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Rays 2015 draft review: Pitchers

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I try to separate these players into manageable groups, but the Rays made that task difficult

Kristaps Porzingis was not drafted by the Rays
Kristaps Porzingis was not drafted by the Rays
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Position-player review

We may be closer to the 2016 draft than we are to the 2015 draft at this point, but I am finally done recapping the Rays' picks.

The advantage of my ineptitude is that the signing/not signing picture is clearer than if I had been able to do this promptly.

Their pitching selections were interesting. The first pitcher they took was Brandon Koch in the fourth round, a college reliever. Their next pitcher taken two rounds later, Benton Moss, started at UNC but has been used out of Hudson Valley's bullpen.

And it went on like this. Their next three pitchers were all relievers. They haven't signed their next two pitchers yet, and it takes until their selection of Ethan Clark in the 15th round to find a starter. Clark has not yet made his debut, so we will have to wait and see the role he's dispatched in.

In 2014, they drafted four high-school arms in the first 11 rounds, plus Brent Honeywell early on. They probably felt comfortable with their depth in the lower levels, allowing them to focus on bats and filling in the depth chart with the arms they eventually settled on.

College right-handers

4. Brandon Koch, Dallas Baptist, 6'1 205, 21.43 Y.O.

The last two seasons as the Patriots' closer, Koch has posted some absurd numbers, striking out 146 batters in 85 1/3 innings and yielding just 48 hits. Of course, there has to be a drawback, and in Koch's case, that would be the 46 walks he issued.

With his high-effort delivery (MLB.com video), Koch delivers a mid-90s fastball and swing-and-miss breaking ball, giving him the stuff to pitch in the back of the bullpen. Baseball America noted that he relies on that breaking ball as a chase pitch, so if he can't locate his fastball early in counts, he will get into trouble. I would guess he could at least get his control in order if the Rays work to tone down his delivery a bit, but would he maintain the stuff if he did that?

FanGraphs video
Brandon Koch YouTube channel

6. Benton Moss, North Carolina, 6'2 180, 22.27 Y.O.

Moss was drafted nine rounds higher than when the Giants took him in 2014, so he made a good choice as far as dollars go.

While he has a four-year track record in a tough conference, the Rays moved him from the rotation to the bullpen with Hudson Valley. It could just be to manage innings after the college season, or it could be permanent. BA's report notes that he has trouble maintaining his stuff over longer outings, obviously an issue for a starter. When he's on, Moss has an average fastball, above-average breaking ball and a potentially average changeup. He struck out over a batter an inning over his first two seasons but has not continued that success since 2014.

FanGraphs video
Moss makes a nice catch

8. Reece Karalus, Santa Clara, 6'3 235, 20.96 Y.O.

Karalus started his career at Santa Clara in the rotation, but he has pitched much better in relief the last two seasons. He struck out more than a batter an inning as the Broncos' closer, and the peak of his amateur career may have been the summer he spent in the Valley League where he completely humiliated batters, striking out 26 and allowing just seven hits and a walk in 15 2/3 innings.

Karalus throws strikes with an average fastball and breaking ball. In his junior season, he allowed more than a hit an inning, but if his starter/reliever splits were available, I'd be interested in seeing them.

Karalus strikes out 11

10. Sam Triece, Washington State, 6'2 215, 21.79 Y.O.

Triece is Washington-born, went to a Washington community college and finished his amateur career at Washington State. Rays northwest scout Paul Kirsch has probably seen him every step of the way.

Triece is a reliever all the way, making just four starts in 65 appearances with the Cougars. BA notes that his fastball has reached the mid-90s, and his slider has plus potential too. He struck out 95 in 97 innings at Washington State, but also walked 50. He gave up a total of zero home runs, so I wonder if he could become a ground-ball guy out of the bullpen.

YouTube video

11. Ian Gibaut, Tulane, 6'3 235, 21.53 Y.O.

Both BA and MLB.com indicated there's a chance Gibaut could start, even if the Green Wave never felt inclined to try. His mid-90s fastball and hard breaking ball combo is why he was such an attractive bullpen option, but he does throw a functional changeup he would need as a starter.

After forearm soreness limited him in 2014, Gibaut struck out 51 in 46 1/3 innings as a junior. He also walked 23, but he showed better control earlier in his career at Tulane and his not-so-good summer in the Cape Cod League.

13. Nicholas Padilla, Grayson County College, 6'2 220, 18.43 Y.O.

The Rays may have become familiar with Padilla keeping tabs on Dalton Martinez, son of former bench coach Dave Martinez and a Rays draft pick himself. In 23 2/3 innings at Grayson, he struck out 18, walked nine and posted a 1.90 ERA.

In earlier PG reports, it notes that he works low in the zone with a high-80s fastball, but that may change since he underwent Tommy John surgery recently. It is not yet clear if he wants to rehab with a professional training staff or remain an amateur and try and get drafted higher the next time around. He is still very young.

14. Tyler Brashears, Hawaii, 6'2 160, 21.26 Y.O.

In his only season at Hawaii, Brashears was a reliable pitcher at the top of its staff. posting a 1.86 ERA with 68 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 101 2/3 innings. BA reports he works with a high-80s fastball, changeup and breaking ball, all pitches he throws for strikes.

Brashears has not signed yet as far as I can tell, and he has a year of eligibility left.

15. Ethan Clark, Crowder College, 6'6 235, 20.60 Y.O.

Clark has signed and is assigned to Princeton.

In 62 1/3 innings, Clark struck out 62 and walked 22. Apparently five of his starts were complete games, which means his other five starts lasted 17 1/3-22 innings.

Ethan Clark throws a bullpen

23. Reign Letkeman, Big Bend C.C., 6'3 165, 20.05 Y.O.

Letkeman was committed to play for Old Dominion next season, but he chose to join the professional ranks.

Coming from a Washington school, Letkeman is another Kirsch guy. Rays Colored Glasses has scouting information I was unable to uncover myself, so rather than pretend I found it on my own, just go there. In fact, you can safely ignore anything I write in the future and not be any worse off.

Letkeman struck out 41 and walked nine in 34 innings. The site that has Big Bend's stats has a tab for sabermetic stats, where you can find out he had a 1.59 ERA, 1.471 PFR, .2 BIPA, 10.853 K/9, 1.977 ERC, and .628 FPS%.

Reign Letkeman YouTube channel

26. Noel Rodriguez, Paradise Valley C.C., 6'3 190, 20.96 Y.O.

Rodriguez has already signed and has thrown a few nice innings for Princeton.

He had 22 strikeouts and 22 walks in 37 2/3 innings but finished with a 1.19 ERA anyway.

31. Timothy Ingram, SUNY Old Westbury, 6'0 195, 21.64 Y.O.

Ingram, who is already pitching in the Rays' organization, dominated in a swing role, striking out 92 in 69 1/3 innings and allowing just 47 hits and 20 walks. He was the back-to-back Pitcher of the Year winner in his conference.

Video of Ingram that occasionally features Ingram

32. Ty Jackson, Lewis-Clark State, 6'3 225, 21.86 Y.O.

After starting his career at Washington State, Jackson had Tommy John surgery and landed at this perennial NAIA powerhouse, so he's probably another one of Kirsch's guys. At Lewis-Clark, he struck out 68 and walked 19 in 76 2/3 innings, and he has signed with the Rays.

He was also a good hitter as a two-way player.

33. Collin Chapman, Lamar, 6'1 210, 22.41 Y.O.

Chapman is another pitcher with a Tommy John surgery on the books already, and he was not particularly good in his return to the diamond in 2015. He struck out 17 and walked 11 and pitched to a 4.33 ERA in 27 innings.

He was a two-sport athlete in high school and has signed with the Rays.

36. Bryan Bonnell, UNLV, 6'5 210, 21.67 Y.O.

Bonnell made four poor appearances in the Cape Cod League last summer on a roster that included first-rounders Walker Buehler and Phil Bickford.

His ERA in 2014 was 2.90, but it spiked to 7.39 in 2015. I have no explanation for this. He was drafted by the Cubs in 2012, so evidently there is some talent there.

High school right-handers

20. Edrick Agosto, International Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico), 6'2 220, 18.51 Y.O. (committed to Alabama State)

Like Moss, Agosto was a member of the Giants' 2014 draft class but did not sign.

If you click on the blue events button, scroll down to the bottom and work your way up, you can see an interesting progression in size for Agosto to reach the point he can be seriously listed as 220 pounds. In that Perfect Game link, there are positive reports on his fastball and changeup.

MLB.com video

22. Justin Marsden, Mountainview H.S. (Washington), 6'3 175, 18.34 Y.O. (committed to Seattle)

Baseball America ranked Marsden as the No. 222 player in the draft and noted his expected signability, so it is a bit puzzling that he lasted as long as he did. He did not make the cut academically, so signing may be his best option. That reminds me of another Rays pitcher from Washington.

Stuffwise, he works with an average-or-better fastball, but his best pitch is a curveball that could be plus. His changeup is in its early stages.

24. Jesus Ortiz, Miguel Melendez Munoz H.S. (Puerto Rico), 6'2 185, 17.82 Y.O. (committed to Seminole State College, courtesy Rays Colored Glasses)

The Rays have already signed Ortiz.

Again, going from the bottom up on PG, you can see growth, this time with Ortiz's fastball.

College left-handers

19. Porter Clayton, Dixie State, 6'4 220,22.03 Y.O.

Clayton is a bit lonely as the only left-hander the Rays drafted. I could only find one similar draft in team history, and that was 2006 when they drafted four lefties and signed just one. However, the one was not Mike Minor, the Devil Rays' 13th-round pick.

What does this mean? Likely nothing.

I wrote about Clayton in the lead-up to the 2014 draft. I really knew nothing about him, as you will find out if you click that link. He apparently transferred from Oregon and struggled in his season with the Red Storm, although he did strike out 60 in 71 innings, and hitting 15 batters is not great. He was highly thought of early in his amateur career and allegedly had good command of his fastball, but his stats have not shown that yet. It sounds like his fastball can reach the low-90s and he adds a changeup.