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No. 1 Rays prospect Honeywell strains forearm

Right-hander walks off mound, will undergo further evaluation
MLB.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Right-hander Brent Honeywell, the Rays' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was forced to leave Thursday's workout after throwing approximately 10 pitches during a batting practice session. According to manager Kevin Cash, Honeywell strained his right forearm and will be further evaluated.

Honeywell released a pitch, grimaced and cursed out loud, then walked off the mound and headed for the clubhouse accompanied by a trainer.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Right-hander Brent Honeywell, the Rays' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was forced to leave Thursday's workout after throwing approximately 10 pitches during a batting practice session. According to manager Kevin Cash, Honeywell strained his right forearm and will be further evaluated.

Honeywell released a pitch, grimaced and cursed out loud, then walked off the mound and headed for the clubhouse accompanied by a trainer.

Rays Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Honeywell was not available for comment.

Catcher Jesus Sucre watched from the side as Honeywell faced Wilson Ramos.

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"He was throwing pretty good, he was throwing perfect," Sucre said. "He threw a changeup first pitch to Wilson. Next pitch [was a fastball and] he was screaming."

Cash called the situation unfortunate.

"We'll let the doctors and trainers get a look at him," said Cash, who was hitting ground balls on another field. "I wasn't there, but I heard he was very frustrated, and rightfully so. He worked hard this offseason. Other than that we don't know anything. We'll wait until some feedback comes."

According to MLB Pipeline, Honeywell is MLB's No. 12 prospect.

Video: Outlook: Honeywell soon to be a part of Rays rotation

"I think his talent kind of speaks for itself, what he's done the last two years," Cash said. "Coming up through the system, and really kind of put himself on the map a little bit at the Futures Game the way he performed.

"It's frustrating, whether he's going to miss a week, or a month or whatever it is. It's frustrating for any young pitcher that was coming here competing and wanting to put his best foot forward and make a good showing for himself."

Tampa Bay Rays, Brent Honeywell

Prospect trio dark horses for Rays' roster

Adames, Honeywell, Bauers competing for spots at camp
MLB.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Grapefruit League action begins for the Rays on Friday, and amid the roster fluctuation of the past week, several camp dark horses will be angling for an Opening Day spot. Watching that group compete for jobs will be one of this spring's pleasures.

The Rays open with split-squad action, hosting the Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park Complex while another collection of players will travel to Sarasota, Fla., to play the Orioles. Both games will begin at 1:05 p.m. ET.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Grapefruit League action begins for the Rays on Friday, and amid the roster fluctuation of the past week, several camp dark horses will be angling for an Opening Day spot. Watching that group compete for jobs will be one of this spring's pleasures.

The Rays open with split-squad action, hosting the Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park Complex while another collection of players will travel to Sarasota, Fla., to play the Orioles. Both games will begin at 1:05 p.m. ET.

-- Rays Spring Training info

This year's dark horses are among the top prospects in the Rays' organization are Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell and Jake Bauers.

While they are indeed the future of the organization, the business of baseball casts this group as dark horses, rather than favorites to win jobs.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The Rays usually wait a couple of months into the season to bring up prospects due to business and baseball reasons, specifically the issue of service time and starting arbitration-eligibility clocks. However, even if a prospect is close or ready, the Rays like the idea of starting them in the Minor Leagues at the beginning of the season. That way they can have a little success behind them before they are promoted to The Show to take on Major League competition.

What would have to change for this trio to make the team? Let's take a look.

Adames is the shortstop of the future, and the Rays have stated that he would drive the train concerning his ETA in the Major Leagues. For Adames to make the team out of Spring Training, starting shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria would have to either get injured or traded. Even then, the Rays might shift Matt Duffy from third to shortstop, or use Daniel Robertson at the position. The other part of the equation is that Adames needs to show improvement on making the routine plays, or to establish a higher level of consistency in the field.

Farm director Mitch Lukevics calls Honeywell -- who strained his right forearm Thursday in a batting practice session -- the most competitive player in the organization. While that might be true, any competitor has to be given a chance to compete and given the depth of starting pitchers -- even after the trade of Odorizzi -- it's going to be difficult for a slot to open up that would force the Rays to consider passing up the business side of the equation. In addition, the Rays will use a four-man rotation until May. That rotation will include Chris Archer, Jake Faria, Blake Snell and Nathan Eovaldi.

Video: Outlook: Honeywell soon to be a part of Rays rotation

Matt Andriese has been shifted from the rotation to the bullpen, so there's always the chance that once the Rays do move back to a five-man rotation, enough time will have passed that Honeywell will be called up.

Finally, there's Bauers. Flashback to last spring when he caught everybody's attention with his bat. Not only with power, but with his plate discipline as well. However, any speculation about Bauers becoming the Rays' first baseman got silenced when C.J. Cron came to the Rays from the Angels. Then again, Cron does hit right-handed. The Rays will begin the season with the left-handed-hitting Brad Miller seeing time at first, second and DH. If Miller were to get injured or traded, Bauers would be the guy.

Video: Top Prospects: Jake Bauers, 1B, Rays

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames, Jake Bauers, Brent Honeywell

Rays receive pair of prospects, trade Souza

MLB.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays continued to get younger on Tuesday, when they traded right fielder Steven Souza Jr. to the D-backs as part of a three-team deal that returns two prospects and two players to be named.

The Rays received left-hander Anthony Banda, who was the D-backs' No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, along with second baseman Nick Solak, the Yankees' No. 8 prospect.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays continued to get younger on Tuesday, when they traded right fielder Steven Souza Jr. to the D-backs as part of a three-team deal that returns two prospects and two players to be named.

The Rays received left-hander Anthony Banda, who was the D-backs' No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, along with second baseman Nick Solak, the Yankees' No. 8 prospect.

The Yankees received utility man Brandon Drury from the D-backs and sent Minor League right-hander Taylor Widener to Arizona.

The trade comes after a busy weekend that saw the Rays acquire first baseman C.J. Cron in a trade with the Angels, trade right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios and designate left fielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

In December, the Rays traded third baseman Evan Longoria to the Giants, receiving infielder Christian Arroyo, outfielder Denard Span and a pair of Minor Leaguers in return.

"The moves prior to [the Souza deal], there were factors involved there where we were moving pieces from areas of depth we felt we could absorb and come out of the other end OK, especially with the addition of C.J. to our group," Rays general manager Erik Neander said. "This move was one that was really driven by Arizona's pursuit of Steven, and their desire to add him to their club."

Video: HOU@ARI: Banda gets Altuve swinging in the 1st

Neander said the Rays felt this deal was one they couldn't pass up "in terms of continuing to build out a really strong core" of young players.

Neander added that for the Rays to be a "sustainable winner" and to escape "the middle territory where we've been the last two years," they need to continue to build that young core. However, Neander still feels the team will be competitive this season, even though it must fill the void left by Souza's departure, which should likely be attempted before the end of Spring Training.

"This isn't a team that's going to win 60 games this year, this is a team with respect to the quality of the pitching we have and the quality of the defense we're going to have. We're going to be competitive," Neander said. "And that's still something that we believe."

Video: Neander on trading for prospects Banda and Solak

Rays fans will see a drastically different lineup this season, as the club's top four home-run leaders from last year -- Souza, Dickerson, Longoria and Logan Morrison -- are departed, though Dickerson and Morrison have not yet found landing spots.

The Rays entered the offseason with a mandate from principal owner Stu Sternberg to lower the payroll, and Tuesday night's deals, along with the moves over the weekend, lowered the payroll by approximately $15 million.

Banda, 24, debuted for Arizona last summer, compiling a 5.96 ERA over eight appearances (four starts). He led the D-backs' Minor League organizations in strikeouts and finished second in ERA in 2016, while reaching Triple-A for the first time, but he struggled to a 5.39 ERA over 22 starts for Triple-A Reno last year.

"A lefty that physically checks a lot of boxes," Neander said of Banda. "He's got a three-pitch mix right now. He's got a quality fastball that has reached the upper 90s, has a developing feel for a breaking ball that we'd like to see get a little more consistent and a good changeup.

"From all indications, good makeup, good work ethic, good character, somebody who will be right in the mix for us when he comes over to our camp."

Video: ARI@SF: Banda whiffs seven over six solid innings

MLB Pipeline grades Banda's curveball as his best pitch (earning a 60 on the 20-80 scale), followed by his mid-90s fastball, with a 55 grade.

Solak, 23, hit .297/.384/.452 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs for Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season. The former University of Louisville standout is known for his ability to get on base and for hitting the ball from gap to gap, more for average than power. Solak also possesses plus speed, per MLB Pipeline, and was appreciated for his competitiveness while in the Yankees' farm system.

"[Solak] is someone who has a very long history of hitting," Neander said. "He can flat-out hit. He's a wonderful kid with a burning desire to improve and to make the most of what he has."

Souza, 28, hit .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs and 78 RBIs in 2017, earning the Don Zimmer Award, given to the Rays' Most Valuable Player by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Souza said he was surprised by the deal, but he understands baseball is a business and that getting traded is part of the equation. When asked if he had a message for the fans, the popular right fielder said, "I do."

"This is a hard time," Souza said. "I think it's a confusing time for Rays fans. And I love every Rays fan that ever supported us dearly. ... I think it's really hard in a time like this to see the silver lining. And they need to trust the front office and the GM, the coaching staff and the players, that they're trying to do what's best for the long-term future of the organization.

"It's not an easy job being the GM of a Major League team when there's a budget that's not very realistic that they have to meet. So I think that through the tough times, real fans stand beside a team when it goes through its low times and when it goes through its high times."

Video: Souza Jr. thankful for his time with Rays

Neander stressed several times that Tuesday night's deal was not money-driven, but rather "a pure baseball decision" based on the return they got for Souza.

The Rays acquired Souza from the Nationals on Dec. 19, 2014, in a three-way deal that also included the Rays sending Wil Myers to the Padres.

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

Chris Owings gains the most value from this deal among those on the D-backs, as he could shift from utility player to starting second baseman. The trade also boosts the value of Souza, who warrants Round 10 consideration in standard-league drafts as he prepares to bring his power-speed blend (30 homers, 16 steals in 2017) to a productive D-backs lineup.

Meanwhile, Mallex Smith becomes a late-round steal who could swipe 35 bases if given 550 plate appearances with the Rays this year. As for the Yankees, the acquisition of Drury likely eliminates the chance of the club opening the season with both Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar in the starting lineup, though one of the two prospects may still have an opportunity to land a spot.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Anthony Banda, Steven Souza Jr., Nick Solak

Adames willing to play 2B to make the club

SS prospect's path currently blocked by Hechavarria
MLB.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Willy Adames is the Rays' shortstop of the future. But he's willing to do whatever is necessary to break camp with the Major League club, even if it means switching positions.

Second base is a spot in the infield where the jury is still out for who is the clear favorite to win the job. Based on the fact that Adeiny Hechavarria is the starting shortstop, Adames recognizes he might need to play another position due to Hechavarria's excellence.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Willy Adames is the Rays' shortstop of the future. But he's willing to do whatever is necessary to break camp with the Major League club, even if it means switching positions.

Second base is a spot in the infield where the jury is still out for who is the clear favorite to win the job. Based on the fact that Adeiny Hechavarria is the starting shortstop, Adames recognizes he might need to play another position due to Hechavarria's excellence.

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"I don't mind playing second," Adames said. "Last year, I played 10 games there at Triple-A. For me, I just want to get a job. If they want me to play second base, I don't mind. I just want to get to the big leagues. At whatever position they want me to play at."

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Shortstop is generally regarded as the position that requires the most skill and athleticism. Still, changing from a position one has played one's entire life can be a difficult endeavor.

"The hardest part was the feet, you have to move your feet in the opposite way," Adames said. "And the double plays. But I think second base is easier than shortstop because it's closer to first."

Adames, 22, remains a shortstop in the eyes of the Rays, but ...

"We're going to get him at short, and I think it's a priority to view Willy as a really good shortstop," manager Kevin Cash said. "But you never know when a need can come, and we want to be able to give him the opportunity.

"He played second base last year at Durham once or twice a week after the half. By all the reports, everybody raved about him doing that. We'll get him over there a little bit. But at this camp, he'll be at shortstop a lot."

Video: PHI@TB: Adames makes great stop, long throw

Adames knows what he has to do to get to the Major Leagues.

"I think I just have to be more consistent," Adames said. "The more consistent I am, that's the thing that's going to bring me to the big leagues. Because I think my defense is what keeps me in the Minor Leagues."

Hoping to become more consistent, especially when making the routine plays, Adames acknowledged that being around Hechavarria this spring could pay rich dividends. Cash agreed.

"We've all talked to Willy and he understands that for him to be an elite level shortstop, the consistency figures into the situation," Cash said. "But to watch it first hand with the guy you're taking ground balls with, there's probably more value with than anything we say to him."

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames

Prospect Ciuffo suspended for 50 games

Triple-A catcher tested positive a second time for drug of abuse
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays prospect Nick Ciuffo was suspended by the Office of the Commissioner following a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Ciuffo, who plays catcher and is currently on the Triple-A Durham roster, received a 50-game suspension without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He ranks as the organization's No. 27 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays prospect Nick Ciuffo was suspended by the Office of the Commissioner following a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Ciuffo, who plays catcher and is currently on the Triple-A Durham roster, received a 50-game suspension without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He ranks as the organization's No. 27 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

It marks a setback to the Rays' catching depth.

Tampa Bay selected Ciuffo 21st overall in the 2013 Draft. In five Minor League seasons, the 22-year-old has hit .248 with 12 homers and 134 RBIs while playing solid defense. For Double-A Montgomery last season, Ciuffo batted .245 with seven home runs and 42 RBIs.

The Rays took a calculated gamble by not protecting Ciuffo at the Winter Meetings during the Rule 5 Draft, meaning any team could have selected him, but they would have had to keep him on their active Major League roster for the entirety of the 2018 season. The Rays were pleased when no team took him as they view him as a Major League prospect.

"We are disappointed by Nick's actions, and we expect more from our players," Rays general manager Erik Neander said. "We hope that Nick will take this opportunity to reassess his priorities both during Spring Training and once the suspension takes effect."

Tampa Bay Rays, Nick Ciuffo

Honeywell on progress: 'Ready for next step'

Rays' No. 1 prospect hopes to make Major League debut in 2018
MLB.com

Gifted with an electric repertoire that has given hitters fits throughout four years in the Minor Leagues, Rays top prospect Brent Honeywell is poised to rise to the game's highest level. The 22-year-old joined MLB Network on Thursday to discuss his progress, as he attempts to push his way up to the Majors in 2018.

"I've done everything that I've wanted to do in Minor League Baseball so far," Honeywell said. "I think I'm ready to go to the next step. I'm not going to be the one to say, 'I can control what I can control.' No, I'm ready to go."

Gifted with an electric repertoire that has given hitters fits throughout four years in the Minor Leagues, Rays top prospect Brent Honeywell is poised to rise to the game's highest level. The 22-year-old joined MLB Network on Thursday to discuss his progress, as he attempts to push his way up to the Majors in 2018.

"I've done everything that I've wanted to do in Minor League Baseball so far," Honeywell said. "I think I'm ready to go to the next step. I'm not going to be the one to say, 'I can control what I can control.' No, I'm ready to go."

• Rays' Top 30 prospects

Honeywell, the Rays' second-round Draft pick in 2014, began the '16 season with Class A Advanced Charlotte, but quickly rose through the organization's ranks and spent much of '17 with Triple-A Durham. The right-hander went 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA with 152 strikeouts in 136 2/3 innings with the Bulls last year.

Video: Honeywell on his development through the Rays' system

While the young hurler is confident his stuff is ready to take on big league hitters, Honeywell is expected to begin the 2018 season with Durham. He knows there is still more room for growth, as he continues to master his diverse arsenal of pitches.

"The main thing is the pitches I make, they have to get better along the way," he said.

Honeywell's plethora of offerings are highlighted by his screwball, a pitch taught to his father at St. Leo University by former National League Cy Young Award winner Mike Marshall. The pitch was then passed down to Honeywell at age 13.

"I was 13 years old [when] he finally showed it to me and let me cut it loose in high school," Honeywell said. "Then I just kind of ran with it. I can make it do a couple of different things. That's how it went. I can hear him right now critiquing me on the pitch, because that's his favorite pitch to critique."

Video: Honeywell's potential impact in 2018

As it stands now, there is not a spot for Honeywell in the Rays' rotation. But with Tampa Bay starters Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi being potential trade candidates, a position could open for Honeywell at some point during the season.

Regardless of which level he plays, the promising prospect is just focused on retiring the man standing in the batter's box.

"That's something that I try not to get worked up about," Honeywell said. "You never know what could happen. I come into camp every year -- it doesn't matter if it's big league camp, Minor League camp -- it doesn't matter. Whatever hitter steps in there first is going down. I'm ready to go either way."

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Tampa Bay Rays, Brent Honeywell

Four Rays prospects to watch in camp

Honeywell, Schultz, Bauers, Adames will look to impress in Spring Training
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- While it's cliche, Spring Training really is all about starting anew. Fueling that feeling in many cases is the promise of young players ready to begin their Major League careers.

The Rays have four youngsters, who have yet to play a Major League game, but are so close they can smell Tropicana Field. Right-handers Brent Honeywell and Jaime Schultz, first baseman Jake Bauers, and shortstop Willy Adames. Watching these four try and make the team is what excites me the most heading into Spring Training.

ST. PETERSBURG -- While it's cliche, Spring Training really is all about starting anew. Fueling that feeling in many cases is the promise of young players ready to begin their Major League careers.

The Rays have four youngsters, who have yet to play a Major League game, but are so close they can smell Tropicana Field. Right-handers Brent Honeywell and Jaime Schultz, first baseman Jake Bauers, and shortstop Willy Adames. Watching these four try and make the team is what excites me the most heading into Spring Training.

Rays Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Honeywell, MLB Pipeline's No. 12-ranked prospect, will be appearing in Major League camp for the first time. I don't recall if he pitched in any of the Grapefruit League games I covered in the past, but I know I'll be paying attention when he's on the mound this spring.

• Rays hope to compete as prospects mature | Inbox: Which prospects make OD roster?

Honeywell has done everything that's been asked of him in the Minor Leagues. He's got five pitches -- including a screwball, and, according to Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics, he's the most competitive player in the organization.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Based on what he accomplished last spring, Schultz would have been in the Major Leagues last season if he had not fought injuries for the length of the season.

Schultz is a mighty-might, who can overpower hitters with his fastball. He also appears to have the flatline composure needed from a reliever. In short, he has a chance to be a weapon out of the bullpen, and he profiles to become a closer at some point of his career.

Video: Prospect Spotlight: Jaime Schultz

Bauers, ranked No. 64 by MLB Pipeline, has the chance to become the second two-time Al Lopez Award winner in Rays hitsory.

The Al Lopez Award is presented annually to the best rookie in Major League camp. Elliot Johnson twice won the award, now Bauers can tie the former Rays infielder with another quality spring.

Video: Bauers on success in 2017, looking forward to 2018

Not only does Bauers have above-average power, he is also selective at the plate. That is a dangerous combination. He will have a chance to earn the starting job at first base.

Adames, the No. 22-ranked prospect, is rare. The Rays acquired him from the Tigers in the David Price trade, when Adames was just 18. So he's been on the radar since 2014. The rare part comes in how rare it is for a player to be projected so highly at such a young age and then actually turn out. But Adames has advanced, and excelled, at every stage of his Minor League career to where he now appears ready to grab a Major League job.

Video: Top Prospects: Willy Adames, SS, Rays

Not only does Adames excel between the white lines, he's a star off the field with his personality. Lukevics allowed that Adames has the "it" factor.

Spring Training is just around the corner, and these four will make watching the Rays go through their paces this spring even more exciting.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames, Jake Bauers, Brent Honeywell, Jaime Schultz

With hand healed, Arroyo getting back in groove

Rays' No. 4 prospect should be ready for camp, looks forward to playing for hometown team
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Count new Rays infielder Christian Arroyo among the group working out together Friday morning at Tropicana Field.

Also working out were Jose De Leon, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, Ryan Weber, Ryan Yarbrough, Brent Honeywell, Nathan Eovaldi, Micah Johnson and Ryne Stanek.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Count new Rays infielder Christian Arroyo among the group working out together Friday morning at Tropicana Field.

Also working out were Jose De Leon, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, Ryan Weber, Ryan Yarbrough, Brent Honeywell, Nathan Eovaldi, Micah Johnson and Ryne Stanek.

Arroyo, who came to Tampa Bay in the trade that sent Evan Longoria to San Francisco, appears to be over the broken left hand that ended his 2017 season, and he'll be good to go at the beginning of Spring Training. After a Jan. 9 visit to surgeon Donald Sheridan in Arizona, Arroyo was cleared for baseball activities.

"The hand is great," Arroyo said. "Right now, it's about getting back into baseball shape. … [Sheridan] was very pleased with my last X-rays, CT scan, the whole nine, and everything looked great. ... The hand's great. And the bone healed, which is great. Now, it's just about getting back in the groove for baseball."

Arroyo, 22, has been hitting off a tee for now. That will advance to hitting tossed balls and will graduate with live batting practice once Spring Training begins in Port Charlotte, Fla. Position players report on Feb. 18, and the team's first full-squad workout will be Feb. 19.

Rays Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Arroyo is a strong infield candidate for the Rays this season. MLB Pipeline had him listed as the Giants' top prospect when the trade was made. Since joining Tampa Bay, Arroyo has been ranked as the No. 5 third-base prospect in baseball and the No. 4 prospect in the Rays' farm system. He can play third base, shortstop and second base.

"I have no clue yet," Arroyo said when asked about where the Rays might position him. "Actually, the first thing that happened when I first got traded, everyone in the front office told me that once you got traded, the biggest thing everybody wants to know is where they're going to play. The first thing they said was they don't really want to talk about that. They wanted to make sure I was healthy. I think the biggest thing is getting healthy first and then seeing where I'm going to play. ... I'm comfortable at all three [positions]."

Arroyo began the 2017 season with Triple-A Sacramento, where he hit .439 with seven doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs in 17 games before earning a call to The Show. In 34 games for the Giants, he hit .192 with three homers and 14 RBIs, and then he was sent back to the Minor Leagues in early June. After eight games, he broke his hand on July 1 to end his season.

Arroyo has tremendous hand-eye coordination, which gives him the ability to frequently barrel balls from the right side of the plate, producing hard contact to all fields.

Arroyo, a Tampa, Fla., native and Hernando High product, grew up a Rays fan, and Rocco Baldelli was his favorite player. He's excited about playing for his hometown team.

"I was a Rays fan, a Bucs fan and a Lightning fan," Arroyo said. "... So getting to play for a local team is awesome."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Christian Arroyo

Honeywell headlines Rays-rich Top 100 list

Adames, McKay, Sanchez, Bauers and Arroyo also crack MLB Pipeline's annual top prospect rankings
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- MLB's Top 100 Prospects List is crowded with Rays.

Representing the club are right-hander Brent Honeywell (No. 12), shortstop Willy Adames (No. 22), first baseman/left-hander Brendan McKay (No. 25), outfielder Jesus Sanchez (No. 57), outfielder/first baseman Jake Bauers (No. 64), and third baseman/shortstop Christian Arroyo (No. 81).

ST. PETERSBURG -- MLB's Top 100 Prospects List is crowded with Rays.

Representing the club are right-hander Brent Honeywell (No. 12), shortstop Willy Adames (No. 22), first baseman/left-hander Brendan McKay (No. 25), outfielder Jesus Sanchez (No. 57), outfielder/first baseman Jake Bauers (No. 64), and third baseman/shortstop Christian Arroyo (No. 81).

MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 100 Prospects list

The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com 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 2018 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.

:: Complete 2018 Top Prospects coverage ::

Honeywell is knocking on the door to reach the Major Leagues, as he projects to be in the Majors at some point in 2018.

Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics called Honeywell the most competitive guy in the organization. He has a smooth delivery and five pitches, including a screwball. In 2017, Honeywell was 12-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Durham. In 123 2/3 innings, he averaged 11.1 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings. Including two starts with Double-A Montgomery before making the step up to Durham, Honeywell's 2017 ERA was 3.49.

Adames, 22, came to the Rays' organization in the 2014 trade that sent David Price to the Tigers. He's played well at every level. Early in Adames' career, scouts noted how well he competed against more advanced players. Last season, he took over as the starting shortstop for Durham and became an International League All-Star, hitting .277 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs in 130 games for the Bulls.

Adames is a good athlete who stands out for his excellent hands and plus arm strength at shortstop, though his average speed limits his range at the position. Some believe he'll end up at third base once he's totally filled out. He should be in the infield mix this spring, and could become the starting shortstop if Adeiny Hechavarria gets traded.

Video: Top Prospects: Willy Adames, SS, Rays

The Rays drafted McKay with the fourth pick in the 2017 Draft. McKay pitches and plays first base, and the Rays seem content to let his positional flexibility play out, remaining open to any possibilities that go against conventional baseball thinking.

At Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley, McKay hit .232 with four home runs, 22 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .349. His 21 walks were also the fourth most on a Renegades team that won the New York-Penn League championship.

Video: Top Prospects: Brendan McKay, 1B, Rays

Sanchez, 20, hits from the left side and throws right-handed, and according to Lukevics, "He really has the ability to hit a baseball and impact a baseball." As for defense, Lukevics described him as a "good outfielder with a good arm."

Video: Top Prospects: Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays

In 234 Minor League games, Sanchez has hit .318 with 26 home runs and 166 RBIs. Playing at Class A Bowling Green this past season, Sanchez hit .305 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs in 117 games for the Hot Rods.

Bauers opened eyes with his bat last spring during his first spring campaign with the Major League club. By the time he was reassigned to Minor League camp, he had amassed a .371 average, three doubles, a triple, four homers and 13 RBIs. Included in that collection were some tape-measure blasts.

Video: Top Prospects: Jake Bauers, 1B, Rays

Bauers followed with a solid year at Durham. At this juncture, the Rays have not announced their intentions for first base in 2018. Brad Miller is a likely candidate, and Bauers will definitely get a shot.

Video: Top Prospects: Christian Arroyo, 3B, Rays

Arroyo came to the Rays in the December trade that sent Evan Longoria to the Giants. The 22-year-old infielder reached the Major Leagues last season after a hot start for Triple-A Sacramento in which he hit .446 with seven doubles, three home runs, and 12 RBIs in 16 games.

In 34 games for the Giants, he hit .192 with three homers and 14 RBIs before getting sent back to the Minor Leagues in early June. After eight games, Arroyo broke his left hand on July 1 to end his season. That injury should be healed, paving the way for Arroyo to be in the infield mix this spring.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell

Rising prospect Bauers to get a shot at 1B job

A title winner at Triple-A, 22-year-old aims to impress at Rays camp
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the pleasures of the Hot Stove season is thinking about the young talent that will be in camp once the doors to Spring Training open.

Rays fans need look no further than Jake Bauers to find a player to get excited about. Expectations have never been higher for the talented 22-year-old first baseman, who ranks as the Rays' No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the pleasures of the Hot Stove season is thinking about the young talent that will be in camp once the doors to Spring Training open.

Rays fans need look no further than Jake Bauers to find a player to get excited about. Expectations have never been higher for the talented 22-year-old first baseman, who ranks as the Rays' No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Bauers opened eyes last spring, his first with the Major League club. By the time he was reassigned to Minor League camp, he had a .371 average, three doubles, a triple, four homers and 13 RBIs. Included in that collection were some tape-measure blasts.

At this juncture, the Rays' intentions for first base in 2018 are unknown. Brad Miller is a likely candidate, and they could also sign a first baseman, but Bauers will get a shot.

Video: Bauers on success in 2017, looking forward to 2018

Bauers wants to avoid thinking about possible scenarios and his future, but added that it's tough due to social media.

"I just want to go in with the same mindset as last year, which was just go in, have fun, be around the guys, try to acclimate as much as possible, be as comfortable as possible, then beyond that, whatever happens, happens," Bauers said.

Bauers feels that Spring Training will be different after being in camp a year ago.

"Last year, I definitely didn't know what to expect going in, so it was just go in, be quiet, and observe, just kind of see how everything works," Bauers said. "But this year, going in, I definitely want to try and fit in a little more. Be a part of the team a little bit. It helps knowing a lot of the guys already, and a lot of the staff."

Following his Spring Training success, Bauers struggled initially at Triple-A Durham, hitting .229 with a homer and eight RBIs in 83 April at-bats. Eventually, he got acclimated, finishing at .263 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs.

Video: Cash on development of Bauers and Adames

Bauers allowed that last season was "the first time I was facing a lot of big league guys."

"You're probably seeing at least one a night in Triple-A, so they know how to pitch a little bit better and obviously, they're going to be better and better as you go up," Bauers said. "So having success by the end of the year kind of helps your confidence knowing, all right, here's some adversity, I dealt with it. I can adjust, so why can't I do it at the next level?"

Bauers is one of many talented Rays prospects who played an integral role in Durham's 2017 Triple-A championship. He noted that there is a positive vibe throughout the system.

"I know I'm excited, and I think it's the same thing with all of the other young guys coming up," Bauers said. "We're all excited about the opportunities that are kind of unfolding for us. And I think we all know what we're capable of. We all know how to win, we won a championship in Triple-A last year, so I think all of our mindsets are, 'Why can't we all win together at the next level?'"

Exactly what the Rays are asking.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jake Bauers

Adames ranked among top 10 SS prospects

Impressive 22-year-old has 'it factor,' could join bigs in 2018
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames is knocking on the door, and the highly touted Rays prospect should finally join The Show at some point during the 2018 season. On Wednesday, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 6 shortstop prospect in baseball.

Adames, 22, came to the Rays' organization in the 2014 trade that sent David Price to the Tigers. He's played well at every level, and according to Tampa Bay's farm director, Mitch Lukevics, he has the "it factor."

ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames is knocking on the door, and the highly touted Rays prospect should finally join The Show at some point during the 2018 season. On Wednesday, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 6 shortstop prospect in baseball.

Adames, 22, came to the Rays' organization in the 2014 trade that sent David Price to the Tigers. He's played well at every level, and according to Tampa Bay's farm director, Mitch Lukevics, he has the "it factor."

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

"Willy has it," Lukevics said. "He has the skills that make him a good player, and he has good intangibles to go along with skill. At a young age, he's accomplished quite a bit."

Early in Adames' career, scouts noted how well he competed against more advanced players. Last season, he took over as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Durham and became an International League All-Star, hitting .277 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs in 130 games for the Bulls.

Adames is a good athlete who stands out for his excellent hands and plus arm strength at shortstop, though his average speed limits his range at the position. Some believe he'll end up at third base once he's totally filled out -- but don't count Lukevics among that group.

"He's had a good body type from Day 1," Lukevics said. "... He definitely has the talent and skill to be an everyday shortstop at the Major League level."

With Adeiny Hechavarria earmarked as the Rays' starting shortstop, Adames might not begin the season with the Rays. But there's a good chance he'll eventually find his way onto the roster, particularly if Tampa Bay decides to trade Hechavarria.

At what juncture Adames joins the team remains the question -- one that Adames has the ability to answer.

"I think the player is always going to be the first driver of that, in terms of what he does on the field will tell us when he's ready," said Chaim Bloom, the Rays' senior vice president of baseball operations. "... There are other things that play into it, obviously. So sometimes it's a balancing act, so you have lanes of opportunity for the guys that you feel are part of your future, and also so you're not putting them out there without a safety net."

Adames is the total package, according to Lukevics.

"He's fluent in English at a young age, which is a good sign of him having aptitude," Lukevics said. "And he has a great attitude to go along with the skill. That makes him the player he is.

"Like I said, he has it. He's a good teammate. He interacts with the fans very well. He's good with the media. He's just a good person, and he has that uncanny ability that he leads. He leads by who he is."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames

Rays' Arroyo named top 10 3B prospect

Infielder, acquired in Longoria deal, is No. 5 on MLB Pipeline list
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Christian Arroyo grew up pulling for the Rays and Evan Longoria. Now he'll be one of the guys trying to fill the infield void created by the departure of the face of the franchise.

Arroyo came to the Rays in the December trade that sent Longoria to the Giants. The 22-year-old infielder will be familiar with the area, since he grew up north of St. Petersburg in Brooksville, where he played shortstop well enough at Hernando High School to entice the Giants to select him with the 25th pick of the 2013 Draft.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Christian Arroyo grew up pulling for the Rays and Evan Longoria. Now he'll be one of the guys trying to fill the infield void created by the departure of the face of the franchise.

Arroyo came to the Rays in the December trade that sent Longoria to the Giants. The 22-year-old infielder will be familiar with the area, since he grew up north of St. Petersburg in Brooksville, where he played shortstop well enough at Hernando High School to entice the Giants to select him with the 25th pick of the 2013 Draft.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Arroyo advanced accordingly within the Giants' system and began the 2017 season with Triple-A Sacramento, for which he hit .396 with seven doubles, four home runs, and 16 RBIs in 25 games. In 34 games with the Giants, he hit .192 with three homers and 14 RBIs. Arroyo broke his hand on July 1 to end his season. That injury should be healed, paving the way for Arroyo to be in the infield mix this spring.

Arroyo is so highly thought of that on Tuesday, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 5 third-base prospect in the Minors heading into the 2018 season. He is the No. 4 prospect in the Rays' farm system, though that list will get an update next month.

Arroyo has tremendous hand-eye coordination, which gives him the ability to frequently barrel balls from the right side of the plate, producing hard contact to all fields. Ironically, while classified as a third baseman, Arroyo might find himself at another position if he breaks camp with Tampa Bay this season.

The Rays' infield is in flux, as shortstop Adeinys Hechavarria is the only sure thing at this juncture. Arroyo will compete to start at third against Matt Duffy and Daniel Robertson. Those two could also compete with Arroyo for a spot at second base.

Other possibilities at second base include Brad Miller, Robertson, Micah Johnson, Ryan Schimpf and Joey Wendle.

Duffy, who also came to the Rays from the Giants in a trade, is familiar with Arroyo and believes in his abilities.

"You can stick Arroyo anywhere," Duffy said. "I've played with him. I've watched him. At Spring Training, I've been across the diamond from him. His hands can play at any position. You can put him at short. He's not going to stick out like a sore thumb anywhere you put him, short, second, third."

Longoria believes Arroyo has "a tremendous opportunity to bring new life" to the Rays.

"That was kind of the way I looked at it when I was a young player, and I think he'll have the same opportunity," Longoria said. "I know that it's probably hard for the fan base to see right now. But obviously in the recent past, you look at what the Astros did, and I think that's kind of the arc that the Rays would like to take now and build a core group of young players that they can build off of."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Christian Arroyo

Lowe earns spot on Top 10 2B prospects list

Rays infielder, who has impressed at the plate, is ranked 9th
MLB.com

Second base could be a position of extremes for the Rays in 2018. Brad Miller is a bat-first option whose defensive limitations may push him to first base. Daniel Robertson impressed with his glove as a rookie last year, but struggled at the plate. Newly acquired shortstop prospect Christian Arroyo, who could potentially move over, projects as a pure hitter but doesn't walk much.

Second base could be a position of extremes for the Rays in 2018. Brad Miller is a bat-first option whose defensive limitations may push him to first base. Daniel Robertson impressed with his glove as a rookie last year, but struggled at the plate. Newly acquired shortstop prospect Christian Arroyo, who could potentially move over, projects as a pure hitter but doesn't walk much.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

On the horizon, though, the Rays have a prospect that could potentially split some of the difference between these skill sets. That prospect is 23-year-old Brandon Lowe, whom Tampa Bay moved aggressively through its system last summer. Lowe projects as a plus left-handed bat, with an all-fields swing and on-base skills to go along with a solid glove. He ranks No.9 on MLB Pipeline's updated list of top second-base prospects.

The Rays now have one representative on four of the five Top 10 lists that MLB Pipeline has released. Tampa Bay's 2017 first-round pick, two-way standout Brendan McKay, became the first player to begin a season on two preseason Top 10 lists, as he is ranked No. 5 among left-handed pitching prospects and No. 1 among first basemen, while Brent Honeywell is rated MLB's fourth-best right-handed pitching prospect.

The remaining position lists will be released over the course of the week, culminating in the unveiling of the 2018 Top 100 Prospects list on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Video: McKay among the top first-base prospects

On the second-base list, Lowe slides in between the Cardinals' Max Schrock (eighth) and the Pirates' Kevin Kramer (10th). Scott Kingery (Phillies) ranks first, followed by Luis Urias (Padres) and Keston Hiura (Brewers).

A college standout at the University of Maryland, Lowe would have likely gone higher in the 2015 Draft if not for the broken left fibula he sustained in the finale of his redshirt sophomore season. He still showed enough for the Rays to select him in the third round, and he proved why during a breakout campaign in 2017.

Healthy again, Lowe set Class A Advanced Charlotte records for slugging percentage (.524) and OPS (.927), earning Most Valuable Player Award honors in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League after securing a promotion in August. He finished the year in the Arizona Fall League, the annual showcase reserved for baseball's best prospects.

Video: Lowe rakes in Fall League regular-season finale

Lowe slumped toward the end of the year, both in the AFL and at Double-A Montgomery, the level at which he'll likely begin 2018. But if he fares well against better pitching there, Lowe could advance fairly quickly given his age and advanced approach at the plate. Tampa Bay particularly likes his ability to work the count and draw walks. Lowe still reached base at a productive clip (.348 OBP) as his bat lagged in the AFL (.224 BA), though that discipline was not on display during his 24-game Double-A stint earlier in the year (two walks, 26 strikeouts).

Consider it a learning curve for a player who excelled in the Florida State League (.311/.403/.524), where Lowe was named the circuit's best hitter. He doesn't have to be that at the next level, but if he continues to develop his eye and power swing, he could possibly factor into the Rays' middle-infield plans by 2019, if not the second half of '18.

Others will get chances to impress at second in the meantime. Tampa Bay extended a non-roster invitation to Spring Training to Kean Wong, who started at second for Triple-A Durham last season. The club also acquired Joey Wendle and Ryan Schimpf in trades this offseason. None should block Lowe, especially if he keeps hitting.

Tampa Bay Rays