Stocked Rays have top farm system in MLB

March 10th, 2020

The Rays have World Series aspirations at the Major League level in 2020, but the future of the organization also appears to be bright. MLB Pipeline unveiled the top farm systems on Tuesday, and the Rays checked in at No. 1.

Tampa Bay’s stellar system features dominant arms, international signings and versatile position players. It’s also led by six Top 100 prospects, including Wander Franco, the top overall prospect per MLB Pipeline.

Franco, who has a 80 Grade hit tool, slashed .327/.398/.487 between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte last season. Franco earned his first SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game selection and was also named the Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year.

The 19-year-old has played in three Spring Training games for the Rays this season and has drawn a lot of praise from manager Kevin Cash and the rest of the coaching staff.

“Really talented kid,” Cash said earlier this spring. “He’s fun to watch.”

But while Franco, understandably, dominates the prospect headlines, the Rays have been able to stockpile talent throughout the Minors -- especially on the pitching side.

Brendan McKay, who made his Major League debut last season, is the organization’s No. 2 prospect and the top pitching prospect. McKay will likely start the season at Triple-A Durham, but he’s going to contribute to the Major League level at various points during the ‘20 season.

Shane Baz (No. 5 in the organization), Brent Honeywell (No. 6), Shane McClanahan (No. 7) and Joe Ryan (No. 8) form one of the best Minor League pitching units. McClanahan and Ryan have impressed in their first big league camp and could make their debuts in 2020. Honeywell was the organization’s top pitching prospect the past couple of seasons, but Tommy John surgery in ‘18 and a broken elbow in ‘19 have kept him from making his anticipated debut.

The Rays also have quality depth on the position-player side, with Vidal Brujan (No. 3), Xavier Edwards (No. 4), Josh Lowe (No. 9) and Greg Jones (No. 10) each projected to be a key Major League contributor in the future.

Brujan has elite speed and has displayed that throughout his Minor League career. The 22-year-old has swiped 151 bases over five seasons in the Minors. Brujan was added to the 40-man roster over the offseason and could serve as a weapon in September.

Edwards, who was acquired from the Padres over the offseason, also possesses elite speed and has also shown the ability to hit. The 20-year-old hit .322 through two levels last season and has moved up quickly through the Minor League system.

“Our scouts talked very highly about Xavier going back to the Draft, and most of our staff who saw him play in the Midwest League last year came away very impressed with how he plays the game,” said Rays director of Minor League operations Jeff McLerran. “Especially at a young age, to have such an advanced approach and the contact skills and athleticism he has -- it all jumps off the page.”

The talent in the Rays’ system, however, doesn’t stop at those ranked as the top 10 prospects. Ronaldo Hernandez (No. 11), Taylor Walls (No. 15), Randy Arozarena (No. 17), Peter Fairbanks (No. 24), Lucius Fox (No. 25) and Josh Fleming (No. 28) have all made an impression during big league camp this spring.

Arozarena, who was acquired from the Cardinals in the offseason, has taken full advantage of the opportunity, slashing .533/.708/.733 with nine walks and three stolen bases. Arozarena, 25, will likely start the season in Triple-A Durham due to a crowded outfield at the Major League level, but the Cuban will certainly make his presence felt at some point.

“Unbelievable,” Cash said, when asked about Arozarena’s performance. “He can really find the barrel.”