Monday, June 7, 2010

Rays 1st Round Pick - 31st Overall: Justin O'Conner

Justin O'Conner, Rays 1st Round Draft PickHe was a late riser, rumored as high as the top 10.

BaseballAmerica(rated #24):
Scouts had been split on whether O'Conner was a better prospect as a power-hitting third baseman or as a pitcher with a 93-95 mph fastball and a hammer curveball. When he began catching at the end of the showcase circuit last summer and played regularly behind the plate this spring, though, it settled any debate about his future. He's now the top high school catching prospect in the 2010 draft. His standout tool is his arm, which grades as plus-plus and is capable of producing 1.8-second pop times. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is agile behind the plate, though his inexperience shows in his receiving. O'Conner also generates above-average thunder with his tremendous bat speed, showing power to all fields in batting practice. A righthanded hitter, he's pull-conscious in games and struggled at times against quality pitching last summer, so there's some question whether he'll hit for a high average. Even if he doesn't, his arm and power could make him an all-star catcher. And if he can't make it as a position player, he has an attractive fallback option as a pitcher. The Arkansas recruit is unlikely to make it past the first round.
Andy Seiler:
Justin O’Conner is a promising catcher and shortstop from Cowan High School in Muncie, Indiana. O’Conner is one of those rare cold-weather position players who really grab the attention of scouts due to a few standout tools. Despite not starting his season until late in the spring, all he’s done is confirm to scouts that he has first round talent, even if the lack of refinement leaves something to be desired. A new catcher, he’s been a shortstop for most of his prep career, only switching over the offseason. That switch prompted plenty of attention, as he’s gone from middle infielder that might need to play third base to middle infielder that has catching potential. His tools all scream first round potential and firstdivision starting catcher, so it’s only a matter of working through the kinks and refining the big-time tools. At the plate, he flashes plenty of promise, and even though he’s an average hitter, he has aboveaverage to plus raw power that really plays with wood bats, as he showed on the showcase circuit last summer. He’s an average runner, too, which only boosts his stock as an athletic catcher. Behind the plate, his best tool is a plus-plus arm, and while he’s a few years behind in receiving, he’s shown good aptitude and a willingness to learn this spring. He’s pitched in the past, and even though his fallback to catching is likely third base, he could also become a late-inning reliever, pumping in 95 mph fastballs and a plus curveball. However, he’s likely to go in the first round to a team that wants a signable catcher with big upside.
Good value. Here's some video (hat tip to Cork at RaysIndex).


  1. Excellent pick! Best player available! Hopefully signable!

  2. If we sign him and Sale, I will already be overjoyed with this draft.

  3. Drew Vettleson at 42

  4. Here's a local newspaper article on O'Conner:

  5. Didn't see this anywhere else, sorry if I missed it, but O'Conner is signing today:

    The Tampa Bay Rays will fly out the O'Conner family this morning. O'Conner will take a physical and then sign his name to a contract to officially start his pro career.
    O'Conner will be on the field for the Rays' batting practice on Friday. Tampa Bay plays host to the Florida Marlins at 7:10 p.m. in an interleague game. O'Conner will watch the game in one of the team suites where he is scheduled to meet Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, general manager Andrew Friedman and some of their other top officials.

    On Saturday, the O'Conner family will venture over to Port Charlotte Fla., where he will report on Monday to play for the Rays' rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League.

    Doesn't list a bonus figure.