Farm Report

Corey Ray (#2 Prospect): Analyzing ‘The Other’ MVP’s Rise

Corey Ray once stole home in the bottom of the ninth to win a game while playing at Louisville. A walk-off steal. It is that kind of athleticism that has always come easy to Ray. Whether it was playing as a youth in Chicago or dominating The Southern League last year, he has always been a baller. Get to know your “other MVP” with this high-yield, graphic heavy break down.


Corey Ray

Recently, the name Corey Ray has been heard again and again in trade rumors. While most of them are probably just white noise, there is power in numbers (pun intended). Clearly, this asset has earned the attention he is getting after winning MVP last year. BREW MATHs will dig in to all areas of his game and exhaust every stat at our finger tips… without further ado, let’s meet The Brewers #2 rated prospect.

PLATE PRODUCTION

Before looking at the stats we should offer a bit of context… Ray was drafted fifth overall in the 2016 Draft. He bypassed rookie ball entirely and was thrust into A+ Ball which is rather unprecedented. Since then, he has quickly risen the ranks to AA Biloxi. It reflects his prodigal talent and how aggressive The Brewers are in pushing their prospects.

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2018 Slash (AA): .239 / .323 / .477 (.801 OPS)
  • It is difficult NOT to immediately notice the massive jump in Ray’s plate production last year.
    • An on-base percentage (OBP) of 0.323 is respectable while…
    • A weighted on-base average (wOBA) of 0.356 starts to inch into elite territory.
  • The dataset shown above is over 1,357 plate appearances (254 -> 503 -> 600) – Big sample size!
    • Thus, his career BABIP of 0.316 tells us what we are seeing is real. More specifically, his progress is a byproduct of ‘reproducible skill sets’ (i.e. talent) as opposed to luck or aberration.
  • Any way we cut it, it looks like Ray is figuring things out at the plate… and in a big way

POWER

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  • While the numbers here do not jump as much as we saw in the graph above, the same trend persists… he is consistently improving
    • The power numbers also enlighten us as to how a player with a 0.239 batting average wins MVP
    • We see his isolated power (ISO) is also 0.239 which implies he hits for great power. The fact he hit 27HRs last year validates that.
  • On The Brewers, only Yelich and Aguilar had higher ISOs last year (keeping in mind they did face MLB pitching).
Minor League Baseball: Southern League-All Star Game

RATE STATS

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  • The bad news: Ray strikes out at a really high rate (29.3%)
    • This is what currently limits his progress in terms of hitting for average
    • Only six players in the entire MLB struck out at a higher rate in 2018:
      • Chris Davis (36.8%), Joey Gallo (35.9%), Yoan Moncada (33.4%), Teoscar Hernandez (31.2%), Giancarlo Stanton (29.9%), Chris Taylor (29.5%)
  • The good news: Ray walks at an above average rate (10%)
    • This is what helps to salvage his OBP that was a respectable 0.323 last year

SPEED

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  • This is where things start to get interesting… while Ray has been shaping up to be a classic power hitter, we also see he is elite in terms of speed. A rating of 8.0 is pretty impressive…
    • Deion Sanders lifetime speed score was 8.3 so you know how truly fast we are talking here.
  • Even better, his speed translates to production on the base paths.
    • Specifically, his SB% of 84.1% last year means that if he is given the green light, consider the base stolen.
      • The dashed line is placed at 70% or the line that MLB teams need to see you above to let you steal bases.
    • A quick look at the active MLB SB% leaders validates the notion that Ray has wheels (you might recognize a couple of guys on the list):
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corey_ray_michaelwadegetty

FIELDING

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Ray has been known to proclaim himself as a center fielder and likes to play there best. While he does start there the majority of the time, he also sees time in left and right. Regardless of where he plays, his speed and glove combine to make him a top-notch defender. His calculated career range factor for all outfield positions is a 2.47 which puts him in pretty good company:

INTERPRETATIONs / CONCLUSIONs

  • Corey Ray is a 5 Tool Player whose greatest strengths are his speed and power. His only consistent weakness is his propensity to strike out
  • Ray has been around baseball just about every minute of his life; he is a baller. Regardless of the level he has played, he has excelled and stood out amongst his peers.
  • Ray’s stats make him appear to be a classic power hitter. One who is getting better in a progressive fashion. He is learning to not only hit the ball harder, but put more of them into the air. This trend fares well for the young slugger.
  • While his K% has been consistently high, there also has been a consistent rise in his BB% (7.9% -> 9.5% -> 10%)
    • This gives Brewers Fans hope since it implies his plate discipline is evolving. The ability to self-reflect and adapt are vital to replicating & sustaining success at the MLB level… He seems to get it.
  • Ray’s overall athleticism helps to make him an elite defender and on the base paths
    • Some things can be taught, some things can not. Corey Ray’s makeup is clearly that of an athlete.
    • His Speed rating and range factor tell the same story… this guy can really fly.
  • If The Brewers are lucky enough to keep him on their roster during this ‘win now’ era, we should expect to see him after The All Star break or next year.
    • Ideally, he keeps progressing and helps to fill the void Ryan Braun theoretically leaves.
  • At this point it looks like a win-win situation for Brewers Fans:
    • If he continues to develop within the organization, Milwaukee has a high-quality, 5-tool athlete to roam their outfield for years to come
    • Or he could be the blue chip talent necessary to deal in order to acquire the star that puts Milwaukee ‘over the top.’
  • The Brewers have the second highest paid outfield in The Major Leagues.
    • Ray will not have many opportunities at The Big League level
    • Thus, the reason he is being mentioned so often in trade talks is more about supply/demand and less about talent/projection.
      • After winning The Southern League MVP in 2018, other teams have taken notice. Barring setbacks, he will be a Major League commodity for years to come.
        • Especially if he builds upon his massive improvements in 2018.
  • With as rapidly as Corey Ray has been progressing, he will soon be playing in a Big League Ball Park near you (hopefully one with a retractable roof).

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