Here we go again. This is my 2nd year doing the mock. Last year's draft was scouted by the fine people at RaysBaseball.com and I'm sure the same will happen this year. I'm just the voice and signature at the end of the decisions and welcome any and all input and feedback.
To recap the draft from last season:
Rd 1, Pick 3: Tim Lincecum, RHP, University of Washington (10 in real draft)
Rd 2, Pick 47: Emmanuel Burriss, SS, Kent State University (33 in real draft)
Rd 3, Pick 79: Aaron Bates, 1B, North Carolina State University (83 in real draft)
Rd 4, Pick 109: Matt McBride, C, Lehigh (75 in real draft)
Rd 5, Pick 139: Nick Fuller, RHP, Georgia HS (79 in real draft)
Last year's draft was very college heavy, but there was a lot of decent upside talent available last year in the later rounds.
Lincecum was a personal favorite and most of the people interested preferred Brad Lincoln. Let's just say that was one case where I'm glad I trusted my gut.
Burriss slipped in the mock draft and a few of us liked him more than some of the HS talent available. He's struggling this season so far hitting for average, but he still has good plate discipline and great speed.
Bates was another personal favorite and I had him on my 2nd round list. He's proved so far as a professional that he was probably more of a 2nd round talent.
McBride was my favorite college catcher in the draft and has done little to prove that sentiment wrong thus far. He's not destroying A ball, but he's doing what was expected and clearly worth the 4th round pick.
Fuller was a great 5th round selection at the time, but little did we all know that he would end up being a little pickpocket. If taken pro in real life, there's almost no doubt in my mind he would be out of trouble and doing well in the low minors. He was successful in his brief stint at college.
NOW onto the 2007 draft. Let's just focus on the 1st round since late round picks are too heavily dependent on availability. Plus, we don't want to give other teams any ideas lol.
My general draft strategy is a mix of need and best talent available at the top, a good mix of pitching and hitting, and more focus on upside in the later rounds. With this draft class, I think we can get some good HS talent in rounds 4 and 5.
But onto the first pick:
I know everyone expects the pick to be David Price and it's obvious why. I'm a big Price fan and expect him to be a solid major league starter at worst.
Having said all that, I'm not as sold on his upside as an "ace" as I was for Lincecum and I even prefer Jake McGee to David Price right now.
But beyond all that, there's one reason I've been leaning more and more to not drafting David Price. And that reason is Matt Wieters.
As rare as it is to find a 6'6" lefty with a plus fastball, a plus breaking ball, and a track record of success.... it's just as rare to find a 6'5" catcher with plus plate discipline, contact skills, current power and potential power, switch-hitter, a plus-plus arm behind the plate, reportedly good catching skills, and a track record of success with wood bats.
Just look at how good Wieters was in the Cape this past offseason: .307/.417/.535, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 23 BB, 21 K in 127 AB.
People rarely, if ever, post a 950 OPS in that league. It's the highest OPS in the Cape this decade.
Talent-wise, Price and Wieters are dead even in my opinion.
So onto need... where will Price fit into the future of the Rays and where will Wieters fit into the future?
Price would be a starter. Of the current starters, only Kazmir and Shields are locked in long-term.
That leaves 3 spots in the rotation for:
RHP Jeff Niemann
RHP Andy Sonnanstine
RHP Jason Hammel
RHP Mitch Talbot
RHP Edwin Jackson
RHP Wade Davis
LHP Jake McGee
RHP Chris Mason
RHP Jeremy Hellickson
RHP Josh Butler
etc etc etc etc
Breaking it down, we see that only Kazmir and McGee exist as legit left-handed options for the rotation. The remaining 3 spots will be filled by the others in that group.
The question becomes, do you think David Price is a big upgrade over the names listed above and/or do you have faith in Jake McGee becoming a solid major league starter?
I'm not of the opinion that Price is a surefire upgrade over the names above, especially when speaking about Sonnanstine, Niemann, and Davis. I'm also a huge believer in McGee and prefer him to Davis as of today.
So, let's move our attention to Wieters. Here is the current Rays catching depth chart:
MLB: Dioner Navarro
Minors: Shawn Riggans, John Jaso, Sergio Pedroza, Nevin Ashley
Jaso and Pedroza simply aren't everyday major league catchers and don't really pass as defensive catchers. They both have good bats, but a bat alone won't get you to the majors as a catcher.
Riggans and Ashley are relatively similar despite being at different stages of their careers. Both guys can hit for average, have enough pop to drive a few out, have solid defensive reputations, have decent speed, and have below-average plate discipline. They are both IMO perfect backup catchers in the majors and I think both will fill that role for the Rays at some point in the future.
So the question then becomes, how much do you believe in Dioner Navarro?
I'm not at all a Navarro fan. He's only showed the talent to hit against lefties in the majors and that's not enough to cut it at the highest level. He doesn't possess any upside or projection and while he'll likely get better through experience and repetition, he's very unlikely to be an above-average catcher any time in the near future. Solid guy who can be around league average with a pretty good arm.
To me, Wieters is a huge upgrade over all of the catchers in the Rays system. He's probably just as good as Navarro right now, while being 2 years younger.
So it's a tough call.
While everyone thinks the Rays need to draft a pitcher, I just don't see that as a position of need within the organization anymore. The Rays have better pitching in the minor leagues than any other organization. They have enough to fill a rotation AND a bullpen just off their starting prospects alone.
Opinions, comments, and of course I'll get a TON of criticism.