The 2010 MLB Draft was not a very memorable one for the Tampa Bay Rays. In a draft that included big league stars such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey and Chris Sale, the Rays selected three high school bats in the first round (two of them first-round compensation picks).
So far, only one of Tampa’s draft picks that year—Derek Dietrich of the Miami Marlins (the Rays’ fifth pick, taken 79th overall)—have reached the big leagues.
As we approach the 2013 Draft, here’s a look at the current progress of the Rays’ top three draft picks from 2010.
Josh Sale, 1st round (17th overall)
The Rays are experiencing a bad case of deja vu with Josh Sale. It’s not the first time a left-handed power-hitting outfielder drafted in the first round named Josh has disappointed the organization by making poor choices off the field. Sale’s upside isn’t considered to be as high as former Devil Rays bust Josh Hamilton’s, but there still is a high ceiling of potential for him.
Sale struggled in his first pro season with Rookie League Princeton, batting just .210/.289/.346 with four home runs in 60 games. He was much improved in 2012 with Class A Bowling Green, hitting .264/.391/.464 with 10 homers in 74 games.
Sale’s 2012 and 2013 season were shortened due to a 50-game suspension after testing positive for meth and amphetamines.
Now this year, right when he was ready to be reactivated and join Class A+ Charlotte after serving his suspension, has found himself in trouble again. Sale was suspended indefinitely yesterday for an inappropriate status he posted on his Facebook page earlier this week.
#Rays suspend prospect OF Josh Sale indefinitely for conduct detrimental to organization
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 29, 2013
Let’s hope that Sale starts to take a wiser path this season and avoids becoming another first-round bust for the Rays.
Justin O’Conner, 1st round (31st overall)
In an organization that is very weak at the catcher position, backstop Justin O’Conner (drafted as shortstop) is making slow and steady progress through the lower levels of the Rays’ farm system.
O’Conner began pro ball in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, and is now with Class A Bowling Green after moving up a single level each year.
Defensively, scouts seem to like the 21-year-old as he has a strong arm and a skill set probably good enough to stay at the position long term. The Rays are still waiting for O’Conner to get it going with the bat, however, as he’s struggled at the plate throughout his minor league career
He was drafted in the first round partially for his raw power, but has yet to tap into it completely. In 188 career games, O’Conner has posted to .207/.274/.355 with 18 homers. Both his hitting mechanics and plate approach need a lot of work.
O’Conner has shown the flashes of potential offensively, but he’s simply going to have to hit better consistently in order to continue to make progress.
Drew Vettleson, 1st round (42nd overall)
Drew Vettleson joined Josh Sale as another left-handed hitting high school outfielder out of Washington state to be drafted by the Rays in the first round.
The 21-year-old has an impressively well-rounded toolset, and is considered one of the organization’s top prospects (ranked tenth by MLB.com).
He enjoyed a strong season with Bowling Green last year, batting .275/.340/.432 with 15 homers, 69 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 132 games.
Vettleson currently plays right field for Class A+ Charlotte, and is currently hitting just .258/.291/.403 through 47 games. Strangely, he’s managed to commit 10 errors so far in 2013.