Top draft pick talks with Tampa Bay Rays, still undecided on future
ST. PETERSBURG — Top draft pick RHP Taylor Guerrieri enjoyed dinner and conversation with top Rays officials Tuesday night in South Carolina but still faces a "very difficult" decision on whether to sign by Monday's deadline, his father said.
"We'll go forward and see where it all goes," Chris Guerrieri said by phone. "I wish I had a crystal ball and I knew."
The Guerrieris have maintained relative silence since the Rays made Taylor the 24th pick of the June 6 draft. He also has a scholarship offer from South Carolina, and Chris Guerrieri said Tuesday both were strong options. He also dismissed speculation they were considering junior college as an option.
"It's a great opportunity at South Carolina, it's a great school with a great tradition and it's a great program, no doubt," he said. "The Rays are the same thing, a great program with a great history of development.
"In the end, we'll balance everything out, make a decision with the family and do what's best for Taylor."
Taylor Guerrieri is one of four unsigned picks from an unprecedented haul of 10 of the top 60 selections. The others are No. 31 OF Mikie Mahtook, who is weighing a return to LSU; No. 41 3B Tyler Goeddel, an offer from UCLA; and No. 59 LHP Grayson Garvin, a return to Vanderbilt.
Executive VP Andrew Friedman said if they want to play ball, the Rays are ready to make deals.
"We remain very optimistic about reaching an agreement with all of our unsigned picks assuming playing professionally is a priority," he said. "My expectations based on conversations to date is that things will go down to the Monday deadline."
If the Rays don't sign any of them, they would get a compensation pick at the same spot in the 2012 draft. Baseball America reported fifth-round pick J.D. Davis had broken off talks and was headed to Fullerton State.
Chris Guerrieri said the meeting with Friedman and scouting director R.J. Harrison featured "nice conversation" but apparently not financial specifics as he didn't know yet if the team's offer would be what they were seeking, which he also didn't disclose. The recommended slot bonus, according to Baseball America, is $1.242 million.
Chris Guerrieri dismissed speculation about his son having off-field issues and questionable makeup stemming from a mid senior year change of high schools, saying much has been made up and the Rays should have no concerns.
"He's been pretty much a model citizen and a model ballplayer and a great teammate," Chris Guerreri said.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: RHP Wade Davis will warm up more intensively — then be less amped when he gets to the mound — for tonight's start in an effort to eliminate recent first-inning problems. In his past three starts, Davis has given up 10 runs in the first innings — three, five and two — then three total over the other 15 he worked. "I've had some bad first innings so that'll be my big goal, to go out there and get through it a lot better this time," Davis said.
MEDICAL MATTERS: C John Jaso (oblique) was 2-for-3 and caught five innings in his first rehab appearance for Triple-A Durham, an assignment expected to last at least two weeks.
MISCELLANY: The game was played with three umpires as crew chief Derryl Cousins had a "personal medical issue" and was unable to work; a replacement, Chris Conroy, was dispatched but his flight was delayed. … Maddon said initial talks with Friedman about possible September callups didn't yet include top prospect LHP Matt Moore: "We were A-L." … Johnny Damon had two hits after only two in his previous 31 at-bats. … 1B Casey Kotchman's hitting streak ended at eight games. … OF Matt Joyce visits St. Petersburg's Lake Vista and Frank Pierce rec centers 11-1 today.