The Rays love speed. Who doesn’t? But what’s great about speed is the fact that even players who have few other tools can make a big league impact as a bench player if their speed allows them to steal bases and play good defense. That’s the thinking behind the Rays’ selection of Joey Rickard, an outfielder out of the University of Arizona.
Rickard, 6’1″ and 185 pounds is yet another Rays draft pick who bats righty and throws lefty. That’s three on Day 2 alone. Wow. Rickard is no Rickey Henderson, but boy is he fast. Richard can steal bases and improved his ability to read pitchers a lot in 2012. He can bunt and beat out groundballs, and he moves extremely well in centerfield, where he projects to remain long-term. His arm is decent. What’s particularly interesting about Rickard is that he can swing the bat a little bit as well, not hitting homers but possessing solid gap power. He hit 16 doubles at Arizona this season. He’s good at making contact and has solid plate discipline. He does what he can to get on base. Rickard is a scrappy player with speed and the ability to make a big league impact. He may never hit well enough to start in the big leagues for any period of time but he does a lot of things well and could be a solid bench player who can steal bases and play some nice defense. If the Rays got that from their 9th round pick, they’d be thrilled.