He was right there. He seemed like a perfect fit. And yet the Rays let him go.
When the Rays selected at 25th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft, there was one player on the board who figured to fit their needs perfectly, 6’1″, 220 Acadiana High School catcher Stryker Trahan. The Rays desperately need a dependable catching prospect, and it’s not like Trahan is a slouch of a prospect anyway. He features great power from a powerful swing and has a strong and accurate arm at the catcher position. He needs more work defensively, but he has the athleticism and arm to be a good defender someday. And in an interesting twist, Trahan features deceptive speed for his size, above-average overall, which is unheard of for a catcher. Trahan could steal 15-20 bases per season as a catcher which you don’t see often, especially from a power-hitting catcher. There’s some chance that Trahan will have to move off the catcher position, but you could say that about basically every prep catcher and even if that was the case, Trahan’s bat and all-around ability would play elsewhere. So why did the Rays let him slip right through their fingers? The very next pick, Trahan was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks!
The Trahan pick is as clear of an example that it gets that the Rays simply don’t draft for need. The draft for upside and they draft for value. Instead of Trahan they selected Richie Shaffer, a power-hitting corner infielder out of Clemson. Why did they select Shaffer? Because they thought that Shaffer was a better value than Trahan at 25th overall.
The Rays don’t care about filling needs. Oftentimes, situations resolve themselves, and when they don’t, trades are always possible. It doesn’t matter how many prospects you have at a given position because most of them won’t pan out and if one does, you’re happy and if you end up with a surplus, you get maximum value in a trade. And by the way, the Rays do have a quasi-need at first base with none of their first base prospects exactly lighting it up the past couple of seasons. The Rays saw a chance at 25th overall to get a value pick in Shaffer, who was projected to be selected as much as 10 picks earlier, and that’s exactly what they got.
Will the Rays draft a high school catcher in the 2012 MLB Draft? It’s pretty safe to say yes. But they will only do so when they see that a prep catcher is a best value on the board. The Rays aren’t going to draft conservatively at least in the first 10 or so rounds in order to fill needs. They’re going to get maximum value and between what they have in their system and what they can acquire in trades, it’s all going to work out.