The MLB Draft signing deadline is at 5:00 PM today, and the 2014 Rays draft haul is impressive enough even if they do not sign anyone else. The Rays signed their first 24 picks and 37 of their first 41 overall, and their were able to pull quite a few coups. They got five high-upside players at the top of the draft, yet had enough money to sign 11th rounder Spencer Moran, whose ceiling could be right with any of them. They drafted Greg Maisto, Jaime Ayende, and Zac Law, none of whom looked like an easy sign–especially if they did ink Moran–and signed all of them without losing anything more from their bonus pool. Then they managed to find two college juniors with higher potential than usual, Jace Conrad and Grant Kay, and convince them to join the organization as well. The Rays will be thrilled with their 37 players, and this could be the draft that finally turns the Rays’ fortunes with their selections around. At the end of the day, though, the Rays would love to sign just one more player, and that is 25th round left-hander Tyler Wells.
Wells just wrapped up his junior year at Nevada, but he did not get the type of results he was hoping for as he managed just a 4.56 ERA. Nevertheless, the Rays were intrigued quite a bit by Wells’ arsenal. He gets good sink on his low-90’s his fastball, and he pairs it with a very good changeup and a curveball that has its moments. It’s always concerning when a college pitcher does not have the polish of his contemporaries, but the Rays see a pitcher whose stuff they can really work with, even if he will take longer to develop than is the usually the case. However, Wells has a lot to gain by returning to school. His stuff will likely get him selected in the same range or even higher because he will lack leverage in negotiations. With a strong season, however, Wells could wind up being picked in the top five rounds and considered a senior sign who is a legitimate prospect. We will have to see if the Rays can his signature on the contract by 5:00 PM and make sure he is their diamond in the rough and not another team’s next year.
The other players yet to sign are Josh Davis (32nd round), Matt Plitt (37th), and Conor Harber (40th). Davis, a toolsy prep outfielder, and Harber, a junior college player with a promisng three-pitch arsenal, were players that the Rays ran out of money for once Spencer Moran cost them $390,000. Plitt, meanwhile, is an extremely bizarre situation because he is actually a senior. However, the fact that he has not signed yet indicates that either he suffered some injury or simply does not want to play baseball. Either way, it would be a major surprise if he signed this late in the process. For Davis and Harber, the Rays can rest assured that they found several talented players in their stead, while Plitt simply isn’t a huge loss even if it is strange what is going on. The only real question remaining is whether the Rays can sign Tyler Wells, and if they do, it will make the 2014 Rays draft class even better.