Tampa Bay Rays top draft pick Taylor Guerrieri says minor drinking incident triggered transfer

BOSTON — After signing moments before Monday's midnight deadline, top draft pick RHP Taylor Guerrieri is eager to get his pro career started, hoping to make it to the Rays rotation as quickly as possible.

"I wouldn't mind being up there in two years," he said.

Guerrieri also was willing to finally clarify the incident that led to his unusual switch of high schools during his senior year and sparked questions about his makeup, saying he got caught when he showed up at a high school football game after drinking one beer.

"It was a mistake," Guerrieri said. "I learned from it. I regret that it happened. It won't happen again."

Guerrieri, now 18, said he doesn't have a police record (juvenile records can't be checked) and did not face any discipline from North Augusta (S.C.) High. But his father decided it would be better if he transferred then to Spring Valley High in Columbia, where he would have moved had he gone to South Carolina instead of signing.

"I had one beer in the afternoon prior to a football game," Guerrieri said. "I wasn't drunk or misbehaving. The police resource officer came up to me and she asked me if I had any alcohol and I admitted it and said yes I had a beer. … At that point my dad took me out of the stadium. And we just decided that to switch schools might be best for me.

"That was pretty much what the whole stink was about this year I guess with everybody. … It was something that a lot of people have done before and I just got in trouble."

Scouting director R.J. Harrison said after visiting with Guerrieri and doing their due diligence, they didn't expect any future issues.

Guerrieri said he "flip-flopped" in deciding between the Rays, who made him the 24th pick of the June 6 draft, and the Gamecocks but woke up Monday leaning toward signing. By the end of the night, he had a $1.6 million bonus for doing so.

"I feel like I can get through the minor leagues quicker if I was to go ahead and get an early start on it now than to go to college for three years and then have to start from there," Guerrieri said.

Though he won't pitch this season, he will go to Port Charlotte on Thursday and begin working out with the Gulf Coast League team, then take part in the fall instructional league.

"Taylor has all the physical attributes we look for in a frontline major-league pitching prospect," Harrison said.

MORE DRAFT: The Rays also beat the deadline to land their three other unsigned picks: No. 31 OF Mikie Mahtook ($1.15 million), No. 41 INF Tyler Goeddel ($1.5 million) and LHP Grayson Garvin ($370,000). They also will report to Port Charlotte.

Manager Joe Maddon said he was impressed immediately when he met Mahtook during an Aug. 8 visit to the Trop.

"He had a very eager look about him," Maddon said. "Straightforward, look you right in the eye. He had a good face. All those things, man. I've never even seen a video of him and I liked him."

Overall, the Rays got 42 of their 60 picks, with 19th-round RHP Matthew Ramsey signed previously but not announced.

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Alex Cobb's surgery to remove a blockage in his subclavian vein is now set for Thursday; it was delayed from Friday when he had a bad reaction to medication. … Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos missed another trip, going home to Miami for further tests related to his throat infection. Maddon said the condition is not considered serious.

MISCELLANY: DH Johnny Damon passed Babe Ruth for 47th place on the doubles list with 507. … Tough pitching awaits the Rays: Seattle's Felix Hernandez on Friday, and Detroit's Justin Verlander on Monday. … TV man Todd Kalas returned after attending what turned out due to rain to be a private ceremony for the unveiling of his father Harry Kalas' statue at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park.

Tampa Bay Rays top draft pick Taylor Guerrieri says minor drinking incident triggered transfer 08/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 12:45am]

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