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Tampa Bay Rays to stick with best-player-available strategy in next week's draft

ST. PETERSBURG — With 10 of the first 60 picks (and 12 of the first 89) in next week's draft, the Rays can consider a variety of strategies as they take advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to stock their farm system with premium prospects.

But, top team officials said Tuesday, their basic philosophy won't change.

"We're still going to focus on the best player available," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "We've spent a lot of time, (scouting director R.J. Harrison) and his staff have done a tremendous job evaluating these players, getting the information on their makeup and everything, so that collectively we can put them in order, and I can't see a reason why we would stray from that."

So though it could make sense to take chances on higher-risk/reward prospects, or gamble on a few seeking excessive bonuses, or spend a few picks to fill specific needs, or stock up on arms given the depth of hard-throwing pitchers, the Rays say they will simply focus on the top player on their board, starting with the No. 24 pick.

Since it will take four to five years to see how they did, and their needs may change, the Rays will focus on adding premium prospects to their already deep farm system.

"That's the goal every year, to add as many good guys as we can," Harrison said. "We just get more swings this year."

LOCAL TIE: Harrison was reluctant to be specific on any prospect, especially one who could be a first-round pick, but called Alonso High pitcher Jose Fernandez "a good prospect" and said "certainly we've seen him, we've scouted him, we've done a good job evaluating him."

Tampa Bay Rays to stick with best-player-available strategy in next week's draft 05/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 11:32pm]
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