Q&A With R.J. Harrison

Rays scouting director discusses the No. 1 pick




This year, for the second consecutive season, the Rays have the first pick in the draft. Baseball America caught up with Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison to get his thoughts on the draft and who could be this year's potential No. 1 pick.

BA: How will having the first pick be different this year than last year?

RJ: Coming into the year I felt strongly that we needed to be open-minded. I didn't think we had been through this (scenario) before. I didn't believe there was a Josh Beckett/Josh Hamilton, (Rickie) Weeks/(Delmon) Young, or (David) Price/(Matt) Wieters situation (like in 1999, 2003 and 2007 when the Rays selected in the top two picks)

BA: Is picking first this year an advantage or disadvantage?

RJ: It is good—there are a lot more guys to pay attention to, and it allows us to get more looks. Picking 1-1 is always an advantage—you have the pick of the litter. You can decide and don't have to worry about someone else picking your pocket. Hopefully, this is the last time we pick way up there.

BA: How many players do you have it narrowed down to for the first overall choice?

RJ: We aren't down to where we are at any specific number. It's too early. The worst thing you can do is eliminate guys too quickly. The next thing you know, a guy gets hurt and you're not prepared. The best way to put it is we're leaving our options open.

BA: I hear people say you probably won't take Pedro Alvarez from Vanderbilt because of the personnel the Rays already have in the organization. Is there any truth to that?

RJ: To eliminate a good prospect because of that, that's just a lot of people speculating. Why would you eliminate a guy who you think could be the best player in the draft? We're not doing that—that would defeat the purpose of having the first pick. You never can have enough really good players. Figuring out where to play them comes later on. If we don't take a particular player, it's not because we have (Reid) Brignac, (Carlos) Pena or (Evan) Longoria.

BA: What will be the reason you choose the player that the Rays will draft?

RJ: Whoever we take, we're going to take because we think he is the best guy for us to take. We're going to work on it for the next six or seven weeks and see if we can come to a decision we're all comfortable with.