When your favorite team selects a senior sign in Round 30, you can’t have much in the way of expectations for him. However, the hope for every front office with each of their picks is that you are getting a player with a chance to make a big league impact. For Kyle Teaf, his odds are certainly long, but his ability to contribute is also clearer than most. His defense at shortstop and all-around gritty play make him an interesting pick for the Tampa Bay Rays even down in the 30th round.
Teaf is a 5’9″, 170 shortstop coming off a successful four-year career right in the Rays’ backyard at the University of South Florida. He stood out for several things, most of all his streak of 230 consecutive games played that was the longest in the nation. He is one of those players who is always dealing with a minor injury or two but never lets anything prevent him from getting in the lineup.
The other place where Teaf truly shined was defensively. While he isn’t fast, he has great instincts at shortstop and uses a quick first step to have good range. His hands could be better–he is a little bit error-prone because of that–but he makes up a good amount of the difference with excellent arm strength. He uses the cannon on his right arm to make difficult throws from deep in the hole and gun down runners on relays. Here is one great example of the latter.
Kyle Teaf doesn’t have the same proficiency offensively, which is why he was available this late in the draft. Even so, it is a dangerous proposition to overlook him. This past season, the lefty swinger hit to a .301/.419/.389 line with 8 doubles, 6 triples, no homers, 25 RBI, 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts, and 44 walks against 40 strikeouts. Though he has never hit for much power–he slammed just two homers in his collegiate career–he has a short stroke, a patient approach, and solid pitch recognition at the plate. Teaf also uses his instincts to steal bases even though his speed is only average.
Teaf’s upside is a utility player with solid defense at shortstop and a variety of positions who can also give his team solid at-bats. He has the defensive capabilities to play all over the field–centerfield and catcher are the only questionable spots for him–and if his approach is sufficient for him to hit decently, he could make the major leagues. That would be quite an accomplishment for a player from the 30th round, and we will have to see if Teaf can get there.
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