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Tampa Bay Rays Draft Review

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Another AL East team, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Rays Draft Review
1) Josh Sale, OF, Washington HS: The best high school power hitter in the draft, Sale's other tools are mediocre/marginal, but he can really slam the ball and has great makeup. Travis Snider comparisons are apt.

1) Justin O'Conner, C, Indiana HS: Possibly a real steal at 31st overall, O'Conner rapidly improved his defense this year and swings an impressive power bat, although he may need to refine his approach a bit.

1S) Drew Vettleson, OF, Washington HS: Another excellent high school hitter, Vettleson should hit for average and has good plate discipline. Opinion is mixed about his power but it should at least be average. Makeup is excellent. Oregon State scholarship won't stand in the way in this slot.

2) Jake Thompson, RHP, Long Beach State University: Problems with his breaking ball and general lack of consistency kept him out of the first round, but Thompson's 92-95 MPH fastball and strong changeup should make him an intriguing reliever in pro ball.

2) Derek Dietrich, 3B-SS, Georgia Tech: He was very good in college and a fine pick in the second round, although the exact shape his career will take is somewhat unclear. Limited shortstop range will move him to third, but his arm will play there. He has pop in his bat, but perhaps not enough for a classic hot corner guy. His plate discipline is sometimes good, sometimes not. Makeup is a plus.

3) Ryan Brett, 2B, Washington HS: Rays scouts were busy in the Northwest this spring. Brett is undersized at 5-9 but has bat speed, some power, and runs very well, profiling as a leadoff guy. He needs defensive refinement. Gonzaga commitment shouldn't prevent him from signing.

4) Austin Wood, RHP, St. Petersburg Junior College: Poor control resulted in spotty college success, but he can hit 95 and scouts think his problems are fixable. He might do a better job against wooden bats given his lively stuff. Riskier than many college arms, but with better upside.

5) Ian Kendall, RHP, Oregon HS: Shorter guy at 6-0, but has a low-90s fastball and an impressive curve. A sleeper pick, he has an Oregon State offer but will probably sign in this round.

6) Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech: Expected to be a first round pick two months ago before being waylaid by health problems. He has excellent stuff and showed improved command this spring before getting hurt. Status is unclear right now, but a potential bargain.

7) Michael Lorenzen, OF, California HS: Runs well, outstanding throwing arm, and physically strong, but his bat is extremely raw and some scouts doubt he'll ever hit well. Others think he just needs more experience; opinion is mixed. His arm is strong enough that he could be a great pitcher if the bat doesn't develop. Cal State Fullerton commitment could get in the way here.

8) Merrill Kelly, RHP, Arizona State University: Can hit 90 MPH and has a great changeup, was successful in college, but concerns about funky mechanics kept him from earlier rounds.

9) Jake DePew, C, Illinois HS: Gets good reviews for his defense behind the plate, but bat is raw, not unusual for a cold-weather high school guy.

10) Deshun Dixon, OF, Mississippi HS: Brother of Oakland prospect Rashun Dixon and NFL running back Anthony Dixon. Very good athlete, with speed his best tool, but quite raw otherwise. Has a good arm and could pitch if hitting doesn't work out.

FOUR OTHERS OF NOTE: 11-Travis Flores, 1B, Arizona HS; 12-Phil Wunderlich, 1B, University of Louisville; 13-Robby Price, 2B, University of Kansas; 23-Kevin Patterson, 1B, Auburn;  

COMMENT: The Rays picked up four of the best high school bats available this year in Sale, O'Conner, Vettleson, and Brett. It will take some time to filter them through the minors, but it adds a ton of depth to the system. College picks Thompson, Dietrich, Wood, and Hahn all have some questions to answer, but each of them was a first or second round possibility pre-draft and grabbing them all was nicely done. High school players like Lorenzen, DePew, and Dixon have a high bust potential but have an outside chance to be impact guys. Overall I think the Rays used their picks very well, and I trust the Rays to successfully refine upside players more than most organizations.