Shane Baz makes it consecutive pitchers on the list.
RHP Shane Baz (6’2 190, 22 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green: 81 1⁄3 IP, 2.99 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 10.8 BB%, 25.4 K%
Baz was at the alternate site in 2020. A year earlier in his first full season in the organization, Baz made strides with his control, posting a career-low walk rate. After the season, he turned heads in the Arizona Fall League as the youngest pitcher in the league. MLB.com reported that he had the best fastball and breaking ball among AFL prospects. He has to continue improving his control and his changeup.
Shane Baz dropped a spot from last season, but it’s not a surprise that Randy Arozarena was able to surge in front of him.
RHP Nick Bitsko (6’4 220, 19 in 2021)
Drafted in 2020
For the third straight season, the Rays took a high school pitcher in the first round, even when the rest of the industry is trending the other way. Bitsko was considered a top prospect for the 2021 draft, but he reclassified and got drafted a year earlier. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and his curveball is a potential plus pitch. His changeup has potential, and he should be a strike thrower. Bitsko recently required shoulder surgery, but the extent of the injury is not known.
IF Xavier Edwards (S/R, 5’10 175, 21 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class-A Fort Wayne and Class A-Advanced Lake Elsinore: 561 PA, .322/.375/.396, 34/45 SB, 27 XBH, 7.8 BB%, 9.6 K%
Edwards finished the season at the organization’s alternate site after being acquired in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to San Diego in the offseason. He impressed in his first full pro season in 2019, reaching the Padres’ equivalent of Charlotte. He uses his plus-plus speed to have success. He knows the strike zone and how to get his bat on the ball, but he may never develop much power. His arm strength may limit him to second base.
RHP JJ Goss (6’3 185, 20 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays: 17 IP, 5.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.8 BB%, 22.5 K%
Goss improved throughout the spring in his draft year, and that led to the Rays selecting him with the No. 36 pick in 2019. His stuff got better. His velocity improved, and his breaking ball and changeup were sharper. Reports from 2020 indicate that trend has continued (Baseball America $). In addition, he was considered one of the best strike throwers in his draft class (BA $). With his athleticism, he should continue to throw strikes.
C Ronaldo Hernandez (R/R, 6’1 185, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 427 PA, .265/.299/.397, 9 HR, 31 XBH, 4.0 BB% 15.2 K%
Although he hasn’t played above A ball, Hernandez spent time on the Rays’ taxi squad and was in the postseason player pool, which could be a sign that the organization trusts his defensive improvements. He’s still a bat-first catcher with power potential, but he needs to work on his plate approach. He rarely strikes out, but more patience could lead to higher-quality contact.
SS Greg Jones (S/R, 6’2 175, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 218 PA, .335/.413/.461, 19/27 SB, 18 XBH, 10.1 BB%, 25.7 K%
Jones may have been considered raw coming out of UNC Wilmington, but he got his pro career off to a great start. He was third in the New York-Penn League in average, second in on-base percentage, and seventh in slugging percentage. His best tool is his speed. He may never hit for much power, but he should take good at-bats and get his bat on the ball to make use of his speed. He was a late addition to the team’s alternate site in 2020.
OF Josh Lowe (L/R, 6’4 205, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Double-A Montgomery: 519 PA, .252/.341/.442, 18 HR, 45 XBH, 30/39 SB, 11.4 BB%, 25.4 K%
Prior to the season being lost, Lowe was already set to be out for two months due to offseason shoulder surgery. He was coming off a breakout season with Montgomery, doubling his career home run total, remaining a threat on the bases, and maintaining a slightly lower strikeout rate. He was a standout in the Arizona Fall League (ESPN $).
DH/LHP Brendan McKay (L/L, 6’2 212, 25 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Tampa Bay: 11 PA, .200/.273/.500, 1 HR, 9.1 BB%, 18.2 K% — 49 IP, 5.14 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7.4 BB%, 25.9 K%
2019 statistics with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham: 168 PA, .200/.298/.331, 5 HR, 9 XBH, 10.1 BB%, 30.4 K% — 73 2⁄3 IP, 1.10 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 6.5 BB%, 36.7 K%
McKay’s 2020 season never got going. He tested positive for COVID-19, and shortly after recovering, went out with a shoulder injury. He had surgery, but the team expects him to be ready for spring training, suggesting he avoided a long-term problem. If he’s healthy, he demonstrates great control of good stuff, led by his curveball. His fastball and changeup can both be above-average pitches.
IF Taylor Walls (S/R, 5’10 180, 24 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery: 423 PA, .270/.343/.452, 10 HR, 40 XBH, 28/43 SB, 10.6 BB%, 18.7 K%
An injury kept Walls from really starting his 2019 season until May, but it didn’t affect him much, as he was able to finish the season in Double A. Known as one of the better defenders in the organization, he gained versatility last season, often sharing the field with other prospects who needed innings at shortstop. At the plate, he makes consistent contact, knows the strike zone, and showed a little more power.