Fangraphs - Tampa Bay Rays Top 15 Prospects (2012-13)


#1 Wil Myers (OF)

A former third round draft pick out of a North Carolina high school by the Kansas City Royals, the catcher-turned-outfielder has developed into one of the top power-hitting prospects in baseball. He’s now among the Top 5 prospects in all of baseball. Because of that fact, it was somewhat shocking that Kansas City was willing to move the top prospect in the winter of 2012-13 to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for pitching help in the form of James Shields and Wade Davis.
Myers, 21, split the 2012 season between double-A and triple-A, and hit 37 home runs between the two levels. He has impressive raw power, obviously, but his approach at the plate is still a work-in-progress and he struck out 140 times in 134 games, mainly due to the conscious effort to hit for more pop. His .314 career average has been influenced by some very high BABIPs that will be hard to duplicate at the big league level until he improves against breaking balls and tightens up his two-strike approach.
Defensively, Myers is still learning the nuances of right field but he has average range and a plus arm. He has also played some center field where he projects to be fringe-average, as well as third base where he’s raw but could develop into an average fielder. Myers should open 2013 back in triple-A for a little more seasoning – perhaps to push back his arbitration clock – but he could reach Tampa Bay by mid-season. He projects to develop into an all-star, run-producing right-fielder with 30-plus home run potential.
#2 Chris Archer (P)

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Archer finally had the breakthrough in 2012 that prospect watchers had been waiting for since his pro debut. The right-hander has made strides with both his control (trimming a walk per nine innings off his rate between 2011 and ’12) and his command, although both remain inconsistent. Archer, 24, can overpower hitters with easy velocity on his fastball that can touch 97-97 mph.
He also features a good slider and the quality of his previously-below-average changeup surprised me. It showed some potential but he needs to keep the pitch down in the zone. He did a nice job of establishing and getting ahead with the fastball before mixing in his secondary pitches. A contact I spoke with made it clear that it’s not just Archer’s stuff that makes him a special pitcher. “You look at his stuff… it’s really good. This kid has top-notch character and he has really good work ethic,” he said. “These are the ingredients that give a player a chance to be a good big leaguer.”
After taking five years to reach double-A, the pitcher made his big league debut in 2012 and showed that he’s capable of retiring big league hitters. After the trade of both James Shields and Wade Davis this past off-season, Archer has a shot at breaking camp as the club’s fifth starter. He has the ceiling of No. 2 or 3 starter.
#3 Hak-Ju Lee (SS)

Lee is one of the most underrated prospects in the game and his name doesn’t pop up nearly as often as it should. A plus-fielding shortstop, the South Korea native also possesses the ability to hit for average while displaying above-average speed on the base paths. As a contact stated, “He’s a quick-twitch guy with foot speed, arm speed, and bat speed.”
At the plate, Lee holds his hands very high and shows a quick bat that’s short to the ball with a level stroke. He looks a little too passive at times, allowing very hittable pitches to go by, and helping to explain why he struck out more than 100 times last season. When I saw him play, he showed the ability to make adjustments by going the other way for a single to left field on the exact same pitch he struck out on in his previous at-bat.
In the field, Lee possesses above-average range as well as a strong, accurate arm and good actions. On the base paths he has the potential to steal 30-40 bases. The biggest need for Lee at this point is to get stronger — as witnessed by his one extra base hit in 20 Arizona Fall League games — but he looked stronger in 2012 than he did when I saw him in ’11. The talent evaluator stated, “As he matures physically and mentally, he should become a very good ball player.” The shortstop prospect should move up to triple-A Durham in 2013 and could be ready to assume the Rays’ starting shortstop job in 2014.

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