In the last two drafts the Tampa Bay Rays have gone the route of high school bats with their first pick by selecting Garrett Whitley and Joshua Lowe. The strength of this class might be in high school outfield bats. There isn’t one guy that stands above all others, but the depth of high school outfielders with big tools is impressive.
In the last three drafts the Rays have only selected three high school position players in the first ten rounds. Whitely and Lowe are joined by Chris Betts in the second round of 2015. Betts fell because he needed TJS and the Rays felt he was a great value pick at that time.
If the Rays take a high school position player it’s likely with their fourth pick unless somebody falls to their 31 or 40 picks that they just can’t pass up.
Royce Lewis is out of JSerra Catholic High School (San Juan Capistrano, CA). In a high school class that lacks a sure fire middle infielder Lewis has a chance to stay at shortstop although most feel he will wind up in center field.
Lewis is a potential five tool player with 70-80 speed, plus bat speed, plus raw power, and likely to stay up the middle of the defensive spectrum. If his power develops into game power he could be the best high school bat in the draft.
Lewis played shortstop in high school, but spent much of the senior showcase circuit playing center field.
Lewis is a consensus top five draft prospect coming in at number five by Baseball America and MLB.com while Eric Longenhagen ranks him fourth at Fangraphs.
Jordan Adell is an outfielder out of Ballard High School (Louisville, KY). Adell is a scouts dream with true five tool potential. He has speed and already showing power. He shows a strong arm as he would be a legitimate prospect on the mound with a 92-95 mph fastball.
Throughout the summer showcase circuits his junior year much of the concern was about the swing and miss in Adell’s swing. Adell adjusted and looked much improved his senior year.
The highlight of his senior year came in a three home run game on May 3. He hit 21 home runs while striking out seven times on the season.
Many veiw the University of Louisville commit as a top ten talent with Baseball America ranking him seventh and Fangraphs ranking him tenth. MLB.com is the most bearish on Adell ranking him 21st. If anybody drops due to signability it might be Adell though it is expected that his signing bonus demands will be met.
Austin Beck is an outfielder out of North Davidson High School (Lexington, NC). Beck hasn’t been seen as much as most high profile high school players since he tore his ACL towards the end of his junior year and missed the summer showcase circuit. The Rays were heavily connected to Beck early in the draft evaluation process.
Beck has a plus speed and arm that should play in center field. He shows current all field power and has impressive batting practices. He is very high risk, but the reward could be an impact bat that can stay in center field.
Beck is a consensus top ten prospect coming it at ninth at MLB.com and Baseball America. Fangraphs ranks him seventh.
Nick Pratto is a first baseman out of Hunting Beach High School (Huntington Beach, CA). Pratto is a left hander who has below average speed, so it’s unlikely he can play anywhere but first.
Pratto has a beautiful left handed swing that has seen his raw power spike during his senior year. He has an advanced approach and shows the ability to manipulate the barrel well.
Nick Pratto is committed to the University of Southern California and hit a walk-off homer in the championship game of the Little League World Series in 2011.
Pratto isn’t expected to last until the Rays second pick at 31 as he ranks 24th by Baseball America, 11th by Fangraphs, and 13th at MLB.com
Drew Waters is an outfielder out of Etowah High School (Woodstock, GA). Waters has the speed and arm to stay in center.
The switch hitting Waters with big power from both sides of the plate. There are swing and miss concerns.
Waters has a commitment to the University of Georgia, but should be drafted somewhere in the second round and could be available at either 31 or 40.
Baseball America is highest on Waters ranking him 24th. MLB.com ranks him 42nd and Fangraphs ranks him 48th.
Bubba Thompson is an outfielder out of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School (Mobile, AL). Due to his plus, plus speed he should be able to stay in center field.
The right handed hitting Thompson is almost all projection on the offensive side of the ball. He has flashed plus bat speed and shown plus raw power.
The University of Alabama commit is ranked 19th by Fangraphs, 25th by Baseball America, and 26th by MLB.com.
Nick Allen is a shortstop out of Francis Parker High School (San Diego, CA). Allen is likely the best high school prospect that is likely to stay at shortstop.
The knock on Allen is his size. He’s 5’8” and could be the shortest player to ever be drafted in the first round. He shows sneaky pop in batting practice and is a plus runner. He shows great instincts and range that should see him stay at short.
Allen is committed to the University of Southern California. He is ranked 23rd by Fangraphs, 29th at Baseball America, and 30th by MLB.com.
Heliot Ramos is an outfielder for the Leadership Christian Academy (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico). Ramos is one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft class. He doesn’t have any track record with wooden bats.
Ramos has 70 grade speed and should be able to stay in center field. He is raw at the plate, but has shown great power and bat speed.
Ramos is committed to Florida International University. Fangraphs ranks him 24th. Baseball America ranks him 30th. MLB.com ranks him 40th.
Tristan Lutz is an outfielder for Martin High School (Arlington, TX). Lutz is the rare prospect that is already playing in the corner outfield. In the last two years there hasn’t been a right handed hitting high school corner outfielder selected in the top 100 picks.
The 6’3” 220 pound Lutz that has hit everywhere. He’s an above average runner with a power over contact bat.
The University of Texas commit is ranked 35th at Baseball America and 36th at MLB.com. He is unranked in Fangraphs top 50.
Brady McConnell is a shortstop at Merritt Island High School (Merritt Island, FL). McConnell is expected to be able to stay at short.
McConnell’s best attribute is his 70 grade speed and might have the best bat speed in the draft class. He’s added a little power to his game this year. The concerns are how he’ll hold up over a full season and he seemed to struggle as the year wore on.
McConnell has a strong commitment to the University of Florida that might see him fall out of the top rounds of the draft. He is ranked 39th at Baseball America and 47th at Fangraphs. MLB.com is the most bearish ranking him 75th.
Mark Vientos is a shortstop out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, FL). The 6’4” 200 pound Vientos has projection left on his frame. He is expected to play third base as a professional.
Vientos best skill is plus power that might grow into more. The bat is impressive and he is extremely young. He won’t turn 18 until December.
Vientos is committed to the University of Miami (FL) and is ranked 40th by Baseball America, 31st by Fangraphs, and 65th by MLB.com.