After landing two-way star Brendan McKay and talented right-handed pitchers Drew Rasmussen and Michael Mercado Monday night, the Rays continue the draft Tuesday with eight more picks.
3-85. SS Taylor Walls, Florida State
A first-team All-American in 2016, Walls endured a disastrous junior season and was part of the reason Florida State, No. 2 in the preseason, struggled to a .500 ACC record. Walls has excellent pitch recognition and has enough gap power to drive the ball on mistakes up in the zone, and he has solid hands and range at shortstop.
Walls was definitely not as good in his junior season, but I think it’s worth noting his strikeout rate was down slightly, and his walk rate was a little bit up.
MLB.com ranked him as the 85th-best prospect in the class with an average hit tool and below-average power. His plate discipline stands out, and he could stay at shortstop.
After his 2016 season, he played for Team USA’s National Collegiate team and batted .205 with a .415 on-base percentage.
4-109. RHP Drew Strotman, St. Mary’s
BA ranked him four spots ahead of Walls as the No. 161 player:
Strotman has a lean pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds and a fast arm that produces a low 90s fastball that has touched 96. His slider has reached 87 and earned plus grades at its best. Strotman peaked in mid-May with a 14-strikeout, no-walk win against Santa Clara, lasting eight innings.
Strotman had a 4.57 ERA in 67 innings for the Gaels. Just half of his 18 appearances were starts, but he reportedly had late helium. I’d assume the Rays will run him out as a starter to begin his pro career and see what happens.
Frame is still projectable, fastball has reached mid-90s, chance for above average slider.
5-139. LHP Josh Fleming, Webster
BA ranked Fleming 210th.
The school’s mascot is the “Gorlock”.
The report also says he throws strikes with average stuff and led D-III ball with a 0.67 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. He previously missed time with a UCL sprain.
6-169. SS Zach Rutherford, Old Dominion
Rutherford is BA’s No. 101 player:
Nothing about his game is elite, but Rutherford does a lot of things well and is a college middle infielder, a coveted draft commodity. He’s likely to be selected in the top five rounds.
MLB.com concurs, ranking him 113th in the class. That source gives him four average tools (hit, run, defense, arm) and well below-average power. Rutherford seems like a Day 2 college middle infielder grabbed from central casting; no great tools, but he’s a grinder and performs well.
He was the Cape Cod League All-Star Game MVP, so he does have a track record of performing against comparable talent.
7-199. LHP Hunter Schryver, Villanova
Schryver entered the season as BA’s No. 9 draft prospect in the Big East. As a senior, the Wildcat had his best season yet, posting a 2.44 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 37 walks in 73 2⁄3 innings. His Villanova profile says he has a plus fastball and command of excellent secondary pitches.
8-229. RHP Riley O’Brien, College of Idaho
O’Brien was a swing man on the Coyotes’ pitching staff his senior season. He had a 2.15 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 67 innings. Just six of his 20 appearances were starts. He cut down on his walks significantly, from 40 in 2016 to 21 in 2017 in a comparable amount of innings.
He went to Shorewood High School, the same school that produced Blake Snell.
9-259. LHP Andrew Gist, Georgia
For two years, Gist attended Walters State, where he was a teammate of Brent Honeywell in 2014. After two years with the Senators, he transferred to Georgia. In his senior season, he posted a team-leading 3.80 ERA in 73 1⁄3 innings, mostly as a starter. He struck out 79 and walked 19.
At a listed 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, he’s not a big guy. BA thought he was the No. 25 prospect from the state of Georgia this draft.
10-289. RHP Phoenix Sanders, USF
Sanders led the Bulls with 97 innings and 109 strikeouts in 2017. It was his second year in Tampa after playing two seasons at Daytona State. He was ranked as the No. 88 prospect from Florida by BA.