09/06/12 10:00 AM ET
Moore off new list, but Rays flash prospect depth
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Matt Moore sat at the top of the Rays' prospect list at the first checkpoint of the season. And, as every Rays fan probably knows, the 22-year-old left-hander has graduated to the Major Leagues.
That's the objective for every player on the list. So Moore is a shining beacon for any player in the organization's farm system.
"Without question, he's a great example," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "When you get these young men and you sign them, they start out in Princeton [of the Rookie League] and end up in the big leagues like Matt Moore, all of us are excited for him. And for our organization, that's what player development and scouting is really all about -- to take that bright, young resource. ... Matt Moore has made us all very proud."
Even though Moore is still young, he wasn't rushed through the Rays' farm system, which is a trademark of how the club operates.
"The player dictates to us, really, the exact journey," Lukevics said. "Matt Moore spent two years in Princeton. That's abnormal, but we felt at the time that was the right thing to do. We have a slow, methodical process, but it's not out of the realm to move a player a little faster.
"They determine our course by how they take on the competition. What type of stuff do they have? Do they have command of the stuff? How do they handle failure? There are so many things that go into the movement of the player, but the bottom line is that generally, slow is better."
Without Moore on the Rays' revised list, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee jumped from the club's second-ranked prospect to the No. 1 ranking. Primarily, Lee earned the top spot due to his athleticism.
"He's a quick-twitch athlete," Lukevics said. "He's a skilled infielder. He's a plus runner. He has a plus arm. He has bat speed. We need him to get a little stronger. We need him to make the routine play.
"He can make the great plays. He can run like the wind. We need him to become a better baseball player, and by giving him more at-bats and games played, we're confident that can happen."
Lee has been battling an oblique injury after playing in 116 games for Double-A Montgomery this season, but he is currently in Port Charlotte, Fla., preparing for the fall season. Lee is scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League, which will afford him some extra at-bats to make up for his lost time this summer.
Right-hander Taylor Guerrieri is ranked second on the list. The Rays' top pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft moved up from the No. 6 spot on the list after a standout summer at Class A Short Season Hudson Valley, where he walked just five hitters in 52 innings, posting a 1.04 ERA.
"He's a very confident kid, but he has good skill to be confident," Lukevics said. "And this year, you never know how a high school kid in his first year is going to do in a college league, and he was masterful.
"Now, granted, it's a short season, but when you have that type of kid with that type of upside and the arm that he has, to walk just [five] -- remarkable."
In addition to having a big fastball that he can locate well, Guerrieri has quality secondary pitches.
"It's all about the maturation of a young man," Lukevics said. "It's all about maturation of his pitches. Again, he's a young man with a great upside."
Right-hander Chris Archer remained in the No. 3 spot after a solid season at Triple-A Durham and two starts in the Major Leagues. Archer is by far the closest to the Major Leagues of any player on the list.
rays' top prospects
"Chris turned his season around," Lukevics said. "He got an opportunity to go to the big leagues, threw two wonderful games. I think he took those lessons up here down to Triple-A, and when he got back, he really finished up strong. They say it's not how you start -- it's how you finish. To see how he was last year in Double-A Montgomery, and then where he is now. He's on the verge of making an impact in the big leagues."
Outfielder Mikie Mahtook moved up from No. 5 to No. 4, and for good reason. In an organization that doesn't rush its prospects through the system, he has been an exception, advancing quickly.
"For him in his first full year to be sent from the Florida State League in Charlotte to Double-A tells me that he's a mature young guy," Lukevics said. "He's a great worker on top of having good skill. We don't [move players quickly] too often, so he shows those signs that he's going to be a pretty good ballplayer."
Infielder Tim Beckham, the top player selected in the 2008 Draft, had been the Rays' No. 4 prospect, but he dropped to No. 20 after a trying summer that saw him get hit with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana.
"It's unfortunate he got suspended for 50 games; that can really derail a career," Lukevics said. "But he learned from it. ... I just think he grew up from it, and he finished strong."
Beckham will play in the Arizona Fall League, and the Rays are hoping to get him placed on a team to play during the winter so he can make up for the at-bats he missed over the summer.
Rounding out the top five is left-hander Enny Romero, who moved up from the No. 9 spot.
"Big arm, good body, good arm action," said Lukevics of Romero. "He's still young, still needs pitch development, still needs innings, but there's a great upside. When you're a 6-foot-5 left-hander and can top out at 97 [mph], average 93, 94, 95 during certain games, that's special."
Lukevics noted that Romero needs to refine his secondary pitches.
But the future for him -- the potential -- is really good for Enny and good for us," Lukevics said.
Derek Dietrich and Richie Shaffer were the only two players added to the updated list.
Dietrich came in at No. 14, and Shaffer is No. 15.
"Derek is a left-handed hitter that has power," Lukevics said. "When the ball hits his bat, there's a difference. We moved him over to second base [from shortstop], and he can fill in at shortstop. But he can be an offensive second baseman.
"He has a rare ability that he can impact a baseball. Pitch selection is big for him, going after the right pitch. Once he develops that skill, I think he can be a really good player."
Shaffer was the Rays' top pick in this year's Draft.
"Richie Shaffer comes as advertised," Lukevics said. "He can swing the bat. He has power. He has a good arm."
Shaffer will play in the Arizona Fall League, where the Rays would like to see him get work at first base, third and in the outfield.
Wilking Rodriguez fell off the list. The talented right-hander had a shoulder injury that put him on the disabled list on May 16, and he has not pitched since.
"He was injured most of the year, and because of that, he couldn't make the progress we were hoping he would," Lukevics said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.