The Tampa Bay Rays acquired a compensatory pick from the Cardinals in the trade for Matthew Liberatore. They have now turned that pick into a player.
The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a trade that sent Matthew Liberatore to the Cardinals for Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena this offseason, but they also got the Cardinals’ competitive balance pick. That gave the Rays the 24th and the 37th picks on night one of the event.
Following their 24th pick of 17-year-old Nick Bitsko, a right-handed pitcher, the Rays made their second selection of the first day of the draft.
Alika Williams, a shortstop out of Arizona State University. He’s possibly the best defensive player in the draft. We know how much the Rays put a premium on defense. While he did hit some cleanup this past season and has a career .300 average in 129 NCAA games, ESPN’s broadcast made it clear that his bat doesn’t project as high as the glove.
He gets a great jump on the ball and has a hair-trigger release on his throws. Is the bat as average as they made it seem on the broadcast?
As lauded as his glove is, he did produce a .333/.429/.474 slash in 2019 at Arizona State University. He smashed 4 HRs, 12 2Bs, 9 SBs, and 53 RBIs in just 212 at-bats.
Again, perhaps the best glove in the draft, but don’t undersell the potential with the bat. He’s a great contact hitter with natural power. Not only did he have a solid 2019 with the bat, but he led the 2019 Collegiate National Team with 19 RBI.
Overall, it was a solid night for the Rays in night one of the MLB Draft. They got a potential stud right-handed pitcher and an athletic middle infielder who can sling the leather and make great contact.
I’m a huge fan of this pick. I think his bat is underrated. At worst, he’s a solid utility player, at best he’s an above-average defender at shortstop with power upside to his solid contact bat.