The first day of the MLB draft is over and the Rays have walked away with quite a haul. I don’t know if any team in recent history has had the number of picks the Rays accumulated, but they certainly did load the pantry yesterday and it’s not close to over. Between their regular picks, those they traded for and compensatory picks for the rash of players who left the team after the 2010 season. Here are how they held so many after first rounders and who they took:
No. 24 (from Red Sox for Crawford) – Selection: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP from Spring Valley High in Columbia S.C.
Guerrieri will be a difficult sign, most likely one who would require a higher-than-slot signing bonus. He is committed to South Carolina. He has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher with a four pitch repertoire that includes a fastball that sits in the 93-96 mph range and a sharp-breaking curve in the low 80’s. He also has a cutter and a change up, so immediately he has some advanced skills.
No. 31 (from Yankees for Soriano) – Selection: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU.
Mahtook wasn’t expected to be there at the 31st pick and the Rays wasted no time nabbing the fleet-footed center fielder. Rated the 21st best prospect by Baseball America, Mahtook was considered by many a top 20 selection. Again it was a risk, as he many expected him to be another tough sign and likely the reason he fell to the 31st pick. LSU was on the outside looking in when the NCAA announced their 2011 College World Series field. The abrupt end of the Tigers’ season and the opportunity to play with his younger brother Aaron, who signed with LSU, will give pause to his professional career. Mahtook is expected to garner a seven-fiture signing bonus but has said he and the family will do some soul searching. If he does sign, expect him to move fast through the Rays farm system. Mahtook brings a polished bat, solid power and speed to the game and should be a fixture for the Rays for years if he decides to move to the pros. If he can be taken at his word, he may not be as tough to sign, depending on what the Rays are willing to pony up. “When they picked me, I was excited,” Mahtook said. “They’ve been known as somebody to develop their talent, and I’m just looking forward to developing and becoming the player that they want me to be.” That could be great news for the Rays.
No. 32 (Regular pick) – Selection: Jake Hager, SS, Sierra Vista HS Las Vegas NV.
Hager, the Gatorade Nevada Baseball Player of the Year, had commited to Arizona State, but his father Scott said after he was selected that their conversation with the Rays convinced them he should sign shortly and get to work rather than waiting for the August 15th deadline. Hager, considered a five tool player, hit .547 with 11 home runs and 57 RBI in his his senior year, leading SV High to a 34-5 record. Draft experts may consider him a reach, but the Rays have an eye for talent and Hager could be a nice addition to this year’s bumper crop of draft choices. Update: I heard Hager on local sports radio and he is definitely going to sign.
No. 38 (for Soriano) – Selection: Brandon Martin, SS, Santiago (CA) HS
Martin is another five tool player and it’s interesting to see the Rays taking two high school short stops back to back in the draft, but anyone who follows players through the farm system know that it’s a tough position to retain as they move up the ladder. He has committed to Oregon State, an up and coming baseball program that beat Georgia yesterday to win their region and move up to the Super Regional where they’ll face college powerhouse Vanderbilt. The Rays apparently have decided at least early on to take some chances at players who might be difficult to sign. Five years ago I’d say their chances of getting these young players to sign on the dotted line were slim, but with the emergence of the team as one of the best in the bigs and the ability to develop young talent, it makes sense to take these kind of risks. If some of the players don’t sign, that’s more money to pay those who do or to put back in the wallet for future needs.
No. 41 (for Crawford) – Selection: Tyler Goeddel, 3B, St Francis (CA) High School
Goeddel isn’t the first in his family to be drafted by a major league team. That honor goes to his brother Eric Goeddel, who was drafted by the New York Mets last year in the 24th round. Tyler at least has bragging rights, since he was drafted much sooner. However, as the pattern repeats, Goeddel might be the first of the Rays picks to opt for college. “It’s definitely going to be a fun and long process,” Goeddel said. “As of right now, I’m still planning on going to UCLA. We’ll see what happens with the Rays.” It could be posturing for negotiation purposes, or he might actually want to get some college ball under his belt. At 6’4″ and 170 pounds, he certainly has a lot of room to fill out. If he signs he most likely will be moved to the outfield.
No. 42 (for Balfour, who signed w/A’s) – Selection: Jeff Ames, RHP Lower Columbia College
Ames, who is committed to Oregen, is a high K’s power pitcher. This is the third time he has been drafted (2009, Phillies, 46th round) (2010, Rockies, 30th round) but this selection will certainly make him give strong consideration with the slotting bonus considerably higher than previous drafts.
No. 52 (for Hawpe, who signed w/Padres) – Selection: Blake Snell, RHP, Shorewood HS, WA.
Snell is an interesting selection. On one hand the scouts feel like his skinny frame 6’4″, 190 pound frame doesn’t have much room to fill out, and his fastball, which sits between 88-92 mph, doesn’t seem to be much of a game changer. In his first and only year at Shorewood (Snell was home-schooled before enrolling at Shorewood) he carried a 1.00 ERA and struck out 128 batters in 63 innings. Snell originally committed to the University of Washington, but is academically ineligible. He was considered a 5th round pick but many had him going between 40-60 due to his signability.
No. 56 (for Benoit, who signed w/Tigers) – Kes Carter, OF, Western Kentucky
Carter is a left-handed outfielder, considered by many a five tools player, who became the highest draft pick out of the Western Kentucky program’s history. A two time All Sunbelt Conference selection, there is no doubt he’ll begin his pro career soon; he already confirmed that he would sign a deal once the details were completed.
No. 59 (for Choate, who signed w/Marlins) – Selection: Grayson Garvin, LHP, Vanderbilt
Garvin was 13-1 with Vandy this past year and continues the schools tradition of pitchers being drafted into the majors. Garvin shares the same alma mater as David Price. Garvin, a junior at Vanderbilt, was an All American at Suwannee Georgia’s Wesleyan High School and holds a number of school records. Garvin was ranked as the 16th top left-handed pitcher by Baseball America. He won 13 of 16 games he started with a 2.37 ERa and was named second team All-American by Louisville Slugger, first team All-SEC and SEC Pitcher of the Year. Many expect him to move rapidly through the farm system, but knowing the Rays they’ll take care in bringing the young lefty along. Still, his pedigree shows he has the talent and could be another gem in the Rays farm system.
No. 60 (for Qualls, who signed w/Padres) – Selection: James Harris Jr., OF Oakland Tech
James was a huge surprise for draft analysts as Harris came in essentially unknown and outside of Baseball America’s top 200. James is raw but incredibly fast and toolsy. What little was known describe him as an explosive athlete.