Amongst the crowded potential outfield for the Milwaukee Brewers is 2016 first round pick Corey Ray.
The 2017 numbers for Ray are not exactly where the organization wants them to be. As the number two prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers, and 66th for the league, there are some lofty expectations. However, fear not. As obvious as it is to say, there is no need to worry about Corey Ray.
Conventional wisdom says that there is little worry to go along with a prospect touted so highly. But it stretches farther than a general statement. Rankings are a very helpful tool, but they can be wrong sometimes. Variable factors can take over that simply can’t be predicted. For example, the former number one prospect for the Brewers, Tyrone Taylor.
A quick bat goes a long way. That is what Ray has. With a 5’11” and 185 pound frame, his size isn’t typical for his power grade. He by no means will project to hit 450 foot bombs, but he has the potential to develop into a 20 homer a year guy. The ability to not only barrel a ball up, but to do it with quick hands to the baseball is a huge plus.
The main tool, however, is his speed. This grades out to be a 60 according to MLB Pipeline. Coupling that speed with the power breeds a very interesting and lucrative potential outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers.
But none of that truly answers the question of why a .240 batting average from a top prospect isn’t cause for worry. The main reason why there is little reason to question him is that Ray is still finding his bat. His start to 2017 got delayed due to a torn left meniscus. Starting a year with an injury is tough to come back from.
As the season progressed, things got a little better. If you take out his .193 in July, he improved. He had a .290 batting average in May before dropping in June and dropping farther in July. He ended the year with a .253 batting average in August. A standout number however is his .305 batting average with runners in scoring position.
An even more encouraging number is his BABIP, which sits at .346. When Ray gets a bat on a ball, he is getting results. So, if the young player can cut down on his 146 strikeouts he will see more results. But those strikeouts are a huge issue. He is averaging more than one a game, so that clearly needs to come down.
If the strikeouts becomeless frequent the other numbers will shoot up. That type of increase would be true of any player who doesn’t strikeout as much, but for a player who is reaching base upon contact as much as Ray is, it will be an even bigger increase.
He will have ample time to show off his hitting prowess against the top minor league talent as a part of the Arizona Fall League. It isn’t a make or break opportunity, but it could be a serious boost for him should he perform to his capability.
Yes, it seems obvious to not worry about a number two prospect who had a down year. But the reasoning reaches far beyond his ranking as a prospect. Ray is an exceptional talent and he will put it all together. His path got derailed by injury and his strikeout rate is alarming. But the potential is undeniable. There will be a time when it all comes together. And when it does, look out.