Grading the Rays’ Top 5 Draft Picks
The Rays had a much quieter Draft this year than they did in 2011, but they continued to stock up their system with plenty of talent. In the first five rounds—which was the five picks in the Rays’ case—the Rays went after athletic upside prospects, an intelligent approach considering the Rays’ reputation to transform athletes into ballplayers. On the other hand, however, much of the selections after Shaffer were very raw players. Here’s my grades on every draft pick from the first five rounds:
Round 1 (25th overall): Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B/OF
The Rays probably picked up the most powerful college bat in the Draft by selecting corner infielder Richie Shaffer with the 25th overall pick. Not only does Shaffer have big-time home run power, but he has the ability to hit the ball to all fields and knows how to work a count. The 21-year-old also offers some versatility, which will obviously help in fit in with the Rays’ organization. He was drafted as a third baseman, but he’s very capable of playing third and his strong arm also profiles wells in right field, which could be his future home. The Rays got a pretty high-value pick with Shaffer at No. 25, as many experts predicted him being taken somewhere between 10-25 overall in the Draft. He has a high ceiling, and his three years of college ball should help him early on in the minors. There’s a lot to like about this pick from the Rays.
Round 2 (88th overall): Spencer Edwards, SS/OF
Drafted as a shortstop out of Rockwall High School in Texas, Edwards has excellent speed that will likely land him in center field. Although he has a good arm, it’s a question whether he’ll produce enough power to stay at the position in the future. However, if he adds some weight to his skinny frame he could add power. Edwards is toolsy, and another plus side to him is that he’s a switch hitter.
Round 3 (119th overall): Andrew Toles, OF
Another great athlete with plus speed and good set of tools, Toles—a junior out of Chipola College—came as a pretty good value pick at 119th overall. Power is the only part of his game that’s not average or above, but he is a very good contact hitter. The 5-foot-9 left-handed hitter has drawn comparison to big league outfielders Ben Revere and Michael Bourn, two guys the Rays hope Toles can match one day.
Round 4 (152nd overall): Nolan Gannon, RHP
The first pitcher taken by the Rays in this draft, 6-foot-5 Nolan Gannon has plenty of upside. Although his ceiling for potential is high, is floor for failure is just as low. In the fourth round, I don’t think it’s a bad idea on the Rays part to go after risky high schoolers like Gannon, especially if they’re as tall as he is and have plenty of room to grow into their tall frame. At just 175 pounds, Gannon’s obviously very skinny, which means that there’s a good chance he’ll add velocity to his fastball, which currently sits between the high 80′s and lower 90′s. His mechanics lag behind a little, so we’ll see if the minors can straighten him out early on.
Round 5 (182nd overall): Bralin Jackson, OF
The drafted yet another good athlete with good upside in Missouri high schooler Bralin Jackson. Jackson has very good bat speed with some pop, as well as good speed which adds to his potential. He’s still very raw however, and seriously needs work on his plate approach overall. Defensively he’s nothing special, but does have a strong arm. It’s another pick that’s a bit risky for the Rays, but it’s solid value in the fifth round.