Tampa Bay Rays Select LeVon Washington in the First Round

via www.gatorcountry.com

What I said a few days ago:

LeVon Washington, OF, HS (FL)

Toolbox! Washington has speed to kill. He's a line drive hitter right now, but a verbal commitment to the University of Florida pushes him down. Most have him as a future centerfielder although there are some question marks about his arm.

Okay, so Washington. He's left-handed, has a nice approach at the plate, and is ridiculously fast. The question marks about his arm are going to have everyone projecting him as a second baseman, but there's a really good chance he still ends up in center down the road. His tools are off the charts. I thought he was more of a second round type, but he's the classic Rays-type. It seems like the best case scenario at second  is the good version of Luis Castillo. One scout described him as "Aki's bat with Jose Reyes' speed."

Washington is apparently a distant cousin of Fred McGriff.

Update: And Andrew Friedman just confirmed Washington will be a centerfielder, for now at least.

Best case: Johnny Damon

Most likely: Scott Podsednik

You can check out some Washington highlights here.

Here's what Conor Glassey says:

We had him at No. 29 on our board and Buchholz High’s LeVon Washington went to the Rays at 30. They drafted him as a second baseman, but Washington also has the tools to play center field. One of the fastest players in the draft, Washington was a designated hitter for most of the spring after having labrum surgery.

Here's what PG Crosschecker said about LeVon:

He did okay (for a high school player) to wait on breaking balls and not get out on his front foot, though one of his weak groundouts were on a curve.

Defensively, Washington really struggled. He caught two routine fly balls early, then badly misjudged two more that dropped in front of him in the sixth inning, while Buchholz was trying to keep the game close against Taravella High School in an eventual 6-3 loss. In both instances, Washington went back only to realize the ball was in front of him. His speed almost allowed him to catch up, but not quite.

They also have his measured times to first base.

Rays Prospects has the BA side of the scouting story:

Like Damon, Washington can hit, and he was moving up draft boards thanks to his blazing speed and consistent spring. A 6.2-second runner over 60 yards at showcases, Washington has played mostly infield but doesn't have the arm for it, and most scouts see him as an outfielder thanks to his easy speed. Washington has bat speed at the plate, giving him solid pop, though not true power, and he has shown signs of developing a good pro approach. Washington, who spent three years in Guam when his father was assigned there while in the military, could move as high as the supplemental first round despite his arm.

Dave Cameron's thoughts on the pick:


#30. Tampa Bay - Levon Washington, 2B

You don't see second baseman go in the first round that often, but Washington has serious athletic ability. He's a left-handed bat with some top flight speed and the Rays liked his approach at the plate, so he could be a classic leadoff hitter type.

And finally, some ESPN reaction:

Jason Churchill: If he were a shortstop, he'd have gone higher. His video says center field for me. My question is -- how much is he going to hit?

Keith Law: The Rays probably would have taken Fuentes, but Boston picked their pockets. Washington was a premium guy coming into the year, but had labrum surgery and didn't throw well when he was able to take the field.He has the speed to play center and has played second in the past -- I'd expect them to try him in the infield -- but there's definitely a downside risk here that he ends up in left. Incidentally, is this the first time the Rays have taken a Boras advisee in Round 1?

Washington, 17, hit .400 (34-for-85) this season with seven home runs, 14 stolen bases, 19 RBI, four doubles, one triple, and 32 runs scored.  Baseball America ranked him as the No. 2 "fastest runner" among high school players entering the draft.  Baseball America also rated him the No. 29 prospect entering the draft, and the No. 9 center fielder.  At the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Game in Los Angeles last August, Washington was named the Best Running Prospect.

-- Team release

If anything else interesting is said, throw it in the comments please.

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