The Rays have the No. 4 selection in Monday's draft, the highest they've picked since taking Tim Beckham first overall in 2008. Overall, it will be their 22nd draft, and while under both ownership groups they've hit on some good picks high (first-rounders Evan Longoria and David Price, Carl Crawford in the second) and low (James Shields in the 16th round, Kevin Kiermaier in the 31st) there also have been some big misses (like the 2011 mess).
Though it may be more fair to judge an entire draft class, most of the focus, and the money, goes to the first pick, so we've endeavored ranking their top choices in each of the 21 drafts, listed with their career wins above replacement or WAR (per baseball-reference.com):
1. 2006 (3rd overall) 3B Evan Longoria 48.1 WAR
Couldn't really have worked out better, a franchise player who's signed long term, and is pretty darn good. Could've had: LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Tim Lincecum
2. 2007 (1) LHP David Price 32.0
Dominant, front-of-rotation ace as expected. Only negative was shorter stint with Rays, which wasn't his doing. Could've had: C Matt Wieters, OF Jason Heyward
3. 2002 (2) CF B.J. Upton 16.2
Provided power and speed over nine seasons, then a first-round pick when he left via free agency (Ryne Stanek). Could've had: RHP Zack Greinke, 1B Prince Fielder
4. 2003 (1) OF Delmon Young 2.5
Didn't do much as a Ray, but trade return of Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza led to a pennant, plus even more back. Could've had: 2B Rickie Weeks, OF Nick Markakis
5. 1999 (1) OF Josh Hamilton 28.1
Was right pick, but drug issues made for wrong outcome with Rays. Eventually showed immense talent elsewhere. Could've had: RHP Josh Beckett, LHP Barry Zito
6. 2000 (6) OF Rocco Baldelli 10.2
Had the athleticism and talent to be an All-Star, but unforeseen medical issues curtailed his career. Could've had: 2B Chase Utley, RHP Adam Wainwright
7. 2008 (1) INF Tim Beckham 3.0
Took a while, and he'll never escape Buster Posey shadow, but proving this season he can be a solid big-leaguer. Could've had: C Posey, INF Brett Lawrie
8. 2004 (4) RHP Jeff Niemann 4.1
Injuries shortened career, but when healthy 6-foot-9 starter was pretty good over parts of five seasons. Could've had: RHP Jered Weaver, 2B Dustin Pedroia
9. 1997 (31) RHP Jason Standridge-0.6
Not a good choice as "best athlete" available, but was good enough to pitch in 80 big-league games over seven years. Could've had: LHP Randy Wolf, INF Chone Figgins.
10. 2001 (3) RHP Dewon Brazelton -3.0
Pretty much a total bargain-driven bust given better options, but did win eight games in majors, which says something. Could've had: 1B Mark Teixeira, 3B David Wright
11. 2012 (25) 3B Richie Shaffer 0.2
Made it to majors in late '15, but poor/ '16 showing at Triple-A instead led to dumping in winter trade. Could've had: RHP Lance McCullers, LHP Alex Wood
12. 2011 (24) RHP Taylor Guerrieri NA
Derailed once by Tommy John surgery, came back to reach Triple-A, now sidelined again with new elbow issues. Could've had: OF Jackie Bradley Jr, INF Joe Panik
13. 2014 (20) 1B Casey Gillaspie NA
Good bloodlines with brother Conor in majors, had stellar 2016 getting to Triple-A, struggling now. Could've had: LHP Jordan Montgomery, OF Bradley Zimmer.
14. 2016 (13) 3B/OF Josh Lowe NA
Made solid pro debut impressing with bat, now playing well enough at full-season Class A after moving to outfield. Could've had: Too early to say.
15. 2013 (21) C Nick Ciuffo NA
Slowed by injuries, has developed defensively, not so much yet with the bat, playing at Double-A. Could've had: OF Aaron Judge, LHP Sean Manaea
16. 2015 (13) OF Garrett Whitley NA
Looks like it will be a slow track for N.Y. prep pick, but there's been progress as he plays this year at Class A Bowling Green. Could've had: Too early to tell.
17. 2009 (30) OF LeVon Washington NA
Wasn't signed, wasn't much, maxing out at Class A with Indians. Rays at least got comp pick, C Justin O'Conner. Could've had: 3B Nolan Arenado, 2B Jason Kipnis
18. 1998 (132) 1B Josh Pressley NA
Losing top three picks for free agents Roberto Hernandez, Wilson Alvarez, Dave Martinez bad, worse Pressley never passed Triple-A. Could've had: LHP Javy Lopez.
19. 1996 (29) OF Paul Wilder NA
Took a swing at big-time power with first ever pick, but it was all in BP as Wilder never got past Class A. Could've had: SS Jimmy Rollins, OF Milton Bradley
20. 2010 (17) OF Josh Sale NA
Combo of bad play (not getting past Class A), bad behavior (two suspensions), led to spring 2015 release. Could've had: OF Christian Yelich, RHP Noah Syndergaard
21. 2005 (8) RHP Wade Townsend NA
Cost-saving decision cost dearly; he got only to Double-A, several big-time impact options were available. Could've had: OF Andrew McCutchen, OF Jay Bruce
Current Rays by draft round
1 - SS Tim Beckham (first overall, 2008), INF Rickie Weeks (2nd, 2003, by Brewers), 3B Evan Longoria (3rd, 2006); OF Colby Rasmus (28th, 2005, Cardinals), RHP Ryne Stanek (29th, 2013), RHP Jake Odorizzi (32nd, 2008, by Brewers); INF Daniel Robertson (34th, 2012, by A's), RHP Brad Boxberger* (43rd , 2009, by Reds), RHP Tommy Hunter (54th, 2007, by Rangers)
2 - INF Brad Miller* (2011, by Mariners)
3 - OF Steven Souza Jr. (2007, Nats), RHP Matt Andriese (2011, by Padres),
4 - RHP Alex Cobb (2006), C Derek Norris (2007, by Nationals)
5 - RHP Chris Archer (2006, by Indians), INF Taylor Featherston (2011, by Rockies), OF Mallex Smith (2012, Padres)
8- OF/DH Corey Dickerson (2010, by Rockies)
9 - RHP Austin Pruitt (2013)
10 - OF Peter Bourjos (2005, Angels), RHP Danny Farquhar (2008, Blue Jays)
11 - RHP Nathan Eovaldi* (2008, Dodgers)
15 - RHP Chase Whitley (2010, Yankees)18 - SS Matt Duffy* (2012, Giants)
22 - 1B Logan Morrison (2005, Marlins)
30 - RHP Shawn Tolleson* (2010, Dodgers)
31 - LHP Xavier Cedeno* (2004, Rockies), CF Kevin Kiermaier* (2010)
34 - RHP Ryan Garton (2012)
Not subject to draft: INF Michael Martinez; C Wilson Ramos*, Jesus Sucre; P Jose Alvarado, Alex Colome, Jumbo Diaz*, Kevin Gadea*, Diego Moreno*, Erasmo Ramirez
* - on DL
Baseball America's latest mock draft has the Rays taking Louisville 1B/LHP Brendan McKay, after the Twins takes Vanderbilt RHP Kyle Wright, the Reds California prep RHP Hunter Greene, the Padres N.C. prep LHP MacKenzie Gore. ... MLB.com has the same order, but then an update saying the Twins could take McKay, which would shuffle plenty. ... ESPN and CBSSports.com also have the Rays taking McKay.
Given the home run controversies of just the last week, seems time for MLB or Fox Sports Sun to invest in a Trop catwalk cam. ... Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he'd consider doing a doubleheader like Saturday's annually, though he's "not optimistic" it will line up logistically. ... Teams are actively compiling background info on closer Alex Colome and others in the event the Rays look to be July sellers. ... The DL move with Rickie Weeks seems like a last-ditch attempt to get him back to spring form, because 49 strikeouts in 97 at-bats isn't helping. ... OF/DH Corey Dickerson's best hope for the All-Star Game is to be voted in by the players, but it wasn't a good sign when mlb.com polled 30 players for underrated candidates and he didn't get a single mention. ... In opting to acquire fringe utility players like Michael Martinez and Taylor Featherson, Rays management passed on promoting promising prospects such as Willy Adames and Patrick Leonard on the premise that they're better off staying and playing daily at Triple-A. Not all would agree. ... Not surprised there was a blow-up between a Red Sox player and the Boston media; was a little surprised it was David Price, who knew what he was getting in to.
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] and (727) 893-8801. Follow a href="https://twitter.com/TBTimes_Rays?lang=en">@TBTimes_Rays>