A couple weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were able to sign the last few unsigned players from their 2011 draft class. They came to terms with pitcher Taylor Guerrieri, their top pick, and supplemental pick, outfielder Mike Mahtook. A look back at their recent drafts shows mixed results on what the Rays are getting out of their high picks.
Earlier in the week, the Fansided site Seedlings to Stars took a look at the Rays’ top two picks from last year and how they are adjusting to the professional ranks. While it’s still very early in their careers, Josh Sale and Justin O’Conner, both selected out of high school, have yet to show the promise that the Rays saw in them before the draft.
In 2009, the Rays selected LeVon Washington and Kenny Diekroeger with their top two picks. They were unable to sign Washington, who was drafted and signed a year later by the Cleveland Indians. Diekroeger was selected out of high school but decided to enroll at Stanford University.
The 2008 draft saw the Rays select Tim Beckham number one overall. He has been slow to develop in the minors but was promoted to Triple A Durham in August. He has batted a respectable .273 since the call up but has not had much of the wow factor that preceded his number one selection. Second pick Kyle Lobstein, has not made it past Double A and only recently made it to that level. He has one start under his belt in Montgomery in which he gave up five runs in five innings.
The Rays hit the jackpot with their number one picks in 2006 and 2007, choosing Evan Longoria and David Price respectively. Their number two picks, Josh Butler and Will Kline, never saw the field for the Tampa Bay Rays. Butler was traded to Milwaukee and Kline finally retired earlier this year after a series of injuries had sidelined him since 2008. Going back to their top two picks from the 2005 draft, the Rays have two more picks that did not make it to Tampa in Wade Townsend and Chris Mason.
Everyone knows drafting is an inexact science. The Rays have done better than most teams when it comes to evaluating talent and scouts will tell you the meat of the draft is in the middle rounds. Top picks though get the attention and the money, so it only makes sense to look closer at how they are performing. Taylor Guerrieri and Mike Mahtook are not under that microscope just yet, but for a team with a limited payroll like the Rays, maximizing the draft carries even more significance.