Corey Ray is enjoying a breakout season with Double-A Biloxi. Is there reason to temper expectations of the Milwaukee Brewers former first-round draft pick?
Top outfield prospect Corey Ray entered the Milwaukee Brewers organization with high expectations. As the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft, many regarded Ray as the top college hitter in the draft class. His initial performance didn’t back up that claim, however. He produced an OPS south of .700 in his first two seasons, though he did swipe 33 bases.
2018 may be a breakout season for the 23-year-old, but some might argue it’s a deceptive breakout and that we already have a player similar to Ray in the system: Keon Broxton. Are they really that similar? Should we lower our expectations of the Louisville product?
Corey Ray vs. Keon Broxton: Fielding
Let’s look at the obvious similarity between these two players: they have excellent defensive skills. Ray possesses an average arm, but he utilizes stellar speed to cover ground in the outfield.
Broxton has a similar profile, primarily using his speed to patrol center field and make highlight reel catches for the Milwaukee Brewers. The former Diamondbacks and Pirates prospect was actually a shortstop in college, so he also brings tons of athleticism to the table. Needless to say, their defensive profiles are pretty similar. However, in this case, that is great news.
Corey Ray vs. Keon Broxton: Hitting
In order to fairly compare these two athletes, we’ll only look at their minor-league stats through their age-23 season. As mentioned earlier, Ray struggled at the plate early in his career but has broke out in 2018. Halfway through the season with Double-A, he has tallied 17 homers, 53 RBI, 60 runs scored and 28 stolen bases. This helped him produce a .251/.344/.486 slash line in 93 first-half games. His strikeout rate still sits at a lofty 27.3 percent, but his excellent 11.4 percent walk rate helps make up for it.
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For Broxton, he enjoyed a bit more success early on. He produced an OPS above .700 in three of his first four seasons and had over 20 steals in each full season during that span. His first taste of Double-A didn’t treat him kindly though, as his OPS plummeted to .655 and he swiped a mere five bases.
Additionally, Broxton’s strikeout and walk rates were a bit more extreme than Ray’s. The young version of Broxton routinely struck out over 30 percent of the time due to an inability to hit offspeed pitches. He walked a high clip to make up for it as well, but he wasn’t as good or consistent in that category as Ray.
Corey Ray vs. Keon Broxton: Pedigree
Here is where the two sides find their biggest differences. It’s easy to look at stats and say that these two are pretty similar players. Despite this, Ray has a far better baseball pedigree than Broxton. Don’t get me wrong, Broxton is an outstanding athlete. He actually received a scholarship to attend Florida Atlantic University as a wide receiver on the football team. Nonetheless, he simply isn’t as polished of a player as Ray is.
Ray was a top-tier college outfielder for multiple years at a division one school. Sure, Broxton’s tools landed him a third-round draft selection, but Ray’s pedigree put him in the top five overall. When it comes to this category, Ray is hands down the winner.
Corey Ray vs. Keon Broxton: The Verdict
This brings us back to the original question: Is Corey Ray just a copy of Keon Broxton? To put it concisely, no he is not. Some of their stats may correlate, but Ray simply has a better baseball pedigree than Broxton. He does the same things Keon can do, but better.
Things can change because of injuries, trades or changes in management, but Corey Ray appears to be destined for greater things than it seems like Keon Broxton will accomplish with his career in professional baseball.