The Rays have proven themselves very capable when it comes to identifying intriguing prospects in trades, often focusing on one or two elite tools. In the case of our next prospect those tools include both speed and versatility.

No.44, INF Luis Jose Rengifo, 20 yrs old

Born: February 26th, 1997 in Naguanagua, Venezuela

Height/Weight: 5’10” 165 lbs Bats/Throws: S/R

Signed: by the Seattle Mariners in 2013 as an international FA for $360,000

Twitter handle: N/A

Baseball America Rankings

  • N/A
  • MLB Pipeline’s #27 as noted in Tweet below
  • Prospect Insider’s #27 Mariners prospect pre-trade

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 37
  • Low: Unranked

Luis Rengifo: Abilities

  • Versatility (2B/SS/3B/LF/ and possibly CF)
  • Emerging power (.128 ISO in 2016, .147 in 2017)
  • Speed (stole career high 34 bases in 2017)
  • Abilities notes: The ISO Rengifo displayed while with the Mariners (.168) was much better than what he showed once traded to Rays (.083) which impacted his overall numbers. Rengifo was caught stealing 17 times, so while he may be fast, there’s a ways to go in learning to steal bases.

Joined the Rays by way of….

  • Trade with the Seattle Mariners as they received INF/OF Luis Rengifo, LHP Anthony Misiewicz and a PTBNL (or cash considerations) for RHP Ryan Garton and C Mike Marjama.

Latest Transaction: assigned to Bowling Green Hot Rods August 7th, 2017.

Note – Although he didn’t make the cut in our top 50 prospects, Misiewicz is one guy to keep an eye on in 2018.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

I see them as tutors. Every day I learn something new from each of them

  • It’s possible that the Rays took note of Rengifo in a series between the M’s LumberKings and Rays’ Bowling Green Hot Rods in mid-July when Rengifo managed to show off his abilities with a 6 for 11 performance that included 2 doubles and a critical home run in a 1-0 win by LumberKings. Rengifo went 3 for 4 with a home run off Orlando Romero in that one, and just 19 days later he became a Rays prospect.
  • May not have made many rankings list prior to 2017, but he was doing well enough in 2017 to earn a top 30 spot and could have been higher on our list if his success had continued post-trade.
  • In terms of versatility, most reviews are that he’s a “fringe” play at SS but is fairly solid at 2B, 3B, and in LF. More experience would be required to manage expectations in CF.

Stats

Stats Notes: Don’t overlook the value that a low strike out rate (17.5%) has on Rengifo’s standing as a prospect. That valuable asset, combined with a decent walk rate (7.5%), power and speed combo, on top of his positional versatility makes it easy to envision Rengifo as a super-utility player.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Interesting Comparison: Whit Merrifield

  • Merrifield and Rengifo are similar in size, although Renigfo is still young and may put on weight as he fills out. One outlier is that Rengifo is a switch-hitter, while Merrifield bats right.
  • Both have the versatility to play 2B/SS/3B/LF/CF at a good level but fit best as 2B, and both have the speed to steal 30+ bases while putting up solid power numbers.
  • Merrifield began his minors career at 20 yrs old (same age as Rengifo in 2017 and in LoA) with similar BB% (7.2%) and SO% (20.1%) with an ISO of .156 and managed a 100 wRC+ with a .332 wOBA, all almost very close to Rengifo’s stats in 2017.
  • The Royals second baseman had a breakthrough season in 2017 (3.1 WAR), something that provides hope that Rengifo can put it all together. He still has plenty of time to do so.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

With Rengifo, the Rays may have found a very useful piece to their talent puzzle when they completed a trade with the Mariners. It seems that they were able to get him at an affordable price despite his helium stock, but he’ll still need to be pushed ahead and will be challenged with a ton of middle-infield competition.

Acquiring someone like Rengifo and allowing him to rub shoulders with and learn from ex and current MLB players should allow the Rays to be extra aggressive with his promotion timeline. That experience coupled with versatility allows us to anticipate a start in Charlotte (A+) with a possible in-season promotion to AA.

That kind of timeline would have him in AAA at some point in his 22 yrs old season, at which point we’ll have a much better picture of whether Rengifo’s power and speed play at the higher levels, determining much about what his ceiling and floor truly are.

For now, what we know is that his versatility is likely to continue being developed by the Rays, and that it will be a real asset to the Charlotte Stone Crabs who’ll be fielding a very competitive team in 2018.

Luis Rengifo: Spotlight Videos

This is a great defensive play made as a second baseman,

Followed by an interview (in Spanish) while he played in winter leagues,

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 50 Rays Prospects


Article first appeared on www.draysbay.com