As of this writing, and assuming this draft order is correct, the Rays will own six of the top 90 picks in next June's draft. If Brian Shouse finds a new home, raise that number to seven. Last season the Rays had two in the top 100, and from 2006-8 they held three of the top 100 picks. This looks to be the first time the Rays will hold more than three picks that early and often since 2003 when they had four of the top 100 picks. Otherwise, they've never held more than four, and we're talking about a potential seven.
If you want a bit of a blueprint on how teams normally handle that many picks that early, look at Seattle last year. They had five in the top 100, including three of the top 35, and chose the following players:
(2) Dustin Ackley - Best player available
(27) Nick Franklin - Good upside, high school shortstop
(33) Steven Baron - Signability pick
(51) Richard Poythress - Some upside, college bat
(82) Kyle Seager - College bat
With a (presumably) smaller budget and more picks, odds are you'll see an additional signability pick. Although, the lower draft position could balance that some and the Rays have the ability to take a potentially risky sign with any of their picks, minus the two given for failing to sign LeVon Washington and Kenny Diekroeger. Not that I'm encouraging they go into the draft with the mindset to blatantly ‘pass' on a selection, but the option is there. That could lead to a ridiculous 2011 draft if the Rays claim stake to two or more Type-A free agents.*
For most, the key question is simple. How many of these players should we expect to reach the majors?
I took each draft class from 2000-04 and tallied the amount of players in the top 45 who reached the majors, and then the amount in the next 45. What I found are pretty consistent rates in both rounds. In the first 45, about 60% of players will reach the majors. In the second 45, that rate is closer to 48%.Of course, that first 45 includes the top few picks which you would think have the highest likelihood of reaching the majors - or should, in theory - so in actuality you can bump the 60% down slightly if you so wish.
From there, it's simple math. If each player in the top 45 has a 60% chance at reaching the majors, and the Rays have three picks in the top 45, that gives them something like a 21.6% chance of landing three players who will someday reach the majors, a 36% chance at landing two, and a 6.4% chance of landing none at all. If Brian Shouse signs somewhere and they get four picks, then those odds of landing a Major Leaguer increase further; 13% of landing four and 2.6% of landing none.
Now, again, those odds are somewhat inflated because of the very top picks. The chance of landing four Major Leaguers when your first pick comes in the middle of round one is lower than 13%.
Those next three picks will come in the second 45, and if each has what amounts to a flip of a coin's chance of reaching the Majors, then the odds of landing no Major Leaguers is 14%, landing two is 23%, and landing three is 11%. All told, with six picks, the Rays have about a 2% chance of landing six Major Leaguers and less than 1% chance of landing none.
(Note: I know someone will raise the point that the exact percentage of landing none is actually higher than that because the Rays will essentially take a talent or two who are overdrafts. I would offer that the dataset already includes guys who were overdrafts. It's not like taking someone who will sign for under slot in the early rounds is new.)
*If Crawford, Soriano, and Pena each lock up Type-A, then sign elsewhere, that's six draft picks. Three of those should be first rounders. That's four first round picks. If the Rays are ever, ever signing a Type-A free agent again, then it'll happen next winter. The budget will be cleared and the draft picks will mean little.