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Rays lead MLB with six of Top 100 Prospects

@MannyOnMLB
January 25, 2020

MLB Pipeline has released its 2020 Top 100 Prospects list, and the Rays lead all organizations with six players among the top 100, including two in the top 15. The annual ranking of MLB’s Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLB Pipeline Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis

MLB Pipeline has released its 2020 Top 100 Prospects list, and the Rays lead all organizations with six players among the top 100, including two in the top 15.

The annual ranking of MLB’s Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLB Pipeline Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2020 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 25 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.

Top 100 Prospects list | Breaking down the Top 100

Wander Franco, the No. 1 overall prospect, headlines Tampa Bay's farm system. The 18-year-old shortstop was the prized player in the 2017-18 international class, and is the youngest player to ever earn the No. 1 spot on one of MLB Pipeline's Top 50/100 lists, dating back to 2004. He’s also the second player MLB Pipeline has ever given an 80-grade for his hit tool (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was the first last year).

Franco had immediate success in his first professional experience, hitting .351/.418/.587 to win the Rookie-level Appalachian League MVP Award in 2018. Last year, he moved up to Class A Bowling Green and, eventually, Class A Advanced Charlotte. Overall, he hit .327/.398/.487 with nine home runs and 18 steals in 112 games, despite being four years younger than the average player at those levels.

Two-way player Brendan McKay is No. 15 on the list. The 24-year-old left-handed pitcher/designated hitter was considered the best two-way prospect to be drafted since Dave Winfield in 1973 when Tampa Bay selected him fourth overall in 2017. McKay made his Major League debut for the Rays on June 29 against the Rangers, when he tossed six scoreless innings and allowed one hit while walking one and striking out three. Overall, he made 13 appearances (11 starts), posting a 5.14 ERA before being placed on the postseason roster. In 15 games (13 starts) between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, he posted a 1.10 ERA and a 37 percent strikeout rate.

The other four prospects the Rays have in the top 100 are middle infielder Vidal Brujan (45th), middle infielder Xavier Edwards (72nd), and right-handers Shane Baz (90th) and Brent Honeywell (91st).

Brujan, who turns 22 in February, led the Minors with 112 runs scored and was second with 55 steals in his first pro season. Last year, he slashed .277/.346/.389 with 48 steals split between Charlotte and Montgomery.

Edwards, 20, had a solid second pro season in 2019, hitting .322/.375/.396 with 34 steals between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Along with Hunter Renfroe, he was part of the package that Tampa Bay received in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Padres.

Baz, 20, was selected 12th overall in the 2017 Draft by the Pirates before Pittsburgh traded him to Tampa Bay to complete the deal for Chris Archer. A hard-thrower who is trying to harness his control, Baz posted a 2.99 ERA over 17 starts for Bowling Green in '19.

Honeywell, 24, did not play in 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but has been a regular on MLB Pipeline's preseason top 100 lists, appearing as high as 12th in 2018. He could provide a big lift as a starter or reliever down the stretch for the Rays in 2020.

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