Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft History And Projections
As we approach the 2018 MLB Draft on June 4, we’ll break down each major league team’s recent draft history, picking out tendencies where applicable, highlighting the team’s 2018 draft pool and also touching on the organization’s most successful recent draft picks.
Additionally, each team is listed with potential draft targets. These players either fit the typical modus operandi of the organization or are players who have been specifically linked or rumored as fits with a team throughout the spring. Baseball America will continue to add and subtract players from the potential draft target section as we continue to gather information in the final weeks leading up to the draft. Players are listed with a line of skinny to get a quick idea of who they are, but our full scouting reports will give a more complete picture of a player.
It’s also worth pointing out that while in some cases a team might appear to have a clear tendency with certain demographics (i.e. high school pitchers or college hitters), the sample we are looking at is small enough that teams could simply be following a best player available strategy and the results are showing something that’s not an overarching scouting philosophy. It’s more likely that tendencies can be discovered at the extremes, rather than slight apparent preferences in the last five years.
Here is a breakdown of the recent MLB Draft history of the Tampa Bay Rays:
General Manager: Erik Neander (Since 2017)
Scouting Director: Rob Metzler (Since 2016)
2018 MLB Draft Bonus Pool (Rank): $12,415,600 (2nd)
2018 MLB Draft Order:
1st Round: 16th, 31st (compensation for Alex Cobb, who signed with the Orioles), 32nd (compensation for not signing Drew Rasmussen in 2017)
2nd Round: 56th
Supplemental 2nd Round: 71st
3rd Round: 92nd
4th-40: 16th in each round.
First Round Picks Since 2013:
2017: Brendan McKay (4th)
2016: Josh Lowe (13th)
2015: Garrett Whitley (13th)
2014: Casey Gillaspie (20th)
2013: Nick Ciuffo (21st)
Best Recent Pick (2010-2017 Drafts):
OF Kevin Kiermaier (31st round, 2010) is one of the few successful players the Rays have drafted this decade, and a huge success story after signing for $75,000 in the 31st round and going on to become one of the game’s premier defensive outfielders. Since his full-season debut in 2014 to 2017, Kiermaier has been worth over 20 bWAR, primarily thanks to the defensive ability that has netted him a pair of gold glove awards while being a close to league-average hitter.
Recent Tendencies (Last Five Years/Top Five Rounds):
The Rays have shown a slight preference for hitters over pitchers over the last five years in the top five rounds of the draft, selecting 16 position players and 13 pitchers. The 55.2 percent rate that the Rays have gone after bats is tied for the seventh-highest in baseball during this period, along with the Marlins.
Since scouting director Rob Metzler took over in 2016, the team has taken a larger percentage of college players in the top five rounds. Former Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison (who is currently a senior advisor with the team) selected eight college prospects and nine high school prospects in the top five rounds from 2013-2015, while Metzler has taken eight college players and four high school players with his 12 picks.
Additionally, Tampa Bay hasn’t seemed too concerned about taking players from risky positional demographics. The Rays have selected multiple high school catchers (Ciuffo in 2013 and Chris Betts in 2015), high school righthanders (Cameron Varga in 2014 and Michael Mercado in 2017) and first basemen (Gillaspie in 2014 and Brendan McKay in 2017) among the top two rounds.
Kumar Rocker Looks Strong In 2022 Debut
The unsigned 2021 first-rounder put together a solid four innings with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Frontier League.
Potential Draft Targets:
OF Jordyn Adams — Perhaps the most athletic player in the 2018 class, Adams is a two-sport start as an elite wide receiver and ultra-projectable center fielder
1B/3B Triston Casas — Casas has plus-plus raw power and an advanced, patient approach at the plate with surprising athleticism in the infield
RHP Mason Denaburg — An uber-athletic catcher-turned-pitcher, Denaburg has great arm speed and feel to spin a breaking ball
RHP Logan Gilbert — Gilbert has a heavy fastball that plays up with elite extension, and more projection remaining than other college arms
3B Nolan Gorman — Gorman is a slugging third baseman with near top-of-the-scale raw power and a strong arm, but he has some questions about his feel to hit
RHP Ethan Hankins — Previously the top prep player in the class thanks to a potential 80-grade fastball, Hankins has been slowed by injury but is trending in the right direction
C/3B Noah Naylor — The younger brother of Josh Naylor, Noah is more hit over power with exceptional barrel awareness and a track record against professional arms
RHP Kumar Rocker — Big, physical and imposing, Rocker has loud pure stuff, including a fastball up to 98 mph and a breaking ball that falls off the table
OF Nick Schnell — Few prep players have hit more than Schnell since last fall, as a likely corner outfielder who's a better runner underway with an above-average arm.
RHP Carter Stewart — Stewart has the best breaking ball in the 2018 class in a powerful, downer curveball—oh, and he's touched 98 mph this spring
SS Brice Turang — An athletic, lefthanded-hitting shortstop with plus speed and great feel for the barrel, Turang is more polished than most preps
LHP Ryan Weathers — The son of David Weathers, Ryan is a polished lefty with solid control of a heavy fastball and an improving curveball
RHP Cole Winn — One of the most consistent prep arms this spring, there are no real holes to speak of in Winn's game