Prep Baseball Report

Draft Forecast: Tampa Bay Rays

Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

Tampa Bay RaysTEAM: Tampa Bay Rays
PICK: 16 (Slot: $3,603,500)
POOL: $12,415,600

2017: Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville (4th overall)
2016: Josh Lowe, 3B, Pope HS, GA (13th overall)
2015: Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna HS, NY (13th overall)
2014: Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State (20th overall)
2013: Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington HS, SC (21st overall)

HISTORY: Since taking LHP David Price (Vanderbilt) first overall in 2007, Tampa Bay hasn’t found much success in the draft. That trend will hopefully be bucked by LHP/1B Brendan McKay (Louisville), who was selected fourth overall in 2017 and is off to a strong start in pro ball. The Rays have generally leaned toward high school picks, but have mixed in their share of college guys the last five years too.

FORECAST: The water is murky in the late teens. It’s tough to say who among the top prospects will fall, while there are several ranked in the 30-50 range that could easily find themselves jumping into the second half of the first round. The Rays are also owners of the highest draft pool with just over $12.4 million to spend. After their pick at 16, they pick four more times on the first day at 31, 32, 56 and 71, affording them the opportunity to get creative. OF Connor Scott (Plant HS, FL) fits in the best available conversation and doubles as a public relations tool with his high school located just 19 miles from Tropicana Field. OF Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel HS, IL) and LHP Ryan Weathers (Loretto HS, TN) represent the other top preps that would likely be available. On the college side, RHPs Sean Hjelle (Kentucky) and Jackson Kowar (Florida), OFs Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist) and Trevor Larnach (Oregon State) or SSs Nico Hoerner (Stanford) and Jeremy Eierman (Missouri State) could be available. Players that could sign under slot include RHP Adam Kloffenstein (Magnolia HS, TX), RHP Grayson Rodriguez (Central Heights HS, TX), OF Jordyn Adams (Green Hope HS, NC), C/3B Noah Naylor (St. Joan of Arc SS, ON) and C Anthony Seigler (Cartersville HS, GA).

Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS, FL
PBR Draft Board: 17
HIT: 40/50            POWER: 50/60            SPEED: 60/60            DEFENSE: 55/55            ARM: 55/55

One of the few high school players in the state with a true plus tool and multiple above average tools. It is a fairly easy comp him to Kyle Tucker, being from the same school, though Scott has less power and is a better runner. The swing has shown some swing-and-miss tendencies in the past, but he has appeared to level the path and cut down on the swing and miss. He works to all fields, but shows power to the middle of the field. (Doug Freeman)

Find Scott's full report in the Draft HQ.

Alek Thomas, OF, Mounta Carmel HS, IL
PBR Draft Board: 18
HIT: 40/60            POWER: 30/40            SPEED: 70/70            DEFENSE: 60/70            ARM: 40/50
Thomas has a wiry-strong frame with room for continued physical development. He’s a top-of-the-scle athlete with advanced baseball instincts. His speed and athleticism translate to game play, allowing him to be a top-level defender in center field. He hits from a relaxed, open set-up with fluid and athletic hands, generating easy bat speed. (Sean Duncan)

Find Thomas' full report in the Draft HQ.

Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS, TN
PBR Draft Board: 20
FB: 55/60            CB: 60/70            CH: 20/50
Weathers showed two plus pitches in his second start back after winning a state title in basketball. The frame is close to mature with some physical projection remaining, and is built much like his major league father, David Weathers. He pitches with some effort and has a super quick arm with extension. He maintained his fastball velo for the first four innings, sitting 90-94. His tight curveball was a weapon all day, flashing plus-plus. He pounds the zone and projects to command his arsenal. (Tim Kay)

Find Weathers' full report in the Draft HQ.

Sean Hjelle, RHP, Kentucky
PBR Draft Board: 19
FB: 55/60            CB: 55/60            SL: 45/55            CH: 55/60
Hjelle has an extra tall, long-bodied and long-limbed frame at 6-foot-11, 225 pounds. He’s surprisingly athletic and repeats his delivery, leveraging the ball from a high-3/4 slot with a loose arm swing and good arm speed. Hjelle’s two-seam fastball sits 91-93, peaking at 94 early, and shows tail and sink in addition to steep downplane. His knuckle-curveball flashes plus at 80-83 and he throws it to both sides of the plate. He also showed an 85-87 slider and 83-86 power changeup. (David Seifert)

Find Hjelle's full report in the Draft HQ.

Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
PBR Draft Board: 21
FB: 60/60            SL: 50/55            CH: 60/70
Kowar is wiry at 6-foot-6, 185 pounds. He has a very simple, low-effort delivery and throws from a 3/4 slot. The arm works free and easy with whip, as the ball comes out his hand very well. The fastball worked 92-94 mph, touching 97 with late, riding life. Despite a plus fastball, he seemingly pitched backwards early, working off of a plus changeup at 83-86. He threw the pitch in any count to any hitter. He showed impressive ability to control the pitch to right-handed hitters on the inner half. He also showed a feel for an above-average slider with late sweeping action at 75-78. (Doug Freeman)

Find Kowar's full report in the Draft HQ.

Jameson Hannah, OF, Dallas Baptist
PBR Draft Board: 22

HIT: 50/60            POWER: 45/50            SPEED: 60/60            DEFENSE: 50/55            ARM: 30/40
Hannah has a lean, athletic and fast-twitch frame at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. He has quick, strong hands and a balanced swing. His demeanor at the plate is confident and he has elite hand-eye coordination. He takes pitches with easy rhythm, seemingly picking the ball up early out of the hand. He has above-average range in the outfield and runs easily with long strides. (Toby Bicknell)

Find Hannah's full report in the Draft HQ.

Nico Hoerner, SS, Stanford
PBR Draft Board: 23
HIT: 40/55            POWER: 30/40            SPEED: 55/60            DEFENSE: 45/50            ARM: 55/55

Hoerner is an athletic, medium-frame infielder with good bounce and energy. Offensively, he showed a mostly balanced approach with a loose swing. He’s more of a doubles or gap power type with the chance to hit 10-12 home runs a year in pro ball. He has contact and pitch recognition skills that should allow him to also hit for average, as well as take his share of walks. His above-average to plus speed plays in the game. He showed above-average arm strength with a quick release and solid carry to his target. Although not a silky smooth defender, Hoerner has good hands and is aggressive and confident in the dirt. (David Seifert)

Find Hoerner's full report in the Draft HQ.

Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
PBR Draft Board: 24
HIT: 40/50            POWER: 40/60            SPEED: 40/40            DEFENSE: 40/45            ARM: 40/45
Larnach’s frame immediately stands out in the box and though he has some strength, it still looks like has room to add more. He has always had the ability to drive balls in the opposite gap, but looks to have added more pull-side power. He has a quiet approach with quick hands and strong wrists with the ability to make adjustments. (Shooter Hunt)

Find Larnach's full report in the Draft HQ.

Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State
PBR Draft Board: 25
HIT: 30/40            POWER: 40/55            SPEED: 60/60            DEFENSE: 45/55            ARM: 50/60
Eierman is a strong-bodied, super athletic infielder. He started the season slow at the plate, but now looks to be locked in. He showed an improved approach with much better balance than last summer. He’s a pull hitter with plus raw power. He shows an above average to plus arm and will likely remain at shortstop, though he could profile as an offensive second baseman as well. He’s a plus runner with good acceleration and his speed impacts the game. (David Seifert)

Find Eierman's full report in the Draft HQ.

Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Magnolia HS, TX
PBR Draft Board: 30
FB: 50/60            CB: 50/60            SL: 50/60            CH: 50/60
Kloffenstein works from a high-3/4 slot with a quick arm stroke. His fastball got up to 95 a couple of times but was mostly 92-94 through the first three innings. He had great command of four pitches with all of them coming from the same window. He features a changeup that he throws with fastball arm speed, heavy depth, and some fade. He used his changeup more the first time through the order, but did flash a couple of sliders with 11/5 shape at 84 mph. He also works in the occasional curveballl with more 12/6 shape at 79-80. (Toby Bicknell)

Find Kloffenstein's full report in the Draft HQ.

Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS, NC
PBR Draft Board: 31
HIT: 30/45            POWER: 45/55            SPEED: 80/80            DEFENSE: 55/60            ARM: 45/60
Adams has a lean, projectable and athletic frame at 6-foot-2, 185. He is a premium athlete and four to five star recruit as a wide receiver in football. That athleticism shows in the field as he takes long, easy strides on the bases and in center field, chewing up tons of ground and he has the advance footwork to course correct his routes if needed. He has consistently turned in home to first times of 4.0-4.1. He could stand to get better jumps in center field, but that can come with more playing experience and he has the speed and athleticism to make up ground. At the plate, he is behind his peers, but has above-average bat speed and a smooth path. He can get big at times, adding length to his swing and causing some swing and miss, but can drive the ball with authority when he stays short. (Nathan Rode)

Find Adam's full report in the Draft HQ.

Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights HS, TX
PBR Draft Board: 32
FB: 50/60            CB: 55/60            SL: 50/60            CH: 40/45
At 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, Rodriguez has a strong, long-limbed frame. He works from a high-3/4 slot with a low-effort delivery and a long, clean arm swing. His fastball sat at 96 in the first inning, touching 98 mph once. In the second inning his fastball ranged from 94-97. He locates well to his glove side, occasionally coming in to right-handed hitters. He used a big breaking curveball with 11/5 shape and good depth early in the game at 74-78 mph. His slider was his third best pitch for the first three innings with flat, inconsistent spin at 81-83 mph. But the pitch got better from the fourth inning on, and he went to it more often for swings and misses with sharp spin, and late, short 10/4 bite. (Toby Bicknell)

Find Rodriguez's full report in the Draft HQ. 

Noah Naylor, C, St. Joan of Arc SS, ON
PBR Draft Board: 33
HIT: 40/55            POWER: 40/55            SPEED: 50/50            DEFENSE: 45/55            ARM: 55/60
Naylor is athletic with present strength in a 6-foot, 195-pound frame. Offensively, he hits to all fields and will show power when the opportunity presents itself. He has great knowledge of the strike zone and is a polished hitter who rarely chases with a knack for finding the barrel. The tools are there to catch, as he has quick feet and an agile lower half. He is also a solid defender at third base with soft hands. (Chris Kemlo)

Find Naylor's full report in the Draft HQ.

Anthony Seigler, C, Cartersville HS, GA
PBR Draft Board:
HIT: 40/60            POWER: 55/55            SPEED: 45/40            DEFENSE: 40/50            ARM: 60/60
Seigler is a polished, older high school hitter, that has had a highly decorated career both locally and nationally. In terms of skilled athletes he is near the top of the scale. Seigler's polished approach and swing at the plate from both sides, is one the Hatfields and McCoys could agree on. He will always be an offensive catcher, but has the intangibles to lead a staff. (Blake Davis)

Find Seigler's full report in the Draft HQ.

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