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2021 MLB draft: Tampa Bay Rays select Cooper Kinney with the No. 34 overall pick

In a draft deep with high school talent, the Rays reach for an bat-first infielder without a clear defensive position at age-18.

The Tampa Bay Rays have selected left handed high school infielder Cooper Kinney with the No. 34 overall selection.

Already an imposing figure on the baseball diamond at 6-foot-2, the offense forward Kinney was coached by his father at this high school and previously was committed to South Carolina.

Kinney received a workout at Tropicana Field a couple weeks ago, and per his media session is “100% ready to go and ready to play” for the Rays organization. Announced as a second baseman, Kinney took multiple opportunities to emphasize he’s willing to play anywhere and everywhere the Rays see fit.

Here’s what some folks said about Kinney heading into the draft:

  • Baseball America: “A team that drafts the South Carolina commit in a signable range will be one that is heavily convicted in his hit tool—and those teams are certainly out there. Kinney is more hit over power at the moment, with solid bat-to-ball skills and a fairly clean and fluid bat path out of a slightly crouched setup. He has shown the power to drive balls out to left-center field, and the scouts who really like him think he’ll be able to grow into plus power when he’s more physically mature. Kinney is a below-average runner and fringy defender, so there’s going to be plenty of pressure on his bat to perform”
  • FanGraphs: “Kinney is a physical lefty-hitting 3B with a big, projectable frame. He has decent feel for the barrel and is likely to stay at third base. Teams who like him best are high on him because of the hit tool and body projection combination.”
  • MLB Pipeline (Jim Callis): “Kinney is sort of similar to Black, the pick that preceded him. He’s an offensive second baseman with a simple swing and plenty of bat speed — and he barrels balls all over the field. There is some question about his defensive home. In the best-case scenario, he becomes an adequate second baseman and turns into Daniel Murphy.