The 2006 Major League Baseball draft will be held June 6-7. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have the 3rd pick of the draft and all indications are that the team will use that pick on a college pitcher. Alan Matthews of Baseball America is speculating that the Rays will take Brad Lincoln with the 3rd pick. Lincoln, a junior from the University of Houston, is a right handed pitcher. He is not very big at 6’0″ 200 pounds, but scouting reports say he possesses a fastball that can touch 95 and a hard breaking curveball. Interestingly, the player likely to be taken #1 overall, Andrew Miller, was previously drafted by the Devil Rays with their 3rd round pick in 2003, the year Tampa took Delmon Young with the #1 overall pick.

For all the woes of this franchise, management has done a superb job in the draft the last few few years. Below are the top-5 picks of the Devil Rays from the past four drafts. Of the 20 picks, 8 are solid major league prospects (in italics). Another 4 are borderline and may develop into big leaguers. Three of the draftees went unsigned, one has been traded and two from the 2005 class have yet to play. That leaves two players that have been drafted by the organization in the past 4 seasons that are still with the team and have yet to distinguish themselves (Jonathon Barratt and Matt Spring). That is an excellent track record in the amateur draft. 3 unsigned and 2 non-prospects in 20 picks.

Devil Rays Draft History 2002-2005

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2002 1 B. J. Upton SS Future face of the organization, but at what position?
2 Jason Pridie OF A tools guy that was taken by Twins in Rule 5 draft this year. After failing to make their Major League roster, sent back to Tampa. Average near .200 at AA Montgomery
3 Elijah Dukes OF Appears to have put his temperamental problems behind him, and is experiencing a breakout season in Durham. May eventually be the reason the team trades one of their better known outfielders (i.e.. Carl Crawford or Delmon Young)
4 Wes Bankston 3B? On the DL at AA Montgomery. Has Major League potential with his bat, but the team is seeking a position for him. This season he has been moved to 3B, but has been error-prone, with 11 in 18 games
5 Mark Romanczuk P Unsigned. Drafted in 2005 (4th round) by Arizona
2003 1 Delmon Young OF Rated top prospect in minors.
2 James Houser LHP Drafted out of high school, and still young at 21, Houser has been productive and consistent if not overpowering. This season he is 3-4 with a 3.76 ERA at single-A Visalia.
3 Andrew Miller LHP Unsigned. Another high school hurler, Miller is projected as the top pick in this year’s draft.
4 Travis Schlichting 3B Undistinguished numbers in 3 years, peaking at Low-A Southwest Michigan. Was traded this past off-season for current Rays backup catcher Josh Paul
5 Jonathon Barratt LHP Another high school pitcher. Barratt has made 5 starts this season at Visalia. He is 2-2 with a 5.13 ERA.
2004 1 Jeff Niemann RHP The organization made a switch this season and started looking more at college pitchers after going almost exclusively for high schoolers. Niemann has all the makings of a future mid-rotation major leaguer. He was shut down midway through last season and has yet to see the field in 2006. May be sent to Montgomery later this month.
2 Reid Brignac SS Big time prospect with the bat. This season is hitting .311-8-38, but has committed 17 errors in 51 games.
3 Wade Davis RHP This kid looks like a can’t miss prospect. In 10 starts this season at low-A Southwest Michigan, Davis has pitched 54 innings with 32 hits, 25 walks and 71 strikeouts. His walk totals are a little high, but that is forgivable with a 1.00 ERA. Drafted out of high school, Davis is only 20 years old.
4 Matt Spring C Has yet to distinguish himself with the bat. Catchers are notoriously slow to develop at the plate (see Toby Hall). If Spring is to advance through the system, it will be due to his defense.
5 Jacob McGee LHP Another high school pitcher. McGee is also posting impressive numbers at SW Michigan. In 60.2 innings, he is 4-5 with a 2.82 ERA and a league leading 82 strikeouts.
2005 1 Wade Townsend RHP Townsend has yet to pitch for the Devil Rays. Tore a ligament in his arm during the Arizona Fall League. Had Tommy John surgery and will not pitch in 2006
2 Chris Mason RHP Has looked solid in 10 starts for Visalia. He is 4-2, with a 3.45 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in the hitter-friendly league.
Bryan Morris RHP Unsigned. The Rays failed to reach an agreement with Morris before Tuesday’s midnight deadline. He will re-enter the draft and is projected as a 1st round pick
4 Jeremy Hellickson RHP 4th straight pitcher taken in this draft, showing where the team’s priorities are. Has yet to pitch for the Rays. Likely to pitch for Hudson Valley when their season starts.
5 Mike McCormick 3B Likely to play for Hudson Valley when their season starts.

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