ST. PETERSBURG — After graduating last year’s unanimous No. 1 Wander Franco and three others to the majors, the Rays have five more prospects among Baseball America’s Top 100 for 2022 that was released Wednesday.
Right-handed pitcher Shane Baz, who finished last season in Tampa Bay’s playoff rotation, is the top-ranked Ray at No. 8. He did not make the Top 100 list entering the 2021 season, during which he went 5-4 with a 2.06 ERA between Double- and Triple-A, and 2-0, 2.03 in three regular-season starts for the Rays.
There is a bit of a dropoff after that, as the next highest-ranked Ray is outfielder Josh Lowe, their Durham MVP, at No. 44.
Lowe is followed by infielder-outfielder Vidal Brujan at No. 56, right-hander Taj Bradley at No. 58 and infielder Curtis Mead at 97. Only Brujan, who had a strong season at Triple-A and struggled during his brief time in the majors, was ranked last season, when he was No. 56.
Bradley, a fifth-round pick in 2018 from Georgia’s Redan High, was the highest riser after a 2021 breakout season when he went 12-3 between Class A Charleston and Bowling Green with a minors-leading 1.83 ERA.
Mead, an Australian acquired in a minor trade with the Phillies in November 2019, also played his way onto the list. He hit .321 with 15 homers, 69 RBIs and a .911 OPS between Class A and Triple-A last season before a…