The Rays' hard work and investment in rebuilding their farm system continues to show — most notably today, when they placed a record-tying nine players in Baseball America’s annual preseason ranking of the game’s top 100 prospects, led by teenager Wander Franco at No. 4 overall.
The Baseball America list is considered among the game’s most prestigious, and the Rays showed well, along with the Padres, who also placed nine.
Franco, who doesn’t turn 18 until March 1, is ranked so highly based on his impressive skill set and dazzling pro debut — he hit .351 with 11 homers, 57 RBIs and a 1.004 OPS in 61 games at rookie-level Princeton while striking out only 19 times (and walking 27).
Other Rays in the Baseball America top 100, which can be read in full here:
No. 23 RHP Brent Honeywell, who is due back from Tommy John surgery recovery sometime in June.
No. 47 LHP/1B Brendan McKay, who who made it advanced Class A Charlotte last year as a two-way player.
No. 56 C Ronaldo Hernandez, who hit 21 homers for Class A Bowling Green last season.
No. 58 LHP Matthew Liberatore, who had a solid debut season as their No. 1 pick in last year’s draft.
No. 62. OF Jesus Sanchez, who hits for power and average and made it to Double-A by age 20.
No. 64, 2B Vidal Brujan, who has shown a combo of speed and hitting ability through Class A.
No, 93 2B Brandon Lowe, who found his power stroke and made it to the majors in 2018.
No. 97 1B Nate Lowe, who (unrelated to Brandon) showed his power and reached Triple-A.
The only other team to land nine prospects in the BA top 100 during its 30-year run was the Royals in 2011, with a group that included three players who would end up traded to the Rays, Jake Odorizzi, Wil Myers and Mike Montgomery. Also among that group was Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, John Lamb, Chris Dwyer and Christian Colon.
Also of note on the Baseball America list:
* Toronto 3B Vlad Guerrero Jr,. is No, 1 overall, with San Diego SS Fernando Tatis Jr. second and Chicago White Sox OF Eloy Jimenez third.
* The big-market Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs were the only teams not to have a top 100 prospect.
* Among Tampa Bay-area prospects, Toronto SS Bo Bichette is No. 8, Houston OF Kyle Tucker No. 12, Mets 1B Peter Alonso No. 48.