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Tampa Bay Rays: Revisiting and Analyzing the 2018 draft

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Rays hat (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Rays hat (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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TAMPA, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 03: Rocky the South Florida Bulls mascot reacts to the crowd during the second quarter against the Tulane Green Wave at Raymond James Stadium on November 03, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 03: Rocky the South Florida Bulls mascot reacts to the crowd during the second quarter against the Tulane Green Wave at Raymond James Stadium on November 03, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Back to back years with a very promising first round selection.

Rounds 1-10

  • Number of picks: 13
  • Picks signed: 13
  • Pitchers: 8 (2 LHP/6 RHP)
  • Position Players: 5 (2 OF/2 SS/1 C)
  • 4 Year: 9
  • 2 Year: 1
  • High school: 3

The first ten rounds of the 2018 draft proved to be very fruitful for the Tampa Bay Rays. A surprising steal of Matthew Liberatore at #16 got the ball rolling for a Rays organization that was  looking to booster its already strong farm system. 15 picks later, they took Shane McClanahan out of the University of South Florida, a flame throwing right hander with a seemingly bright future.

Their next 5 selections would come in the form of bats. 4 of the 5 were college hitters, Nick Schnell was the only prep bat selected and they took him 32nd overall.

Best Player: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, 1st Rd, 16th Overall

Considered one of the best prep arms in the 2018 class, the Rays were ecstatic when he slid to sixteen. The 6’5″ left-handed starting pitcher features a mid 90’s fastball, a plus changeup, and the best curveball in the Rays system.

Across 47.2 career innings pitched, the 19-year-old has a 2.08 ERA to go along with 53 strikeouts. Liberatore has also held opposing batters to an impressive .187 average.

The Rays sent Liberatore to Bowling Green for the start of 2019 where he has made 3 starts. The future is bright for the lanky southpaw.

Most Interesting Player: Tanner Dodson, OF/RHP, CBB, 71st overall

A 2-way player out of college, Tanner Dodson was selected by the Rays with their Competitive Balance Pick, 71st overall. An outfielder with the ability to throw an upper 90’s fastball which he pairs with a sharp slider, Dodson has impressed early on, both at the plate and on the bump.

After a strong professional debut in which he dominated Rookie League hitters, Dodson opened  the 2019 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. So far, he is slashing .250/.331/.364 across 60 at bats. On the mound, he has struggled to find the command he had in 2018 and as a result, his ERA has ballooned to 5.29. In 2018, he posted a 1.44 ERA.

But, the tools are there for Dodson to make an impact at the major league level. He offers speed on the base path and may be a late inning reliever who could provide at bats off the bench. Keep an eye on him moving forward.

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