If there's one thing the Rays do better than most any team, it's draft and develop pitchers. It's the lifeblood of the team. Their offensive selections haven't panned out nearly as well. In Stanek the Rays get a right handed starter with a fastball sitting in the 92-96 range, who has a chance to be a top of the rotation starter.
His stock fell after a rough start to the season, but, knowing the Rays, he should get all the help he needs while developing in the minor leagues.
RHP Ryne Stanek, University of Arkansas (22 Y.O. 6'4, 190lbs)
Stats: 10-2, 1.39 ERA, 79K, 97.3IP
Stock: Projected in the middle of the first round by both ESPN and Baseball America
Analysis: Fans were clamoring for Stanek at #21 as he kept falling down the draft, but it took until #21 to get their wish. Michael previewed Stanek last month:
Best Attribute: Stanek has the pitches of a top of the rotation starter, and a team that can help him improve his pitch selection could unlock his potential.
Analysis: It seems that every draft has a college pitcher in the first half of the first round who features plus stuff but is unable to get the expected convincing results. This year, that pitcher is Stanek. For his college career, Stanek has averaged around seven strikeout per nine innings, and he is often unable to dominate college lineups. This is despite his plus stuff, including a fastball that ranges from 92-98 mph, a big breaking slider, a nice curveball, and a solid changeup. Depending upon what source you read, either his slider or his curveball is the superior off speed pitch. Keith Law has speculated that Stanek's issues stem from poor pitch selection, while others suggest factors such as command and his delivery. This inability to get results has caused some to peg him as a future reliever.
Stock: Considered a candidate to go first overall before the year, Stanek has left evaluators confused over his future role and value.
His issues all sound very correctable, especially for an organization with a reputation of developing pitchers. They'll be able to work on his secondary offerings to be sure he has an arsenal deep enough to start. He could take a little more time than the usual college arm to reach the majors, but the payoff could be worth it.
The question then centers around his signability. He was surely expecting to be drafted much higher than this, and if he's feeling confident in himself, he does have the option of going back to Arkansas and hoping for a better year. Let's assume he was expecting top 10 money; the 10th overall pick is worth a shade under $3 million. If the Rays offer him that, it leaves about $3.7 million in the pool to spend for their other picks after spending $3.8 million last year. This is quite doable, and I'm sure the Rays wouldn't have taken him if they weren't at least somewhat aware of what he wanted and how he could fit.
Our friend R.J. Anderson did great work profiling potential draftees over at The Process Report. Go check out his report on Stanek.