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Rays draft 2015: Up-the-middle position bat targets

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The Rays have quite a bit of middle-infield depth, but they could always have more

Blake Trahan was the only player in this post with a photo in the editor
Blake Trahan was the only player in this post with a photo in the editor
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The draft is coming up with the first two rounds taking place on June 8 on MLB Network. It will continue over the following two days with a livestream on MLB.com.

Here is last year's primer with outdated information and links.

This year, Andy Sonnanstine will be the Rays' rep in the MLBN studio. Ben Francisco is not scheduled to appear for Cleveland.

Like last year, I'll break down players into four categories: up-the-middle bats, corner bats, pitchers with stuff, and more polished pitchers. I'll start with up-the-middle bats because when I was looking through rankings choosing players, this group arrived at 10 first.

CF Andrew Benintendi, Arkansas (20 Y.O. 5'10 170, L/L)

Best tool: Benintendi can get his bat on the ball.

Analysis: Benintendi may have more helium than anyone in the 2015 draft. In the opening days of this season, he was not even on Baseball America's list of top-50 sophomores. Now, he is one of the nation's home run leaders and could finish with a 20-20 season. Because he did not play in any summer leagues, his track record of this kind of performance is short. He has the potential for five average-or-better tools.

Stock: If the Rays want Benintendi, they may be sweating it out on draft night. He could be a top-10 pick, and if not, the Reds, who drafted him in 2013, pick two spots ahead of Tampa Bay.

CF Skye Bolt, North Carolina (21 Y.O. 6'2 180, S/R)

Best tool: Bolt has a strong arm.

Analysis: Bolt is part of a rare breed: the toolsy college bat. His speed, defense and arm are all better than average, and his power potential is too, but his performance has always left scouts wanting more. Sometimes, those players get it together as a professional. Sometimes, they don't. Bolt looked like a future star at the start of his UNC career, but a foot injury his freshman year has apparently derailed him since. His hit tool is underwhelming, but he does draw plenty of walks.

Stock: A team that believes it can fix Bolt's swing may feel inclined to take him as early as the second round, but he could go in the third or fourth.

CF Trenton Clark, Texas H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'0 200, L/L- committed to Texas Tech)

Best tool: Clark makes consistent, hard contact.

Analysis: Every scouting report leads with the unusual way Clark holds the bat, which is similar to how one would grip a golf club with thumbs extended. That is certainly odd, but it has not stopped him from performing well on the showcase circuit and in international duty. Evaluations of his speed vary, ranging from average to plus-plus, which is odd because it is the one tool that can be objectively measured. He has the potential for average power. Defensively, he can stick in center field but has a below average arm.

Stock: Clark is going to go in the middle of the first round.

C Jason Goldstein, Illinois (21 Y.O. 6'0 210, R/R)

Best tool: Goldstein's good arm helps control the running game.

Analysis: Illinois has been one of the most surprising teams in the country with one of the best pitching staffs, and Goldstein is the man behind the plate. He's known for his defense, but he can hit a bit too; he ranks second on the Illini in doubles and third in home runs.

Stock: I certainly don't expect the Rays to invest another high pick in a catcher right now, so if they are going to take one, I think it would be someone like Goldstein, a Day 2 player who has experience handling a top college staff.

SS Cadyn Grenier, Nevada H.S. (18 Y.O. 5'9 180, R/R- committed to Oregon State)

Best tool: Grenier should stick at shortstop.

Analysis: With above average athleticism, good hands and an arm for the left side of an infield, Grenier can play shortstop. He can get his bat on the ball and make good contact to the entire field, but he projects for below average power despite improved strength over the past year. Like another shortstop the Rays took from a Nevada high school, Grenier's instincts and energy help his tools play up.

Stock: Grenier seems like a third- to fifth-round player.

SS Richie Martin, Florida (20 Y.O. 6'0 185, R/R)

Best tool: Martin covers a lot of ground at shortstop.

Analysis: College shortstops that will be professional shortstops are not common, and Martin is one of them. He has the athleticism and arm to be a good defender there, and going by fielding percentage, has tightened up some of his mistakes. After two pedestrian seasons at the plate for the Gators, he broke out in the Cape Cod League last summer and has carried some of that back to Florida with a .290 average, more walks than strikeouts and 20 steals.

Stock: Martin is not a first rounder at the Rays' pick, but they might not get a chance to get him the next time around.

SS Kevin Newman, Arizona (21 Y.O. 6'1 180, R/R)

Best tool: Newman is an impressive pure hitter.

Analysis: The Cape Cod League has had dozens of star players pass through over the years, but Newman is the only one to win the batting title twice. He knows the strike zone and gets his bat on the ball to produce line drives to all fields. How much he also brings to the table is in question. In his career between the Wildcats and Cape Cod League, he only has three more home runs than I do in 955 more at-bats. He has decent athleticism, good instincts and has a shot to stick at shortstop.

Stock: Some rankings indicate Newman might not even make it to the Rays, but some show they will have a shot at him.

C Kade Scivicque, Louisiana State (22 Y.O. 5'11 223, R/R)

Best tool: Scivicque's arm helps manage the running game.

Analysis: In his second year at LSU, Scivicque has been instrumental in guiding a young pitching staff to the top of the country. He handles himself well behind the plate and brings leadership to the roster. At the plate, he puts the ball in play regularly with modest power.

Stock: As a senior, Scivicque is lacking in leverage. He will be a cheap sign, perhaps in the fourth or fifth rounds.

SS Blake Trahan, Louisiana-Lafayette (21 Y.O. 5'9 180, L/R)

Best tool: Trahan has above-average to plus speed.

Analysis: Trahan teamed up with current Rays minor leaguer Jace Conrad in a fantastic 2014 season for The Ragin' Cajuns. Trahan does not have the modest pop Conrad has brought, but he has speed and should stay in the middle infield. That could be second base, but there is a shot it isn't. He apparently has a pretty unconventional set-up for his swing but has the plate approach to overcome whatever difficulties it may cause.

Stock: Trahan looks like a second rounder, whether he's a shortstop or not.

CF Garrett Whitley, New York H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'1 195, R/R- committed to Wake Forest)

Best tool: Whitley is a plus runner, maybe better.

Analysis: Whitley has the potential for four above-average or better tools. His bat speed is top of the line, and his approach is advanced compared to his peers. He covers ground in center field and should be able to handle the position as a professional. His arm is below average.

Stock: Toolsy players from the northeast typically give teams pause in the first round, but Whitley's performance on the showcase circuit has removed some of the uncertainty. He may not even be available to the Rays.