Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays fail to sign their top two draft picks

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays couldn't reach an agreement with their top two draft picks by Monday's midnight deadline, but they were very different situations.

They never got to the point where they exchanged monetary figures with second-round pick SS Kenny Diekroeger, who kept his long-standing commitment to Stanford. But with first-rounder OF LeVon Washington (chosen 30th overall), the gap between what the Rays were offering and what Washington wanted was too big to overcome.

While Diekroeger going to Stanford was no surprise, Washington, 18, was adamant when he was drafted that he wanted to sign. But even as conversations picked up between the Rays and agent Scott Boras this past week, they didn't move enough to where they could bring in Washington and his surgically repaired shoulder for the necessary physical in time.

The Rays will receive compensatory picks for both players in the 2010 draft following the 30th and 78th selections.

"They're very separate cases," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "In LeVon's situation, we put forth an offer that was consistent with late first-round picks, and if the gap between us had been small I imagine there would have been more conversations this morning and this afternoon, but we never really got to the point where that was relevant. … When we got to noon today, it became pretty clear to us that this was going to be a situation we weren't going to be able to resolve."

Washington did not return calls and text messages from the Times. But David Banes, his coach at Gainesville Buchholz, said he was somewhat surprised how the process turned out. Washington is believed to be going to junior college.

"I was surprised in talking to LeVon early, right after he was drafted; he said he wanted to sign,'' Banes said. "I was not surprised when I knew who his agent is."

Diekroeger, 18, attended Menlo High School in Atherton, Calif., where he hit .586 (34-for-58) with four homers.

Friedman said the Rays knew it would be an uphill battle to sign Diekroeger but felt it was worth the risk of getting a "first-round talent." Scouting director R.J. Harrison said they tried a "sales job" on Diekroeger and had no regrets: "I think we would do it again on this pick," he said.

"It was a tough decision for him, and he spent the better part of the summer debating it," his father, Kenneth Sr., said. "But in the end, he decided he wanted to go to school and defer any potential professional career. The Rays handled everything with the utmost class and made it a very difficult decision because we won't know if he'll have a chance to be part of such a first-class organization again."

The Rays have signed 32 of their 50 selections, including 15 of their first 19. While Friedman said there is a certain level of frustration and disappointment in not getting everyone signed, he was excited with their draft overall, especially the likes of CF Todd Glaesmann, C Luke Bailey, 1B Jeff Malm and LHP Kevin James, all of whom the Rays reportedly paid higher bonuses than average for their draft position.

"We feel like we came away with four of the top 60-70 players in the country, and we only had one pick in that time period," Friedman said. "So we were very aggressive in the players we liked a lot that slipped a little bit due to signability, and our scouts did a tremendous job of continuing to scout them and work the process."

Miscellany: 2B Akinori Iwamura continued his rehab with Triple-A Durham on Monday, going 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI as DH.

Joe Smith can be reached at

Tampa Bay Rays fail to sign their top two draft picks 08/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 7:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.