Rickie Weeks may be one of the newer members of the Tampa Bay Rays, but it did not have to be that way. In fact, they almost drafted him in the first round of the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft.
Heading into the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays were sitting on the first overall selection. Normally, that is an enviable position, and one where a franchise changing player can be available. Let, in that draft, there was not one specific player that stood out to the front office.
Instead, they had to decide between two players. The Rays scouts both thought highly of Delmon Young and Rickie Weeks, to the point where the two players were in a dead heat for the pick. In fact, it was essentially a coin flip, with the Rays eventually making the decision to take Young over Weeks.
But what if that did not happen? Mark Topkin had an interesting look the other day at what could have been had the Rays taken Weeks over the mercurial outfielder. Although Weeks had the much better career, Topkin argues that drafting Young, and the subsequent moves made afterwards, helped make the Rays a perennial postseason contender.
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Topkin does have a point. Drafting Young led to the acquisition of Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, two key figures in the Rays 2008 World Series run. And Garza, in turn, led to Chris Archer and the Legend of Sam Fuld, amongst other players. The Rays as we know them would not exist.
And yet, one has to wonder if the Rays would have been better served in drafting Weeks. Young lasted just over one season with the Rays, posting a solid .293/.319/.419 batting line with 16 home runs before being traded. Although he was a top prospect, Young only had one standout season, before his attitude and defensive issues caused him to bounce around the league. After the 2015 campaign, at just 30 years old, Young was out of baseball.
Weeks, meanwhile, developed into an All Star and a solid player. While he likely would not be in Tampa Bay now, he could have helped solidify a second base position that has seen six different players led the team in games at the keystone since 2006. From 2006 through 2010, five different players were the team leader in games at second, making that position quite the revolving door at the time.
Now, 14 years later, Weeks is finally with the Rays. He may not have the same role that he would have back in those days, but as a possible clubhouse leader and utility player, he still has a potential to make an impact upon the team. It just might be a few years later than expected.
Rickie Weeks is finally getting a chance to play for the Tampa Bay Rays. Here’s hoping hemakes up for lost time.