2017 Tampa Bay Rays Draft: Synopsis of Rounds One thru 10

The Tampa Bay Rays think that they were able to add talent at the top, now begins the journey of getting the players signed to begin their professional careers to determine whether the Rays summation of the draft holds true.

Tampa Bay Rays Director of Amateur Scouting Rob Metzler categorizes the Rays draft as having a positive outcome. He feels that talent was added at the top and because the board fell favorable they were able to select players that they had prepared for, but not necessarily would have garnered. Preparation was the key, and by all accounts they were prepared and are excited about their selections.

The Rays like every other major league team rely on the draft, however more so for the Rays because of how they build their success which is mostly based on the draft.

While they have drafted with some success, they have also had many failures in which they have had little or no positive results to show. In the 11 years under Stuart Sternberg’s ownership the Rays have had few of their drafted players reach the majors as a Ray.

Taking a look down memory lane in regards to some of the past Rays drafts, for instance, in 2008 the Rays owned the first overall pick and selected Tim Beckham. They passed on Buster Posey, Pedro Alvarez, and Eric Hosmer to take Beckham.

Of the 50 Rays players drafted in 2008, the only other player to reach the majors was Kyle Lobstein with the Detroit Tigers in 2014.

To this day, many feel that the Rays not taking Posey was the worst draft decision and one of the worst total draft failures team wise among the 1504 players selected.

In 2011, the Rays owned 10 of the first 60 picks in the draft due to free agent compensation. With their first three selections they took Taylor Guerrieri (24), Mikie Mahtook (31) and Jake Hager (32). When they selected Guerrieri, Joe Ross (25) and Joe Panik (29) were available and Jackie Bradley Jr. (40) was available when they picked Mahtook and Hager.

The rest of the Rays notables taken in the draft were Blake Snell (52nd pick), Tyler Goeddel (41st pick), Jacob Faria (10th round), and Taylor Motter (17th round). From this group only Mahtook, Snell, Faria and Motter reached the majors with the Rays, while Goeddel made his way to the majors via the Rule 5 Draft with Philadelphia. Mahtook and Motter are gone via their trades to Detroit and Seattle.

So, the big question is after three days and forty rounds, the Tampa Bay Rays have drafted a total of 41 players, which included 36 college players and just five high school players…

What and how many of the players will reach the  majors with the Rays? That remains to be seen and certainly only time will tell.

So, without any further ado here is the 2017 Rays Draft synopsis of Rounds 1 thru10:

Round 1 – Total Picks: 2

(4) – Taylor McKay (University of Louisville), 1B/P: top two-way collegiate player in the nation. Turned down Twins offer to be No.1 pick according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. Rated as MLB.com No. 2 overall prospect.  Jim Callis of  MLB.com: It’s appropriate that McKay went fourth because that’s also where Dave Winfield went in 1973, and Winfield is the only better two-way prospect in Draft history. I like him more as a position player

(31) – Drew Rasmussen (Oregon State), RHP:  underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2016 and returned to this past spring in which he made six appearances, four as a starter to go 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA in 21.2 with 22 strikeouts. “He is a power right-hander,” said Rob Metzler, the Director of Rays amateur scouting. “Has a strong slot, he’s able to create a good angle with it, he’s got a strong arm, he’s got a good slider and a promising changeup.” Jim Callas of MLB.com writes Rasmussen’s fastball is clearly his best pitch, sitting at 92-95 when he starts. He has hit 98 in shorter stints. His secondary pitches aren’t as strong, so some scouts believe he’ll wind up in the bullpen.

Round 2 – Total Picks: 1

(40) – Michael Mercado (Westview H.S.) California, RHP: Mercado was 9-1 with a 0.69 ERA in 70.2 innings with 97 strikeouts. Rated as the 70th Top Prospect according to MLB.com. He allowed only 29 hits and walked just 17. However, he committed to Stanford prior to his junior year, though he is open to foregoing to Stanford. “He’s a little more of a projection right-hander,” said Rob Metzler. “He’s lean, but he’s got a really good feel for pitching. He’s got a fast arm, and we’ve seen velocity, and we’ve seen spin.”

Round 3 through 10 – Total Picks: 8

Rd 3 (79) – Taylor Walls (Florida State), SS: Highest drafted Florida State shortstop since Stephen Drew went No. 15 overall in 2004. Bill Chastain of MLB.com: Walls has above-average plate discipline. He knows how to work an at-bat, and he has more walks than strikeouts. Walls could remain at shortstop, but he profiles as a super-utility guy, which is a position the Rays are more than accustomed to grooming and using.

Rd 4 (109) – Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s Coll.), RHP: Went 6-1 with a 4.57 ERA (67-IP, 34-ER) and 3.00 SO/BB ratio in 18 apps (7 starts) this season (75-SO, 25-BB), including 75 strikeouts in 67 innings with just 24 walks. Bill Chastain of MLB.com: Strotman profiles as a reliever, but he’ll probably begin as a starter has an above-average slider. Ranked as the 98th Top Prospect according to MLB.com.

Rd 5 (139) – Josh Fleming (Webster Univ.), LHP: Went 8-1 with a 0.68 ERA (92.2-IP, 7-ER) in 13 apps (all starts) this season. Ranked among Division III leaders in ERA (first), WHIP (0.71, first), strikeouts (115, 2nd) and complete games (8, fourth). Bill Chastain of MLB.com: fastball ranges from 88-92 mph, occasionally touching 94. The changeup is his best secondary pitch, but his breaking ball needs improvement. Fleming profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter, perhaps as high as a No. 4.

Rd 6 (169) – Zach Rutherford (Old Dominion Univ.) SS: Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 101 overall prospect in this year’s draft, ranked No. 113 by MLB.com. Chastain of MLB.com writes: Rutherford is as an above-average defender, is a contact hitter with little power, but he is known for doing everything the right way. He has average speed, but he is an aggressive baserunner. Rutherford’s makeup is off the charts, and he possesses great baseball instincts.

Rd 7 (199 – Hunter Schryver (Villanova Univ.), LHP: Went 4-6 with a 2.44 ERA (73.2-IP, 20-ER) and 91 SO in 12 apps (all starts), limited opponents to a .213 batting average. He gave up just 56 hits, and he did not allow a home run to the 314 batters that he faced. Bill Chastain of MLB.com: He mixes pitches well and stays in and around the zone.

Rd 8 (229) – Riley O’Brien (College of Idaho), RHP: Attended Shoreline (Wash.) HS, the same high school the Rays selected Blake Snell out of in the 2011 June Draft. O’Brien went 3-4 with a 2.15 ERA and four saves in 20 appearances. He had 81 strikeouts in 67 innings while walking 23; opponents hit .205 against him.

Rd 9 (259) – Andrew Gist (Univ. of Georgia), LHP: Was 3-4 with a 3.80 ERA (73.1-IP, 31-ER) and 79 SO in 17 apps (11 starts) as a senior. MLB.com’s Bill Chastain writes: Gist is known as a “pitch ability lefty” who competes and can throw strikes.

Rd 10 (289) – Phoenix Sanders (Univ. of So. Florida), RHP: Was 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA (97-IP, 30-ER) and 109 SO in 16 starts. He ranked second in the American Athletic Conference in strikeouts and fourth in the conference in ERA. Chastain of MLB.com says that Sanders is known as a command guy who sets up hitters well. He features a four-pitch mix with a fastball that ranges between 90-91 mph.

Drafted player information provided  from Tampa Bay Rays media department

While it is way too early to tell if any of the drafted players will or will not sign and have a significant role in the success of the Rays future, there is always hope that from this group of 41 players, one day in the not so distant future some will be wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform and leading them to a World Series victory.

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