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Rays mock-draft roundup

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With the draft approaching, who are some players the Rays could be targeting?

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Auburn vs Louisville
Louisville’s Bobby Miller could be a Rays target
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

In one week, the abbreviated MLB draft will begin. Our writers have given some takes on potential picks, as has the community. What are some of the industry mock drafts saying?

I rounded up mock drafts this draft season from five sources — The Athletic, Baseball America, ESPN, FanGraphs, and MLB.com. All but FanGraphs have published multiple mock drafts since the end of April, although BA’s proved difficult to find.

Who are players industry sources think the Rays could be targeting?

RHP Slade Cecconi, Miami

ESPN ($) (May 26)
MLB.com (April 27)

Cecconi is ranked No. 16 and No. 31 by ESPN ($) and MLB.com, respectively.

It’s a deep draft for college pitching, and with the uncertainty caused by the cancelation of seasons this spring, teams are expected to favor college players. However, the Miami righty isn’t the traditional college pitcher. He has a hard fastball and good stuff with a pretty high ceiling, but he doesn’t have a long track record.

OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake High School

FanGraphs (May 27)

Eric Longenhagen ranks Crow-Armstrong as the No. 26 player in the draft on FanGraphs’ indispensable board.

His stock apparently dipped a bit during the summer showcases, but a strong start to his season allayed those concerns. He’s a good athlete who should stick in center field, and he makes a lot of contact. How much power teams project for him will determine exactly when he’s selected.

C Dillon Dingler, Ohio State

The Athletic ($) (May 28)

Dingler was not on Keith Law’s initial ranking of the top-30 prospects in the draft ($), but that was back in March.

He’s known for his quality defensive tools and intangibles, traits all teams are looking for in a catcher. Prior to the cancelation of the season, he showed a significantly improved bat, which raised his stock enough to make him a likely first-round pick.

SS Ed Howard, Mount Carmel High School

The Athletic ($) (May 13)

Law ranked Howard No. 20 in that initial ranking.

The Rays are known for preferring up-the-middle players, and he’s one of the best in the class. He’s perhaps the best defensive shortstop available. However, he’s one of many players who did not play in any games this spring, which may make it harder to figure out exactly when he’ll be selected.

RHP Jared Kelley, Refugio High School

MLB.com (May 27)
MLB.com (May 13)

MLB.com’s Jim Callis connected Kelley to the Rays twice, although as he noted, “(t)rying to guess where the three best high school right-handers fit is like throwing darts.” MLB.com ranks him as the No. 12 player in the class.

If teams favor college players next week, then talented high school players could fall. Even though conventional wisdom suggests it’s a bad idea to draft a high school righty in the first round, it may be difficult to pass on a pitcher with his talent — a plus fastball, a plus changeup, and good control.

RHP Bobby Miller, Louisville

MLB.com (May 20)

Miller is MLB.com’s No. 26 prospect in the class.

In a way, he’s similar to Cecconi. He’s not the traditional “throws strikes with mediocre stuff” college pitcher. He has size and strikes out a lot of batters with his hard fastball and quality slider. There’s some risk, though. He has some effort in his delivery and does not always throw enough strikes.

1B Aaron Sabato, North Carolina

Baseball America (May 27)

BA ranked Sabato as the No. 35 player on its enormous draft board ($).

If a team wants power and isn’t picking No. 1 overall, the UNC first baseman could be the player it targets. He has 25 home runs in 83 career college games and was slugging .708 before the season was canceled. That team will have to really believe in his bat because he doesn’t offer much else.

C Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock High School

ESPN ($) (May 11)

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel ranked Soderstrom as the No. 9 player in the class in April.

He’s more known for his bat, unlike Dingler. That does not mean he won’t stick behind the plate, though. He has the tools to play the position, and if he doesn’t reach the majors playing catcher, it might be because he’s capable of playing other positions, and his bat dictated a position switch to speed up his development.