The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the deepest farm systems in the majors leagues, a depth they constantly are drawing from in order to keep their major league team competitive. So while the Rays may not get that involved in offseason bidding for free agents, Rays fans have something else to look forward to each year: the preseason prospect rankings!
Prospect rankings certainly aren't as sexy as going after Albert Pujols, but hey, this is how the Rays do business. As long as they continue to win with this strategy, it's difficult to fault them.
Baseball America is among the best in the business at prospect analysis and coverage, so when they speak, it's important to listen. They released their Top 10 prospect list for the Rays this morning, and there aren't too many surprises:
*Green represents that the player rose in the rankings from the previous year.
Matt Moore was the easy, consensus #1 pick, as he dominated Triple-A last season and then proceeded to tear through the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rangers in September and October. The Rays recently signed him to a contract extension that could keep him in Tampa Bay for up to eight seasons (and pay him as much as $40 million), and he's expected to start the season in the Rays' rotation.
Also, former #1 draft pick Tim Beckham has worked his way back into the Rays top 10 list. He fell all the way down to #15 last season, but he rose back up to #7 after an impressive 2011 season. While still a mere 21-years-old, he hit well in Double-A (.275/.339/.395), and then managed to transition well to Triple-A at the end of the season. He still needs to work on cutting down on his strikeouts, but he's flashed some power potential (5 HRs in 100 plate appearances) and improved his defense to boot.
To join in the discussion about these rankings -- yeah, I'm talking to you, prospect nerds -- drop by SB Nation's site on the Rays, DRaysBay.