On this date, just a few short years ago, the Rays were putting the finishing touches on what Andrew Friedman had called one of the most important moments in the team's history. After many of the team's core players (including the face of the franchise, Carl Crawford) headed for richer pastures, the Rays were rewarded with an incredible amount of early pick in the 2011 draft.
They held 12 of the first 89 picks, but since that time, only one of those picks have appeared in the majors (Mikie Maktook, 2015). However, some of those players are finally starting to show some poise in the Rays system and may be with the team in the upcoming years.
The reason however, for Friedman stating the importance of that draft, was due to the team's reliance on finding young, affordable talent and the draft is one of the only ways for them to being to posses a future all-star for several years, while paying him bottom dollar.
Heading into today's draft, the Rays will have their first pick at 13th overall. Some very talented players have been selected 13th overall, such as; Manny Ramirez, Paul Konerko, Aaron Hill, and (former & future? Ray) Casey Kotchman.
Over the past few weeks, many baseball aficionados have tried to predict who each team will take, with the Rays choices varying. Below are some of the players who have been linked to the Rays through various mock drafts, scouting reports are courtesy of Scott Grauer:
Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
MLB.com's Jim Callis
The Rays look to be targeting college pitching. With the top three and Harris gone, that leaves Buehler and right-handers Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) and James Kaprielian (UCLA) remaining on the second tier.
Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel
Tampa’s scouting director has seen Walker Buehler pitch well recently and Jon Harris has also been impressive in some outings down the stretch, so this decision would appear to come down to those two, but Tampa also recently worked out prep CF Garrett Whitley, so he could also be an option here.
Harris fires that pitch is the 92-94 MPH range with movement, and because of his size and growth he has shown in college, scouts believe that pitch could become even harder. He complements it with a curveball that could be one of the best in the class, and he mixes in a slider and changeup as well. Throwing strikes can become problematic, but he is an athlete that can improve the consistency in his delivery.
James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
Baseball America's John Manuel
When the Rays have a chance, they go with a West Coast option. Scouting director R.J. Harrison is an Arizona guy, and West Coast crosschecker Fred Repke is one of Harrison’s key lieutenants and decision-makers. That could lead Tampa in the direction of JC of Southern Nevada righty Phil Bickford or UCLA righthander James Kaprielian.
Depending on the report you read, Kaprielian can either manipulate his curveball depending on the situation, or he throws two different breaking balls entirely. Regardless, that's how he tallied 114 strikeouts in 106 2/3 innings as the Friday starter on one of the nation's top teams. His low-90s fastball does not have much life, but it's not too problematic since he locates his pitches so well. His changeup is another quality pitch, and he has the durability to throw plenty of innings.
Other Rays Notes:
- After a week of speculation, finally an update on top prospect Daniel Robertson
- Anyone who has seen Boxburger recently, could tell that something has been slightly off.
#Rays Boxberger has triceps tightness— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 7, 2015
- Sadly what could have been
Draft day always makes me think of the #Rays passing on Pujols despite having him in for a workout and the pleading of their scout— Erik Hahmann (@ehahmann) June 8, 2015
- June 8th in team history, of which the Rays are 6-9
- 1998 - New York Mets great Rick Reed throws a complete game, three-hit shutout against the Devil Rays.
- 2002 - After allowing the tying run to score in the top of the 9th, the Devil Rays walk off in the 10th as Steve Cox lines a single up the middle, scoring Randy Winn from third, giving the team a 3-2 victory.
- 2005 - The Devil Rays allow seven unanswered runs in the final three innings, and Danys Baez allows a two-run walk-off HR to Wily Mo Pena to give the Reds a walk-off 11-9 victory. Video
- 2007 - Josh Wilson becomes just 2nd position player in team history to take the mound, and first since Wade Boggs did it on August 10th, 1999. He would throw a scoreless inning against the Marlins, that included a walk and a single. Video
- 2008 - After serving up a homer followed by single, Matt Garza and Dioner Navarro begin a verbal spar with each other that would escalate in the dugout.
- 2010 - The Rays selected Ryan Brett (3rd round), Jesse Hahn (6th round), and C.J. Riefenhauser (20th round) in the annual draft.
- 2010 - Jeff Niemann delivers one of the best games of his career as he throws a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Toronto Blue Jays.
- 2011 - After blowing a three-run lead in the 8th, the Rays pull a safety squeeze in the 10th inning and would go onto win the game, 4-3.
- 2013 - Jeremy Hellickson and three relievers combined to throw a four-hit shutout against the Baltimore Orioles.
- 2014 - After the Mariners and Rays traded 0's on the board for the first eight innings, Grant Balfour allows five runs in the top of the 9th, and the Rays would eventually lose 5-0.