Alternate Universe Tampa Bay Rays Draft
A few days ago, someone sent me an email asking me who I would have picked if I had been drafting for the Tampa Bay Rays. I thought this was an interesting question and a potentially fun exercise.
A few points. There is a lot of hindsight here, obviously. In a "normal" Shadow Draft, you should draft in real time in parallel with the real-world draft as much as possible, to simulate the uncertainty about what other teams are going to do. Secondly, while a lot of Rays fans seem disappointed in how the Rays used their picks, I think they did a good job in real life.
I'm not really second-guessing them, they know more about all of these guys than I do, this is just my own spin on things. They don't have an unlimited budget, and loading up with nothing but Josh Bell or Daniel Norris types is simply not realistic with ten first-round picks to use. With that in mind, this Alternate Universe draft is conducted with an eye towards affordability, as well as my own lean towards college players that I've seen in person.
I will do this for ten rounds.
1-24) Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, South Carolina HS: No need to change this one. I love this guy.
1-31) Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU: I love this guy, too. Steal at 31st overall, no need to change this.
1-32) Jake Hager, SS, Nevada HS: This is a slight overdraft, however I really like Hager as a prospect and will stick with this too.
1S-38) I think Brandon Martin is a pretty solid prospect, but I'll go with Central Arizona JC outfielder Keenyn Walker due to his blazing speed and improved hitting skills. He went to the White Sox at 47th overall in real life.
1S-41) Many scouts really like Tyler Goeddel, but for some reason that I can't pin down, I think this is an overdraft here, plus he may not be that easy to sign. I'm going to go with Puerto Rican high school right-hander Jorge Lopez, who went to the Brewers in the second round in real life. I love Lopez due to his projectability and smooth delivery.
1S-42) They picked junior college pitcher Jeff Ames in real life, but I will go with the plus stuff of University of California right-hander Erik Johnson (second round, White Sox) with my pick.
1S-52) Projectable high school lefty Blake Snell was the pick here, a very interesting prospect and signable but with an erratic performance record. I prefer Merced Junior College right-hander Jake Sisco, who was drafted in the third round by the Indians in real life. I think he is seriously underrated.
1S-56) Kes Carter, OF, Western Kentucky: I like this guy a lot, good balance of tools and skills. No reason to change it.
1S-59) Grayson Garvin, LHP, Vanderbilt: Not going to change this one either.
1S-60) James Harris, OF, California HS: Seems like an overdraft to many, but Harris has excellent tools, with power and speed, and is signable. I'll stick with it.
2-75) Granden Goetzman, OF, Florida HS: I think he's a bargain in the second round, and he's already signed.
2-89) Lenny Linsky, RHP, University of Hawaii: I'll stick with this one.
3) Johnny Eierman, OF, Missouri HS: I'll stick with this toolsy outfielder.
4) They went with Arizona State 3B Riccio Torrez here, but I'll pick Nebraska 3B Cody Asche instead, who went to the Phillies with the next real life pick. He has a better bat, though Torrez is more likely to stick at third base defensively.
5) High school third baseman J.D. Davis was the pick here, however I don't think I would have been able to resist Wichita State power southpaw Charlie Lowell here, who somehow fell to the sixth round in real life.
6) Cal State Fullerton's Jake Floethe was the real pick here. I will go with Texas A&M right-hander Ross Stripling instead, who is likely to be a bargain for the Rockies in the ninth round.
7) I like real life Gonzaga lefty Ryan Carpenter, and will stick with it.
8) Real life choice was California prep 1B John Alexander, but I don't know much about him. I will go with Barry University RHP Manny Rodriguez and his hot fastball and fresh arm, taken in the 10th round by the Nationals in real life.
9) Western Kentucky catcher Matt Rice was the pick here, an affordable senior with terrific makeup that I will stick with.
10) California prep RHP Jacob Faria is projectable and committed to Cal State Fullerton. I will instead go with another lively arm that is a personal favorite, RHP Deshorn Lake, from the Virgin Islands, drafted by the Red Sox in the 12th round.
The real life draft is younger and has higher upside positionally, but I think my class has stronger pitching.