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Caminero, Williams display Rays' infield depth

Club's top two prospects headline 2023 Organization All-Stars
December 21, 2023

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Tampa Bay Rays. 2023 organization summary: Triple-A Durham: 88-62

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Tampa Bay Rays.

2023 organization summary:
Triple-A Durham: 88-62
Double-A Montgomery: 80-58
High-A Bowling Green: 69-57
Single-A Charleston: 66-65 (Carolina League champions)
DSL Rays 33-22
DSL Tampa Bay 24-31
FCL Rays 25-29
Overall record: 385-324 (4th among MLB organizations)
Midseason Farm System Rankings: 7

Rays 2023 Organization All-Stars

C: Dominic Keegan (TB No. 9)
A/A+: .287/.386/.466, 106 G, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 60 R, 59 BB, 2 SB
The 2022 fourth-rounder made his impact felt in a number of ways while putting his first full pro season in the books. Keegan’s background as a first baseman and left fielder provides the mobility and overall athleticism rare for backstops. While he is still learning how to produce defensively, the Vanderbilt product shows great promise in the position. “He’s a very quiet leader,” Rays director of Minor League operations George Pappas said of the catcher. “It’s an upward arrow.”

1B: Xavier Isaac (TB No. 4/MLB No. 94)
A/A+: .285/.395/.521, 102 G, 19 HR, 72 RBI, 71 R, 64 BB, 12 SB
Isaac leans on his raw power, but not just for home runs -- 20 of his 43 extra-base hits were doubles. This ability and his knack for hitting balls the other way were just a couple of the reasons the 2022 first-rounder landed on the Carolina League's end-of-season All-Star team in his first complete pro season. “Our group was really impressed with just how advanced the blend of play, discipline, contact and power is,” Pappas said. “He’s an extremely driven worker and has taken a lot of pride in his defense.”

2B: Curtis Mead (TB No. 3/MLB No. 34)
AAA: .287/.377/.502, 65 G, 9 HR, 49 RBI, 41 R, 36 BB, 4 SB
A wrist fracture caused by a hit by pitch sidelined Mead for two months, but that didn’t keep the Aussie from coming back in a big way. He slashed .355/.460/.538 after his return to Durham, a big reason for his callup to The Show in August. An upright stance gives him poise at the plate -- he doesn’t tend to expand the strike zone or whiff at bad pitches.

3B: Junior Caminero (TB No. 1/MLB No. 6)
A+/AA: .324/.384/.591, 117 G, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 85 R, 42 BB, 5 SB
One of the most dynamic players this Minor League season, Caminero proved to be a big-time slugger without sacrificing the importance of getting on base. With his accomplishments in Bowling Green and Montgomery -- he was one of just two teenagers at Double-A -- the Dominican star was called up to Tampa during the final stretch of the regular season. The accolades just kept coming for Caminero, winning the Breakout Player of the Year award at the inaugural MiLB Awards Show as well as the Southern League’s MVP and Top MLB Prospect honors.

SS: Carson Williams (TB No. 2/MLB No. 19)
A+/AA/AAA: .257/.356/.497, 115 G, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 76 R, 59 BB, 20 SB
The 2021 first-rounder has 60-grade power and fielding tools to go along with a 65-grade arm. “Some of our staff have said that he’s got the best all-around tools in this organization,” Pappas said. “He’s shown some real maturation … but you still take all those intangibles.” Spending most of the season at High-A, Williams had a stint in Durham in August before ending the season at Montgomery. In six Double-A games, Williams posted a 1.062 OPS on 11 total bases.

OF: Chandler Simpson (TB No. 20)
A/A+: .293/.373/.345, 115 G, 31 RBI, 88 R, 54 BB, 94 SB
Simpson’s 80-grade speed enabled him to race to 94 steals on the year, tied with No. 4 Cardinals prospect Victor Scott II for the most in the Minors in 2023 and third all-time. The speedster out of Georgia Tech sports a contact-driven bat, allowing him to be a catalyst on the basepaths. “He spent quite a bit of time with our strength and conditioning group and our nutrition group [and it] helped him offensively,” Pappas said. “We just saw the quality of contact improve.”

OF: Dru Baker
A+/AA: .302/.384/.472, 120 G, 14 HR, 54 RBI, 82 R, 47 BB, 49 SB
Another outfielder who relies on his quick feet, Baker racked up 38 steals for Bowling Green, third-most in the South Atlantic League. “He’s really intelligent and knows how to pick his spots to be able to steal bases,” Pappas said of the Sally League end-of-season All-Star. The 23-year-old also used his elite speed on defense, where he saw time at all three outfield positions.

OF: Ruben Cardenas
AAA: .269/.358/.475, 132 G, 22 HR, 82 RBI, 82 R, 62 BB, 8 SB
Spending the whole season in Triple-A, the righty made a big impact on the scoreboard. “He’s been a part of a group in Durham now for a bit who’s been right there,” Pappas said. “[He has] big power: 25+ home runs a year. That’s definitely one of the most intriguing aspects of his game.” He ranked in the top five organizationally in RBIs, runs and extra-base hits (55) with the ability to spray the ball around the field.

RHP: Trevor Martin (TB No. 17)
A: 10-5, 3.52 ERA, 110 IP, 131 K, 41 BB, .227 BAA, 1.21 WHIP
Martin relies upon his fastball, which clocks in from 90-97 mph despite its high spin rate. Pappas described the 23-year-old, who is transitioning from the bullpen to the starting rotation, as a “pitcher who kind of lulls you to sleep.” Martin refined his control as well, putting together 10.72 strikeouts per nine innings and the lowest ERA (3.52) in the system this season.

LHP: Mason Montgomery (TB No. 7)
AA/AAA: 7-4, 3.98 ERA, 124 1/3 IP, 144 K, 60 BB, .225 BAA, 1.33 WHIP
The 2021 sixth-rounder has had a meteoric rise through the system, capping his second full pro season at Triple-A. Montgomery has some remarkable control, particularly for a hurler with a fastball that reaches the high 90s. “He lives at the top of the zone -- the carry is real and can challenge hitters,” Pappas said. While Montgomery's mid-80s changeup is arguably his best breaking pitch, he works in a solid slider as well.

RP: Keyshawn Askew
A+/AA: 9-6, 3.99 ERA, 97 IP, 130 K, 46 BB, .206 BAA, 1.23 WHIP
Askew only started nine of his 35 appearances this season but made his way onto the South Atlantic League All-Star roster at the end of a season as a starter. In those outings, the southpaw held hitters to a .230 average. The Clemson product was moved to the bullpen full time in June and really started to excel, notching five saves and a pair of holds.

Melanie Heller is a contributor for