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Deep Thoughts: The Draft

Rays Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and Scouting Director R.J. Harrison discuss the upcoming draft at Tropicana Field, Tuesday, May 31, 2011. (Courtesy: BHSN/Adam Kohler)
Rays Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and Scouting Director R.J. Harrison discuss the upcoming draft at Tropicana Field, Tuesday, May 31, 2011. (Courtesy: BHSN/Adam Kohler)

We're going to be busting out a lot of Draft content today, as well as live blogging the picks tonight at 7 PM, so stick around for the ride. And now, on to Glass and Imperialism (Kevin) to get us started off:

Ryan: Well, I guess it's apropos to start where the fun will really start. At pick number 24, the Rays run at draft history will begin. This pick will likely be setup with quite a bit of good options. In my eyes, I'd like to see a bat here unless there's a huge run on the bats from picks 10 on or so. the trio of prep bats I'd look at here are Brandon Nimmo, Javier Baez, or Josh Bell if they fall. From the college side, I'd go George Springer, CJ Cron, or Kolten Wong. I love Springer and Baez's (?) respective upside, but I doubt either fall. Bell and Nimmo have some price-tag questions that could scare us, as well as others, off. 

Kevin: I would definitely be interested in a bat with that pick as well. Springer and Baez have some really nice tools, but like you said it's pretty unlikely they slip. Nimmo is still my dream pick, he's a really good athlete and is actually pretty advanced skills-wise considering he's from Wyoming. Cron and Wong would also be fine picks, though if it comes down to those two I would go with Wong because I think Cron would be more likely to fall to pick #31. I know teams don't draft for need, but San Diego, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and San Francisco all seem to have 1B set for the next few years and don't have the DH luxury. The only AL teams that pick between #24 and #31 are Boston and Minnesota and I don't see them popping Cron.

Ryan: That's a good point on the way Cron slots in at 31 or 32 with the way the picks line up. It's pretty widely held that this draft is strong, and it's biggest strength is pitching. A lot of that is college pitching in the first 10-15 picks, but from there-- in my eyes-- the talent is pretty spread across demographics. I really, really like some of the toolsier high school position players in this draft. Granden Goetzman, Derek Fisher, Johnny Eierman, and Senquez Golson stick out to me as some high upside guys the Rays could target from the sandwich round on if they think they'll be signable. What are your thoughts on these toolsy high schhol types?

Kevin: There's a lot to like there and obviously the Rays have the opportunity to gamble on some of them with all their picks. Goetzman is one I really like, especially when comps like Jayson Werth are brought up. Fisher is another of those guys who's supposedly looking for a sizable bonus, so he may have priced himself out of the Rays' range. Another high schooler I like is Connor Barron, from Mississippi. He has a chance to become what everyone thought Reid Brignac would be: a good hitter with pop capable of playing an average shortstop. Of course Barron could turn into a plus defender like Brignac or outgrow the position, but I think he'd be worth taking a look at in the supplemental round. Any other high schoolers you like?

Ryan: Well, I love Dan Vogelbach. I'm not sure how I feel about him as a prospect, but he's sure as hell someone I can cheer for. Between the videos of his mammoth blasts and his plus-sized physique, he's ripe for cult fandom. I do wonder about all these rumors that are swirling about the Rays possibly targeting him at 32. Seems awful early, to me, to pick a no-position bat out of high school. He's a bad athlete with a bad body, and you just don't see many of them in the Bigs. The Prince Fielder comps are nice, but Prince is a great athlete for a man of his stature, and he has big league bloodlines. I'd love to add Vogelbach, but I prefer Cron. There's no way both are being taken before the second round, so I guess I'm just a little concerned by these rumors. What are your thoughts on the big bodied basher?

Kevin: I'm with you on Cron over him, and even if the Rays don't get Cron, Vogelbach in the first round would be a bit of a reach. I think he'd fit better as one of the later supplemental round picks (52, 56, 59, 60). I wouldn't be opposed to adding both Cron and Vogelbach to the system, just not both as first rounders. You don't draft for need but considering how power is valued around baseball, the best way to get it into your system is likely through the draft. Vogelbach's reportedly floated out an asking price around $1.5 million, do you think they'd be willing to draft more than a few over-slot guys?

Ryan: Coming in to this process, I was really worried about that question. What good are all those early picks if you're loading up on signable, low-impact guys? I was taking the approach they'd go primarily slot guys that were college arms or high school bats that didn't have much interest in college, but they'd still target a few higher ceiling guys. After reading the press release that came out last week, though, I'm wondering if they won't be more aggressive. This quote, in particular, really jumped out:

Having this many high-round picks, is there any burden associated with signing them all?
AF: Like I said, this was something that didn‟t just sneak up on us. We anticipated being in this position and so it‟s something that we‟ve prepared for. As I said in the beginning, it‟s not lost on us how significant this process is for us and our future success and so we‟re prepared to do what we need to do. I‟m very confident that with the guys who actually want to go out and start their pro careers we‟ll be in a position to sign all of them.

It seems as if Friedman and co. will have the checkbooks out, and they may even break the bank with this draft. What do you think the likelihood of that is?

Kevin: Well, on the one hand, isn't that kind of what they have to say? They aren't going to come out and say "Yeah, we'll probably go cheap." On the other hand I'm sure they recognize how special this chance is to add a ton of talent to the system. I think they will spend where they need to, but guys like Josh Bell are likely off-limits. Also, because of the glut of picks early on, I don't think we'll see as much (if any) over-slot money in rounds three, four, and beyond (such as 2009). 

Ryan: Regardless, it looks like we're going to be in for some fun the next few days. For guys like you and I (that love prospecting), this draft is going to give us a ton to talk about over the next few years. Hopefully, it will be in a positive light.