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Hit: 80. Power: 60. Run: 50. Field: 50. Arm: 55. Track Record: The No. 1 prospect in the 2017 international signing class, Franco has managed to exceed lofty expectations throughout his teenage years. He hit .339 in the offense-stifling Florida State League in his first full season as an 18-year-old—the third straight level he hit over .300—and began the year as the No. 1 prospect in baseball before spending the 2020 season at the Rays’ alternate training site. Franco’s time at the alternate site pushed him. He has long played against older players, but against pitchers with major league experience, he was pressed even further. He showed well enough that the Rays added him to their postseason taxi squad before he ever appeared in a major league game. He traveled with the team throughout the postseason and participated in pregame workouts, including during the World Series.
Scouting Report: Franco is an exceptionally advanced hitter for his age. The switch-hitter’s compact, level stroke and above-average bat speed from both sides of the plate grant him a controlled aggression most young hitters can’t match. His bat control allows him to make consistent hard contact while rarely striking out. He also has an innate ability to adjust his swing, leaving few holes for pitchers to attack. Franco stings the ball and has plus power potential, but his level swing leads to more line drives and ground balls than fly balls. He has shown in team competitions that he can put on a show in a home run derby. Franco’s body has already filled out. He is an average runner who will have to work to keep his speed with a thick, muscular lower half. Defensively, Franco’s soft hands, above-average arm and solid understanding of the game give him a shot to stay at shortstop, where he’s a potentially average defender. The Rays played him at second base and third base at the alternate site to help prepare for the possibility he could break into the majors at another spot. He has the tools to be an above-average or even plus defender at second or third.
The Future: Few prospects come close to Franco’s likelihood of being a productive regular or all-star thanks to his exceptional hitting ability. He’s more likely to win a batting title than a home run crown but has the chance to produce plenty of power as well. The Rays have a crowded infield, and Franco is unlikely to push Willy Adames off shortstop, but his bat and glove are ready to produce for the Rays in 2021 at any infield position. His bat should clear his path to St. Petersburg, even if he begins the season in Triple-A.
Hit: 55. Power: 60. Speed: 70. Fielding: 50. Arm: 55Track Record: When the Rays acquired Arozarena in a trade that sent touted lefthander Matthew Liberatore to the Cardinals, it seemed like a high price to pay. Those concerns quickly faded. A positive coronavirus test delayed Arozarena’s 2020 debut until Aug. 30, but he was one of baseball’s best hitters in September and then for the Rays in the playoffs. He hit seven home runs through the ALCS, breaking the rookie record for homers in a single postseason.
Scouting Report: Arozarena’s electric hands and bat speed allow him to catch up to fastballs up in the zone, and he’s gotten strong enough to do damage. He has solid pitch recognition skills, and his bat-to-ball ability has stood out for years through a long track record of hitting for average and getting on base. Arozarena takes some massive swings, but there’s a method to it—his swing gets bigger in advantageous counts. Defensively, Arozarena is a fast-twitch athlete with plus-plus speed and an excellent burst, but his poor routes need to improve to make him more than an average defender.
The Future: Arozarena’s postseason was one for the ages, but he’ll have to make adjustments as the league sees more of him and finds his weaknesses. Most evaluators see him settling in as a .270 hitter with 20-25 home runs and 10-15 steals.
Hit: 60. Power: 40. Speed: 80. Fielding: 55. Arm: 50.Track Record: The Rays spent big on the 2014 international class, including signing No. 1 prospect Adrian Rondon for $2.95 million. But Brujan, a $15,000 signing, looks like the best of the group. He quickly outpaced Rondon and finished the 2019 season at Double-A Montgomery. The Rays brought him to their alternate training site in 2020, then added him to their postseason taxi squad.
Scouting Report: The speedy Brujan is a throwback to when leadoff hitters got on base and immediately stole second. He’s stolen 151 bases in five minor league seasons, including 48 in 2019. A switch-hitter, Brujan is hard to strike out with his excellent bat control and has sneaky power from the left side. His righthanded swing doesn’t have much power. Brujan is a versatile defender who moved from shortstop to second base when he signed but looked capable when the Rays played him at short again in 2019. He has just enough arm for the position, but his accuracy has to improve and he tends to rush in his throws. He got some work in center field at the alternate site and could be a rangy center fielder with his elite speed.
The Future: The Rays have a crowded infield situation, but Brujan’s hitting ability, speed and athleticism should get him to the majors in due time.
Fastball: 70. Curveball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 45Track Record: McClanahan had Tommy John surgery at South Florida but recovered to become one of the top pitchers in the 2018 draft class. The Rays drafted him 31st overall and signed him for just over $2.2 million. He spent most of 2020 working five-inning stints every fifth day at the alternate training site but moved to the bullpen as the major league playoffs neared. The Rays added him to their postseason roster, and he became the first pitcher in history to make his debut in the postseason.
Scouting Report: Few lefthanders can match McClanahan’s fastball velocity, which sits 95-98 mph as a starter and touched 101 in the playoffs. What’s even better is his 86-88 mph breaking ball. McClanahan can throw it tighter with more of a curveball shape or turn it into a wipeout slider that starts in the middle of the plate and ends up at a righthanded hitter’s feet. In either form, it’s a pitch that finishes hitters. McClanahan’s fringe-average changeup plays up when he throws it with conviction. His control has improved as he’s gotten better at maintaining a regular pace to his delivery, but it’s still fringe-average.
The Future: McClanahan’s improvements to his changeup and control give him a chance to start. His big fastball and wipeout breaking ball would also fit in high-leverage relief.
Fastball: 70. Slider: 70. Curveball: 40. Changeup: 45. Control: 40.
Track Record: The Rays getting Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow from the Pirates for Chris Archer is a heist of a trade, but the fact that they also acquired Baz as the player to be named seems like piling on. Baz, the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, had a solid Rays organizational debut in 2019 before struggling in the Arizona Fall League. He spent 2020 at the Rays’ alternate training site.
Scouting Report: Much like Glasnow, Baz has responded well to the Rays’ tweaks to his approach. He’s now pumping upper-90s, high-spin, four-seam fastballs up in the strike zone and pairing them with a dastardly plus-plus 84-87 mph slider with tight, two-plane break. Everything else is still a work in progress. Baz’s tempo in his delivery is too energetic and his lower half isn’t always in sync with his arm, leading to below-average command and control. His fringe-average changeup improved at the alternate training site, but still has further to go. His curveball has become less of a factor every year.
The Future: Many scouts are confident Baz will wind up in the bullpen as a potentially dominant reliever. The Rays still see a path for him to be a starter, noting he’s still quite young and has continued to improve his control. .
Fastball: 60. Cutter: 55. Curveball: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 60.
Track Record: McKay was a two-way star at Louisville and won the Golden Spikes Award in 2017. The Rays drafted him fourth overall that year and signed him for just over $7 million. McKay raced to the major leagues, debuting in 2019 and pitching 49 innings and hitting his first career home run. He was expected to be a part of the Rays’ plans in 2020, but he was delayed by a positive coronavirus test and then had season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in August.
Scouting Report: While McKay’s power in the batter’s box is intriguing, the Rays have shifted his focus to pitching exclusively. McKay’s control and command have always been his biggest calling card. He locates all four of his pitches for strikes, helping them play up beyond their raw qualities. McKay’s 92-95 mph fastball was his best pitch in the minors, though it was less effective in the majors with its modest movement. His above-average 87-89 mph cutter avoids barrels as his main secondary. His curveball is an average offering and he busts out his average mid-80s changeup against righties. McKay struggled to put away hitters in his first big league stint, and now must see what his stuff looks like post-surgery.
The Future: Shoulder injuries have a lower success rate for full return than elbow injuries, and McKay’s future outlook is muddied by his shoulder surgery. The Rays hope he’ll be ready in the spring.
Hitting: 60. Power: 30. Speed: 60. Fielding: 55. Arm: 45.
Track Record: Drafted 38th overall by the Padres in 2018, Edwards hit .322 and finished tied for third in the minors in hits in his first full season. The Rays acquired him with Hunter Renfroe in the trade that sent Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth to San Diego. The Rays sent Edwards to their alternate training site in mid August, where he joined the organization’s collection of middle infielders with excellent bat-to-ball skills.
Scouting Report: Like White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal, Edwards is a smallish second baseman who rarely strikes out, consistently puts the barrel on the ball and can run with plus speed. But also like Madrigal, the switch-hitting Edwards’ plus hitting ability is tempered by concerns about his lack of power. Edwards has gotten a little stronger and will post 100 mph exit velocities on his hardest hits, but he still hits more balls in front of outfielders than in the gaps. He’s a patient hitter with nearly as many walks (75) as strikeouts in his career (79), so he may get on base enough to make up for his lack of slugging. He’s an efficient basestealer and reliable defender, although his fringy arm is stretched at shortstop.
The Future: Edwards fits the Rays’ desire for athletic, multi-positional players. He projects as a table-setter who’s contact and speed-based game is a throwback to earlier eras.
Fastball: 70. Curveball: 60. Changeup: 40. Control: 45
Track Record: Bitsko reclassified from the 2021 draft to 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic canceled his high school season before he got to throw a pitch. Teams scouted him exclusively off his bullpen sessions, and the Rays saw enough to draft him No. 24 overall and sign him for an above-slot $3 million to forgo a Virginia commitment. With the canceled season, Bitsko threw just 33 innings in his high school career.
Scouting Report: Bitsko has the traits of a major league starter with a physical 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and a clean delivery. His fastball sits 92-96 mph and touches 98, and he pairs it with a hard, high-spin downer curveball that’s been up to 2,500 revolutions per minute. Both project to be plus or better pitches. Bitsko has shown a feel for a changeup, but it’s sometimes a little firm and lacks deception. He throws everything out of a high three-quarters release point which allows him to work up and down the strike zone.
The Future: Bitsko is very young and will take time, but he has the building blocks to be a mid-rotation starter. If he makes it to low Class A in 2021, he would be the first Rays high school pitcher in the last decade to see full-season ball in his first full season. .
Fastball: 55. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 55
Track Record: Goss entered 2019 as the No. 2 starter on Houston’s Cypress Ranch High team, behind Matthew Thompson. He graduated to co-ace after a strong senior season as his stuff ticked up. At pick No. 36, Goss was drafted nine spots earlier than Thompson, but Thompson’s $2.1 million bonus edged out Goss’ $2,042,900.
Scouting Report: Goss showed at instructional league that his stuff is only continuing to get better. His above-average 90-96 mph fastball in high school was sitting 92-95 and touching higher in instructs. He has solid feel and a steady maturity on the mound. His hard high-80s slider is average now and with his feel for spin it should eventually at least be above-average. His changeup isn’t as consistent and needs to add either a little more action or a little more separation but he has feel and comfort with it and it should continue to improve. Goss’ body has room to fill out further, which gives hope for further projection.
The Future: Goss’ stuff is already major league-caliber, and it should just continue to get better. His delivery, knack for pitching and composure make him a safer bet to remain a starter than most young arms. He has potential to be a mid-rotation starter. He should be ready for full-season ball in 2021.
Fastball: 60. Slider: 40. Curveball: 30. Changeup: 50. Control: 55.
Track Record: A poorly timed lat injury crushed Ryan’s draft stock in 2017, but a solid season after transferring to Division II Cal State Stanislaus made him a seventh-round steal for the Rays in 2018. He broke through in 2019 and finished second in the minors with 183 strikeouts as he climbed three levels to Double-A. The Rays added him to their 60-man player pool and brought him to their alternate training site in 2020.
Scouting Report: Ryan’s fastball plays better than its 92-96 mph velocity and average spin rate indicate. He backspins the ball well and hides it in his delivery, leading to lots of swings and misses up in the zone. Ryan dominated the low minors almost exclusively with his fastball, so facing more advanced hitters at the alternate site helped him realize he needed to develop his secondaries. His fringy slider has surpassed his below-average curveball, but neither is consistent. Ryan’s 83-85 mph changeup is his best secondary offering. It comes out of his hand looking like his fastball and has at least average potential, but he still uses it only sparingly.
The Future: Ryan was a fast mover in 2019, but he still has a ways to go before he is ready for the majors. The development of his secondaries will be critical in 2021.
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