Marc Topkin presented an interesting and somewhat alarming statistic the other day: the Rays are the only team in baseball without a single player to appear in a major league game from the 2008 to 2010 drafts. Is this a legitimate reason for concern about the Rays’ draft strategy?
The answer is a resounding no. Why have no players made the major leagues? Because the Rays have selected all high school picks and have had a good enough major league team that they have been able to ease them along. Not a single first or second round pick from any of those drafts was a college pick. And although the major league impact has not been seen yet, look at all these players with a legitimate chance to make a significant major league impact at some point. (The format is each player’s name followed by their position, their age, the round in which they were selected, and their current minor league level.)
2010: Josh Sale (OF, 21, 1st, Low-A), Justin O’Conner (C, 20, 1st, Short Season-A), Drew Vettleson (RF, 20, 1st supp, Low-A), Jake Thompson (RHP, 22, 2nd, Double-A), Derek Dietrich (SS, 22, 3rd, High-A), Ryan Brett (2B, 20, 4th, Low-A), Parker Markel (RHP, 21, 39th, Low-A)
Will all these players make it? Certainly not. But you look at these players and they’re basically all still very young. Some of these players are very talented, and the Rays could have nearly an entire team waiting in the wings (in theory).
For all we know, these drafts classes may be terrible. Or, they could be great. In the NFL they say that it takes 5 years to evaluate a draft class. In baseball, especially with high school picks, it’s probably more. Give these players a few years and we’ll see what they become. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The Rays aren’t rushing their guys to help the team right now while sacrificing upside. They’ll let them take their time in the minor leagues to become the best players they can possibly be and help the team the most in the future. Although it’s frustrating to be the only team in the majors without a player from the 2008-2010 drafts in the big leagues, we have to realize that’s all part of a bigger picture and that everything could very well turn out for the best.