Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays draft several with family ties to game

ST. PETERSBURG — The talent and skills are solid, the physical traits impressive, the high school or college statistics noteworthy.

But as the Rays on Friday completed the second day of the MLB draft, something else stood out among three of their top 11 picks: bloodlines.

Infielder Riley Unroe, taken in the second round late Thursday with the 60th pick, is the son of former major-leaguer Tim Unroe. Second baseman Kean Wong, a fourth-round pick on Friday, is the younger brother of top Cardinals prospect Kolten Wong. And RHP Aaron Griffin, their 10th-round pick, is the young brother of A's starter A.J. Griffin.

"I think it's always good; it helps," scouting director R.J. Harrison said. "In all of those guys' cases, it should be an advantage. They should have a little edge going in as far as the lifestyle and everything like that."

Unroe, 17, is listed as a shortstop, but Harrison said he could end up at second base or in centerfield. "A pick we were really excited about," Harrison said, and optimistic they can sign him despite a commitment to Southern Cal.

Overall, Harrison said he is pleased with the haul so far, which includes five pitchers, four left-handed hitters and one switch-hitter: "It was a great night (Thursday), it was a good day (Friday)."

THE ONE: Harrison said the Rays are confident they can sign their top pick, C Nick Ciuffo, who has a scholarship offer from South Carolina, by the July 12 deadline.

"We feel good about getting it done," Harrison said. "He's excited. Now we start the process with advisers and that. Hopefully it'll move quickly. … I think it's really to everybody's best interest to get them out and start playing and not lose this development time, in particular those high school guys."

MISCELLANY: OF Thomas Milone, the fourth-round pick, was also quite a football player at Connecticut's Masuk High, scoring 35 touchdowns his senior year as a running back and punt returner. … Though fifth-round pick Johnny Field, whose dad, John, was signed by the Bucs at one point, played centerfield at Arizona, the Rays will explore moving him to second base.

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