Advanced college bats tend to go early on MLB draft day for teams needing a quick impact and 2016 should be no exception. One of the top college position players around is University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, who combines present baseball skills with attractive athleticism. Barring a catastrophic slump or serious injury, he is a lock for the first round at this point and a likely Top Ten or even Top Five pick. Let's take a look.
A high school player at Simeon Academy in Chicago, Ray was well-known to Midwest scouts but it was generally felt he was best-served attending college. Drafted in the 33rd round in 2013 by the Mariners, he honored his commitment to the University of Louisville; this was a great move for him. After a solid part-time freshman season in 2014 (.325/.416/.481 in 77 at-bats), he moved into a full-time job as a sophomore in '15 and responded with a .329/.385/.543 line, combining 11 homers with 34 stolen bases and 24 walks. He also whiffed 60 times in 265 at-bats and contact was one question he had to answer entering 2016.
He's addressed that issue, posting a 17/18 BB/K in his first 143 at-bats this spring, cutting down whiffs dramatically without losing any production with a .315/.382/.587 slash line. He continues to provide power (nine homers) and speed (28 steals in 34 attempts)
Ray is a 6-0, 190 pound left-handed hitter and thrower born September 22nd, 1994. He's added two inches of height and some 20 pounds of muscle since high school, without losing any of his plus running speed or athletic flexibility. His defense still needs some polish but he runs well enough to handle center field with more reps; his arm is a tick above-average. If he loses speed and can't stay in center, he has enough pop in his bat to avoid being labeled as a tweener. His swing is simple and repeatable and he's eased any concerns about high strikeout rates this spring.
2015 MLB DRAFT PROJECTION: Early first round.
Here's some video shot by Perfect Game's Andrew Krause.