Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Draft Review

So, did the Rays do a good job in the draft? The short answer: Yes, with an if. The long answer:

Round 1: LeVon Washington, Florida HS: I said in my initial wrap-up of the first three picks that I don't think the Rays got the best player available. Instead, they had a plan and Washington fits it. On tools alone, he's a first round talent. He's one of the fastest runners in the draft and he hit well in the spring. The first question mark about Washington is his arm: he recently had labrum surgery and he hasn't been able to throw very much for scouts as he rehabs it. It should come back and be at least passable for 2B or LF/CF. The other question is if he'll hit enough. Like I said, he hit well in the spring and scouts like his bat. But while he has good bat speed, he's not going to be a power threat, so he'll have to make consistent contact and develop a good plate approach to move through the system.

He's represented by Scott Boras has expressed a willingness to sign quickly. There's good reasons from both sides to get him on the field quicky(for the Rays, he's relatively raw and needs the at-bats, for Washington, it could expedite his path to the majors) so I expect a deal soon. He'll report to either Princeton or the Gulf Coast Rays. Whichever team he's with, I'd expect him to DH at times as to not overwork his recovering labrum.

Round 2: SS Kenny Diekroeger, California HS: This is probably at least a slight overdraft, but better to overdraft someone with supreme athleticism than an okay college pitcher(*cough*WillKline*cough*). Diekroeger has as much upside as any 2nd rounder, but he's still working on translating his tools to the diamond. He took some time to answer a few questions for me, and he said he considers his defense his biggest strength. His actions in the field may need some work, but with his athleticism he'll be able to play somewhere in the middle of the field(SS/2B/CF).

Like Washington, Diekroeger is dealing with an injury(this is going to become a running theme). He hurt his knee(not his elbow, which I've seen reported) sliding into a base and missed the last part of his season. It won't require surgery(it was a less-serious injury to his PCL, not to a major ligament like ACL or MLC). Complicating matters here are a solid committment to Stanford. If he does sign, it'll likely be an over-slot deal very late in the signing period. If a deal is reached, look for the Rays to play it safe with his knee and hold him out until fall instructional leagues.

Round 3: OF Todd Glaesmann, Texas HS: Glaesmann is another high schooler with tools, and the fact he maybe isn't as athletic as Washington and Diekroeger is a testament to how athletic those two are. Glaesmann has the potential to develop 5 above-average tools, and with his strong arm he projects best as a right fielder down the road. He's a Texas A&M commit, and while it may take a slightly over-slot deal to sign him, I haven't seen anything that makes it sound like he'll be a real tough sign. Expect something similar to what 2008 4th rounder Ty Morrison went through: A late sign and a short appearance in Princeton(or the GCL).

Round 4: C Luke Bailey, Georgia HS: This is where it became pretty clear the injury thing wasn't just a coincidence. Bailey was considered the cream of a strong catching crop, but blew out his elbow pitching, requiring Tommy John surgery. Prior to getting hurt, Bailey showed serious 5-tool potential, rare for a catcher. His bat slipped some in the spring, but still grades out at least above-average. He's athletic behind the plate, posting great pop-times with a plus throwing arm, although the surgery complicates that. He's committed to Auburn but is considered signable, and has expressed interest in signing. He'll likely sign late, and if he plays for any Rays affiliate in 2009, it'll be strictly as a DH.

Round 5: 1B Jeff Malm, Nevada HS: Malm might be the best pure hitter taken by the Rays in 2009. He actually saw a lot of playing time in the 2007 Cape Cod High School, playing over 2008 1st-rounder Eric Hosmer. He led Nevada high schoolers in homeruns with 15 this past season, and the only question about his bat seems to be if he can transfer his powe from aluminum to wood. He has a strong left arm, but he's limited to 1st base where he projects as an average defender. He's committed to Southern Cal and has personal ties there, but it seems he wants to sign. If he does, it'll probably be close to the deadline, but with no injury concerns, would see some time with Princeton or the GCL Rays in late summer.

Rounds 6-10: Devin Fuller, Cody Rogers, Brett Nommensen, Kevin James, Derek Dennis: Fuller and Rogers were both junior college guys. Fuller's always showed potential, but never put it together. He was academically ineligible at Arizona State after being a 14th-round pick out of high school. At Chandler-Gilbert, he was good but not great, flashing a fastball at times 94 with life, but other times it was in the high-80s. His secondary stuff is a step behind, but it's showed potential. As for outfielder Cody Rogers, he seems to be a guy who does a lot of things well but nothing really well. Brett Nommensen in the 8th round is a sure-fire slot-or-below guy as a college senior. And if you're going to take a college senior, might as well make it the guy who led divion 1 in on-base percentage.

The Rays went back to the high school ranks for Kevin James, a raw pitcher from Wisconsin. He's projectable and left-handed with a fastball that sits around 90-91. His control is spotty at best and he's never dominated weak high school competition. His breaking pitches also need a lot of work. He's committed to Boston College, but if he doesn't sign it won't be because of bonus demands. Derek Dennis is a another athletic high school shortstop, and another guy whose spring was limited due to injury(a strained ribcage). He's a Michigan commit and considered a tough sign. He said the Rays told him they plan to offer 2nd-round money, but he may want more still.

Rounds 11-15: Alex Koronis, Andrew Bellatti, Hunter Hill, Zach Quate, Pierce Johnson: I'll start with Koronis and Quate, who are the both right-handed college guys who worked as relievers in 2009. Koronis, a junior from the University of Tampa, has more upside, but he's still a shortish righty with a low-90's fastball. Quate will sign quickly and Koronis shouldn't take much longer. Hunter Hill is a junior college guy I couldn't find much on, other than that he'll go to Texas State if the Rays don't ink him.

Bellatti and Johnson are both high school righties. Bellatti is interesting because he's from California, but in a pre-draft article he listed the Tampa Bay Rays as his favorite team. He's committed to Cal State-Fullerton but we'll see if his favorite team drating him makes a difference.

Pierce Johnson was a guy I really liked coming in. He fit right into the Rays plans, having missed 2 months with a broken hand. He's 6'2" and only 165 pounds, so he could add to his 92-93 MPH fastball. He has clean mechanics and locates his fastball well. He mixes in a solid curveball and changeup to boot. There's a lot to like here, but we'll see if a deal can get done. If not, he'll head to Missouri State.

Rounds 16-20: Tyler Bortnick, Alex Diaz, Jacob Partridge, Scott Shuman, Dylan Floro: Bortnick and Shuman are both unremarkable college guys to me, and there's not much information out there about them. Both will likely sign and fill out Hudson Valley's roster, Bortnick at 2nd base and Shuman probably in the bullpen.

Alexander Diaz is an intriguing pick, flashing a lot of raw power out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy. He hasn't shown much else, but the potential the bat has is worth signing him. Jacob Partridge and Dylan Floro are both high school pitchers, and we're in the area where signing them gets less likely. Early word is that Partridge plans to honor his commitment to Gonzaga, and Floro will probably go to Cal State-Fullerton and try to improve his stock for 2012.

Rounds 21-25: Matt Swilley, Jake Sullivan, Trevor Peterson, Andrew Heaney, Ryan Wiegand: Three more high school pitchers in Swilley, Peterson, and Heaney. Peterson is probably the most signable, but like I said, in this range it might make more sense to go to college for three years to improve their stock. Sullivan and Wiegand are both college draftees and appear ticketed for Hudson Valley.

Rounds 25-50: It's kind of hard to like or hate anything a team does this late in a draft, because generally the only guys signing are organizational filler types. They took a few fliers(Austin Maddox, James Pazos, etc) but signing any of them would just be a bonus.

Summary: I like what the Rays did, going for upside early. They certainly didn't play it safe, in fact, they pretty much went the other way on that by drafting a lot of guys with injuries. Again, the key is getting guys signed. In a perfect world, they'd sign everyone, but obviously that won't happen and, for example, signing Austin Maddox is little more than a pipedream.

But here's my best-case(within reason) scenario: a) Signing picks 1-10 with the exception of Kenny Diekroeger or Derek Dennis; I'll think they'll sign one of those two. b) Signing picks 11-20 with the exception of Jacob Partridge or Dylan Floro. Realistically neither of those two will sign, but this is best-case. And then one of the HS pitcher trio in the 21-25 range(Swilley, Peterson, Heaney) and one in the 26-30 range(Jensen or Wager). Any signing besides the college seniors in round 30+ would be gravy.

I'll give the picks an A-minus. There are just enough questions about 1st round pick LeVon Washington for me not to give them the A. That grade can go lower if the Rays fail to sign some guys we should, but the only way it will go up is if they get all the high-round guys and Austin Maddox or something. All in all, I liked what the Rays did.

The last thing I want to do is give a huge thanks to the writers over at BaseballAmerica, who do a terrific job of getting information about guys out there. Thanks also to R.J. Anderson at DRaysBay who was helpful in gathering/providing some information. And a thanks to everyone who's taken the time to comment here on the set, we appreciate it.


  1. Now that the draft is finished, except for the signings, have the Hudson Valley Renegades and Princeton Rays rosters been made up yet? Ready to be released to the public?

  2. Well it'll depend on th signings. Hudson Valley opens up (I believe) the 19th so I'd expect rosters maybe two days before that.

  3. Apparently, kids were told this morning who is going to Hudson Valley and Princeton.