Congratulations to the University of Arizona on winning the College World Series, their first national championship since 1986 and fourth overall. Freshman Brandon Dixon had the go-ahead run off of vaunted South Carolina close Matt Price in the top of the 9th inning and Arizona eventually won 4-1 after an exciting final inning came to a close. Now, let’s get to the Rays connections. On the victorious Arizona Wildcats was centerfielder Joey Rickard, the Rays’ 9th round pick in 2012. Rickard is a true centerfielder who hit .326 with 18 stolen bases in 2012 and stands out for his gap power and speed. Full scouting report on him here. Congrats to Joey and the rest of the Wildcats.
More Rays storylines lie with the defeated University of South Carolina squad. The Gamecocks’ left fielder was Tanner English, the Rays’ 13th round pick in 2011 who did not sign. English is a lightning-fast outfielder with ridiculous speed and bunting ability whose offensive game continues to progress. He hit a line drive to second base for the second out of the bottom of the 9th inning for South Carolina with the bases loaded. The Rays love drafting players multiple times and don’t be surprised if you hear English’s name connected with the Rays again in a couple of years.
In addition, the Rays’ first of their plethora of first and supplemental round picks in 2011, stud right-hander Taylor Guerrieri, went to high school in South Carolina and was committed to attend the University of South Carolina had the Rays not signed him. Guerrieri was rooting for the Gamecocks on Twitter. Guerrieri also happened to make his second professional start on Sunday, an impressive outing versus the Brooklyn Cyclones, which we talked about as part of our minor league recap for Monday. Also part of that recap is that designated hitter Luke Scott has begun his rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham and had a big first day, slamming 2 homers and driving in 4. Scott should be back with the Rays before long, and hopefully he can give the Rays some offensive showings like that.