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The Tampa Bay Rays 2021 draft class is off to a great start

Eleven of the first twelve draft picks have reached A ball, and they’re putting up gaudy numbers in their first taste of the level.

@RaysBaseball

Ten months ago the Rays welcomed 21 new players to their organization. In the 2021 MLB draft, the Rays picked a shortstop, a catcher, two first basemen, two other infielders, two outfielders, three left-handed pitchers, and ten right-handed pitchers.

All of the drafted players were signed, and 20 of them played at some level in the past year, 16 of them at least in Single-A. This will be a closer look at the first 12 picks of the draft — where are they, and how have they done so far?

Carson Williams, SS: Carson Williams was the 28th overall pick; last year he was in the Complex League slashing .282/.404/.436. At this moment he is with the Charleston River Dogs. He’s off to a great start, with a line of .296/.367/.593 (157 wRC+) in 30 plate appearances thus far. In seven games he has four extra-base hits including a homer. He has also struck out nine times (30%).

Cooper Kinney, INF: Cooper Kinney is just 19, and he is currently on the 60-day IL. During a short spam of 21 games in the Complex league in 2021, he hit .286/.468/.371, with a majestic 21.3 BB%. When healthy, he’s set to head to Single-A Charleston to begin the 2022 season.

Kyle Manzardo, 1B: Kyle Manzardo is currently in High-A as a 21 year old. He’s off to a blistering start, posting a 1.045 OPS there in 26 plate appearances. An advanced college hitter, Manzardo provides an intriguing combination of plate discipline and hitting tools, leading MLB Pipeline to rank him as the tenth best first base prospect in the minors right now.

Ryan Spikes, INF: Ryan Spikes was the 100th overall pick in 2021 when he was assigned to the Complex League. He is currently playing in Single-A, where he’s hit around a league, with a .231/.333/.346 slash line in 30 plate appearances.

Dru Baker, OF: Dru Baker was drafted in the 4th round out of Texas Tech. Last year he hit .289/.347/.422 in the Complex League. Now in Charleston, Baker is off to an amazing start, with a dream .480/.567/.760 stat line that includes two triples and a home run. Obviously not be sustainable, but so far so good.

Mason Auer, OF: The other outfielder drafted in 2021, Mason Auer has also raked and ran once arriving in Charletston. In 29 plate appearances he’s sporting a .423/.448/.731 line with two doubles and three triples.

Mason Montgomery, LHP: Mason Montgomery is a 6’2” lefty who was drafted in the sixth round. Currently, he is playing in High-A. IN 10.2 innings in the Complex League he gave up only one run while striking out 20 batters. He’s continued that rate in Bowling Green with no runs and 13 strikeouts in his first seven innings.

Logan Workman, RHP: Logan Workman is one of the oldest draft picks in this draft class. The righty is 23 years old, and he has now pitched 18 innings in his career. In 2021 he was lights out in the Complex League with one earned run, and 14 strikeouts in 10.1 innings. Thus far in 2022 he has allowed no runs in eight innings while striking out 12.

Patrick Wicklander, LHP: Patrick Wicklander has been one of the most impressive pitchers in the minors over the start of his young career. In 18 innings across the Complex League and Single-A he’s allowed no runs and only three walks while striking out over half of the batters he’s faced. As a college draftee he should do well in the lower minors, but these numbers are worth keeping an eye on.

Alex Ayala Jr, LHP: Alex Ayala Jr, out of Florida Southwestern State, pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in the Complex League last year, but has yet to be assigned to a team in 2022.

Austin Vernon, RHP: Austin Vernon is a tall right-handed pitcher out of North Carolina Central. The 6’8” pitcher has pitched 17.2 innings between the Complex League and Low A. Vernon is another example of a fast start to his career; he has given up only one run and four hits to the first 65 batters he’s faced, striking out 27.

Sean Mullen, RHP: Sean Mullen is another right-handed pitcher out of UCLA, and he is currently playing in Bowling Green. Mullen gave up five hits and two runs in his first relief appearances this year, but has had scoreless outings for the next three.


It’s far too early to put stock in minor league numbers, but it’s fun to see so many of the players from the 2022 draft class succeeding in their first exposure to pro ball. It’s a long way from here to the majors for all of these players, but they’ve taken a good first step.