Tampa Bay Rays Sleepers - Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell & Brendan McKay Could All Be Breakouts

A team-specific fantasy breakdown of the sleepers from the Tampa Bay Rays. Including write-ups on why Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell & Brendan McKay could have big seasons
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Sleeper: SS Willy Adames

The Rays desperately need someone to step up to hit first or second in the batting order. Adames isn’t quite ready to make a move to this situation based on his weak RBI rate (10) and a high strikeout rate (26.2). Over his first 907 plate appearances in the majors, his walk rate (8.5) falls into a neutral area. Adames had a tough time vs. lefties (.181 with eight HRs and 15 RBI over 182 at-bats). He played better over the final two months (.289 with seven HRs and 20 RBI over 166 at-bats). His contact batting average (.357) came in lower than expected with growth in his average hit rate (1.644). Adames does hit a low number of fly balls (30.3 percent) while holding value in his HR/FB rate (17.5). In 2019, he played the best when hitting ninth in the batting order (.329 with 11 HRs and 27 RBI over 161 at-bats). Breakout player if he does hit higher in the batting order.

Deep Sleeper: SP Brent Honeywell

Over four seasons in the minors, Honeywell went 31-19 with a 2.88 ERA and 458 Ks in 416.0 innings. His command is excellent (2.0 walk rate) with an improving strikeout rate (9.9 in his career - 11.3 in 2017). Honeywell should have been in the majors in 2018. He had 24 starts at AAA (12-8 with a 3.64 ERA and 152 Ks over 123.2 innings) in 2017. He missed all the previous two seasons with the right elbow injury (TJ surgery) and a setback in 2019 that required a second surgery last June. The Rays selected him in the second round in the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft. Honeywell has excellent control of his two and four-seam fastballs, which ranges from the mid to upper 90s. His changeup has a chance to be a plus pitch. His best pitch is a screwball, while his curveball is still a work in progress. If Tampa needs another arm to start, Honeywell should fly under the radar while still needing to prove his right arm is healthy.

Breakout: SP Brendan McKay

After drafting McKay with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 June Amateur Draft, he blistered his way through AA and AAA (6-0 with 1.10 ERA and 102 Ks over 73.2 innings). Unfortunately, his arm didn’t play as well once he reached the majors (5.14 ERA). McKay had strength in his strikeout rate (10.3) and walk rate (2.9) in Tampa, but he was easier to hit (.268 BAA) with too many home runs allowed (1.5 per nine). His average fastball came in at 94.0 in the majors while featuring a curveball (.294 BAA), cutter (.258 BAA), and changeup (.167 BAA). McKay was a two-way player in the minors, but his bat (.214 with 15 HRs and 80 RBI over 462 at-bats) is trailing his arm (12-2 with a 1.78 ERA and 226 Ks over 172 innings). Breakout type arm, but he did have a slight left shoulder issue in early March. The expanded rosters and a chance of using a six-man rotation bodes well for McKay to open up 2020 in the majors.

Breakout: RP Nick Anderson

Anderson was a late-bloomer who worked his way through the minors as a semi-closer. His climb to the big leagues started in 2015 in the Independent League (0.65 ERA and 35 Ks over 27.2 innings). Over four seasons in the minors, he posted a 2.25 ERA and 232 strikeouts over 183.2 innings while converting 32 saves.

After pitching well in April for Miami (2.08 ERA with two walks and 27 Ks over 13 innings), Anderson battled some confidence issues over his next 27 games (5.68 ERA). Tampa saw enough in his arm to make a move for him at the trade deadline in late July.

After the All-Star break, his stuff looked closer-worthy (1.69 ERA and 51 Ks over 26.2 innings). Anderson had more of an advantage against righties (.183 BAA) than lefties (.250 BAA). His AFB (96.4) plays well in velocity, but batters did hit .265 against it (.224 after the All-Star break). He gets betters out with a plus slider (.137 BAA). His ADP (209) has him priced as a closing option for fantasy teams.

There is a lot to like here, and Tampa cleared the ninth inning for him to close in 2020 if Anderson can handle the job.

Breakout Ace: SP Tyler Glasnow

It took Glasnow multiple years to figure out how to get major league batters out. He dominated over seven years in the minors (45-21 with a 2.01 ERA and 788 Ks over 595.2 innings) with no problems at AAA (19-6 with a 1.93 ERA and 324 Ks over 27.1 innings).

From 2016 to 2018, over 67 games in the majors, Glasnow went 4-16 with 216 strikeouts over 197 innings. His failure came from a massive walk rate (5.0) and risk in home runs allowed (1.4 per nine).

In 2019, he figured out how to throw more strikes (walk rate – 2.1), but his first-pitch rate (57.8) remains a liability. Glasnow did throw the most overall strikes (64.9 percent) of his major league career. Over his first seven starts, he went 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 46 strikeouts over 43 innings with only seven walks.

After a down outing on May 10th (three runs and seven baserunners over 5.1 innings with nine Ks), Tampa lost him for four months with a right forearm issue. In four games in September, Glasnow had a 1.46 ERA over 12.1 innings with five walks and 21 Ks, but he did struggle in the playoffs (six runs and 122 baserunners over seven innings with eight Ks).

His AFB (97.6) is electric while being tough to hit in last year (.200 BAA). Both his curveball (.198 BAA) and changeup (.125 BAA) played well. Glasnow is gaining momentum for sure with a reasonable price on draft day (ADP – 61) if his arm issue doesn’t develop into an elbow injury.

The shortened season gives Glasnow a chance to match the top arm in baseball in innings while removing some of his injury downside. Worth the fight while still being undervalued on draft day.

READ MORE: 2020 Tampa Bay Rays Team Preview