Who Could be Considered a Franchise Player on the Rays?

By David Hill

In what has become a tradition at ESPN.com, their third annual Franchise Player Draft is slated for today beginning at 12:00pm. Essentially, the premise of the draft is for their baseball experts to determine which players would be the best to build a team around, if every player was thrown into a common draft pool to be selected by every team. Age players a factor, as these players are considered to be the building blocks for these hypothetical teams for the next decade.

Last year, the Rays had two players selected amongst those thirty players, with Evan Longoria being selected fifth and David Price going 25th by the experts. In the fan portion of the draft, Longoria went fourth, while Price was not selected. However, the fans did select current Rays prospect Wil Myers with the 23rd pick.

This year, Longoria is putting up his usual strong season, posting a .305/.361/.527 batting line with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs. Even though his strikeouts have been troubling this season, with 50 in 220 at bats, Longoria is just about to enter his theoretical prime at age 27. With his track record on offense, and his defensive acumen, Longoria seems likely to be selected once again.

Price, however, may not find himself as a selection in the 2013 version. He has struggled from the outset this year, posting a 1-4 record with an ERA of 5.26 while giving up 10.6 hits per nine innings. Add in his injury, and Price’s stock has certainly dropped. As he barely made last year’s edition, it seems unlikely for him to be in the draft this time through.

But what other Rays could possibly crack that Top 30? Myers recent power surge could make him a candidate once gain, even though his strikeouts remain a cause for concern. Matt Moore has yet to lose this season, sporting an 8-0 record, and has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young Award. He is third in the AL in ERA, and has given up the fewest hits per nine innings in the league. As he is about to turn 24 in a couple of weeks, Moore would seem a possible choice for a team looking to build a rotation around a talented young arm.

Likewise, Alex Cobb has also begun to emerge as another potential front line starter, ranking eighth in the league in ERA and displaying improved command. He has also been pitching deeper into games, lasting six or more innings in all but two starts, with one of those starts being his 13 strikeouts in 4.2 innings game. Another pitcher who is about to be entering his prime at age 25, Cobb could also be someone that a team may look to as a building block for their rotation.

The future is certainly bright for the Rays, even as they remain competitive in the present. With their core of young players, and prospects coming through the pipeline, a number of Rays could be considered as possible building blocks for a major league club if everyone was thrown into a common draft pool. It will be interesting to see if these experts agree, and to watch which members of the Rays get taken in this year’s version of the Franchise Player Draft.