I can't be the only one who was left wanting more, right? I mean all this talk about taking the best player and ponying up the cash to do so... I can't help but feel a little let down by day one of the draft. Okay, Josh Bell would've been great but he probably wasn't realistically going to happen. It just seems that with almost every pick after the first two, there seemed to be a lot of talent left on the board.
I loved the Taylor Guerrieri pick at #24. There was a run of bats with Brandon Nimmo, C.J. Cron, and Kolten Wong all off the board by that point, which meant that some of the pitching talent slipped. Guerrieri was expected to be gone before the Rays made their first selection, so I think they got pretty good value here. He's got a great fastball and a curveball that shows promise. More importantly, I think the Rays definitely needed a top young arm like his in the system. Once he signs, I think he's immediately the team's top pitching prospect among the short-season teams. Similarly, no complaints with Mikie Mahtook at #31. He doesn't have Tremendous Upside Potential but he flat raked with the bats that were supposed to suppress offense. He was rumored to be in the mix for teams in the teens, so he was a nice get at the end of the first round.
And then they took Jake Hager. I mean, he's got average tools across the board but I'm just not seeing the upside here. If he had one obvious standout tool or was a better athlete it would make more sense, but from my point of view this was a total -- yeah, I'll say it -- cheap pick. But fine. A lot of picks, can't go over-slot with all of them, I understand. I would've preferred to take slot-or-below guy or two in the supplemental round, but no big deal.Then they took Brandon Martin with their first supplemental round pick, immediately rendering Hager irrelevant because Martin, also a shortstop, is more athletic with better defense and probably more offensive potential. Notice I didn't say great athlete, because Martin isn't, but definitely above-average and will stick at shortstop. I can buy the Martin pick on its own, and I buy the Hager pick on its own but I'm not sure I like them together. There were more toolsy up-the-middle players that would've made more sense to me than Hager, like Trevor Story, Connor Barron or Tyler Greene. Alternatively, another prep pitcher (like Michael Kelly or Hudson Boyd) would've fit better, to me, in the #32 spot because of the reasons discussed with Guerrieri: Right now the system is heavy with pitching at the top, but you don't want to have a reverse of that in three or four years.
The Rays took Tyler Goeddel, a lanky high school 3B, at #41. I like this pick, he's got baseball bloodlines and a high ceiling, though he definitely needs to add some strength to get there. Jeff Ames at #42 was another head-scratcher, though. He's got one of the better fastballs in the draft, a 93-95 offering with great action on it, but beyond that he sounds like a reliever: breaking ball with potential that isn't quite there yet, a show-me change-up, and a delivery that requires some effort. If the Rays see him as a future starter, there were plenty of players out there who I think would've been better choices (Kelly or Boyd from the HS ranks, Anthony Meo from college), and the same holds true if the Rays see him as a reliever.
Next up was Blake Snell, who I liked. As maybe a fourth rounder. He's a Washington (of course) high school lefty with some potential, but like Hager, this seems like a signability pick. He was committed to the University of Washington but was ruled academically ineligible. In other words, pretty much his only option was to go pro which means the team drafting him can really dictate the signing bonus since he has little leverage. I liked the pick of Kes Carter at #56, a toolsy-ish college outfielder. But I would've liked it more if it were accompanied by some higher ceilings around him.
The #59 pick was Grayson Garvin, a tall, fastball-changeup pitcher from Vanderbilt. His breaking ball is pretty weak and he's not really a threat to add to add velocity, so his ceiling is a back-end type. I know the saying is that "you need back-end guys too," but... really? With all the upper-level pitching talent in the system I'd be pretty surprised if Grayson would be any more than an occasional spot-starter. Of course no one knows what will happen in 3-4 years, but I would've liked to see a higher ceiling here. And at #60, they did take a higher-ceiling guy in James Harris. He's a great athlete but will need significant time in the minors to develop as he's quite raw and far away from that ceiling. His profile reminds me of Ty Morrison... who was a fourth-round pick.
And I guess that sort of summarizes my feelings on the draft quite well. It just seems like they could've gotten a lot of these guys later than they actually took him. And after the talk about spending for top talent, I have a tough time believing these were the top talents on the board at each pick. I don't have a big problem with each pick individually, but as a whole I'm definitely left wanting more.
There's still that chance to get more, certainly. Two players I would've liked to see the Rays get in the supplemental round, Dan Vogelbach and Granden Goetzman, are still out there. And that's just two names among many more (Andrew Susac, Anthony Meo, Connor Barron, etc etc). But looking over the first ten picks, who are they really going to have to over-slot to get? Guerrieri a little bit, maybe Mahtook a little bit. And that's it, isn't it? For all the rumors and optimism about money not really being an issue, through ten picks I kind of think money is an issue. That's why I'm left wanting more, but we'll see what day two brings.