With the 2008 MLB draft tomorrow, the Tampa Bay Rays front office is busy preparing for their third rodeo. Now is a good time to take a look back and gauge the early returns from players selected in last year’s draft. We all know about David Price, but what about the rest of the picks.
While analyzing each pick we took a look at the next 10 players picked and how they are performing to see if there are any gems the Rays missed. 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 2007 top 10 draft picks recap…
- David Price, LHP: It took him almost a year to make his professional debut, but so far he is everything the Rays hoped for. In 3 starts he has yet to allow a run and has been touched for only 8 hits and 2 walks in 18 innings. He has struck out 19. Some are beginning to wonder if Price could make a late-season appearance for the Rays. This will only happen if the Rays are in the pennant race and one of Troy Percival, Al Reyes or Dan Wheeler is lost for the rest of the year and there is an obvious need for a 7th or 8th inning pitcher. With his late start to the season, there will still be plenty of bullets left in his arm and the Rays will not have to worry about over-extending him…Player missed: It is hard to argue with Price, but some suggested before the draft that the Rays should take catcher Matt Wieters (4 picks later). Early on, it looks like they would have been justified in that selection also. Weiters is with the O’s high-A affiliate and is hitting .324/.420/.566 with 12 home runs. Would Buster Posey even be on the radar this season if the Rays had selected Wieters?
- Will Kline, RHP: After making 9 starts in ’07 and going 0-4 with a 4.97 ERA, Kline was shutdown this spring and will miss the entire ’08 season due to an arm injury…Player missed: The Rays deserve a pass on this one as there doesn’t appear to be a single legit prospect in the next 10 players selected after Kline. The closest is Brian Rike (6 picks later), a lefty-swinging outfielder in the Rockies organization. In low-A Rike is hitting .274/.392/.487 with 11 home runs and 10 steals.
- Nick Barnese, RHP: Made 8 starts for Princeton last season going 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA and 37 Ks with only 4 walks in 36.1 innings. He has yet to make his debut in ’08. At 19, he will likely be on the opening day roster for Hudson Valley…Player missed: Jonathan Lucroy (6 picks later). We are glad that the Rays passed on Wieters, but Lucroy, another college catcher, might be a mistake. He dominated the rookie league in ’07 with a .342/.383/.487 line and he is off to a good start this season, hitting .318/.389/.518 in the SAL with above-average defensive skills.
- David Newmann, LHP: Newmann did make an appearance in ’07 and was shut down in the spring this year with an arm injury that will sideline him all season. Two of the top 4 picks shut down for an entire year already? That’s not good…Player missed: Eric Farris (6 picks later). Farris, a second baseman, had a strong rookie campaign, hitting .326/.369/.423 with 21 steals in 63 games, but he has struggled so far in his sophomore season, with a .198/.241/.259 line. Still, like catchers, the Rays have a dearth of second basemen in the system and this one could have been had in the 4th round. Instead the Rays got Bubkis.
- Dustin Biell, OF: Hit .218/.279/.279 and 7 of 12 steals in 49 games for Princeton last year and will likely make his ’08 debut with Hudson Valley…Player missed: Jacob Arrieta (4 picks later). Arrieta is a college right-handed pitcher that is already in high-A in the O’s organization. This season he is 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA with 72 Ks in 69.2 innings.
- Emeel Salem, OF: Salem was leading all of professional baseball with 25 steals when he broke his elbow on a slide in May and will now be out for the rest of the season. He was hitting .301/.357/.366 and looks like a legit prospect…Player missed: None
- Reid Fronk, OF: Fronk had a solid debut in ’07 hitting .311/.396/.566 for Hudson Valley. He has struggled a bit early on this season for Columbus in the SAL, hitting .241/.333/.429. He does have 24 extra-base hits and 6 steals…Player missed: Bryan Augenstein (9 picks later). The big (6’5″, 225) right-hander out of the University of Florida is overpowering the Midwest League with a 3-1 record and a 2.09 ERA in 11 starts. He has 61 strikeouts and only 9 walks.
- Matt Moore, LHP: Moore, only 17 when he was drafted, made 8 appearances and 3 starts for Princeton, striking out 29 and walking 16 in 20.1 innings. He posted a 2.66 ERA. He is expected to pitch for Hudson Valley in ’08…Player missed: Adrian Alaniz (5 picks later). So far Moore looks legit and he is a lefty, so no fault with this pick but if we were to suggest another player it would be Alaniz. The right-handed college pitcher is already in high-A and pitching well with 49 strikeouts in 53 innings and a 2.72 ERA. He is 7-0 in 10 starts.
- Cody Cipriano, 2B: Cipriano is struggling in single-A Columbus hitting .194/.296/.361. He is 7-7 in steals and does have 13 walks, but strikes out too much with 26 in 29 games…Player missed: Aaron Brown (10 picks later). Brown is a tall (6’6″) righty college relief pitcher that is overpowering the Northwest League. In 37 innings this season he has a 1.95 ERA and 49 strikeouts and only 15 walks.
- Greg Sexton, 3B: Sexton is having a solid if unspectacular season for Columbus hitting .307/.348/.443. He has actually greatly improved his numbers over his pro debut last season in Hudson Valley which is a good sign of adjusting to the wood bats…Player missed: Joe Patterson (9 picks later). Patterson, a lefty relief pitcher, drafted out of college has already advanced to high-A in the Giants organization. He started the year in single-A and struck out 37 in 31.1 innings with a 2.30 ERA and only 13 walks.