There are injuries in baseball that teams aren’t scared of anymore. Jeff Hoffman went 9th overall and Erick Fedde went nine picks later even though both underwent Tommy John Surgery. Other health issues, though, are still quite sketchy. Despite being a well-regarded prospect previously, Grant Kay fell to the Rays in the 27th round after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in 2013. If Kay can recover, however, the Rays could very well end up with a steal of a pick.
After an excellent freshman season at Iowa Western CC, Grant Kay headed to the New England Collegiate Baseball League and ranked as its 4th-best prospect according to Baseball America. But everything changed when he missed the beginning of 2013 with the aforementioned knee surgery and was not the same player when he returned. Kay went undrafted last year after the surgery and was good but not great in his first season at Louisville in 2014. Kay hit to a .285/.403/.409 line, stealing 22 of 23 bases, but failing to hit for much power at all, especially compared to previous years. Kay is a very instinctual player, so he was able to continue stealing bases despite not running as well as before, but will he ever get back the previous leverage that he had in his swing?
At his best, Grant Kay showed excellent bat speed as a lefty swinger, average power, blazing speed, very good defensive skills, and a solid arm. His plate discipline and pitch recognition needed work–he was known as a bad-ball hitter–but that player is one with a chance to be a starting second baseman in the big leagues, and that’s who the Rays hope they’re getting. If not, Kay’s instincts on both sides of the ball will still give him a chance. This is a no-risk gamble for the Rays, and we will have to see what Kay can become.