Projecting the Top Players to Watch in Montgomery (AA – Tampa Bay)

Many Minor League baseball fans enjoy going out to support their local MiLB teams even though they may not necessarily have a rooting interest in that team’s parent club. That was the inspiration for this list. This will not only be a projection of who some of the best pitchers and position players at several minor league teams will be, but also a projection on where some Major League club’s top prospects will be in 2017.

Today we are focusing on the Tampa Bay Rays AA affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits.

Montgomery Biscuits:

Pitcher to Watch: Diego Castillo

There have been several good pitchers that have come through Montgomery over the past couple of years. I also believe a lot of the guys that Biscuit fans saw in 2016 will be making appearances back in the Southern League in 2017. With that being said, I wanted to give fans of the best mascot in baseball an arm to look forward to that they haven’t seen yet. That arm is RHP Diego Castillo. Castillo has a big fastball, which has no trouble hitting triple digits, accompanied by a good slider. He was promoted mid-season in both 2015 and 2016. With guys like Honeywell, Faria, and Hu more than likely to make their big league debuts in 2017, we will be seeing Castillo get his chance at some higher levels in the minors. One can argue that the numbers have been a little bit shaky, but he usually settles down after a couple of appearances in a new league. Perhaps not getting the attention he deserves simply because he is a reliever, Castillo showcases a majority of the tools that you want from a late-inning guy. He threw just over 60 innings in 48 appearances in 2016, making it clear that he is not a one inning and done kind of pitcher.

Diego Castillo 2016 Stats

Single-A Bowling Green (Pre-Promotion) High-A Port Charlotte (Post-Promotion)
IP 40 20.1
ERA 2.03 4.87
K% 29.8% 15.5%
BB% 6.6% 6.2%
AVG .219 .311
WHIP 1.13 1.67
BABIP .317 .357
FIP 2.27 4.53

Castillo went through a similar slump after his promotion in 2015, but settled in and dominated the Midwest League the year after. The Florida State League is a tough place to pitch, but I expect Castillo to stick to his trend and bounce back in the first half to earn himself a promotion to Double-A.

Diego Castillo 2015 Stats

Single-A SS Hudson Valley(Pre-Promotion) Single-A Bowling Green (Post-Promotion)
IP 23.1 9.1
ERA 2.31 4.82
K% 24.5% 9.8%
BB% 7.1% 9.8%
AVG .209 .222
WHIP 1.11 1.29
BABIP .273 .250
FIP 2.92 4.15

Position Player to Watch: Joe McCarthy

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Rays Prospect Joe McCarthy (Sandy Tambone/milb.com)

Some may see this as a bold prediction considering McCarthy only has a year and a half of pro ball under his belt, but I believe his versatility in the field, athleticism, and ability to get on base will have him moving to the high ranks of the Rays system very quickly. He might not start 2017 at Double-A, although I feel he has earned that right, but I certainly think he will end it there. McCarthy was expected to be a 1st round pick once he was done with his college career, but a back surgery that caused him to miss some time in his final season at Virginia hurt his draft stock. The surgery did not stop the Rays from taking the College World Series champion in the 5th round of the 2015 first year player draft and I think, in the future, it is a pick that will be viewed as a steal.

McCarthy spent 2015 in the New York-Penn League with Hudson Valley where he slashed .277/.362/.337 in 184 at bats. Still shortly removed from back surgery and adjusting to the pro game, McCarthy went homerless in his 49 games with Hudson Valley and the slugging percentage dipped, but he proved that was just a fluke when he posted a big year in 2016. McCarthy really broke out last season when he posted a slash line of .285/.398/.430 between Single-A and High-A. He also proved that the power potential was there with 8 homeruns. Primarily an outfielder, the organization tried him out at first base last year and he did not disappoint. His FPCT of .987 proved that the Rays had a versatile player they could use in all outfield spots as well as at first base.

Solid defense, high contact, outstanding plate discipline, above average speed, and the potential for Major League average power make me very excited to follow Joe McCarthy’s career. I look forward to seeing him in the Southern League very, very soon and hopefully in Tampa not long after that.

I will leave you with my favorite Joe McCarthy stat.

Check out his K% and BB% from all three levels he has seen in the minors.

K% BB%
Single-A Short 10.8 8.5
Single-A 15.5 17.1
Advanced-A 16.0 11.8

Feature Image Courtesy of: sportslogos.net

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