In this edition of deep thoughts, Michael and I will focus mainly on where some of the new picks might fit into the organizational rankings as well as some of the difficulties of making those lists, particularly in the middle of a season.
Scott Grauer: To kind of wrap up our draft coverage, we both agreed we could talk about, among other things, where some of the new picks fit into the system. We're going to do mid-season top 30 updates around the signing deadline, but for now, we can get preliminary thoughts down. To start, I looked back at the top 30 I did in the middle of the 2012 season, and Richie Shaffer was the only 2012 pick I had on there. Andrew Toles eventually worked his way on during the off-season, but last year, they took a lot of raw players that'll take time if they even develop at all. Without spending the time to create an entire list off the cuff, I think I'll have two 2013 picks in my mid-season update next month: Nick Ciuffo on the fringe of the top 10 and Ryne Stanek somewhere in the 11-20 range.
Michael Valancius: I always find ranking players in season to be a difficult task for two reasons. Firstly, there is normally an absence of new scouting reports on the players, so it is tricky to assess whether a player has actually made strides in his game beyond just the box scores. And, as we saw in Wil Myer's case, a hot or cold streak can greatly influence a player's overall line at this time in the season. Tim Beckham could be hitting league average at the signing deadline, but after a two week hot streak, he could be posting a 115 wRC+. All of a sudden, his season goes from mediocre to a relative success. Still, rankings are always fun.
Out of the guys the Rays selected, only Ryne Stanek and Nick Ciuffo, the Rays' two first round picks, are locks to make my top 30. I think Riley Unroe will receive consideration, but without making an actual list, I'm not sure if he fits into the top 30. I actually have Stanek ahead of Ciuffo; I'm wary of high school catchers given their dismal success rates while Stanek's present stuff makes him a safer bet to have an impact. And considering Stanek was rated around the 8th to 12th best draft prospect while Ciuffo was around 20th, I will defer to the "experts" opinions and rate Stanek higher. Though he slid in the draft, I have not heard a concrete cause for the slippage. Depending on who loses their prospect eligibility, Stanek fits somewhere from fifth to tenth in the system for me. Off of the top of my head, my guess is that Ciuffo works into the 8-12 range for me. Again, a lot can change in a few weeks and I haven't even started making my list, so these rankings are by no means set in stone.
SG: You make a good point regarding the success rate of high school catchers, and I'm coming around to your side. Stanek probably should be ranked ahead of Ciuffo in mid-season rankings. Not that opinions should change drastically based on a few starts, but I'm looking forward to seeing Stanek get into a few box scores professionally with Hudson Valley. Even if he waits until 7/15 to sign, that's still a month and a half for him to his arm back into game shape and pitch, no matter how cautious the organization might be.
Like you, I'm probably taking a wait and see approach to Unroe. Andrew Toles surprised me with his solid professional debut last year, and Unroe or another pick could certainly do the same this season. He's certainly going to have some competition in the lower levels for players jostling to get into the rankings. There are a number of 2012 draftees that still don't have much pro experience, and then you have David Rodriguez, Jose Castillo and Jose Mujica too. Maybe this is the year Yoel Araujo puts something together, who knows?
MV: While both of us wrote recaps on all the players the Rays drafted, we never took the opportunity to give our opinions on the draft. They say that it takes at least five years to grade a draft, but that has never stopped people from taking initial views of drafts.
After the first day of the draft, I was pretty ecstatic. The Rays made a very solid pick with Nick Ciuffo while nabbing a sliding college pitcher with their next pick. Riley Unroe is not a pick to overlook either, as he combines solid hitting skills with excellent athleticism. My hope for the Rays in this draft was to target high school arms, but even though they didn't add any with their first three picks, I felt very positive about the Rays' picks.
A lot of those positive impressions gradually faded during the second and third days of the drafts. While the first and second rounds are where teams accrue the most value, finding value in the middle and late picks is a way to gain an competitive advantage. Overall, it felt like the Rays were very conservative after their first few picks, a slightly baffling strategy for a team that has neither the top picks nor the financial ability to add star level players. The Rays draft was very short on high school arms, and while there were some positional players, the Rays leaned more toward athletes than players with promising offensive futures. It wasn't a bad draft in my opinion, but I definitely see how some can feel underwhelmed.
SG: I think underwhelming is the perfect word here. With the first round, I agree that there shouldn't be any complaints. Ciuffo went off the board right around where he should have and conveniently adds depth in an area of need for the organization, and Stanek has potential to be a steal where they got him. After that, I have no choice but to echo your thoughts and say it was a conservative draft. Of course it's possible for any of these players to pan out, but what really struck me was how many of the position players seem to profile best at second base. Four of the players taken in the top 10 rounds I could easily imagine playing second base: Unroe, Kean Wong, Johnny Fields and Ty Young. Unroe's a good athlete and has potential, you could potentially see Wong play another position, but there did almost seem to be some kind of emphasis on grinder-type players.
One thing I wanted to get to here: two of my favorite picks that came on day two, and those would be outfielder Thomas Milone and pitcher Roel Ramirez. Ramirez has signed already and Milone hasn't, but I'm very interested to see how they start their pro careers. Milone is a really good athlete with some decent power potential and adds some depth to the outfield in the lower levels. One negative about Ramirez is his smallish stature for a right-handed pitcher (6'1, 205). His fastball sits in the high-80's to low-90's which is okay, but it seems like he's already filled out and might not be able to add a lot more strength. It could also be a bit of a flat pitch with his size, but he has a good feel for secondary pitches, and I'm interested to see how he does.