Up next in our 2022 Dynasty Baseball Prospects Spotlight series we take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays.
As of the time that I am writing this article, MLB has announced the cancellation of the first two series of the MLB regular season. It is truly a bummer, as this certainly reduces the enthusiasm of fans across the country, including myself.
One thing that is not greatly affected by the MLB Lockout is Minor League Baseball. Now, more than ever, it is important to support Minor League Players. Their season will start as usual - minus any 40 Man roster players - on April 5th.
A fun prospect-related exercise could be to talk about some particularly "under-the-radar" names to look out for when the MiLB season begins. In this article, I will discuss some lesser-known, but still very exciting, Tampa Bay Rays prospects.
The Rays have arguably the deepest farm system in all of baseball. We all know players like Shane Baz, Josh Lowe, and Vidal Brujan at the top of the system. We all likely know players like Taj Bradley, Ian Seymour, and Curtis Mead too. They are all incredibly talented, and I could name another ten Rays prospects who are well-known in deep dynasty baseball circles. But for this article, I want to shine a light on a few Rays prospects who are not yet "mainstream", but whom I expect will be soon.
2022 Dynasty Baseball Tampa Bay Rays Prospects Spotlight
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Colby White, Right-Handed Pitcher
Colby White was beyond elite in 2021. He was completely unhittable, and simply the best relief pitcher in all of Minor League Baseball.
Cole Mitchem of DRaysBay wrote a great article on the relief phenom that I encourage you to read. One stat in particular that he included is unreal: among 743 MiLB pitchers who threw at least 60 IP in 2021, White was first in ERA, WHIP, FIP, BAA, K%, and K-BB%. You almost have to do a double-take when you read that.
What is equally impressive is that White pitched across four levels in 2021. He began the season in Low-A Charleston and finished the season in Triple-A Durham, where he was just as dominant.
I realize that most dynasty baseball managers are not crazy about relief pitching prospects, but White is no average relief pitcher. Since being drafted in the sixth round in 2019, he possesses a 14.66 K/9, 1.76 ERA, and 0.796 WHIP in 81.2 IP. I don't like to use the phrase "video game numbers" often, but this is the perfect instance to say it.
White's stats have been absurd throughout his career so far, and the 23-year-old figures to be a key part of the Rays' Major League bullpen whenever the season gets underway. Plus, he is not on the 40 Man roster yet, so he can hone his craft in Triple-A in spite of the MLB Lockout continuing.
Junior Caminero, Third Baseman
Junior Caminero absolutely wreaked havoc on the DSL in 2021, his pro debut season. In 171 PA, he blasted nine home runs, posted a .380 OBP, and a 145 wRC+. His 11.7 BB% and 16.4 K% are promising too.
In November 2021, the Cleveland Guardians traded Caminero to the Rays in exchange for Tobias Myers. This seems like a deal that both teams will benefit from in the future. I have high hopes for Myers, but the Rays would have needed to add him to the 40 Man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, so it is understandable to trade him for a 17-year-old with considerable upside.
Caminero has received some love this off-season from prospects sites, but I expect him to be an even more well-known name in prospect circles this time next year. I would recommend acquiring him in your dynasty leagues before he breaks out in his stateside debut.
Willy Vasquez, Shortstop
Willy Vasquez debuted in 2019, and put up an .824 OPS in 11 games in the DSL. After missing 2020 due to the pandemic, Vasquez came back hot in 2021. In a 40-game stint, earning FCL Rays MVP honors, as he led the team in hits (40), RBI (31), and total bases (60).
His on-base skills were exceptional again, as he put up a .382 OBP. He also raised his walk rate from 2.2% in 2019 to 11.6% in 2021. The 2.2 BB% in 2019 is not a major red flag either, considering he paired it with an 8.7 K% and .364 AVG. The key for Vasquez will be how much power he can tap into. He hit zero home runs in 2019, and just two in 2021.
He has room to grow into more power, and his hit tool should help him along the way. Vasquez is definitely a name to monitor as he likely will begin the season in Charleston.
Diego Infante, Outfielder
I went to a Charleston RiverDogs game in July 2021, and the players I was looking forward to watching the most were Heriberto Hernandez, Nick Schnell, and Alika Williams. And while those three certainly did not disappoint, I came away most impressed with a seemingly unknown prospect: Diego Infante.
When you dig into the stats, it is not surprising that Infante left a strong impression on me. In his first two professional seasons, 2017 and 2018, he was actually a below-average hitter in the DSL. Once he debuted stateside, however, he broke out. In 2019, he hit 12 home runs and had a 129 wRC+ for the Princeton Rays, in the formerly Appalachian Rookie League.
Then in 2021, Infante broke out even further, as in 438 PA in Low-A, Infante put up a .296/.393/.507 slashline, hit 16 home runs, stole 20 bases, and had a 141 wRC+. He also had a 12.8 BB% and 26.0 K%. He was 21-years-old during this season, so he was not much older than the competition either.
I am struggling to understand why Infante is not being hyped like a prospect who just put up these impressive stats. I do realize he is in the crowded Rays system (which is part of the reason I am writing this article to highlight players like him), but I feel like he should still be getting more love.
If he hits in the upper levels of the minor leagues like he did in Low-A, he is gonna be a popular prospect. I would add him in your dynasty leagues as soon as possible.
Brett Wisely, Second Baseman
If I had to pick the second most impressive hitting prospect I saw for Charleston behind Infante, it would either be Heriberto Hernandez or Brett Wisely. Man, that Charleston team was loaded.
Anyway, after being drafted in the 15th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by Tampa Bay, Wisely debuted for the Princeton Rays. He put up solid stats, as he hit 5 home runs and a 111 wRC+. Then we get to 2021, where his stats were just wild. In 306 PA in Low-A, he put up a .292/.357/.467 slashline, hit 11 home runs, stole 28 bases, and had a 123 wRC+. Plus, he had a 9.2 BB% and 22.5 K%.
Those are crazy good stats, right? Well, do you want to hear something crazier? After being promoted to High-A, in 134 PA, he put up a .321/.418/.589 slashline, hit eight home runs, stole three bases, had a 164 wRC+, a 14.9 BB% and a 21.6 K%. You are reading that correctly - after putting up insanely good stats in Low-A, Wisely was promoted to a tougher level, where he then somehow improved in every single stat category.
Like I said earlier, "video game numbers." I believe Wisely's 2021 performance was legitimate, and he will find more success this season. Hop on the Brett Wisely hype train before it leaves the station when he debuts in Double-A
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