Praise has been piling up all spring for the Rays farm system, and they got another big compliment on Wednesday when Baseball America placed them second in its annual organizational talent rankings.
That is the highest the Rays have been ranked since 2011, when they also were second, and marks the fourth straight year they improved, up from fifth last year and continuing a climb back from a No. 20 ranking in 2014. The Padres were ranked No. 1.
Noting the Rays had a record-tying nine prospects in its recent ranking of the top 100, Baseball America editors wrote: Tampa Bay’s system is stacked from top to bottom, with impact bats around the diamond and strong pitching, led by a potential frontline starter in Brent Honeywell. Shortstop Wander Franco is still 17 but projects as a future star who could be the No. 1 prospect in baseball next year.
The nine ranked prospects were: SS Wander Franco (4), RHP Brent Honeywell (23), LHP/DH Brendan McKay (47), C Ronaldo Hernandez (56), LHP Matthew Liberatore (58), OF Jesus Sanchez (62), 2B Vidal Brujan (64), 2B Brandon Lowe (93), 1B Nate Lowe (97).
Franco got some high praises of his own from fangraphs.com, which Wednesday released its ranking of the top 100, plus another bonus 32, prospects, as he was put in the No. 2 slot, his highest placement on any of the popular lists, behind only Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero Jr.
The Rays had eight players in the top 100, and 10 in the top 115:
2, Franco, of whom the fangraphs editors wrote: "Franco is really close to a perfect prospect, as he’s plus at almost everything he tries, and has one of the best pro debuts we’ve ever seen.''
14, LHP/DH Brendan McKay, who will be limited to DH at-bats, moved off first base at least for now.
25, RHP Brent Honeywell, who is looking at a June-ish return to full duty following Tommy John rehab.
26, 2B Vidal Brujan
46, 2B/OF Brandon Lowe
54, OF Jesus Sanchez
70, C Ronaldo Hernandez
71, LHP Matt Liberatore, the 2018 first-round pick
111, 2B Nick Solak
115, RHP Shane Baz, the player to be named from the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade