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Imagining the Tampa Bay Rays 2014 MLB Draft Big Board

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The Tampa Bay Rays hold the 20th overall pick in the MLB Draft, and they have a basic idea of the players that will be available. They know that pitchers like Brady Aiken and Carlos Rodon will be long gone, and the same will be true of topflight position players like Alex Jackson and Nick Gordon. But every team has a ranking of all the top prospects, and it is an interesting exercise to think about how the Rays would evaluate each player relatively to one another. With that in mind, here is an attempt at the Rays 2014 MLB Draft big board.

1. Brady Aiken

2. Tyler Kolek

The Rays would love to have either prep pitcher and they would make room for them no matter how much pitching depth they have.

3. Alex Jackson

4. Carlos Rodon

5. Nick Gordon

Rodon has drawn David Price comparisons, and you know the Rays would love another crack at a Price-type talent, but Jackson’s all-around upside would be too tantalizing to pass up. The Rays also have a soft spot for toolsy shortstops, and they would pick Gordon over safer players.

6. Jeff Hoffman

7. Kyle Freeland

8. Touki Toussaint

9. Aaron Nola

10. Trea Turner

11. Grant Holmes

12. Bradley Zimmer

13. Tyler Bedde

14. Sean Newcomb

Here’s where we have our first major differences. Hoffman has undergone Tommy John Surgery, but his upside remains a number one starter, and the Rays would carry the risk to select him. Freeland is impressive enough to surpass Toussiant, who has electric stuff but is still working on his command, but Toussiant does beat out the college players Nola and Turner. The next players who comes out of nowhere a bit are Holmes, Bedde, and–to a lesser extent–Zimmer. Nola does accompany his pitchability with very good stuff while Turner is a talented athlete at a premium position, but the Rays would like Holmes and Bedde more than most for their upside, and Zimmer is also tantalizing with his five-tool potential. Only then do we have the lower-upside Newcomb.

15. Monte Harrison

16. Brandon Finnegan

17. Spencer Adams

18. Derek Fisher

19. Max Pentecost

20. Michael Conforto

Finnegan ends up right around where he is ranked, but we see players like Harrison and Adams jump for similar reasons as before: their outstanding potential. Then we have Fisher, who has a little more upside than your average college player and also perceived character issues. Those problems certainly don’t attract the Rays, but they are not going to let something like that cause a player to drop too much in their view. After a large drop, we finally see Pentecost and Conforto, with Pentecost getting the edge because he plays a premium position.

21. Luis Ortiz

22. Sean Reid-Foley

23. Derek Hill

24. Jacob Gatewood

25. Erick Fedde

There is a point where the Rays will pick a college player over a prep player, but they like the talent of players like Ortiz, Reid-Foley, Hill, and Gatewood more than this class’s college hitters. We are going to stop here, but it’s certainly noticeable that we haven’t see Kyle Schwarber and Casey Gillaspie while ranking players often put behind them. You get the idea–potential over safe picks.

The Rays have been connected to a lot of college hitters, but there is a group of high-upside players they would much rather see fall to them. For the Rays to select a college hitter, it would have to be someone on this list (Turner, Zimmer, Pentecost, or Conforto) slipping or them really liking what Fisher brings to the table. A college pitcher could be a real possibility, with Bedde and Finnegan being tantalizing options, but a “safe” pick simply isn’t in the Rays’ DNA. This Rays 2014 MLB Draft big board reflects that the Rays know they need to tweak their draft strategy, but they certainly aren’t going to head to the opposite edge of the spectrum and draft conservatively.

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