Patience is a virtue. That’s especially true for Corey Ray, one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospects. In 2013, Ray was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 33rd round of the First-Year Player Draft. Instead of signing, Ray committed to the University of Louisville and three years later, he was taken 5th overall by the Brewers, and was considered to be the best all around hitter in the draft by most scouts. Since signing with the Brewers, Ray struggled to put up numbers and to stay healthy. He only played in 60 games in 2016, and hit just five home runs while slashing .239/.307/.370. It was an underwhelming debut into professional baseball, but Ray remained the organization’s second ranked prospect, and the 30th best minor leaguer according to mlb.com (as of March 2017). Ray has recently been cleared to return to play after recovering from meniscus surgery over the offseason. His health will undoubtedly be on the radar during the upcoming season.
To find Ray’s impressive stats, all you would have to do is look up his numbers while playing for the Louisville Cardinals. Over three seasons, Ray played in 172 games, crushed 27 home runs, drove in 133 runs, stole 82 bases, and put up a spectacular slashline of .318/.392/.536. Those three grueling years in college are what turned Ray into a coveted talent from just another late round outfielder.
Fortunately for the team, but unfortunately for Ray, the Brewers are loaded with outfielders. Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, and Domingo Santana all have their starting spots more or less locked down. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Scooter Gennett, and Hernan Perez are all viable fourth outfielders. Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips appear to just be one or two steps away from getting to the bigs. Ray definitely has some work to do for himself, but there seems to be a plethora of players ahead of him in line. Despite his tangible and intangible gifts, don’t expect to see Ray in the majors this season.
What Ray can be: Consistently Productive
It’s probably still too early to make an accurate projection on Ray’s future, but based on what he’s done in the minors, he still holds all the potential in the world. Could he be the next Mike Trout? Maybe. Is he more likely to be an occasional All-Star who puts up consistent numbers? Absolutely. His professional career is still in the aether of infancy. He has been praised by scouts, but hasn’t quite performed to expectations yet. From what we have seen in his past, however, I would guess that Ray will have a long, successful career (barring injuries, of course).
Player comparison: Carlos Gonzalez
For years, Carlos Gonzalez has raked in Colorado, but has seemingly managed to stay out of the “best in the game” conversations. Gonzalez is a player that could bat third or fourth in any lineup, and any general manager would be crazy to pass on him. He doesn’t carry the star power that Trout, Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, or Yoenis Cespedes do, but he’s consistently among the league’s leaders in home runs and batting average. He’s also been great defensively, which is where Ray might be most underrated; he committed just three errors last year.
2017 stat projections (minors): 98 G, 14 HR, 53 RBI, .276/.327/.442