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Rays 2018 MLB draft preview: Up the middle position players

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Rays have a history of drafting players prized for their athleticism.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the 2018 MLB draft isn’t that deep, but the quality of high school outfielders and right handed pitchers with first round skills is widespread. This makes for a highly volatile draft next week, but also a draft that plays into the Tampa Bay Rays hands. They possess the 16, 31, and 32 picks of the draft and have the second largest draft bonus pool of any team.

As far as what the Rays may target, the franchise has drafted players that can play up the middle early and often in their previous drafts.

2012: SS Spencer Edwards, No. 88 overall
2013 C Nick Ciuffo, No. 21 overall
2014 SS Michael Russell, No. 157 overall
2015 CF Garrett Whitley, No. 13 overall
2016 3B/CF Josh Lowe, No 13 overall
2017 SS Taylor Walls, No. 79 overall

This class gives the Rays many options that should be available when they make their first three selections on day one. The Rays don’t have a pick at the top of the draft so some of the following players might not be available but it’s ossible one of the top options fall to the Rays. You just never know.

Let’s look at some similar players to this archetype ranked in the top portion of draft boards.

Videos are courtesy of Baseball America.

SS Brice Turang, Santiago (Carona, CA) High School (6’1” 165, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 14
ESPN rank: 24
FanGraphs rank: 19
MLB.com rank: 25

Brice Turang burst onto scene as an elite prospect playing for Team USA under 18 team in 2016 and 2017. On a team with Royce Lewis and Hunter Green who went with the top two picks in last year’s draft, he stood out as the best prospect. He was an early favorite as a potential first overall pick. His senior year of high school disappointed scouts even if it wasn’t a terrible year, and he is committed to play at Louisiana State University.

At 6’1” Turang is big for a shortstop though that’s becoming more accepted with guys like Carlos Correa and Corey Seager playing the position at 6’4”. His plus to plus-plus speed is his best tool. His left handed swing makes a lot of contact, but the power projection is below average. He plays a premium position and has the hands and footwork to stay there as a professional.

CF Connor Scott, Plant (Tampa, FL) High School (6’4” 185, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 23
ESPN rank: 17
FanGraphs rank: 24
MLB.com rank: 18

Connor Scott is a local product out of Plant High School in Tampa. He is committed to the University of Florida. He draws comparisons due to size and school as current Houston Astros minor leaguer and fifth overall pick in 2015 Kyle Tucker. He missed a lot of last summer’s showcase circuit after having his appendix removed.

Scott has the speed and athleticism to play center, but as he gains weight he could be forced into a corner. Scott has the power that this shouldn’t be an issue. Scott also would be a prospect on the mound where the lefty sits in the low 90s with potential above average secondaries in a curveball and changeup. Most teams prefer the upside at the plate.

C/3B Noah Naylor, St. Joan of Arc (Missisauga, Ontario) Catholic SS (6’0” 195, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 20
ESPN rank: 14
FanGraphs rank: 30
MLB.com rank: 27

Noah Naylor is the younger brother of San Diego Padres prospect Josh Naylor who was taken with the 12th overall pick of the 2015 draft by the Miami Marlins. This Naylor isn’t limited to first base like his older brother. He has a chance to stick at catcher and played some third base this summer.

Naylor has elite bat control with power that could come down the line, which is to say the raw power is there, but hasn’t made its way into games. The track record of high school catchers isn’t strong, but he should have a bat that can play off the position.

SS Xavier Edwards, North Broward (Coconut Creek, FL) Prep (5’10” 155, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 43
ESPN rank: 28
FanGraphs rank: 18
MLB.com rank: 28

Xavier Edwards is a switch-hitting short stop. His size gives some teams and evaluators pause at the top of the draft. He is an 80 grade runner and his swing plays to take advantage of the speed. He has below average power and it’s hard to project power coming from the small frame. Edwards is committed to Vanderbilt.

CF Jake McCarthy, University of Virginia (6’2” 195, 20 years old)

Baseball America rank: 33
ESPN rank: 20
FanGraphs rank: 50
MLB.com rank: 39

Jake McCarthy is the younger brother of current Durham Bulls 1B/OF Joe McCarthy. He is the only college player that made the cut for this list. I don’t think the Rays go with a college player in their top three picks unless somebody falls out of the top due to signability concerns.

McCarthy performed for the USA Collegiate National Team. He suffered a wrist injury that caused him to miss most of his junior year at the University of Virginia, but it’s not seen as a long term or chronic issue. He has the present speed to play centerfield. He hasn’t shown a lot of power at the college level, but puts together quality contact and OBP much like his brother.

C Anthony Seigler, Cartersville (GA) High School (5’11” 200, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 41
ESPN rank: 25
FanGraphs rank: 25
MLB.com rank: 46

Anthony Seigler gained recognition as an ambidextrous pitcher who could reach high 80s from both sides of the mound. The strong arm has helped him behind the plate and is seen as a good receiver. He’s a switch hitter who doesn’t show a lot of home run power at present, but has a swing that makes contact and has enough power to find the gaps. He doesn’t show any present plus skills, but teams love his makeup and personality. Seigler has a commitment to the University of Florida.

CF Jordyn Adams, Green Hope (Cary, NC) High School (6’2” 180, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 45
ESPN rank: 26
FanGraphs rank: 20
MLB.com rank: 37

Jordyn Adams father, Deke, is the defensive line coach at the Unversity of North Carolina where Adam is committed to play football as a wide receiver and on the baseball diamond. He likely takes an overslot deal to keep him out of college, but this also should make sure he makes it to the Rays picks at 31 and 32.

Adams is an athlete with elite running skills that grade a 70 or 80 on the 20-80 scale. Entering his senior year he was viewed as a raw athlete, but turned heads with some high profile offensive performances at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational in March. His hit tool has made great strides over the past year and some scouts give him plus current power. The risk is quite high, but at 31 or 32 this would be a great athlete that the Rays should be able to get with their large draft pool.

CF Alek Thomas, Mounta Carmel (Chicago, IL) High School (5’11” 175, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 57
ESPN rank: 18
FanGraphs rank: 34
MLB.com rank: 41

Alek Thomas is the son of Chicago White Sox strength coach Allen Thomas. He is committed to Texas Christian University ot play baseball and football. He was the best hitter for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team at last fall’s World Cup where they took home the gold.

Thomas is an above average runner who plays a solid centerfield. He has above average bat speed and hits for more power than you would expect from a player his size. He has the potential to make plus contact at the plate. There isn’t a lot of projection left with his frame, but possessed good all around skills with a below average arm being his only true knock.

CF Parker Meadows, Grayson (GA) High School (6’4” 195, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 56
ESPN rank: 62
FanGraphs rank: 47
MLB.com rank: 42

Parker Meadows is the younger brother of Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. Meadows has size and speed that interests teams and scouts. He’s a plus runner that can play in centerfield. He has questions surrounding his hit tool. The team that takes him will dream on the upside and think he can make enough contact.

SS Nander De Sedas, Monteverde (FL) Academy High School (6’1” 190, 18 years old)

Baseball America rank: 28
ESPN rank: NR
FanGraphs rank: NR
MLB.com rank: 55

The opinions on Nander De Sedas vary greatly leading Baseball America to open with “De Sedas has become one of the most polarizing players in the 2018 class due to a spring season that has been much worse than scouts were hoping to see.”

ESPN and Fangraphs only ranked the top 100, so they didn’t go as deep as Baseball America (top 500) or MLB.com (top 200), but they were still much lower on De Sedas. De Sedas has a commitment to Florida State University.

De Sedas has good reactions and a plus arm that should see him stick at shortstop. The questions all come on the offensive side of the ball. He’s a switch hitter who has mostly batted from the left side this year in order to try to simplify his issues at the plate. He’s a below average runner that will have to hit to bring value to the diamond.

Of note: Monteverde Academy High School is the same high school that Francisco Lindor attended.

Poll

Which player would you like to see the Rays draft?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    SS Brice Turang
    (14 votes)
  • 25%
    CF Connor Scott
    (16 votes)
  • 20%
    C/3B Noah Naylor
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    SS Xavier Edwards
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    CF Jake McCarthy
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    C Anthony Seigler
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    CF Jordyn Adams
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    CF Alek Thomas
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    CF Parker Meadows
    (3 votes)
  • 9%
    SS Nander De Sedas
    (6 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now