To join in on the mod staff's mock draft posts, I figure I'll join in. I like the draft and prospects, so it seems like a way to get my thoughts out and stave off boredom for a little while. The thing about mocks right now, is due to the situation, what is said now is likely to hold up in under a month when the actual draft is held seeing as there are no games being played, so whatever teams think about a player at the moment is likely to carry until then.
Unlike the DRB staff, I do not have Baseball America as a resource because I'm a cheap SOB who only relies on free work. That being the case, the 2 main resources I will be using are the MLB Pipeline top 200 done by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis (Link) and Fangraphs THE BOARD Rankings done by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniels, though likely mostly EL due to KMD's departure for ESPN (Link). For college players, I will also use stats from Baseball Reference.
The Rays own 6 picks overall thru 5 rounds, picks 24, 37, 57, 96, 126,and pick 156. My knowledge will be stronger in the early picks as usually I have more a concentration on the top 50 or so players than much deeper. I can give a good look around at rankings and the like to figure out what I think fits. I will be making picks based on what I think fits the "Ray's type" of player as well as just some of my own opinions on players and who I like. Due to the current draft setup, I'm not expecting any HS players after like R2 or 3 unless it is a player like Ray's 2109 3rd round pick Shane Sasaki, who despite being a HS player would accept under slot or slot money.
Anyways, let's get started!
Round 1 Pick 24: C Dillon Dingler Ohio St University
MLBP rank 24/ FG rank 42
I think in a draft like this deep in pitching, the Rays might pop one of the top position players early and let pitching fall to them with picks 2 and/or 3. This site has touched on Dingler already, but in case you need a refresher, he is a former CF who has above average athleticism for a catcher and the size for it too (6'3 210 listed size). The arm is described more as average, but it plays up due to quick pop times and accuracy. He also displays very good contact skills and bat control, a trait the Rays have really been aiming for recently. It is a bit betting on SSS as a batter as prior to 2020, he only had 7HRs in 102 games/405PAs, and he had 5HRs in only 19games/58PAs in 2020. Despite that low HR total, he still nearly walked more than he struck out in his college career (52BBs/59Ks over 3 college seasons). Overall he is said to have above average to plus raw power, and if you bet the offensive output in 2020 is more representative of what to expect going forward, this could be a steal of pick. Looking at a potential 45/50+ hit, 50/55+ power, 50/55+ field player at Catcher, which while not that exciting, is a good player.
Other Players to Consider:
SS Ed Howard: Possibly the best outcome to expect from the draft, Howard is athletic and well rounded HS SS who projects to remain at SS and at least average or better offense. I don't expect Howard to be there though.
3B Jordan Walker: A lanky and big HS 3B (listed at 6'5 220) who I think bears some resemblance to Josh Lowe coming out just from the Right side and with not as much speed. Long swing with some big raw power, considered one of the top HS players available.
RHP Cade Cavali Oklahoma: Another name mentioned on this site. Big pop up RHP who throws constant mid-90s up to 97-98 and throws both a slider and curve, both garnering 55/60 grades. Kind of reminds me of last year’s RHP Jackson Rutledge who went 17th overall to the Nats, but he had more height and threw a bit harder.
Other pitchers like Mick Abel, Jared Kelly, Nick Bitsko out of HS, or college arms like Cole Wilcox or Slade Cecconi
Round 1 Pick 37: RHP CJ Van Eyk, Florida St University
MLBP rank 39/ FG rank 29
I've mentioned CVE in the comments on a few of the mod mock draft posts, and I really like him. On pure stuff, he has a possible 60 grade fastball that sits in the 92-94 area and is up to 98 with good movement, and I've seen him already throwing it all the around the zone aggressively, including at the to of the zone to help set up his 60 grade dynamite curveball. He also throws a mid-80s change up that doesn't really have much drop, but has some good late armside run that is effective due to it's velo separation, and it already gets usable 50 grades for now that has some potential to get better. Entering the year, CVE was considered a near consensus top 15 prospect in the class, but inconsistent control/command and other players popping up in the pitching class has caused him to fall and I think the Rays would do well to capitalize. His 2-3 pitch combo has a chance to top a rotation as a #2 starter if it breaks right, and I trust the Rays to help get him there.
Other Players to Consider:
SS Casey Martin: Arguably the top athlete in the draft getting 80 speed grades and described as quick twitch, he is held back due to pitch recognition problems and swing and miss issues. One of the highest ceilings in the draft.
2B Justin Foscue: Every draft seems to have a well hitting middle infielder from the college ranks, and this year is no different with Foscue. Has hit very well for Miss St in his college career, and similar to what the Rays have been aiming for recently, walks nearly as much as he Ks. Defense is more average, but if you believe the offense carries over to wood bats, could end up a very good player.
SS Jordan Westburger: Foscue’s partner at SS, Westburger projects to stay at SS as a solid to above average defender, but his offense isn’t as polished. Above average power, but questions around pure hit with some swing and miss concerns.
RHP JT Ginn: Another Miss St player to make 3 in a row, Ginn was touched on in a couple of the Mod mocks as well. Ginn was the Dodger’s 1st round pick in 2018, but he chose not to sign and is already eligible as a Sophomore. A heavy mid-90’s fastball pairs with a dynamic slider and solid control and a sturdy frame. Out of HS, there was concerns about effort in his delivery, but he held up over his freshman year for 80 strong innings. Was seen as a potential top 10 pick until he had TJS in April. Could be a high risk/high reward grab for the Rays if he falls.
RHP Carson Montgomery: HS pitcher who sits low 90’s up to 95 and a good slider to pair with it, athletic on the mound as well. Throws a good amount of strikes for a HS pitcher. I’m going to steal Homin’s comparison of him being very similar to last year’s Ray’s pick JJ Goss, but it fits.
LHP Dax Fulton: Big and tall HS lefty who last summer paired a low 90’s fastball with a hammer curve, both said to be coming from a tough angle he generated (EXTENSION!!!). Was in the running for top HS left handed until he had TJS at the end of the summer. Could be another high play for the Rays.
Round 2 Pick 57: RHP Alex Santos
MLBP rank 56/FG rank 70
A lanky 6’3 185 HS pitcher with long arms and projection remaining, Santos currently sits around the low 90’s and gets up to 95, and he throws a solid to good curveball to pair with it. According to FG, both pitches have recorded high spin rates, something the Rays have been known to target with pitchers, and his noted long arms likely help it play up. He just really seems like a Ray’s type of guy. The prior 2 picks being likely slot college guys (CVE may be a little above slot) helps the Rays target a likely above slot guy here.
Other Players to Consider:
OF Dylan Crews: If Crews falls this far, he is likely to just go to college, could still chance it though if the Rays have enough cap room. Considered one of the top pure HS hitters at one point, inconsistent performances against top competition have caused him to fall though. Some still consider him one of the top talents with a chance for 55/60 hit and 60 power out of a corner spot.
RHP Clayton Beeter: Pop up pitcher out of Texas Tech, has had multiple elbow injuries already in his career and was used as a reliever his first 2 seasons when he could pitch, came out this spring in the shortened season maintaining mid-to-hi 90’s velo with a good breaking ball and much improved control as a starter. Concerns over how much workload he can handle, but the pure stuff is there for a gamble.
RHP Masyn Winn: Short (5’11) 2-way HS player who is likely a pitcher, has touched triple digits on the mound.
SS Carson Tucker: HS SS, brother Cole was a 1st round pick of the Pirates in the 2014 draft and just made his ML debut in 2019. Carson is a lanky SS who has shown a more contact oriented approach thru HS, but in the shortened spring season did start tapping into some power.
OF Isaiah Greene: Another HS player, very raw even for a HS player, but has plus speed that helps him project to stay in CF. At the plate, shows a more contact oriented approach, with some believing there is untapped raw power.
There is also a bunch of other pitchers, HS and college, I'm not listing them all.
3rd Round Pick 96: LHP Nick Swiney, North Carolina St University
MLBP rank 79/ FG rank 102
What do the Rays, and most analytical teams, like in their starters? STRIKEOUTS! And Swiney has gotten them in his college career, 174 Ks in 115.1 innings. He has done this as mostly a reliever, but the Wolfpack moved him into the rotation for the shortened 2020 season and he still produced with 42Ks in 28 innings. He gets these Ks with mostly just good stuff from tge left side. A fastball that ranges between the hi 80s to low 90s, a solid to above average change, and a solid to plus curveball. There are obvious questions around if he can handle being a starter over a full season, but the Rays will find use for him some how if he is effective. His command was at times inconsistent too coming out of the bullpen, but he only had 6 BBs in his 28 innings as a starter this season.
(Edit note: pick changed from OF Jordan Nwogu to Swiney)
Other Players to Consider:
RHP Gavin Williams: Big and tall righty that Rays took out of HS but obviously did not sign, has reached triple digits for ECU and shows 2 possible usable pitches in his change and curve. Control issues, as well as possible health concerns as he has had reported elbow soreness, cause him to drop.
OF Enrique Bradfield: If the Rays want to chance another HS player after Santos, Bradfield offers a chance at sticking at CF and top of the line speed
LHP Sam Weatherly: Lefty out of Clemson, low to mid 90’s fastball that is said to have good spin rates and ride on it pair with an above average to plus slider. Inconsistent track record and some issues throwing strikes hold him back.
OF Jordan Nwogu: A football athlete playing baseball, Nwogu is a big man (6’2, 235 pounds), but still has plus speed and despite weird hitting mechanics, produced very good exit velos for Michigan. OF defense needs some work, and he may be more corner fit, but could end up solid or better there as the RH side of a platoon.
Of course also have your assortment of likely 4th OF/bench infielder types that the Rays love taking with these 3rd-5th round pick areas.
4th Round Pick 126: INF Luke Waddel, Georgia Tech University
MLBP rank 126/ FG rank 146
Rays grab their usual high floor infielder here. Undersized player with above average to plus speed, shows ability to handle SS long term, though may not be anything better than average or just above. Not much power to speak of, but very good contact ability.
5th Round Pick 156: 2B/OF Jacob Young, University Of Florida
MLBP rank Not listed/FG rank 151
A draft eligible sophomore who just barely makes the draft eligible cut. A very good contact and on base threat who forced significant playing time with UF as a true freshman. Played most of his games (43 of 48 starts) in the infield, but also split time at OF and FG thinks he could handle CF. Looks like another high floor utility player type that Rays helped popularize and love having. This might be kind of a risky pick given he is only a sophomore, but it's a solid talent that I'm okay risking it for, and the Rays should have plenty of cap room I'd guess with only 1 HS player before this pick. That of course depends on what Young is looking for though.
(Edit: changed pick from FSU LHP Shane Drohan to Young after changing 3rd round pick to LHP Swiney)
In the end, this draft would end up quite college heavy with only 1 HS pick, but it is still not lacking potential high ceiling impact. I figure in a draft like this with limited room to work, it is likely to end up that way anyways with a good amount of HS players post-Round 2 or so not signing anyways. I think with a draft like this, it is possible to maybe fit another HS player in at Round 3 and still be able to sign him. While I think you prefer at least one high ceiling position player, I don’t think this is the draft for it really unless Ed Howard fell to our 1st pick. That also isn’t to say that Dingler doesn’t possibly bring a high ceiling himself if the offense he showed this year keeps up. Could always slot one of the players I mentioned as Round 2 alts over Santos if you much prefer a position player. This draft is deep in pitching though, just how the stuff fell. Unless CVE or Santos are sticklers, the whole class should be signable as well, though as I noted, Young might threaten to go back.
Anyways, for anyone reading, possible thoughts? You like it? You hate it? Have no discernable opinion because you don’t much care about the draft and how much of a wild card it is? Maybe if there are no comments early on, I’ll edit something in about Covid-19 or Trump, that gets people talking on this site!
(Edited 2 pick changes on 5/17)