Rays get prep catcher Luke Bailey in day two of MLB Draft; he plans to sign
Update: 6:11 p.m. Executive VP Andrew Friedman said the Rays were very pleased with how the draft has gone so far, with them getting a "very good mix of premium athletes, good hitters, good arms." And he pointed to today's second day on how their first two picks - C Luke Bailey and slugging 1B Jeffrey Malm - are players "our guys like a lot and we feel like will fit into our system extremely well and really provide good position player prospects, which is something that we're not as strong as we were a couple years ago."
Scouting director R.J. Harrison said they were particularly "tickled" to get Bailey, who was considered one of the top catching prospects entering his senior year before Tommy John sugery likely scared some teams away. But Harrison said he met with Bailey a few weeks ago and was impressed how the senior handled it.
Harrison said the Rays medical staff did their due diligence on their prospects, including Bailey, and is confident they'll be able to rehab him from sugery successfully. And when they do, Bailey can bring a lot.
"I think it's a good mix," Harrison said. "He's got good solid defensive skills, catch and throw. I think he has a pretty good sense of being able to handle a game as catcher, that's always an unknown with these amateur kids, cause they usually come from a situation where pitches are called....He's got the bat, and he's got power. We've got a chance to have a guy that's going to not only be a defensive guy, but a guy who has a chance to hit in a fairly significant part of the lineup."
With Malm, a left-handed prospect from Bishop Gorman High (Nevada) known for his bat, Harrison said he's confident they can sign him (even though he's got a scholarship to Southern Cal) due a great relationship they've built with him.
Update: 3:25 p.m. C Luke Bailey, the Rays-fourth round pick, said he's excited to be a part of the organization, so much so, that the Auburn signee said he's planning on signing with Tampa Bay.
"I'm extremely excited," Bailey said in a telephone interview. "It's a good young team, and will be good for a long time."
Bailey, 18, a right-handed hitting prep catcher from Troup County HS in Georgia, hopes to be a steal for the Rays. He entered his senior year considered one of the top catching prospects in the draft, but a Tommy John surgery in May likely led to him dropping.
"It was kind of devastating to go from the top catcher in the draft to getting Tommy John sugery and drop a ton," he said. "It's ok, everything happens for a reason."
He said the surgery, performed by Dr James Andrews, went well, and he's out of his brace. Bailey said the surgery prevented him from the typical pre-draft workouts, but he did meet with Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison.
Bailey describes himself as a guy who has power to all fields, but goes "average over power," with his strong suit his arm, as he takes a lot of pride in what he does defensively behind the plate.
"(The Rays) pick guys that can help them win and try to get them better through their system," Bailey said. "They don't try to trade (away). They keep a lot of their guys in their system, all the way. I'm glad I got chosen by them."
The Rays began their second day of the draft by picking a couple more high school players, starting with the fourth rorund and catcher Lucas Bailey from Troup County HS in Georgia.
Bailey, the 139th overall selection, bats and throws right-handed, and is apparently another guy the Rays are taking a chance on, in terms of rehabbing from an injury. According to his scouting report on mlb.com, Bailey was considered one of the better prep catchers in the draft, but he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Here's the rest of the report on him, via mlb.com: "When healthy, he's a solid, not spectacular, catch-and-throw guy. At the plate, he's got good bat speed and plus power potential. He could head to Auburn and rehab there, but a team could decide to take a chance on him, knowing the success of the surgery these days, and work to get him back in form within its system."
Here's a little video too, mlb.com scouting report
The Rays were thought to be looking at potentially adding a catcher via the draft, so that's no surprise.
Here's some of the other Rays selections, including a local, University of Tampa RHP Alexander Koronis.
Koronis, a 6-foot-1 righthander, with an 8-2 record and a 3.48 ERA. He led the team in victories, ERA, complete games (1), saves (5) and strikeouts (79). He was also second with 64.2 innings pitched. Opposing hitters were .210 against Koronis.
169th Jeffrey Malm 1B Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
199th Devin Fuller RHP Chandler Gilbert CC
229th Cody Rogers CF Panola JC
259th Brett Nommensen CF Eastern Illinois (Sr)
289th Kevin James LHP Whitefish Bay HS (WI)
319th Derek Dennis SS Forest Hills Central HS
349th Alexander Koronis RHP Univ of Tampa JR
379th Andrew Bellatti RHP Canyon HS (CA)
409th Hunter Hill RHP Howard Coll
439th Zach Quate RHP Appalachian State SR
469th Pierce Johnson RHP Faith Christian Academy (Col)
To follow the draft, click on Draft Tracker
And check back here throughout the day, as we'll be posting updates and more info on the selections.
-- JOE SMITH