Tampa Bay Rays: Looking at the Top Farm Prospects

Over the past few years, the Tampa Bay Rays have not been very good and they have stockpiled draft picks and because of it, Tampa Bay has one of the best prospect pools in all of baseball. They won 90 games last season but failed to reach the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.

Baring a collapse this season, this team will be on there way to the postseason for the first time since 2013. The Rays record so far this season is 43-28. They sit 0.5 games back of the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East standings. Tampa Bay sits comfortably in the first wild-card spot in the American League.

As long as the Tampa Bay Rays don’t make any trades that compromise their farm system, this franchise should be around for a while contending for playoff spots and maybe even a World Series Title or two.

Wander Franco

The top prospect in Tampa Bay’s farm system is shortstop Wander Franco. He is also the top prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com. Franco isn’t projected to reach the major leagues until the 2021 season. He is currently playing in Single-A with the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

Wander Franco was signed as an International free agent on July 2, 2017. He has a lot of potential and once Franco reaches the big leagues, he will be tough to pull from the lineup. His batting average so far this season is .326 with six home runs and 29 RBI’s, along with 14 stolen bases.

Franco’s on-base percentage is .396. It is possible that he will go to High-A with the Charlotte Stone Crabs before the 2019 season is over. He is only 18 years old.

Brendan McKay

The third best prospect in the Rays farm system is left-handed pitcher/designated hitter, Brendan McKay. He could be the Shoehi Othani of the minor leagues. McKay was both a pitcher and hitter at the University of Louisville.

He was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Brendan McKay is having an easier time pitching in the minor leagues compared to being a hitter. It is quite possible he could be a full-time pitcher at the major level, but I don’t think Tampa Bay wants to take the bat away from him.

McKay is currently playing in Tripe-A with the Durham Bulls. His record in the minors so far this season is 6-0 with a 1.32 ERA. In 61.2 innings pitched, Brendan McKay has given up 35 hits and nine runs. He has walked 12 batters and has struck out 83.

His fastball reaches the mid-90s and McKay has excellent supplementary pitches in the curveball and the cutter. McKay’s batting average so far this season is .182 with three home runs and 13 RBI’s. His on-base percentage is .292.

Brendan McKay is 23 years old and he is right on schedule with his minor league progress. McKay is expected to reach the majors sometime next season.

Jesus Sanchez

The fourth best prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system is outfielder, Jesus Sanchez. He is currently playing in Double-A with the Montgomery Biscuits. Sanchez is 21 years old and he was an international free agent signed on July 2, 2014. Jesus Sanchez has taken his time in the minor leagues and the Rays have not minded that at all.

He is projected to reach the majors sometime next season. Jesus Sanchez can hit for power and drive in runs. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a lot of players up in the big leagues who can both hit for power and drive in runs. His batting average so far this season is .295 with eight home runs and 43 RBI’s, along with five stolen bases. Sanchez’s on-base percentage is .360.

Matthew Liberatore

The fifth best prospect in their farm system is left-handed pitcher, Matthew Liberatore. Tampa Bay already has Blake Snell up in the big leagues and he is a very good left-handed pitcher. Liberatore could add some juice as a pitcher by throwing from the left side.

He was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Matthew Liberatore is currently playing in Single-A. He is only 19 years old and Liberatore is projected to reach the majors in 2021. His fastball reaches the mid-90s. Matthew Liberatore’s curveball and slider are what gets batters out effectively. His record so far this season is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA, In 34 innings pitched, he has given up 20 hits and eight runs. Liberatore has walked 12 batters and has struck out 32.

Ronaldo Hernandez

The seventh best prospect in Tampa Bay’s farm system is catcher, Ronaldo Hernandez. The Rays have been playing different catchers every night. Hernandez will provide them steadiness at that position when he gets called up.

Hernandez is currently playing for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in High-A. He is 21 years old and he is projected to reach the majors in 2021. Ronaldo Hernandez still has some work to do behind the plate defensively.

There are no questions about his hitting potential. His batting average so far this season is .287 with five home runs and 29 RBI’s, along with four stolen bases. Hernandez’s on-base percentage is .313.

Shane Baz

The eighth best prospect in the Rays farm system is right-handed pitcher, Shane Baz. The Pittsburgh Pirates are probably going to regret trading this prospect for starting pitcher Chris Archer. Archer has not lived up to potential in Pittsburgh and Baz will be a stud with Tampa Bay when his time comes to be a major leaguer. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Shane Baz is 20 years old and he is projected to reach the majors in 2021. Baz is currently playing in Single-A. His record so far this season is 5-0 with a 1.44 ERA. In 25 innings pitched, he has given up 14 hits and five runs. Shane Baz has walked five batters and has struck out 32.

He is only 20 years old. Baz’s fastball already reaches the high 90s. His cutter and his changeup will either make him a dominant pitcher or just a very good pitcher.

Lucius Fox

The 10th best prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system is shortstop, Lucius Fox. There is nothing wrong with having depth in the farm system, but Fox might face a log jam at shortstop and it might force him to move to another position or Tampa Bay might have to trade him.

He is projected to reach the majors in 2021. Lucius Fox’s batting average so far this season is .226 with three home runs and 20 RBI’s, along with 23 stolen bases. Fox’s on-base percentage was .341.

His speed will be a problem in the big leagues for a long time. Lucius Fox is also a very good fielder.

Nick Solak

The 12th best prospect in their farm system is the second baseman/outfielder, Nick Solak. Solak is very versatile and it is possible he could be in the major leagues sometime this season. Nick Solak is currently playing in Triple-A with the Durham Bulls. His batting average so far this season is .283 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI’s, along with two stolen bases. Solak’s on-base percentage is .367.

He is 24 years old and Nick Solak has an excellent approach at the plate. The only thing that might be keeping him from the big leagues is his defense and arm strength. He was taken in the second round of the MLB Draft by the New York Yankees in 2016. Tampa Bay acquired him in a trade this past offseason as part of a three-team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

For more information on these prospects and other prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays organization as well, visit MLB.com and search top prospects.

How do you feel about the farm system of the Tampa Bay Rays? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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