With the deadline to sign players selected in the 2012 MLB Draft coming on July 13th at 5 PM, less than 5 days away, the Rays have signed 35 of their 40 picks. Who remains unsigned and how likely are the Rays to sign them?
1st Round: Richie Shaffer, 3B
There was never a question over whether Shaffer was going to sign. The Rays have normally drafted high school players in the first round, and they sometimes come with signability concerns, but with a college pick like Shaffer out of Clemson, he’s definitely going to sign. The fact that he hasn’t yet is a testament to his character as he has let the Rays sign every player possible and basically give him as much money as they can that remains in their draft pool. Shaffer is reportedly close to signing, but I’m sure the Rays would prefer to delay it as much as possible to give them maximum flexibility in terms of signing their picks. The Rays can’t wait to get Shaffer’s power, plate discipline, and leadership in their organization, but they’re waiting in order to maximize the number of players they can sign from their 2012 draft crop.
Likelihood of Signing: 100%
14th Round: Chris Kirsch, LHP
Kirsch has already left two teams shaking their heads by turning down their bonus offers to head to junior college and then to head back to junior college. The Rays love his fastball-curveball combination and have to hope that he is finally going to sign. Kirsch has leverage once again. He is committed to VCU and he has shown that is more than willing to continue his education and put his career on hold. The Rays are going to see how much money it will take to sign him and they’ll give it shot, but whether it happens or not is a 50-50 proposition.
Likelihood of Signing: 50%
29th Round: Keaton Steele, RHP/1B
Steele was a very interesting case from the start, being a two-way player out of Iowa Western CC with potential both on the mound, where he has a sinker-slider repertoire, and at the plate, where he shows pretty good bat speed with some pop. Steele is, like Kirsch, a player committed to a four-year college, committing to the University of Missouri a few days after the draft. Steele always sounded like he would sign, but it will take some money to make that happen and we will have to see whether the Rays’ bonus pool allows them to do that.
Likelihood of Signing: 75%
31st Round: Taylor Ward, C/OF
Ward was a bizarre selection by the Rays as he is a player who played mostly catcher in high school and has some nice arm strength, but who may stand out most of his speed. Quality catchers may have more overall value, especially in the late rounds, than outfielders, but Ward is not a proven catcher no matter how you shake it. If he really thinks he’s a catcher and wants to raise his value in that vein, he will head to college. Ward is committed to Fresno State. The whole situation is pretty crazy and I don’t think he’s going to sign.
Likelihood of Signing: 15%
36th Round: Brett McAfee, SS
The Rays drafted McAfee, a slick-fielding shortstop with some offensive potential, for the second straight year in 2012 and would love to sign him. But McAfee’s stock is at its lowest after he was injured for the second straight season in 2012, and it doesn’t make any sense for him to sign. If the Rays had money left over, they could take a shot at him (he was willing to sign for 5th round money in 2011), but it seems like they spent it on their 12th round selection, catcher Taylor Hawkins. The indications are that he will head back to Panola JC and try his luck again next year.
Likelihood of Signing: 5%
It seems like at the end of the day, the Rays will sign 38 of their 40 picks and come away with a draft haul that they’re happy with. They would love to sign everybody, but that isn’t always possible and they just have to take advantage of the opportunities they get.
For scouting reports on the players above and all the Rays’ selections in the 2012 MLB Draft, please see 0ur 2012 Rays Draft Profiles page here at RCG.