With the 2007 MLB draft two days away, the Devil Rays front office is busy preparing for their second rodeo. Now is a good time to take a look back and make an an early assessment of how the organization did in their first draft. We all know about Evan Longoria, but what about the rest of the picks.
While analyzing each pick we took a look at the next 5-10 players picked and how they are performing to see if there are any gems the Rays missed. We are only looking at the next 10 picks because once you get past that mark, we start looking at players that many teams missed out on, not just the Rays. One of our biggest draft analysis pet-peeves it to give too much credit to teams that get a superstar in a later round. For example, the New England Patriots are always credited for drafting Tom Brady in the 6th round. That pick should not be used to show their drafting prowess. They got lucky. If they knew how good Brady would turn out to be, they would not have risked waiting until the 6th round to select him.
Without further ado, we present you the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2006 top 11 draft picks recap…
- Evan Longoria. The Dirtbag was simply an outstanding selection. Already a top-10 prospect in baseball, he hit .315-18-58 in only 62 games covering three levels. This year he has picked up right where he left off, hitting .291-12-43 in 55 games. Their are rumors circulating that the Rays are considering a second-half call-up for Longoria. Player missed: Tim Lincecum Reportedly, the Rays second choice was Lincecum. Lincecum was 4-0 in 5 starts at AAA with a 0.29 ERA and 46 Ks in 31 innings. He is now a permanent member of the Giants rotation and is 2-0 in 6 starts.
- Josh Butler. Butler made only 2 starts and 3 relief appearances in 2006 with mixed results. This season, Butler has been outstanding. At low-A Columbus he is 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA. For a big right hander in low-A his strikeout totals are not what you would like with only 45 in 63 innings with 17 walks. Player missed: Sean Watson (Reds) is 4-2, with a 1.81 ERA in low-A, with 74 Ks in 59.2 innings.
- Nicholas Fuller. As good as the Rays first two picks were, this one was nearly as bad. Fuller never signed with the Rays and chose to attend college. Player missed: Aaron Bates (Red Sox) is a slugging first baseman hitting .302-13-46 (nearly identical to Longoria) in high-A.
- Alexander Cobb. Made 6 appearances (1 start) in rookie ball in 2006 and has not appeared in a minor league game yet this year. Is likely to begin 2007 at Hudson Valley. Player missed: Ben Snyder (Giants) is a lefty with 63 Ks in 59 innings with a 2.14 ERA at low-A.
- Shawn O’Malley. Shortstop hit .213 with 1 home run and 10 stolen bases in 50 games for Princeton in 2006. Has not appeared in a minor league game yet this year. Is likely to begin 2007 at Hudson Valley. Player missed: No notable players
- Nevin Ashley. Catchers are notoriously slow developers but Ashley has held his own. After a .333 rookie campaign, this season he is hitting .286 with 15 extra-base hits and 8 steals for Columbus. Player missed: Adam Moore (Seattle) is a catcher chosen two picks after Ashley. He is hitting .278-10-39 in the hitter-friendly Cali League. We can’t knock the selection of Ashley because we have no clue how either catcher is defensively.
- Ryan Reid. Reid made 12 starts for Hudson Valley after being drafted, but this year he is filling the roll of closer for Columbus and doing it quite while. In 32 innings, he has 38 strikeouts with 5 saves and 3.38 ERA. Player missed: No notable players
- Tyree Hayes. Hayes was solid if unspectacular in 7 starts at Princeton in 2006. He will begin the 2007 season at Hudson Valley. Player missed: Chris Cody (Tigers) has 79 srtikeouts in 76.2 innings with only 13 walks and a 1.76 ERA.
- Eligio Sonoqui. First baseman hit .201 with no homers for Princeton in 2006. Will likely begin season with Hudson Valley. Player missed: Brian Bockock (Giants) a shortstop has 27 steals in 37 attempts this season while hitting .291 between low-A and high-A.
- Desmond Jennings. Jennings had 32 steals in 56 games in rookie ball last year and this season he is 22-31 in 49 games. He is hitting .283 with an excellent 23 to 29 walk to strikeout ratio. Player missed: No notable players
- Heath Rollins. OK, so we were originally only going to rate 10 rounds, but the Rays 11th pick was too good to ignore. sue us. If you read this site on a regular basis, you know we have been a bit enamored with Rollins recently. On the season he has a 1.09 ERA in 11 appearances. He has been even stronger recently with only 2 earned runs in his last 56 innings (9 starts). Player missed: No notable players
In the first 11 picks, the Rays selected a future all-star (Longoria), two pitchers that project as major league starting pitchers (Butler, Rollins), major league relief pitcher (Reid) and a guy that could steal 50 bases in the majors with an excellent OBP (Jennings). The Fuller pick was a big blow, but 5 future major leaguers in 11 picks is a solid first effort.