BaseballAmerica released their preliminary top 100 high school and college prospects, as well as a combined top 100(all three are subscriber-only), and while obviously it's of no use whatsoever to talk about specific players(since the draft is 7 months away and the Rays pick either 29th or 30th*), we can always talk strategy.
So, what should the Rays do? Go with a fast-track college guy, possibly a reliever, to help that "win now" window? Does their current talent at both the MLB and MiLB level afford them the chance to maybe take a high school project-type guy? Do you think the Rays would be willing to over-slot to grab someone who has fallen due to contract demands?
The easy(and obvious) answer is that it depends on how draft day unfolds, which is certainly true. Personally, I think the Rays need to target a hitter(of course, a top pitcher could slip, etc), because even with the selection of Tim Beckham last year, there aren't many high-ceiling bats in the system. Ideally it'd a corner spot(1B/3B/LF/RF), a guy with some power potential. It's impossible to tell you anyone to keep an eye on, since so much can change between now and draft day, but I'll be on the lookout for guys with some pop.
What do you guys think? Should we maybe look at a pitcher, perhaps a college arm we can promote quickly and potentially see as our closer? Maybe stock up on middle infield depth?
For the record, here are some guys since 2000 drafted in the 28-30 range: Adam Wainwright, Daric Barton, Carlos Quentin, Colby Rasmus, Ben Revere. Of course, there are also guys drafted in that range who will never sniff the majors, but just because you're picking there doesn't mean you can't get an impact player.
Of course, this could all be rendered pointless, as the Rays could sign a type-A free agent, which would mean handing over their first-round pick. So who knows?
*The Rays record was 3rd-best in baseball, which would ordinarily mean they get the 28th pick. However, the Nationals failed to sign Aaron Crow in 2008, so they get pick "9A" which is really pick 10, so that pushes the Rays back to 29. Also, the Seattle Mariners have yet to come to terms with Josh Fields. They have until next year's draft to sign him. If they don't, then Seattle get compensatory pick 20A, which would really be 22. For a complete first-round order, go here(scroll down a bit)