Here are the results from Day 2 at the 2023 MLB Draft for the Tampa Bay Rays, the first run by Director of Amateur Scouting Chuck Ricci, who stepped into the role following Rob Metzler’s departure to the Tigers front office.
Ricci is of course flanked by R.J. Harrison and Bobby Heck, who as longtime senior executives exhibit a heavy influence over the Rays draft selections.
1-19: TCU SS/3B Brayden Taylor (4YR JR) (link to full article)
Described as “a bag of 50 tools across the board” by Baseball America, Taylor’s best skill is his hitting ability, where he controls the zone and makes plus selections on when to swing. There’s not as much power as you’d expect if he doesn’t barrel up, giving his overall profile shades of Brandon Belt from the left side of the infield.
Taylor wasn’t expected to be available at No. 19 overall, so the Rays may consider themselves fortunate with the selection. MLB Pipeline notes Taylor is “younger and more projectable than most college hitters, so he could continue to get better.” A leader for the Horned Frogs, he’s expected to bring a positive clubhouse presence wherever he goes.
With their first round pick at #19 overall, the Rays select TCU infielder Brayden Taylor.— Rays Metrics (@RaysMetrics) July 10, 2023
A polished college hitter who controls the zone and shows big pull-side power. May not stick at SS. Considered by some to be a top 10 talent in the class.
1A-31: HS SS Adrian Santana (link to full article)
One of the best runners in the 2023 draft class is a switch hitting short stop, and the Rays couldn’t resist. A pure short stop with a quick twitch and mature swing, this plus athlete is a fairly safe selection for a high school player.
2-55: MSU OF Colton Ledbetter (4YR JR) (link to full article)
If you took away the scouting grades and just rolled the tape of the Rays first three selections, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ledbetter was their first selection in the 2023 draft. An explosive swing puts an exclamation point on an impressive tool set. His hard contact is fairly consistent, even if he’s not yet breaking into the highest percentiles of power. Like Taylor, Ledbetter was not expected to fall to the Rays, as both players were two of seven live attendees at the draft.
Colton Ledbetter just keeps growing on me by the day. Left-on-left breaking ball, but stays closed and drives it out to RF for a HR. Really level swing, gets through the baseball, and the barrel is in the hitting zone forever. Slam dunk Day 1 talent. pic.twitter.com/gLqUKL9PzP— Peter Flaherty III (@PeterGFlaherty) May 14, 2023
3-88: LSU 1B Tre’ Morgan (4YR JR)
A great defender and athlete at first base, Morgan was a cog in an SEC powerhouse lineup but has a James Loney esque projection as a major leaguer. He was No. 76 on the Baseball America 500 but down the board at 137 for MLB Pipeline due to the lack of power.
The Rays continue to load up on college bats, this time taking LSU 1B/OF Tre’ Morgan in the third round.— Rays Metrics (@RaysMetrics) July 10, 2023
Regarded as an excellent 1B defender, Morgan has great feel for contact (10 K%) and is coming off a monster Junior year (.920 OPS)
4-120: Texas A&M SS Hunter Haas (4YR JR)
Yet another SEC player as Haas transferred into the Texas A&M program after losing the starting role at Arizona State in 2022. He was ranked No. 188 at MLB Pipeline as a short stop, but No. 340 at Baseball America as a third baseman. Like Morgan above, he’s lacking in power, and thus projects as a utility man at the major league level.
5-156: HS RHP Trevor Harrison
Already 6’4” and reaching 95 mph, Harrison is the first pitcher of the draft for the Rays out of JW Mitchell High School in nearby New Port Richey, FL. Heading into the draft he was ranked down the board at 245 for MLB Pipeline and 351 at Baseball America. Anything other than his fastball is just a projection at this point, and he’s thought to have a strong commitment to Florida State.
Trevor Harrison (‘23) sitting 94-95 w/ the heater in 1st frame. Slurvy breaker at 72 & flashed good CH (clip) at 77-78. Extremely physical true power arm. #Noles commit #PGHS #PGDraft pic.twitter.com/qF3BBMgjMq— Perfect Game Florida (@Florida_PG) February 21, 2023
6-183: Arizona RHP T.J. Nichols (4YR JR)
Nichols was ranked 157 at Baseball America, although just 239 for MLB Pipeline. 6’5” but just 189 on the scale. He throws a flat, 98 mph fastball from a lower than average slot.
Tools: Fastball: 55. Slider: 55. Changeup: 45. Control: 40.
Nichols ranked as the No. 111 prospect in the 2020 class as a converted shortstop who showed a ton of natural arm strength [...] Nichols has exceptional pure stuff and arm talent but has never translated that into great success. He’s posted an ERA of 4.77 or higher in each season and in 2023 as a split starter and reliever he posted an 8.27 ERA over 57.2 innings, with an 18.7% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate.
Arizona starter TJ Nichols strikes out Dylan Beavers on a fastball after allowing a leadoff homer to Nathan Martorella. pic.twitter.com/dNPrg31JXP— Kyle Kishimoto (@kylemoto10) March 12, 2022
7-213: Gonzaga RHP Owen Wild (4YR JR)
Wild has an 80-grade baseball name and four pitches with feel, making this the most traditional Rays pitcher drafted thus far. Ranked 231 at MLB Pipeline and 300 at Baseball America, he’s 6’2” and 230 lbs with some reports believing a major league workout program will add velocity, where he’s already touched 95.
Super impressive performance by Gonzaga RHP Owen Wild. 13 K in 5.2 IP against a loaded Tennessee lineup. A couple wind-aided HR allowed. Fastball really eats at the top of the zone. Notably flat approach angle. Cutter/slider showed good depth. Gamer. pic.twitter.com/KfQQARgFnT— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) March 4, 2023
8-243 Stanford LHP Drew Dowd (4YR JR)
Ranked 498 of 500 on the Baseball America board, Dowd has spent time starting and relieving and has an unclear future in terms of role. Naturally, his velocity plays up in the ‘pen, where he’s currently up to 95 in a classic three pitch mix.
Drew Dowd (‘23 elig.) has shown impressive stuff out of the pen. FB has sat 92-94 mph w/ plenty of ride thru the zone. Creates quality arm speed deception on low-80’s CH. Has shown upper-70’s CB as well #PGDraft @StanfordBSB pic.twitter.com/htu0WlbIVW— PG College Baseball (@PGCollegeBall) May 25, 2023
9-273: Memphis LHP Dalton Fowler (4YR SR)
Towering at 6’6”, this collegiate senior has seen his stock fall from 224 overall on Baseball America’s 2019 board (when he was selected by the Mets in the 27th round) to 431 on the 2023 board. In between, he spent two years in junior college before transferring to Oklahoma and then Memphis.
One-time big time @PBR_JUCO prospect is back! Dalton Fowler @MemphisBaseball fires two scoreless, hitless IP with 4 Ks. Mixed 94-95 T96 FB with 84-87 slurve. #BackOnTrack@d1baseball pic.twitter.com/EoqL4oF2BS— David Seifert (@DSeifertD1PBR) November 6, 2022
10-303: Duke RHP Adam Boucher (4YR JR)
A reliever up until this season, Boucher is listed 6’5” and 235 lbs, and has been up to 98 with his fastball, per Baseball America (which ranked him 352 overall in the class):
His best offering is a plus fastball that averaged 94 mph this spring and has been up to 98, with excellent carry and around 19 inches of induced vertical break. He generated a 33% miss rate on the fastball this spring, which is a well above-average number
His quick action and low miles make this an intriguing pitcher for the Rays pitching lab.
Adam Boucher (2023 Eligible) @DukeBASE @CotuitKettleers went 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K against Falmouth on 6/22. FB sat 92-94 mph w/ ride and spin rates in the 2400-2500 rpm range, mixed cutter, slider, and changeup. Made 21 appearances for the Blue Devils this spring. #BACape22 pic.twitter.com/mv1M0IiKcQ— Geoff Pontes (@GeoffPontesBA) June 23, 2022