5. Rays. Tampa Bay had a record 12 picks in the first two rounds, and it started off with two nice talent values in righthander Taylor Guerrieri at No. 24 and outfielder Mikie Mahtook at No. 31.
After that, I thought the Rays sacrificed some ability in order to make sure they could sign all of their top choices. I would have preferred to see them take the best guys available and sign as many of them as possible, yet it's also impossible to deny that they wound up with nine players from our Top 100...
Marc Topkin updates the whereabouts of the August 15th signs:
The four draft picks signed at the Aug. 15 deadline — RHP Taylor Guerrieri, OF Mikie Mahtook, INF Tyler Goeddel and LHP Grayson Garvin — have reported to Port Charlotte; Goeddel is the only one likely to play before the minor-league season ends.
Adam Sobsey has the latest on Justin Ruggiano's status:
The second note is that Justin Ruggiano is back with the Bulls—he has been for a few days, in fact. So why hasn't he started that rehab assignment that was scheduled to begin a week ago? Well, whether he had "knee bursitis" or not, it turns out that he did develop a nagging little oblique strain after the bursitis officially sidelined him. Ruggiano told me last night that he feels close to 100% and expects to get into the Durham lineup perhaps as soon as Wednesday. He's anxious to see some action, as he really hasn't played in a month.
William Montgomery spoke to Charlie Cononie about becoming a reliever for the Renegades:
"I like both roles, but I've kind of accepted that I'm not going to be a starter anymore," said Cononie, who finished his senior year at Townson University this spring. "My mindset has definitely changed to, you know, you have a lot less room for error as a reliever. You kind of come in and shut it down. You need to focus more as a reliever.
"As a starter, you obviously do need to focus, but you have more innings to work. If you have a bad inning, you can come back and say, 'I'm not going to let that happen anymore' and shut it down for the rest of the game."
What the Rays will be doing before tonight's game:
The Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday will become the fifth Major League Baseball team to shoot a video for the It Gets Better Project. The project began in 2010 in response to a number of students who took their own lives after being bullied in school.
Rays manager Joe Maddon and players Johnny Damon, Sam Fuld, Sean Rodriguez and B.J. Upton are participating in the video shoot. It will take place before tonight's game against the Detroit Tigers. The Rays are offering a special ticket discount for people who would like to participate in a fan It Gets Better shoot following the game. To receive the discount use the code "IGB" on the ticketmaster.com website for tonight's game which begins at 7:10 p.m.
Stacy Long broke the story on Kyle Lobstein's promotion to Montgomery, now he speculates on who might be moving to make room on the roster for Lobstein:
With signs that Biscuits pitcher Chris Archer could soon be headed to Triple-A Durham, he didn't help himself Monday night. Archer gave up five runs in four innings in Montgomery's 8-5 loss to Mississippi.
The Biscuits have a new starting pitcher in the dugout and will have to make an additional roster move to activate left-hander Kyle Lobstein before he makes his Double-A debut Friday.
Also, Tampa Bay minor league pitching coordinator Dick Bosman was in town. Archer is the only Montgomery starter on Tampa Bay's 40-man major league roster and has almost 14 months of Double-A experience.
Kevin Kleps spoke with Tyler Bortnick:
He won't divulge the Rays' plans for him, other than saying, "They say all good things. They're happy with the way I've improved."
That's when the realist in Bortnick emerges. When asked if he had a timeline in mind for reaching the big leagues, Bortnick, who turned 24 in July, had this to say:
"I kind of take it day by day. The Rays have one of the best minor-league systems in the major leagues. There is a lot of talent. It's a business, and it's difficult to get to the major leagues. The way I look at it, I play for all 30 teams in the league. You're being watched every day. Maybe I'll play for the Rays one day, maybe I won't. I feel like I'll get noticed by someone. The way you go about your business, people notice that. In the end, the ultimate goal is to play in the major leagues, whether it's the team that drafted you or not."
It's an honest answer you don't always hear when you speak with a professional athlete. It's also a refreshing one.
Sean McMann explains why you should be at Thursday's Renegades game:
For those who don't follow [Brooks] Belter on Twitter, fear not: The first 2,500 fans at Thursday's game between the visiting Vermont Lake Monsters and Hudson Valley at Dutchess Stadium will get their own team set of Renegades baseball cards, including the hurler's rookie card.
Growing up in Connecticut, Belter told the Poughkeepsie Journal he collected Topps and Upper Deck baseball cards; but he never envisioned himself immortalized on a 2 1/2-inch-by-3 1/2-inch piece of cardboard.
"I guess it's a little funny. I never really thought they did baseball cards for minor-leaguers, so the idea never really came to my head that I'd have a baseball card of my own," said Belter, the Tampa Bay Rays' 25th-round draft pick this past June.
McMann also profiled Hudson Valley's Jonathan Koscso:
Having graduated with a degree in biomedical sciences from the University of South Florida and been admitted to the school's college of medicine, the Tampa, Fla., native heard the hometown Tampa Bay Rays had selected him with their 29th-round draft pick. Suddenly, the 22-year-old had to decide between two passions: enter medical school or pursue his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
"It was tough, but I knew I'd been playing baseball since I was 4 years old, and I've only really been pursuing the med school thing for about the past two or three years," Koscso said before Thursday's game between the Hudson Valley Renegades and the State College (Pa.) Spikes at Dutchess Stadium. "I kind of felt like, 'What's my first love? What's my first priority?' That's baseball."
John Sickels took a look at Durham leftie Alex Torres:
Torres isn't a big guy, but he generates plenty of velocity for a lefty with a low-90s fastball. The heater plays up because of its movement. He also has an above-average changeup, and his curveball, while inconsistent, is also a frequent plus pitch. All of his pitches have excellent movement, and he's maintained his superior strikeout rates at each level. His mechanics aren't textbook, but add deception to all the life in his pitches.
The downside is spotty command: Torres doesn't always know where the ball is going and walks a lot of people, although his ground ball tendency and low home run rates have limited the damage, resulting in solid ERAs.
Adam Lawson continued his great series on the Princeton players with Taylor Motter, who leads the Appy in batting average and on-base percentage, and is second in steals:
"Right now, I'm a one-pitch kind of guy," Motter confessed. "I sit on the fastball. I wait on the fastball. At this level, the pitchers are trying to develop their fastball more so I sit on it. I know that as I move up in the system, I will have to adjust my approach to the breaking stuff more. It's a lot easier to hit a hard, straight pitch than a soft, breaking pitch, though."
Motter is also having similar success on the basepaths. He was never really a stolen base threat until his junior year of college, but he says that since he got to Princeton, things have changed even more.
"The key for me is being relaxed on the bases," Motter said. "My confidence rises after I have proven I can steal a base. There was a lot more pressure on me in college to have to go steal a base. Here, I just think about how I'm going to help the team win on the day in question, and if that involves me stealing second or third base, I'll do it."