Pitcher Shane Baz leads five Rays among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects

Outfielder Josh Lowe, Durham’s MVP last season, is the next highest-ranked Ray at No. 44.
Right-handed pitcher Shane Baz, at No. 8, was the top-ranked Ray in Baseball America's top 100 prospects for 2022.
Right-handed pitcher Shane Baz, at No. 8, was the top-ranked Ray in Baseball America's top 100 prospects for 2022. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jan. 19, 2022|Updated Jan. 19, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG — After graduating last year’s unanimous No. 1 Wander Franco and three others to the majors, the Rays have five more prospects among Baseball America’s Top 100 for 2022 that was released Wednesday.

Right-handed pitcher Shane Baz, who finished last season in Tampa Bay’s playoff rotation, is the top-ranked Ray at No. 8. He did not make the Top 100 list entering the 2021 season, during which he went 5-4 with a 2.06 ERA between Double- and Triple-A, and 2-0, 2.03 in three regular-season starts for the Rays.

There is a bit of a dropoff after that, as the next highest-ranked Ray is outfielder Josh Lowe, their Durham MVP, at No. 44.

Lowe is followed by infielder-outfielder Vidal Brujan at No. 56, right-hander Taj Bradley at No. 58 and infielder Curtis Mead at 97. Only Brujan, who had a strong season at Triple-A and struggled during his brief time in the majors, was ranked last season, when he was No. 56.

Bradley, a fifth-round pick in 2018 from Georgia’s Redan High, was the highest riser after a 2021 breakout season when he went 12-3 between Class A Charleston and Bowling Green with a minors-leading 1.83 ERA.

Mead, an Australian acquired in a minor trade with the Phillies in November 2019, also played his way onto the list. He hit .321 with 15 homers, 69 RBIs and a .911 OPS between Class A and Triple-A last season before a strong Arizona Fall League showing.

The Rays were one of eight teams to have five players ranked; the Diamondbacks and Pirates each had six.

The 2021 ranked Rays after Franco were outfielder Randy Arozarena, No. 17; right-hander Luis Patino, No. 23; Brujan; and lefty Shane McClanahan, No. 100.

• • •

Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.