Tampa Bay Rays Top-15 Prospects of 2009, No’s 6 – 15
For an overview of the process used to grade players, the factors used to determine where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the start of the season. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me or you can make a comment below at the bottom of the page.
You can find a full listing of each team’s top prospect list in the Top Prospect List Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team’s best fan sites. We continue on with the Tampa Bay Rays…
Also See: Tampa Bay Rays, Prospects 1 – 5
6. Nick Barnese | RHP | Hudson Valley (SS) | Age – 20 | Drafted – Round 3 (95), 2007
Body Type – good athlete with a thin frame, but still has some room to fill out
Fastball – clocked anywhere between 89 and 94 with a bevy of movement. The pitch will sink, rise, or move laterally depending on the spin coming off Barnese’s fingers. The question is if he can harness the movement and place the pitch where he wants it. He flashes the ability to do this, but he’s not as consistent as he needs to be.
Curveball – better than it’s given credit for…will have a two-plane break when he gets on top of it and it possesses a sharp downward bite. Can throw it for strikes at times. Works best if he doesn’t overuse the pitch as he has a tendency to surprise hitters when it’s thrown. On the left is Barnese’s fastball and on the right is his curveball:
*Credit to Minor League Baseball
One problem Barnese will have to deal with his arm slot. You’ll notice a higher arm slot when he’s throwing the curve, which makes it easier for him to get on top of the pitch. If he doesn’t get on top of the pitch, it comes out of the hand flat.
Change-Up – good fade and tumbling action and he maintains his arm speed while throwing it.
Barnese has an extremely quick arm, which adds a deceptive element to his pitches. It makes his release point a little more difficult for hitters to pick up. He’s very deliberate in his wind-up until he breaks his hands and then quickly gets the arm up to a cocked position before release.
Barnese was able to amass many swings-and-misses at Hudson Valley last year as well as induce ground balls, a combination that kept his ERA in the mid-2′s.
If you watch one of his starts, you’ll see the swag everybody talks about. It’s a quiet confidence…it’s something I notice with Yovani Gallardo whenever I watch him pitch.
To continue his progression, Barnese will need to further develop his secondary pitches as they’re still not consistent enough. He will also need to develop better endurance. Once the fifth inning hits, the quality of his stuff comes down a notch–the fastball has a bit less oomph, and the curveball doesn’t snap as tight.
Best Case Outcome – No. 2 starter
More Likely Outcome – No. 3 starter
7. Matt Moore | LHP | Princeton (Rookie) | Age – 19 | Drafted – Round 8, 2007
Body Type – solid build at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds
Fastball – can get it up to 95 or 96, but generally sits in the 92 – 94 range
Curveball – a power-type, late breaking curve…needs more consistency, which should come with experience
Change-Up – its development is behind the other two pitches, but he shows a solid feel for the pitch
I haven’t seen Moore personally, besides a very brief draft video, so we’re going by various scouting reports and numbers here.
Moore dramatically improved his control from the 2007 season and overwhelmed the Appalachian League hitters with overpowering stuff. His peripherals were strong across the board–the only weakness was that his control wasn’t great. It was merely average compared to the rest of the league. Moore’s work ethic and make-up is also praised by people that work with him.
One Thing to Note – Moore seems to work best when pitching from the stretch. From the wind-up, Moore walked 4.91 batters per nine innings, while his BB-rate was just 1.08 with runners on base.
There isn’t a lot of information on Moore available at the moment, but that will probably change next year.
Best Case Outcome – Front of the rotation starter
More Likely Outcome – Strong No. 3
Updated on 10-30-09 – Click here for an updated scouting report on Matt Moore and to see him live in action, pitch-by-pitch
8. Reid Brignac | SS | B – L | Triple-A Durham | Age – 23 | Drafted – Round 2 (45), 2004
Body Type – tall and athletic build…a wiry type strength
Brignac has left us with two mediocre seasons since his breakout season in 2006. In each successive season, he’s gotten worse.
His plate discipline, while never strong, has regressed and his approach is wildly inconsistent. He seems to struggle with the balancing act of being aggressive and patient and he’ll get very pull-happy as a hitter.
Brignac has a pretty looking swing with a slight uppercut, which helps him generate a sufficient number of fly balls, but it’s a long swing as he sets up high, creating a long swing path for himself. The loading of his hands is also a bit long as he attempts to generate enough bat speed to hit for at least moderate power.
The good news for Brignac is that he is still young–he just turned 23. And while his offense regressed, his defense improved, which is significant because many felt he would have to move off the position eventually. He’ll look to see if he can conquer Triple-A next season.
Best Case Outcome – Average offensive shortstop with above average defense
More Likely Outcome – Slighty below average shortstop…worst case is he turns into a utility player.
9. John Jaso | C | Triple-A Durham | Age – 25 | Drafted – Round 12, 2003
Body Type – muscular build with no projection left
Besides his first professional season in 2003, Jaso has never really struggled as a professional. He’s never posted an OPS under .812 and has remained consistent throughout his career.
He’s a high average hitter that posted batting averages between .302 – .316 from 2004 – 2007. He displays some pop, though his power is closer to average than plus. In addition to his ability to hit for average, Jaso has a patient approach at the plate and for the past two seasons has walked more times than he struck out.
Defense is still a question mark. The potential is there to be a solid defensive catcher, but he has some kinks to work out. Jaso has battled injuries the past couple seasons and there is a question as to if he can stay healthy enough to stay at the position.
Best Case Outcome – Average mostly everyday catcher
More Likely Outcome – I think he can find a role as a guy that rotates between catcher and DH, playing primarily against right handers.
10. Jake McGee | LHP | Double-A Montgomery | Age – 22 | Drafted – Round 5, 2004
Body Type – Big kid with a strong lower half
Fastball – bread-and-butter pitch, sitting in the mid-90′s, occasionally touching 98 with movement that he sometimes struggles to control
Slider – somewhat slurvy, but thrown with velocity…especially tough on lefties
Curveball – thrown in the low 70′s…can get loopy, but it keeps hitters off his harder stuff
Change-Up – has improved the more he’s thrown it, but still a somewhat flat pitch
McGee underwent Tommy John surgery in July, which will keep him out until possibly the end of next season. The hope is that his velocity will come back and it’s crucial that it does since he relies heavily on his fastball. Control is usually the last thing to come back after surgery and one of the questions facing McGee at the time of his injury was how well he could command all his pitches and could he do it enough to start effectively at the MLB level. That challenge only becomes greater now.
McGee is an excellent candidate to be put in the pen given the many starting options possessed by Tampa. Plus, it’s likely his stuff will play-up out of the pen.
*Credit to Minor League Baseball
Mechanically, McGee has exceptional arm speed and generates considerable torque, but his landing is stiff and he had a nasty recoil at the end of his wind-up that he should work on fixing as he rehabs his injury.
Best Case Outcome – No. 3 starter
More Likely Outcome – Power arm out of the bullpen
11. Jeff Niemann | RHP | MLB/Triple-A Durham | Age – 26 | Drafted – Round 1 (4), 2004
Giant of a pitcher that suffers from major consistency issues. He’ll go off for an 11 strikeout, one walk gem and follow it up with a 3 inning, four walk, four strikeout performance. You never really know what you’re going to get. His fastball will sit between 90 and 95, touching 96. He’s regularly at 92 or 93. He’s inconsistent in locating his fastball. His slider is his best breaking pitch, with good depth though it will turn slurvy at times. His big curveball will occasionally show some good snap, but it was usually loopy and his change-up is an average offering. When he’s able to locate his offerings and really throw his slider with bite, he can be difficult to hit. On the left is Niemann’s fastball (an average version for him, clocked at 93 mph) and on the right is his slider (an above average version for him, clocked at 83 mph).
*Credit to Minor League Baseball
Mechanics are probably one thing holding Niemann back in terms of control. He has a stabbing motion with his arm, which you can see in the clips above. As he’s bringing his arm through his arm circle, Niemann kicks out and then employs a step-over move to jump start an aggressive hip rotation. When he’s not in-snyc, the timing of these moves are thrown off and he experiences both a decline in velocity and command.
His stuff would play up well out of the bullpen, but reports are that he takes forever to warm up. At best, he’s a borderline No. 4 starter, but more likely a No. 5 starter or long reliever. If he can find a way to warm up faster, he can be used in middle relief.
Grade – B-
ETA – 2009
12. Mitch Talbot | RHP | MLB/Triple-A Durham | Age – 25 | Drafted – Round 2 (70), 2002
Talbot has pretty good stuff to go along with a wide repertoire and solid control. His fastball is pumped anywhere between 89 and 94, usually in the 91 – 93 range. The pitch has some sink to it, but will straighten out a bit at higher velocities. His change-up is his best offering as it tumbles and fades, while he maintains the arm speed necessary to throw the pitch effectively. He throws two curveballs–the harder curve is much more effective, with much more bite, while the slower curve is more of a show-me pitch at the moment. He commands his pitches well, but he’s also dogged by consistency issues. I think his stuff could potentially play-up out of the bullpen. While his upside is a little lower than Niemann’s, he’s a better bet to wind up a more effective reliever.
Grade – C+/B-
ETA – 2009
13. Kyle Lobstein | LHP | N/A | Age – 19 | Drafted – Round 2 (47), 2008
For a scouting report on Lobstein, please click here
Grade – C+
ETA – 2013 or 2014
14. Jacob Jefferies | C | B – L | Hudson Valley (SS) | Age – 21 | Drafted – Round 3, 2008
For a scouting report on Jefferies, please click here
Grade – C+
ETA – Late 2012
15. Matt Gorgen | RHP | Hudson Valley (SS) | Age – 22 | Drafted – Round 16, 2008
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Other C+ Prospects (in no particular order): Alex Cobb (back end of the rotation potential), Reid Fronk (has hit for power and got on base every level he’s been), Heath Rollins (similar to Cobb though a little more advanced with a little better stuff, but minus the ground ball outs), Ryan Reid (quality reliever that racks up K’s and keeps the ball on the ground), Fernando Perez (major league ready fourth outfield type)
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Royster, Chase Fontaine, Chris Mason, Austin Hinkle, Justin Garcia, Elias Otero, Neil Schenk, Chris Andujar, Anthony Scelfo, Joseph Cruz, Kyeong Kang
Also See: Tampa Bay Rays Team Page
Up Next: Toronto Blue Jays, Prospects 1 – 5
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