Scott Grauer: Four to five would be an impressive haul. I went back in the draft archives to see if they've done that before, and I had to go back to the 2008 draft. They got Kyle Lobstein (2), Shawn Smith (9), Brad Furdal (11), Jason McEachern (13) and Trevor Shull (19). Ideally, the 2013 draft turns out better than that!
If they're going for a draft like that, this is a good one since that's where the strength lies. Gannon and Carroll have a bit of promise, but with young arms in short-season leagues, obviously you need to take a wait-and-see approach. It's good that you mentioned Mujica and Castillo. Of course they're far away too, but they do add to the depth. On the tangentially related subject of international signings, their pursuit of those two plus David Rodriguez leaves them with penalties for this year's July 2nd signing period. I wonder if that'll ensure they'll spend as close to their bonus limit as they can.
Michael Valancius: Happy draft day everyone! During the final segment of this draft Deep Thoughts, Scott and I will make our projected picks for today's draft, mocking the Rays' first three picks. The draft tonight will cover the first two rounds, with the remaining 38 rounds split across Friday and Saturday. The Rays have two first round picks (#21 and #29) and one second round pick (#60).
Remember, these are not who we want the Rays to pick; these are who we think they will take.
21. Rays select Ian Clarkin, LHP from Madison High School in California.
I really wish I could envision a scenario in which an elite pitcher such as Kohl Stewart, Trey Ball, or Ryan Stanek falls to the Rays' first pick. However, even if Colin Moran went first overall, a helium guy like Phil Bickford is picked early, and there is another surprise or two, I just don't see a way that the Rays will have the opportunity to pick any of those players. If one did fall, I would project the Rays to select him with this pick.
In the end, I narrowed this pick down to Ian Clarkin and Nick Ciuffo. Other guys in the range that I also considered were Aaron Judge, Austin Wilson, Phillip Ervin, Tim Anderson, and Hunter Green.
Scott profiled Ian Clarkin in one of the draft previews:
Best attribute: Clarkin is not as raw as many of his high school peers. He has less work to do on his delivery than most to improve pitch location.
Analysis: Clarkin is anywhere from 6'1 to 6'3 depending on where you look, and sources have differing opinions on his projectability. Nevertheless, his velocity did improve on the summer showcase circuit, and it's expected that he can sit in the 90-92 range now rather than 88-90. His mid-70's curveball is a potential plus pitch as long as he maintains his arm slot and doesn't flatten the pitch out. His changeup is already pretty advanced for a high school arm with a nice dip in velocity compared to his fastball and a little bit of movement.
Stock: Clarkin's ranking varies from the low teens to 60's depending on the source with most being closer to the former. It would be surprising if he made it to the Rays' second round pick at #60 overall.
In some ways, Clarkin reminds me a bit of a lesser version of Taylor Guerrieri. Both had hard fastballs as prep arms, though Guerrieri had a little more velocity while Clarkin's heat comes from the left side. Guerrieri and Clarkin both claimed one of the best curveballs in their respective classes, and each featured a developing change-up. Guerrieri had a little bit of an edge in physical stature, but Clarkin comes without any negative remarks about makeup.
29. Rays select Austin Wilson, OF from Stanford.
With Ian Clarkin a slot level pick, the Rays can theoretically afford to take a pricier pick. However, by selecting Austin Wilson, who should sign for slot, they instead set themselves up to dish out higher bonuses in later rounds.
Baseball America actually had the Rays picking Wilson at #29 in their latest mock draft, so this is around the range he is expected to be picked in.
Here is the preview I wrote for Austin Wilson:
Austin Wilson, Stanford (RHH, 6'5, 245 lbs.)
Best Tool: Austin Wilson has all the raw attributes of a star hitter, including plus-plus power.
Analysis: One of the top draft prospects three years ago out of high school, Wilson fulfilled his commitment to Stanford. Unfortunately, he has disappointed; instead of blossoming into a star, he has struggled with inconsistency. Despite his incredible bat speed and power, Wilson's swing mechanics have held him back (the infamous Stanford swing). Scouts are confident the issues can be corrected in pro ball. Defensively, Wilson is a plus right fielder who moves very well for his size and has a cannon for an arm. Though he can also play some center field, his future home is in right.
Stock: Wilson's rankings put him right in line with the Rays' first and second picks.
60. Rays select Cord Sandberg, OF from Manatee High School in Florida.
This pick was very difficult to make, as it is impossible to determine which fifty-nine players will already be selected. While you get a solid grasp of who is gone and who is still available for the first thirty picks or so, the second round is always full of surprises.
Since I have the Rays spending slot or below for the first two picks, I am going to predict that they will make a minor splash with this third pick by taking someone who has slipped or will sign over-slot. In the end, I debated between Cord Sandberg and Ryan Boldt. Both are high school outfielders who may be moderately difficult signs for different reasons. Sandberg is an excellent quarterback with a commitment to Mississippi State. Boldt has battled injuries and a short playing season, giving scouts less of an opportunity to view him. Because of this, his stock has slipped from the middle of the first round to somewhere in the second round. The rumor is that if he does not get first round money, he will not sign. Since Sandberg's (present baseball) talent is more in line with the 60th pick, it is more likely that he is both still available at this time and signable. On the pitching side, I considered a few college arms such as Aaron Blair, Tom Windle, and Chris Anderson. The Rays have taken a college arm in only three of their twenty three first or second round draft picks since 2008 though, so they do not appear to be particularly inclined to take a college arm early.
Here was my report on Cord Sandberg:
Cord Sandberg, Florida H.S. (LHH, 6'3, 215 lbs.)
Best Tool: A Mississippi State commit to play quarterback, Sandberg is one of the best athletes available in the draft.
Analysis: Sandberg's tools and athleticism are considered on par with Austin Meadow's, who is one of the two best prep positional players in the draft. If Sandberg can learn to take better routes, he may stay in center field with his above average speed. Both his raw power and bat speed earn rave reviews. The main issue with him is his lack of experience in baseball as he has split time between football and baseball.
Stock: Sandberg is expected to be taken in the second to third round. His elite athleticism makes him a high risk high reward type of gamble.
SG: Michael clearly covered a lot of the possibilities pretty well. I'm going to go a different direction on all three picks though.
21. Rays select Nick Ciuffo, C from Lexington HS in South Carolina.
It seems like you can't swing a cat without hitting a mock draft that has Ciuffo going to the Rays. Barring a surprising slide from a higher rated player, I think it's a good fit. It'll be their latest stab at developing their own catcher, and he'll fit in ahead of David Rodriguez and behind Oscar Hernandez to start his career. Here's what I wrote about him recently:
Best tool: Ciuffo is considered to be the best defensive catcher in the draft, but his all-around game is pretty solid.
Analysis: Other catchers in the draft may have better individual skills (such as Jon Denney's power and Reese McGuire's arm), but Ciuffo is the most well-rounded. He offers advanced receiving skills and all the intangibles a team looks for in a catcher. With some tweaks to his throwing mechanics, he could become above average in handling the running game too. He hits for contact well with good bat speed, and he has the strength to become an above average power hitter.
Stock: Ciuffo has already been given to the Rays in a number of mock drafts, and he likely won't last past the first round.
29. Rays select Marco Gonzales, LHP from Gonzaga.
It seems like mock drafts have moved away from giving Gonzales to the Rays, but I'll go back to him. He should sign quickly and give them an arm that can provide some solid value when he reaches the majors. In terms of readiness of their pitching prospects, he'll probably fit somewhere in between the gang with Durham right now and Taylor Guerrieri, Blake Snell and Jeff Ames with Bowling Green. He's in Paul Kirsch's region, and they have to take a Kirsch guy at some point, right? Here's what I've previously written about Gonzales:
Best attribute: The changeup that Gonzales throws is one of the best in the draft.
Analysis: The Process Report has already covered the merits of drafting Gonzales very well, and I don't have much to add. Drafting Gonzales probably wouldn't excite even the most hardcore draft fans, but he could provide a quick return on investment as a solid major league starter. His fastball has average velocity at best at 88-90 MPH, but he commands it very well. His breaking ball is maybe average.
Stock: With solid potential and a chance to reach the majors quickly, Gonzales may not be around for the team's second pick in the first round.
60. Rays select Dustin Driver, RHP from Wenatchee HS in Washington.
I'll go back to Kirsch's region one more time for this high school lefty. On Baseball America's rankings, this may seem like a bit of a reach, but others have him right around this range. Last summer, it seemed like there would be no chance that Driver would be available at 60, but an uneven spring changed his fortunes. I considered another player with a Rays connection here, Fullerton center fielder Michael Lorenzen, but I felt it would be better go to with a high school arm. Here's what I had to say about Driver earlier:
Best attribute: Like Crowe, Driver is already built pretty solidly and should be very durable.
Analysis: Driver has the size and pitchability to pitch in a major league rotation some day, but aside from his 91-93 MPH fastball, his other pitches need some work. He works with two breaking balls right now, but it seems like his harder slider will be the better pitch moving forward, not his curveball. His changeup occasionally flashes potential to be an average or so pitch, but there's work to be done on it. His command can certainly improve too.
Stock: Once considered a potential first rounder, his command and present below average secondary pitches have knocked him more into the 2nd-4th round range. The Rays certainly love their players from Washington.