C Blake Hunt (R / R, 6’3 215, 23 in 2022)
2021 statistics with High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery: 320 PA, .205 / .288 / .375, 9 HR, 28 XBH, 10.0 BB%, 32.5 K%
Hunt was perhaps surprisingly not added to the 40-man roster this offseason, making him eligible for the Rule 5 draft, which may happen eventually. He was a part of the Blake Snell trade. His defense is very good – which the Rays value – and he has intangible qualities teams seek in catchers. He has power potential, but he struggled at the plate in 2021.
Hunt was acquired as a key return in the Blake Snell trade; however, he was surprisingly left off the 40-man roster this offseason in exchange for Proctor and Pinto. If or when the Rule 5 draft occurs, he’s a prospect that could be lost despite a drop of nearly 10 spots on the Community prospect list.
2022 Community Prospect List
|1||RHP Shane Baz||24||28||85.7%||6|
|2||OF Josh Lowe||16||34||47.1%||8|
|3||IF / OF Vidal Brujan||23||36||63.9%||3|
|4||RHP Taj Bradley||19||27||70.4%||26|
|5||IF Curtis Mead||20||28||71.4%||40|
|6||SS Greg Jones||17||36||47.2%||14|
|7||2B Xavier Edwards||9||26||34.6%||9|
|8||RHP Tommy Romero||11||25||44.0%||NR|
|9||SS Carlos Colmenarez||6||23||26.1%||15|
|10||RHP Seth Johnson||7||23||30.4%||20|
|11||SS Carson Williams||16||29||55.2%||AFTER|
|12||LHP Ian Seymour||12||20||60.0%||29|
|13||IF Jonathan Aranda||16||26||61.5%||NR|
|14||RHP Cole Wilcox||10||23||43.5%||13|
|15||OF Kameron Misner||10||22||45.5%||AFTER|
|16||OF Heriberto Hernandez||8||21||38.1%||12|
|17||SS Willy Vasquez||9||25||36.0%||NR|
|18||RHP JJ Goss||8||23||34.8%||19|
|19||RHP Colby White||11||25||44.0%||NR|
|20||C Ford Proctor||8||25||32.0%||27|
|21||3B Austin Shenton||9||20||45.0%||AFTER|
|22||RHP Sandy Gaston||4||18||22.2%||38|
|23||C Blake Hunt||5||18||27.8%||16|
On to the candidates.
IF Osleivis Basabe (R / R, 6’1 188, 21 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green: 327 PA, .284 / .347 / .388, 18/22 SB, 19 XBH, 8.6 BB%, 13.8 K%
Basabe was acquired from Texas in the Nate Lowe trade. He’s known for making contact, and his low strikeout rate reflected that. Every report says he has power potential, but that does not show in his slugging percentage yet. He also has good speed and stole bases pretty efficiently. Defensively, he has the arm and athleticism to stick at shortstop but also showed versatility by playing different positions.
RHP Nick Bitsko (6’4 225, 20 in 2022)
Did not pitch in 2021
Bitsko was the No. 24 pick in the 2020 draft after reclassifying to be drafted a year sooner. However, he has not yet made his pro debut. Shoulder surgery sidelined him in 2021, but he is expected to debut in 2022. Prior to the surgery, he had two potential plus pitches in his mid-90s fastball and curveball. His changeup has shown promise.
IF Junior Caminero (R / R, 5’11 157, 18 in 2022)
2021 statistics in Dominican Summer League: 171 PA, .295 / .380 / .534, 9 HR, 17 XBH, 11.7 BB%, 16.4 K%
Rather than lose him for nothing in the Rule 5 draft, the Rays traded Tobias Myers to Cleveland for Caminero. Cleveland signed him in the 2019 international period, and he made his pro debut in 2021. He played all four infield positions but mostly the corner spots. He led the Dominican Summer League in home runs and was eighth in slugging.
LHP John Doxakis (6’4 215, 23 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green: 102 2⁄3 IP, 3.94 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 4.6 BB%, 27.7 K%
Doxakis’ ERA was a bit high after his promotion to High A, but his numbers beneath the surface were good. He held opponents to an on-base percentage under .300, and his OPS against was significantly better than the league average. His fastball and breaking ball are just average pitches, but he has very good control. Only 15 minor leaguers with 100-plus innings had a lower walk rate.
LHP Antonio Jimenez (5’11 145, 21 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays and Low-A Charleston: 48 IP, 2.63 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.2 BB%, 33.0 K%
Jimenez impressed enough in his US debut that he was able to make a handful of appearances in a full-season league at just 20 years old. He showed improved control compared to his two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. According to FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagenhe throws in the low 90s with a plus slider and potentially average changeup.
2B Cooper Kinney (L / R, 6’3 200, 19 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays: 47 PA, .286 / .468 / .371, 2/2 SB, 21.3 BB%, 19.1 K%
The Rays drafted Kinney No. 34 overall last year for his bat, and he got his career off to a nice start in a limited number of plate appearances. He makes good contact, and he showed a good plate approach. Right now, he does not have a lot of power, but he has a chance to develop average or above-average power. With limited athleticism, his defensive home is a question.
1B Kyle Manzardo (L / R, 6’1 205, 21 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays: 50 PA, .349 / .440 / .605, 2 HR, 7 XBH, 8.0 BB%, 12.0 K%
In his debut, Manzardo looked very much like a polished college hitter crushing young pitchers. He showed a strong plate approach at Washington State before the Rays drafted him in the second round, and that carried over to the start of his pro career. His hit tool is his best, but his power improved throughout his college career and could be above average. He’s not much of an athlete and is limited to first base.
LHP Brendan McKay (6’2 220, 26 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 7 IP, 12.86 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 11.1 BB%, 22.2 K%
It was another lost season for the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft. McKay got off to a late start in 2020 due to COVID and then had shoulder surgery. In 2021, he had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, which is difficult for pitchers to come back from. At his best, he threw a lot of strikes with decent stuff, including an above-average fastball. His cutter, changeup, and breaking ball can all be above average too.
C Rene Pinto (R / R, 5’10 195, 25 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 382 PA, .274 / .325 / .500, 20 HR, 40 XBH, 5.8 BB%, 29.8 K%
Any team could have had Pinto in minor league free agency after 2020, but he returned to the Rays. After a breakout 2021 season, he was added to the 40-man roster to keep him from hitting free agency again. He was previously a bat-first catcher and suddenly came into more power, nearly doubling his career home run total. He has an aggressive plate approach but made it work. His defense has improved.
IF Ryan Spikes (R / R, 5’9 185, 19 in 2022)
2021 statistics with Florida Coast League Rays: 47 PA, .250 / .362 / .400, 1 HR, 4 XBH, 4/5 SB, 12.8 BB%, 27.7 K%
The Rays liked Spikes enough to draft him in the third round and gave him almost twice as much as the recommended signing bonus for his No. 100 overall selection. He makes good contact and is a decent athlete. Despite not being very big, he posts good exit velocities and could have decent power. With a good arm, he shows versatility in the infield, splitting time between second and third base in his brief pro experience.