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Rays 2022 MLB draft preview: Corner bats

If the Rays are looking to add power to the organization, these will be the positions to look at.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: JUN 11 NCAA Super Regionals Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re now less than a week away from the draft. These players are more likely to play first base, third base, left field, or right field as professionals.

As usual, some of these players have been connected to the Rays in mock drafts, but some haven’t.

College pitchers preview
Up-the-middle bats preview

OF Jordan Beck, Tennessee (R/R, 6’3 225, 21 years old)

297 PA, .298 AVG/.391 OBP/.595 SLG, 18 HR, 36 XBH

The Athletic rank: 14
Baseball America rank: 33
FanGraphs rank: not in top 69 rank: 23

Beck actually has a shot to play center field and could start his professional career there. With the Volunteers, he plays right field with Drew Gilbert in center. Thanks to his arm strength, right field is probably the best place for him.

That would be just fine because he has the power to profile there thanks to both bat speed and strength. He has 33 home runs in 133 games over his last two college seasons. He also raised his average by 27 points and improved his walk rate dramatically.

However, there are concerns about his hit tool. Although his strikeout rate was fine, he only batted .248 in SEC play in 2022. Continuing to improve his approach will be key.

OF Spencer Jones, Vanderbilt (L/L, 6’7 225, 21 years old)

272 PA, .370 BA/.460 OBP/.644 SLG, 12 HR, 36 XBH, 14-for-15 SB

The Athletic rank: 80
Baseball America rank: 66
FanGraphs rank: not in top 69 rank: 51

Jones was a star two-way player in high school and could have been a high draft pick if not for his strong commitment to Vanderbilt. However, he never made a single appearance on the mound with the Commodores due to elbow injuries and Tommy John surgery.

That’s just fine, and he’ll be a second- or third-round pick just as a hitter. Clearly, his size stands out. He showed improved in-game power in his breakout 2022 season after not slugging much in limited duty his first two years on campus. He’s a really good athlete for his size and is a good defender in right field.

The normal concerns for someone his size are there too. He did reduce his strikeout rate, but he’ll have to prove he can do that against professional pitching, especially fastballs.

Video is from Prospects Live.

3B Jacob Reimer, Yucaipa High School (R/R, 6’2 205, 18 years old)

The Athletic rank: 88
Baseball America rank: 134
FanGraphs rank: not in top 69 rank: 103

Reimer is a shortstop now, but there seems to be no belief he should play there professionally. Fortunately, he has the arm and bat to profile at third base.

He’s a hit-over-power player — not that his power is bad though. He has a good approach and gets his bat on the ball. He can hit to all fields. Maybe he doesn’t add a lot of strength moving forward, but he already has raw power that could be average or above average.

Based on public rankings, he’ll be a late first day or early second-day pick with average tools across the board. He’s committed to Washington and should still be signable if drafted in that range.

3B Sal Stewart, Westminster Christian School (R/R, 6’3 215, 18 years old)

The Athletic rank: 60
Baseball America rank: 61
FanGraphs rank: 49 rank: 73

Right now, Stewart is a third baseman. He’s already pretty big and not a great athlete, so he may end up playing first base in a few years.

His hit and power tools are both good, so that wouldn’t be an issue. He has a great approach, and multiple reports note he’s particularly successful hitting breaking balls. With his size, he has good power potential, but it seems like there’s not a consensus on how much present power he has.

His commitment to Vanderbilt looms large. It’s a great program that is often able to get its top prospects to campus. His signability could affect where he gets drafted next week just as much as his talent.

Video is from Baseball America.

OF Sterlin Thompson, Florida (L/R, 6’4 200, 21 years old)

305 PA, .354 BA/.443 OBP/.563 SLG, 11 HR, 29 XBH, 10-for-13 SB

The Athletic rank: 19
Baseball America rank: 37
FanGraphs rank: not in top 69 rank: 29

Thompson is perhaps erroneously included in this post. He spent time at second base this season and could stick there professionally. However, a corner outfield spot sounds more likely. He has the arm to play right field.

His power is OK. He showed more in-game power in his second season with the Gators, improving on his 2021 totals of five home runs and 18 extra-base hits. He certainly has the size to hit for more power.

It’ll be his hit tool that gets him to the majors. It’s above average. He makes consistent contact and can hit to all fields. He also has a good plate approach.

It seems like the Rays have been able to coax more power out of some players, and he could be one of them with their first-round pick.

3B Tucker Toman, Hammond High School (South Carolina) (S/R, 6’1 190, 18 years old)

The Athletic rank: 34
Baseball America rank: 41
FanGraphs rank: 31 rank: 35

Toman is a well-rounded bat. He’s a switch hitter who could have above-average hit and power tools. He’s committed to LSU, but it looks like he’ll be picked pretty early the first night of the draft and should sign.

He’s a better hitter from the left side, but it’s not a wildly uneven split. He can hit from both sides. His bat speed is better batting left handed, but he won’t have trouble hitting for power from the right side either. He’s not strictly a pull hitter and shows the ability to hit to all fields.

His position is a bit of a question. His tools are just OK for third base. He’s lauded for his intangibles, and that could help him stay on the infield and out of an outfield corner.