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Tampa Bay Rays sign final four picks, including Taylor Guerrieri

BOSTON — The Rays felt good about their unprecedented haul of 12 of the top 89 selections in the draft when they made them in June. And they feel even better now after a frenzied Monday night in which they completed deals with the four remaining unsigned players before the midnight deadline.

Top pick Taylor Guerrieri, a powerful right-hander who had a commitment to South Carolina, and second selection Mikie Mahtook, an athletic outfielder who was considering a return to LSU, agreed to deals announced moments before midnight.

Infielder Tyler Goeddel, a California high schooler with an offer from UCLA, and left-hander Grayson Garvin, who was considering a return to Vanderbilt, agreed to terms earlier. The Rays spent nearly $10-million on bonuses for the top 12.

"We're thrilled,'' Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. ""We talk a lot about the importance of our farm system for us to have continued success in this division. In our opinion, it's more important for us than it is for any other team in baseball. We feel like we've added a lot of high-impact players to our system. … We feel like we've really strengthened our system and given us a real balance.''

Overall, the Rays signed 20 of their top 21 picks and 41 of 60.

Guerrieri has an impressive arm and stats (6-1, 1.10 as a senior), but his mid-senior year transfer from North Augusta (S.C.) to Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.) High raised some questions about make-up and off-field issues. He was rated the 10th overall prospect by Baseball America but was available when the Rays made their first pick at No. 24. The Rays gave him a $1.6 million bonus (about $400,000 over the recommended slot), and scouting director R.J. Harrison said that after spending time with Guerrieri and his family and doing their due diligence they had no concerns.

"Whatever's in the past we'd like to think is in the past,'' Harrison said. "So we feel real comfortable going forward. We're excited to have Taylor Guerrieri part of our organization, as is he. So we think everything's going to be good.''

Harrison also said there is risk with any 18-year-old and that the Rays player development system is structured to provide guidance.

"Taylor's got very high-end stuff," Friedman said. "Big velocity, and he shows an advanced ability to spin the ball. He has good, clean arm action and the type of body we feel like can develop into a really good major-league starter."

Mahtook starred for LSU his junior season, hitting .383 with 14 homers, 56 RBIs and a Southeastern Conference leading 29 stolen bases, and the Rays made him the No. 31 overall pick. He received a $1.15 million bonus, the slot was $972,000.

"Mikie is a guy that really fits in with the type of players that we value, guys that can impact the game offensively, defensively and on the bases," Friedman said.

Goeddel (GOOD-ell), the 41st overall pick, hit .361 as a senior for St. Francis High School but had only two homers and 19 RBIs while missing a month with mononucleosis. He signed for a $1.5 million bonus, nearly double the slot. "We liked this guy a lot, obviously,'' Harrison said. "With all the picks we had we just felt like we would take a shot and see if we could get something done. … Based upon our evaluations we're really happy to have him.'' Goeddel is the only one of the four late signees who could play this season, potentially in the Gulf Coast League. The others will report to Port Charlotte for the fall instructional league.

"Tyler's a really good-looking young prospect," Friedman said. "There's some projection with him on the body specifically (6-4, 180 pounds), but he's a really gifted defender with a really good approach (at the plate) and swing path, and someone that we feel will develop into an impact player on both sides of the ball."

Garvin, the 59th overall pick, was considering a return to Vanderbilt, where he was named SEC pitcher of the year after going 13-2, 2.48. He signed for $370,000, well under the $614,700 recommended slot, as the Rays had concerns over something in his medical report stemming from a 2009 issue.

Though it was obviously not a major problem as well as Garvin pitched the last two seasons, Friedman said it was "something we felt like was a little bit of a risk" so they worked out what they felt was an "equitable" deal. "Grayson is a guy that has had a lot of success," Friedman said. "He has a good three-pitch pitch mix (90-92 mph fastball, changeup, slider/curve) and a good feel for how to manipulate the baseball and miss barrels (of bats)."

.FAST FACTS

The Rays dozen

A look at the top 12 picks

1/24 RHP Taylor $1.6 million

Guerrieri

1/31 OF Mikie $1.15 million

Mahtook

1/32 SS Jake Hager $963,000

1A/38 SS Brandon $860,000

Martin

1A/41 3B Tyler $1.5 million

Goeddel

1A/42 RHP Jeff Ames $650,000

1A/52 LHP Blake Snell $684,000

1A/56 OF Kes Carter $625,000

1A/59 LHP Grayson $370,000

Garvin

1A/60 OF James Harris $490,000

2/75 OF Granden $490,000

Goetzman

2/89 RHP Lenny $392,400

Linsky

Tampa Bay Rays sign final four picks, including Taylor Guerrieri 08/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 3:08am]

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