Rays first-day draft wrapup
The Rays were already excited heading into today's first day of the draft. considering they had two first-round picks for the first time in club history, and three selections in the first 42.
Then they admittedly got a bit “lucky,” landing three high school players they wanted (and are confident they will be able to sign). Their top pick (at No. 17) was outfielder Josh Sale (from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High), whom scouting director R.J. Harrison says “is a corner outfielder with tremendous power, a guy we think has a chance to be a middle of the lineup type bat.”
Then, at pick No. 31, the Rays got the draft’s top high school catching prospect, Justin O’Conner, and at No. 42, outfielder Drew Vettleson.
“You have to get a little bit lucky for things to really fall into place,” Harrison said. “And we feel like we were well-prepared and got a little lucky and got three guys we really liked.”
Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said they already have an agreement in principle with O'Conner, and are hopeful to sign the two others.
The Rays raved about each one of their pick's makeup and character, with Harrison saying, "They are our kind of guys."
Here's Harrison's take on the three picks:
"Sale is a corner outfielder with tremendous power. He’s a guy we think has the chance to be a middle of the lineup type bat.”
“The kid has a tremendous work ethic. We think he’s an advanced high school kid as far as maturity level and the ability to come into professional baseball and not be overwhelmed by the rigors of professional baseball.”
Said Friedman: "He's got an uncanny feel for the mechanics of his swing, what goes into being a successful hitter. With most high school guys that we draft, it's a process for us at the player development side to educate them on that and he's coming in extremely advanced on that front...
"We feel very good about the fact that he'll be able to reach his max potential, because of who he is, the makeup the work ethic and are thrilled to get him where we did. "
"O'Conner is essentially a high school shortstop, who started catching this year, a kid with a plus arm plus raw power and we think he's going to be able to make that transition to catcher.
"Vettleson is another corner high school outfielder...a kid we scouted pretty good the last year and just one of those kids that at every event we saw him, you walk away and go, 'Boy that guy can really hit.'"