6'0" 198 lbs DOB: 3/11/1991
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2010: Gulf Coast Rays
Acquired: 2009 Draft, 4th Round
Luke Bailey was on his way to being a lock for the first round as a catcher before he blew out his elbow pitching for his Georgia high school team. He got supplemental first round money from the Rays to sign out of the fourth round in 2009, but between the August signing and the recovery from Tommy John surgery, didn't make his debut until 2010.
The Rays took it slow with Bailey, starting him out in the Gulf Coast League, unlike fellow '09 bonus babies Todd Glaesmann and Jeff Malm, who played at Princeton. Bailey got off a bad start and suffered through a terrible month of July before finishing relatively strong and showing a glimpse of the tools that made him one of the top prep catchers in his draft.
Bailey's bat doesn't have the potential of Wil Myers, a fellow '09 high school catcher draftee, but his pure hitting and raw power tools both rated above-average entering the draft. His power was evident in 2010, but the contact wasn't. He had just 25 hits in 42 games (.182 batting average), but more than half were for extra bases. In his final 14 games, he hit three of his five home runs. He swung and missed too much, though, striking out 47 times on the season. He has an average eye at the plate, and drew 17 walks.
His arm may have been his best tool in high school, and reports on his arm strength post-surgery have been promising. He's a very good athlete for a catcher, and while he won't be stealing too many bases, his athleticism combined with his arm and his feel for the position should make him a well-above-average defender.
The Rays suddenly have a logjam behind the plate at the low levels of the minors, with Bailey and 2010 draft picks Justin O'Conner and Jake DePew. They'll want to get all three as much experience behind the plate as they can, so while each were with the GCL Rays in 2010 (DePew barely, for just four games) they're likely to each start at a different levels in 2011. Bailey is a year older than O'Conner but may wind up at a lower level. Best guess is that O'Conner starts out at Hudson Valley, Bailey at Princeton, and DePew in the GCL.