With the MLB Draft has begun, let’s have some fun and do some guesswork about the Tampa Bay Rays’ first bunch of picks. We know some stuff about the Rays’ thought process for their first pick and a tiny bit about their second, but everything else is a little bit of experience from previous Rays draft and a lot of making things up while glancing at the BA 500. Anyway, here we go.
13th Overall: Jon Harris, RHP from Missouri State
Walker Buehler is the new guy that has popped up for the Rays, but I’ll go with Harris, who has been linked to them for several weeks. James Kaprielian out of UCLA is a fallback option, but in any event, we have to expect that the Rays will expect a college pitcher. The rest of this super-mock draft will be based on that assumption.
52nd Overall: Josh Naylor, HS 1B
This is the last of my picks that has any backing at all. Naylor is a pure first baseman, but he stands out for big-time power and good bat speed. That is the type of high-upside bat that the Rays would love to pair with a polished arm, even if they have several first base prospects. The only flaw with this prediction is that Naylor has generated some late buzz and may go earlier.
87th Overall: Mac Marshall, JC LHP
Marshall, a player that the Astros’ failed to sign after the Brady Aiken fiasco stands out for his low-90’s fastball, ridiculous changeup, and solid curveball. Not the hugest upside, but he has an excellent feel for pitching and could move relatively fast through the minors. He dropped a little bit from a thumb injury, but he could represent excellent value if he’s still around in the third round. He will probably require an above-slot bonus.
118th Overall: Ryan Newcastle, HS SS
Newcastle is a shortstop for now, but he isn’t expected to stay there. Instead, he is a promising hitter expected to end up in a corner outfield spot. He has the power and bat speed to be an impact offensive player there. The Rays will make up for a little bit of a safer pick in the first round with high-ceiling players like Newcastle later on.
148th Overall: Willie Calhoun, JC 2B
This is a re-draft after the Rays selected him in 2013. Calhoun, who we recently discussed, is another advanced hitter who may not stay in the infield. We know how much the Rays love high-upside pitchers, but I expect that we’ll see a few more position players early on in the draft.
178th Overall: Jio Orozco, HS RHP
Orozco is a shorter right-hander, but he has electric stuff, touching 94 MPH with his fastball to go along with a promising curveball and changeup. His delivery is even termed “repeatable.” He would be a fascinating guy for the Rays in the 6th round.
208th Overall: Tanner Dodson, HS RHP/OF
Dodson is extremely raw, but he has touched 97 MPH. He is the type of prospect that the Rays love to work with. He hasn’t pitched much, but you start with that velocity and see what happens.
238th Overall: Logan Taylor, OF from Texas A&M
Taylor is interesting as a college guy with some bat speed, power, and even the defensive toolset to move to the infield. The dream is always to get college guys with some upside, and Taylor qualifies.
268th Overall: Jesus Gamez, HS RHP
Gamez is a high school pitcher from a tiny town who hasn’t been seen much but has great stuff. He touches 94 MPH with his fastball to go along with a slider that shows flashes. The Rays did well with a previous unknown player, Matt Moore.
Now the draft is underway, so I should probably stop. Enjoy the draft!
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