James Kaprielian is one player projected to be taken by the Rays in the draft.

James Kaprielian is one player projected to be taken by the Rays in the draft.

Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is tonight and unlike the drafts in other sports, it is pretty much a crapshoot and almost impossible to predict thanks to the availability of so many players, including high school kids.

Last year, the Rays had the 20th pick and used it to take Casey Gillaspie, a big first baseman from Wichita State. So far, that pick appears to be on track as Gillaspie is on pace to hit 29 home runs with a .336 OBP for low-A Bowling Green.

This year, the experts are all over the board with whom they are predicting for the Rays with pick No. 13, with the only trend being that most are predicting the Rays to take a college pitcher. Here is a sampling:

John Manuel, Baseball America — James Kaprielian, RHP (UCLA)

“When the Rays have a chance, they go with a West Coast option. Scouting director R.J. Harrison is an Arizona guy, and West Coast crosschecker Fred Repke is one of Harrison’s key lieutenants and decision-makers. That could lead Tampa in the direction of JC of Southern Nevada righty Phil Bickford or UCLA righthander James Kaprielian.”

Jim Callis, MLB.com — Walker Buehler, RHP (Vanderbilt)

“The Rays look to be targeting college pitching. With the top three and Harris gone, that leaves Buehler and right-handers Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) and James Kaprielian (UCLA) remaining on the second tier.”

Keith Law, ESPN.com — Walker Buehler, RHP (Vanderbilt)

“I’m hearing them mostly connected to college players, especially Benintendi and Buehler.”

John Sickels, Minor League Ball — Phil Bickford, RHP (Southern Nevada)

“Rumors here contradictory and vague. Bickford is physical and young (and successful) enough to fit into the Rays pitching development system very nicely. ”

David Rawnsley, SI.com — Trenton Clark, OF (high school)

“Clark has a huge upside as a potential centerfielder with plus hitting to go along with plus speed and lots of power potential. He’s also a highly disciplined hitter who will walk a lot and is also already an accomplished bunter.”

Jeff Ellis, Scout.com — Kevin Newman, SS (Arizona)

“The Rays have been very forthright with their desire to add a shortstop. If they were looking to add one, Kevin Newman makes the most sense at this pick. Shortstops naturally rise on draft boards but the talk prior to this draft is that shortstops are going to go early and often.”

Steve Garrity and Paul Doran, USAToday.com — Andrew Benintendi, OF (Arkansas)

“There are plenty of good college arms available to choose from, and that could be the route Tampa Bay takes, but Benintendi has been on fire and is shooting up draft boards. And he’s the best available bat here.”



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