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MLB Draft 2019: What are people saying about the Rays draft?

Let’s see what folks had to say.

MLB: 2019 Spring Training Media Days Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a round up of what the various sites around baseball are saying about the Rays picks, and if published, about the Rays haul overall!

MLB.com

Jim Callis wrote about the seven teams with the “best draft hauls,” and the top placement went to the Diamondbacks, who had a slew of picks and a huge draft pool accordingly. I loved their draft, personally. They were ahead of the Rays nabbing guys I like almost every round. Good for them, and also frustrating!

Ah but no. 2 on that list?

2. Rays

Armed with a pair of supplemental first-rounders, Tampa Bay led all clubs by acquiring four prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 50. UNC Wilmington shortstop Greg Jones (first) was one of the fastest players in the Draft, and he’s also a switch-hitter with sneaky pop and an eye for drawing walks. Texas high schooler J.J. Goss and Campbell’s Seth Johnson are supplemental first-round right-handers with fastballs that get into the mid-90s and sliders that can be wipeout offerings. Texas A&M’s John Doxakis (second) is a crafty left-hander with great feel for his lively 88-93 mph fastball and low-80s slider.

The Rays added two more interesting college southpaws in Duke’s Graeme Stinson (fourth), our top-rated four-year college pitcher before he missed most of the spring with a hamstring injury, and UC Santa Barbara’s Ben Brecht (fifth), whose 6-foot-7 frame creates a lot of extension and deception.

Elsewhere the crew called Stinson a “steal” and Brecht “high-upside.”

That’s a pretty generic recap of the first five rounds, but you get the idea. Good haul! Also on that list were the Dodgers (3) and High School targeting Mets (6) who I thought did well for their draft position. Not listed? The Red Sox, who had some good players fall to them in the second, fourth, and eleventh rounds.

MLB.com’s favorite pick? Not the first one made by the Rays!

Rays: JJ Goss, RHP, Cypress Ranch (Texas) HS, Competitive Balance Round ASelected by the Rays with their second overall pick, Goss, a highly projectable 6-foot-3 righty, has been up to 96 mph with his heater and has one of the best sliders in the 2019 class, and he also demonstrates feel for throwing a changeup. The Texas A&M commit posted video-game numbers this spring, going 11-2 with a 0.64 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings.

They had no comment of Day 3 for the Rays.

FanGraphs

There’s a lot of content on FanGraphs to parse through. Here’s what Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel had to say after Day One about the Rays:

Tampa had a good day, adding a college prospect with rare tools, an athletic righty with power stuff, and two young college arms who have traits indicative of further development. Doxakis’ slider specifically has among the best in-zone whiff rates in the class despite looking like a 55-grade pitch, and his velo tailed off a bit late, but the Rays lead the charge in using pitchers for outing lengths that suit their skills.

After that came the pod. Here are some notes from the duo’s quick-hits style podcast:

  • They think Greg Jones has the speed to be “really good” in center field
  • nod for picking up first round talent Graeme Stinson after falling to the fourth round via injury; the biggest takeaway is Stinson is attributed with having a nerve issue, but also a slider with 3,000 rpm
  • Doxakis has “good secondary stuff,” both like the pick
  • Johnson was up to 98 throughout season, four pitches are plus, note he is young for his class
  • Evan McKendry in the 9th is “real interesting” with a 70 change up, insane feel — medical issue needs overcome for fastball to return but Kyle Hendricks comp if healthy

Baseball America

BA combined their analysis into one mega-article which can be viewed here. It started with these three awards:

Stinson is an easy choice here (and is also mentioned in a moment), but Doxakis has been getting more murmurs than typical for someone drafted where he was and with that profile, so here’s BA’s skinny on Dox:

A 6-foot-4 lefthander, Doxakis doesn’t have the biggest stuff, but when it comes to strike-throwing and deception, he’s among the best in the country. He works with a below-average or fringe-average fastball that spends more time in the upper 80s than low 90s, an average slider and a solid changeup that might be his best pitch. He has a rigid yet funky delivery that makes things more difficult for hitters, particularly given his ability to spot all of his pitches. After walking 2.8 batters per nine innings as a sophomore in 2018, Doxakis cut his walk rate by more than half (1.12 walks per nine) through his first nine starts in 2019 and also started striking out more batters. He’s added more physicality in his junior season, particularly in his lower half, but he projects as more of a back-of-the-rotation starter given his lack of pure stuff.

Robbie Peto was a local pick, a 6’4” RHP from Stetson University. Here’s the scouting report from BA:

Highly touted out of high school, Peto was drafted by the Dodgers in the 30th round in 2016, but instead made it to campus at North Carolina. After a redshirt season in Chapel Hill due to back issues, Peto transferred to the State JC of Florida for his 2018 season, where his stuff was down in the 90-91 mph range. At Stetson, Peto’s stuff has bounced back and he’s thrown a 94-95 mph fastball that has touched 97. His secondaries were well below-average a year ago, but they have improved this season. The arsenal includes a curveball that he began throwing with a spike grip once he got to Stetson—which has an impressive track record of developing pitchers. While Peto has posted a 4.48 over 13 starts, he has struck out 68 batters in 60 innings and his improved stuff could interest teams on day two, though his medical history will be a factor.

A high-upside starter with injury flags? The Rays were up to something.

As for the Rays overall performance:

Draft Philosophy: The Rays draft is all about upside. They spent their first-round pick on a tooled-up shortstop who’s one of the best runners in the 2019 class and has arm strength and a solid approach at the plate, if some swing-and-miss concerns. After that, Tampa Bay took one of the better performing prep pitchers in the class in Goss, who has three potential plus pitches and grabbed another lottery ticket in Johnson, who has as much upside as any college arm in the class but with less time on the mound than most. But it wasn’t just with the Day 1 picks. The Rays also took a chance on Duke lefty Graeme Stinson, despite the fact that he threw just 19.2 innings this spring and was pitching in the mid-80s when he was on the mound. At his best, Stinson has a 70-grade fastball and slider, but only time will tell if Stinson can get back to that sort of elite, high-end stuff.

Baseball Prospectus

I don’t see draft coverage? There’s a slack chat roundtable with this though:

Awesome value pick by the rays getting Stinson in the fourth round

And so concludes their post-draft coverage... so let’s go backwards for some profiles.

Prior to the draft, some scout quoted profiles were offered, and the players worthy of the compensation round included three Tampa Bay picks from the first day:

Greg Jones – S/R- SS – UNC Wilmington

A National League scout said, “he is an extreme athlete. 80 runner with top-of-the-charts athleticism.” That might just be enough to stave off the concerns others have voiced. For instance, a different National League scout told me, “There are some questions about his instincts and makeup, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went in the compensation round.”

J.J. Goss – RHP – Cypress Ranch HS (TX)

“Quick arm with feel to spin it. He creates a lot of deception from his delivery and higher slot,” said one National League executive... a high-upside player.

Seth Johnson – RHP – Campbell University

Less track record to go off of at a mid-major type of program did not allow for much conviction with some scouts,” one National League scout told me.

Nestled between these three was Braden Shewmake’s profile, who went one pick ahead of Greg Jones... The Johnson quote tells me some teams might have been overlooking the Rays selection, not unlike Matthew Liberatore last year, who the Rays were prepared to draft on the first day when others were not.

You!

Finally, we had a poll go live on DRaysBay asking you to grade the Rays draft performance, and as of this article’s publishing, the majority have given the Rays a A grade (52%).

Only four percent of voters gave a C-rating or lower. If you have not voted, you can make your voice heard there, or in the comments below. How did you find the Rays draft?