The 2012 MLB Draft is right around the corner, which means the Rays have another chance to shine in something that they’ve had success in during the past years. The Rays have six active Major Leaguers (four with the Rays) currently playing in the big leagues that were picked in the first round, three of them now superstars. In the 2011 Draft, the Rays had 10 first-round picks, seven of them compensatory (or “sandwich”) picks. It’s obviously too early to judge the Rays ‘ draft choices at this point, but nearly a year after the the draft it’s about time to see how these prospects are progressing through the Rays’ farm system. Let’s take a look at where the Rays’ top 10 draft picks from 2011 are found today.
Taylor Guerrieri; 1st (24)
Picking 19-year-old right-hander Taylor Guerrieri as their first pick in the draft, the Rays added yet another talented arm to their stack of starting pitching to their minor league system. Despite any professional baseball experience yet, Guerrieri is considered a top prospect coming into the 2012 season. He’s expected to join the Princeton Rays (Rookie League)—which season starts in mid-June—at some point late this year. At a very young age and playing in an organization with a stacked pitching rotation, Guerrieri’s clearly long ways from any big league push at the moment. However, he’ll surely be one to watch this year at short-season ball. Here’s a full scouting report of Guerrieri that I wrote at The Rays Rant last month.
Mikie Mahtook; 1st (31)
As expected, 22-year-old Mikie Mahtook has had a rather smooth transition into the pros. He shined in Arizona Fall League ball last year, hitting .338/.410/.544 with three homers and 14 RBI through 18 games in his first taste of the pros. Mahtook is playing in his first full professional season this year at Class A+ Charlotte, after a very successful career at LSU. The toolsy outfielder has been considered one of the Rays’ top prospects right from the draft. Mahtook is hitting .284/.360/.338 with the Charlotte Stonecrabs through 21 games and 74 at-bats. He’s also knocked in 10 runs and stole three bases. The power has not shown yet, but it’s likely only a matter of time before it does. If Mahtook progresses well through the minors this year and next year, he might be able to make his MLB debut as early as 2013. Here’s my scouting report on him back from February.
Jake Hager; 1st (32)
Picked late in the first round right after Mahtook, the Rays found themselves a potential future shortstop in Jake Hager. At just just 18 years of age last season, Hager joined Rookie League Princeton not long after the draft. He hit .269/.305/.399 with 17 RBI, four homers, five stolen bases (out of 12 opportunities) and eight fielding errors through 47 games. The sloppy fielding and baserunning is something normal for 18-year-old’s making their pro debut, and shouldn’t concern the Rays too much at this point. Hager’s had a slow start to the 2012 season with Class A Bowling Green; the lowest level full-season club in the Rays’ organization. Through his first 18 games, he’s currently hitting .209 with seven RBI and four fielding errors. Hager clearly has a lot of developing to do in the minors, but fortunately he has plenty of time. Here’s my full scouting report on Hager from earlier this month.
Brandon Martin; 1st (38)
The Rays chose another shortstop in the draft for their first of seven compensatory picks. Like Hager, Martin is a athletic and undersized shortstop with pretty good tools across the board. He played 19 games for the Gulf Coast League Rays last year (Rookie League), batting .255 with five stolen bases and three RBI. Martin’s 2012 season hasn’t started yet, as he’s in extended spring training to start the year. The 18-year-old plans to play in the rookie level later this season.
Tyler Goeddel; 1st (41)
Third baseman Tyler Goeddel is by far the biggest pleasant surprise this season in the lower levels of the Rays’ farm system. In his first season as a pro, the 19-year-old is batting .318/.375/.515 with 11 RBI and three homers through 19 games with Single-A Bowling Green. Although it seems he’s starting to cool off after jumping out to a red hot start, 2012 could a breakout year for Goeddel, who came into the year without much recognition at all. Goeddel is not considered one of the Rays’ top prospects now, but that will likely change once the season ends.
Jeff Ames; 1st (42)
Right-hander Jeff Ames had a rough first go-around in the minors last year, posting a 7.12 ERA through 30.1 innings pitched with Rookie League Princeton. The high strikeout rates he posted show that he still has pretty good potential, but he’s definitely looking to improve the ugly numbers coming into the 2012 season. Along with a handful of the Rays’ draftees, Ames is starting the season in extended spring training. Here’s my complete scouting report on Ames.
Blake Snell; 1st (52)
Ranked one of the Rays’ top prospects right out of the draft, most scouts believe that 19-year-old southpaw Blake Snell has a high ceiling of potential. Snell had a strong professional debut last summer, posting a 3.08 ERA with 26 strikeouts for the Gulf Coast League Rays through 26.1 innings. He also is starting his 2012 season in extended spring training. Here’s my full scouting report on Snell.
Kes Carter; 1st (56)
The Rays’ picked up their first left-handed bat of the draft when they chose Kes Carter. The 22-year-old outfielder made his pro debut last season with Low-A Hudson Valley (short-season New York-Penn League), going .231 with an RBI during his brief 13-at bat (three-game) stint. Promoted up to full-season Bowling Green, 2012 is Carter’s real start to his career. Before landing on the DL earlier this month, Carter was batting .333 with three RBI and two stolen bases through seven games played. Unfortunately, his hamstring injury has sidelined him for over two weeks now.
Grayson Garvin; 1st (59)
The Rays picked a tall left-handed pitcher in Grayson Garvin for the 59th overall pick in the draft. The 22-year-old is making his minor league debut with Class A+ Charlotte this season, and has not had a strong start to the year. Garvin is currently sporting an 0-2 record with a 4.50 ERA and 15 strikeouts through 22 innings pitched in the Stonecrabs’ rotation. Being an overlooked prospect, 2012 is Garvin’s chance to make a name for himself in the Rays’ organization.
James Harris; 1st (60)
The Rays picked outfielder James Harris as their final compensation pick of the draft, as well as their final pick of the first round. A phenomenal athlete, Harris made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League last summer at just 17 years old (now 18). He batted a low .165/.257/.203 with eight RBI and 13 stolen bases during his 45-game Rookie League stint. The young speedster is starting the 2012 season in extended spring training.