With the Rays planning a year-long celebration of their 20th anniversary, the Times is taking a look back – with 20 lists of 20 things about those first 20 seasons.
Here are the 20 most notable draft picks — good and bad:
2008 | 1st round | 1st overall
1. Tim Beckham, infielder
No, it wasn't his fault. But, yes, he'll always be measured, and not well, against Buster Posey, who went fifth to the Giants. (Also, Eric Hosmer went third to the Royals.)
2006 | 1st round | 3rd
2. Evan Longoria, third base
New ownership's first pick couldn't have worked out any better, a 10-year franchise player who signed two long-term deals and was the consummate pro.
1999 | 1st round | 1st
3. Josh Hamilton, outfielder
He was the right pick, even over Josh Beckett, but it turned out so wrong due to his ongoing drug problems — and then that later decision to let him go elsewhere.
2001 | 1st round | 3rd
4. Dewon Brazelton, pitcher
Saving money cost them big-time, because of how poorly Brazelton did and how good some of the other options were, such as Mark Teixeira and David Wright.
2010 | 31st round | 941st
5. Kevin Kiermaier, outfielder
Credit to scout Tom Couston for seeing Kiermaier at tiny Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., and for seeing how good of a player he could turn out to be.
2007 | 1st round | 1st
6. David Price, pitcher
An obvious choice had an obvious payoff. This worked out pretty well with that 2012 Cy Young Award, though he had a shorter Rays career than Longoria.
2005 | 1st round | 8th
7. Wade Townsend, pitcher
Another cost-saving decision — during the ownership transition — that cost them dearly, as Townsend never made it and the 11th pick did: Outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
1999 | 2nd round | 52nd
8. Carl Crawford, outfielder
For all the wrong moves under GM Chuck LaMar, there were some good draft decisions; this was one of the best as Crawford developed into a four-time All-Star.
1996 | 1st round | 29th
9. Paul Wilder, outfielder
Slotted at end of round by MLB, they took a swing for big-time power, but it was a whiff as Wilder never got past Class A. They could have had shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
2000 | 16th round | 466th
10. James Shields, pitcher
Give them credit for seeing past his high school injuries and for staying patient with his slow development, and the payoff reaped huge rewards.
2011 | 1st round | 24th
Check out the rest of Marc Topkin’s coverage here, on:
–20 words on the 20th anniversary
–20 numbers to remember
–The 20 weirdest moments
–Tampa Bay's 20 'Forrest Gump moments'
–20 years of Rays and 'the things we've loved' about them
–Greatest moments in franchise history
–Best signings, trades and deals
–20 players who surprisingly finished with them
–20 players you forgot ever played for them
–20 most notable draft picks
–20 Things we've hated over the years
–The 20 best players
–The 20 best quotes
–Recounting the 20 most memorable injuries
–The 20 worst players
–Ranking every season
11. Taylor Guerrieri, pitcher
Their first pick, and first flop, in the draft that was supposed to be transformative for the franchise with 10 of the first 60 picks — and yielded them only Blake Snell.
2003 | 1st round | 1st
12. Delmon Young, outfielder
Not as debatable as Beckham/Posey, they took Young over Rickie Weeks. Though he didn't do much in majors, the trade return (Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza) was good.
2010 | 1st round | 17th
13. Josh Sale, outfielder
Bad decision all around as bad play (not getting past Class A) and bad behavior (two suspensions) led to spring 2015 release. And Christian Yelich was available.
1996 | 89th round | 1721st
14. Travis Phelps, pitcher
He didn't have that great of a career, making 79 relief outings over three seasons, but just making it was an accomplishment, the lowest-round pick to reach the majors.
2000 | 1st round | 6th
15. Rocco Baldelli, outfielder
They took a gamble on an athletic kid from Rhode Island who didn't play much baseball, and it was a hit until unforeseen medical issues cut short his career.
2005 | 4th round | 118th
16. Jeremy Hellickson, pitcher
Another example of good scouting paying off, with an undersized pitcher from cold-weather Iowa who won a top rookie award, went 40-36 and netted a trade return.
2012 | 1st round | 25th
17. Richie Shaffer, infielder
Another bad evaluation on a college player who didn't have much impact and didn't bring much in trade return. Tampa RHP Lance McCullers was available.
2004 | 1st round | 4th
18. Jeff Niemann, pitcher
When healthy, he was good. But getting that 6-foot-9 frame working properly was an ongoing challenge. Worse, they could've had Jered Weaver or Dustin Pedroia.
2013 | 1st round | 21st
19. Nick Ciuffo, catcher
It has been a slow path for the prep pick, with injuries, a lack of offense, now a 50-game drug suspension. It wasn't obvious at the time, but Aaron Judge was on the board.
2007 | 8th round | 245th
20. Matt Moore, pitcher
Not quite as much of a reach as Shields, and not nearly as much of a reward, but another example of how being able to develop pitchers can pay off.
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays