Top pitching prospects Wade Davis, Jacob McGee and David Price, the first overall selection in June's draft, and position players Desmond Jennings, one of the fastest players in the minor leagues, and Ryan Royster highlight a talented group of elite prospects selected.
Between Single-A Vero Beach and Double-A Montgomery, Davis is a combined 10-3 with a 2.50 ERA this summer. The lanky, 21-year-old right-hander, has held minor league opponents to a .223 batting average, establishing himself as one of the premiere starting pitchers in the Southern League.
McGee, recently promoted to Montgomery as well, has been equally impressive throughout the past three months. The hard-throwing lefty, consistently clocked in the mid-90s, is 3-2 with 30 strikeouts in five starts since being called up to the Biscuits. The 20-year-old has shown the ability to be dominant at times, outmatching young hitters with one of the most impressive fastballs in all of Minor League Baseball.
Price finished his final collegiate season 11-1. (Associated Press)
Price, who earned the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player after an All-American junior season at Vanderbilt University, was more than impressive in several workouts with the Columbus Catfish at the end of the summer. He recently returned to Vanderbilt to begin the fall semester of his senior year. But the lefty, who is considered to be one of the very best collegiate pitchers in the past decade, made a strong impression during his brief stint with the Catfish, showcasing his blazing fastball and a plus, big-league ready change-up during multiple bullpen sessions. He finished his final collegiate season 11-1 with a 2.63 ERA, while leading the nation with 194 strikeouts.
Desmond Jennings, the Rays' April Minor League Player of the Month. (milb.com)
Jennings, a former football recruit at the University of Alabama, is getting ready to wrap up his finest season since opting to focus solely on baseball when Tampa Bay drafted the speedy outfielder in the 10th round in June of 2006. The 20-year-old, who is batting .315 with a .400 on base percentage (to go along with nine home runs and an .866 OPS), is leading all minor leaguers in the Rays' organization with a SAL-leading 45 stolen bases, too. Royster is enjoying a prolific offensive season, turning into one of the most feared hitters in Single-A. The Oregon native, a promising left field prospect, has put up staggering statistics – .329 batting average, 30 homers, 98 RBIs – in 474 at bats for the Catfish.
James Houser, currently serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for an unnamed performance-enhancing drug, will be allowed to participate in the workouts. Houser was 5-4 with a 3.65 earned run average in 20 starts for Montgomery before being suspended, and is expected to be added to the Tampa Bay 40-man roster this winter.
Heath Rollins is leading the South Atlantic League with 17 wins. (milb.com)
Also worth mentioning, Heath Rollins, the minor leagues' first 17-game winner, will not pitch in the Instructional League this fall. Pitching for Single-A Columbus of the South Atlantic League, Rollins is 17-4 with 2.54 ERA in 27 games started.
Here is the full roster.
Infielders: Cody Cipriano, Robi Estrada, Reid Fronk, J.T. Hall, Omar Luna, Shawn O'Malley, Michael Ross, Henry Wrigley
Outfielders: Dustin Biell, Desmond Jennings, David Jones, Sergio Pedroza, Justin Reynolds, Ryan Royster, Emeel Salem
Pitchers: Kyle Ayers, Nick Barnese, Josh Butler, Kevin Chavez, Alex Cobb, Joseph Cruz, Wade Davis, Greg Dupas, Tyree Hayes, Jeremy Hellickson, James Houser, Will Kline, Chris Luck, Jake McGee, Matt Moore, David Price, Michael Southern, Chuck Tiffany, Matt Walker
Please check back frequently for the latest series. The first series will be catchers, expected to be published by the end of the first week of September.
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