Over the next several weeks leading up to the start of the season, we’ll reveal our ranking of the top 15 prospects in the Rays organization. In order to be eligible for the list, a player must retain major-league rookie eligibility (no more than 130 PA, 50 IP, or 45 days of service). We’ll kick things off this week with prospects 13, 14, and 15.
13. Enny Romero, LHP (Seasonal Age: 22)
Height: 6-3. Weight: 165. Bats: Left. Throws: Left.
Signed: 2007, International free agent from the Dominican Republic.
2012: 5-7, 3.93 ERA, 107-76 K-BB in 126.0 IP (A+).
2013: Double-A Montgomery’s rotation.
Comments: A plus fastball will get Romero to the big leagues eventually, but inconsistent secondary offerings will likely force him out of the starting rotation sooner or later. Watching Romero pitch, which you can do on Saturday thanks to MLB.tv, is typically a frustrating experience. The fastball captivates but the rawness frustrates. He simply has no feel for pitching. He’ll flash a sharp, above-average slider and an average changeup from time to time, but the chances of seeing two average-or-better secondary pitches in a row are very slim. He started throwing a mid-to-upper-80s cutter last year that has already become his most consistent and effective second pitch. He’s still only 22, so there’s time for him to straighten out, but how often does a guy “develop” feel?
14. Andrew Toles, OF (21)
Height: 5-10. Weight: 185. Bats: Left. Throws: Right.
Drafted: 2011 (3rd round), by the Tampa Bay Rays out of Chipola (FL) JC.
2012: .281/.327/.482 w/ 7 HR, 14-for-19 SB in 214 PA (R+).
2013: Given how raw he is, there’s a good chance that Toles hangs back in extended spring training until the short-season New York-Penn League opens up in June. There’s also an outside chance he starts the year at Low-A Bowling Green.
Comments: A toolsy athlete with a shaky off-field track record, Toles was the Rays’ third-round pick out of Chipola Junior College last June. His calling card is easy 60 speed that makes him a threat on the base paths and, combined with above-average arm strength, a weapon in center field. He has the strength to project at least fringe-average power, and he could surpass that if he learns to use his lower half.
15. Jeff Ames, RHP (22)
Height: 6-4. Weight: 225. Bats: Right. Throws: Right.
Drafted: 2011 (1st round (supplemental)/42nd overall), by the Tampa Bay Rays out of Lower Columbia College.
2012: 6-1, 1.96 ERA, 70-20 K-BB in 64.1 IP (SS-A).
2013: Low-A Bowling Green’s rotation.
Comments: Ames offers two solid-average pitches in a 91-92 mph fastball and low-80s slider, as well as a fringy changeup with solid velocity separation off his fastball. While Ames has demonstrated solid control as a pro (2.6 BB/9 in 94.2 innings), his command within the zone still leaves something to be desired. Lack of a solid third pitch, not to mention Tampa Bay’s rotation depth ahead of him, means Ames’s future role is likely in the bullpen, where his sinker/slider combination could put him on the fast track to the big leagues. For now, however, he’ll continue developing as a starter.