Gabay features a solid relief arsenal combined with good deception. (Credit: Herkimer CC)

Willie Gabay: Rays Close Out Day 2 With Hard-throwing Relief Prospect

With the last of their 14 picks on Day 2 of the 2012 MLB Draft, the Rays went with Herkimer Community College right-hander Willie Gabay, who has a chance to be the first member of this draft class to make the major leagues.

Gabay does not exactly scare hitters with his 6’1″, 180 frame, but his stuff gets the job done. Gabay throws a fastball that ranges in the low-90′s touches 94 MPH with late bite. He could fill out a little bit more and get the consistent 94′s on his fastball. At its best, Gabay’s fastball shows late natural cut down and away from right-handed batter, making it awfully hard to lift. Gabay’s movement on his fastball does occasionally give him some trouble commanding it.  His other pitches are a changeup and a slider both of which range in the low-80′s. He throws both of them from the same arm slot as his fastball, with his changeup featuring good sink at times and his slider featuring late downward movement. Gabay has trouble commanding both of us secondary pitches, and sometimes they also flatten out, rendering them hittable. Gabay throws his pitches from a deceptive delivery as he hides the ball extreme well in his motion, but it also may be what throws off his control.

Gabay is going to be put into a relief role once the Rays sign him (which seems likely), and if he can show some improvement to his command, he has the ability to move quickly through the minors and be a big league middle reliever by the end of 2014. Gabay doesn’t have the stuff to close but he seems to fit well pitching in short stints, which would make his pitches play up, and he could a middle reliever who strikes a good amount of guys out and can force weak contact on the ground, especially with his fastball. Gabay isn’t the most exciting prospect, but he has the ability to contribute relatively soon at the big league level. The Rays have to be happy getting a value like Gabay in the draft’s 15th round.

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