earned his first career All-Star nod and struck out 221 across 180 2/3 innings pitched.

The Spahn Award was the first of Snell's career. Clayton Kershaw claimed the award in 2017 as well as in four of the past seven seasons dating back to '11. Other recent winners include John Lester ('16), Dallas Keuchel ('15), David Price ('10) and CC Sabathia ('07-09).

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell

Wendle places 4th in Rookie of the Year voting

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

From Minor League journeyman to Major League impact player, Joey Wendle spent 2018 helping propel the Rays to their surprising 90-win season. On Monday, that production netted Wendle a fourth-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani garnered 25 of 30 first-place votes to claim the award. Wendle also finished behind Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar (89 points) and Gleyber Torres (25 points) in the voting, which was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and announced Monday on MLB Network.

From Minor League journeyman to Major League impact player, Joey Wendle spent 2018 helping propel the Rays to their surprising 90-win season. On Monday, that production netted Wendle a fourth-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani garnered 25 of 30 first-place votes to claim the award. Wendle also finished behind Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar (89 points) and Gleyber Torres (25 points) in the voting, which was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and announced Monday on MLB Network.

:: AL Rookie of the Year voting totals ::

Acquired in an under-the-radar trade with Oakland last December, Wendle broke out as an everyday player for the first time this season for Tampa Bay. The 28-year-old hit .300/.354/.435 with seven home runs and 61 RBIs in 139 games while moving all over the diamond. Predominantly a second baseman throughout his professional career, Wendle saw significant time this season at second (101 games), third (20 games), shortstop (10 games) and in the outfield.

Wendle showed significant improvement at the plate after a solid first half, hitting .360 with a .573 slugging percentage in July. He hit .321/.381/.486 in the second half, stole 16 bases overall and led all Rays position players with a 3.7 fWAR.

Wendle received three second-place votes and eight third-place votes, totaling 17 points. Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough was the other Rays player to receive votes. The Rays used 20 rookies this season, 13 of whom remain on the active roster.

Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. won the National League award, beating out Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Dodgers righty Walker Buehler. Wil Myers is the last Rays player to win the award, which he did in 2013.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Tampa Bay Rays, Joey Wendle

Hernandez blasts walk-off shot in AFL

MLB.com

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Thursday:

• Gameday: Mesa 11, Surprise 10 | Peoria 2, Scottsdale 1 | Glendale 4, Salt River 2

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Thursday:

• Gameday: Mesa 11, Surprise 10 | Peoria 2, Scottsdale 1 | Glendale 4, Salt River 2

AL East

Blue Jays (Surprise)
Blue Jays No. 22 prospect Santiago Espinal was 1-for-4 with a two-run single. Shawn Morimando started and lasted three innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits with a strikeout and a walk.

Orioles (Glendale)
Martin Cervenka went 2-for-4 and scored a run, and Jay Flaa pitched one clean inning, only allowing a walk.

Rays (Peoria)
Rays No. 7 prospect Ronaldo Hernandez hit a walk-off single to give Peoria a 2-1, come-from-behind victory. Matt Krook pitched three shutout innings in relief, striking out five while scattering two hits. No. 9 prospect Lucius Fox was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Red Sox (Mesa)
Third baseman Bobby Dalbec, the Red Sox's No. 6 prospect, crushed a two-run homer, his third this fall season, going 1-for-5.

Yankees (Glendale)
Yankees No. 2 prospect Estevan Florial reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Steven Sensley provided the game-winning hit for Glendale with his two-run triple in the bottom of the eighth. 

AL Central

Indians (Glendale)
Connor Marabell collect an RBI triple in the top of the first inning, scored a run and finished 1-for-4. Indians No. 6 prospect Yu Chang went 1-for-4. On the mound, Rob Kamisky threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before Dalbert Siri threw two-thirds of an inning to get the win.

Royals (Surprise)
Royals No. 2 prospect Khalil Lee went 1-for-5, and Nick Heath went 2-for-5, each scoring a pair of runs.

Tigers (Mesa)
Tigers No. 8 prospect Daz Cameron had multiple hits for the fourth time in his last five games, going 3-for-5, including a double and an RBI single. Jake Rogers (No. 12) hit a walk-off single to give Mesa the 11-10 victory. Daniel Pinero was 0-for-3 with a pair of walks and two runs, and No. 14 prospect Gregory Soto made the start, allowing two runs on two hits as he struck out six in four innings.

Twins (Salt River)
Griffin Jax started for the Rafters and gave up two runs over four innings. Hector Lujan pitched an 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, and Adam Bray threw one scoreless frame.

White Sox (Glendale)
White Sox No. 9 prospect Luis Alexander Basabe scored a run and finished 1-for-5 for the Desert Dogs. Zach Thompson secured the win with his scoreless ninth-inning relief.

AL West

A's (Mesa)
A's No. 30 prospect Skye Bolt had a perfect day at