Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays keeping open mind ahead of draft
Posted May 29, 2008 by Marc Lancaster
Updated May 29, 2008 at 02:08 PM
Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said today the Rays are still seriously considering five players for the first pick in this year’s draft, which they will make a week from today at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
The contenders he named are FSU catcher Buster Posey, Griffin (Ga.) High shortstop Tim Beckham, Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Patriot High (Rubidoux, Calif.) catcher Kyle Skipworth and University of San Diego lefty Brian Matusz. Andrew Friedman later acknowledged that it’s fair to say the Rays have narrowed their focus to three players, who he wouldn’t name, but they are believed to be Posey, Beckham and Alvarez.
Harrison said the Rays have not engaged in any negotations with those players’ advisors to this point and he isn’t sure if the Rays will do so before the draft. They’ve gone different routes the last two years, signing 2006 top pick Evan Longoria minutes after he was selected and last year waiting until Aug. 15, the last day allowed by MLB rules, to sign David Price.
The Rays will continue to follow all five players through postseason play this weekend, Harrison said, but that’s more to cover their backs than gain any new information. All have been scouted extensively by this point in the season.
“My worst nightmare would be zeroing in on a guy and having him get hurt or having something weird happen,” said Harrison.
That was the only concern as the 2007 season unfolded, that something would happen to Price—the wire-to-wire favorite to go first overall. Is the race really that even among the contenders this year?
“I think it is,” said Harrison. “I think I told you guys before the spring even started, that’s the way I saw it going in and that’s the way I still see it. Last year we had a pretty good idea who we were taking in the fall. It was just a matter of something weird not happening to [Price]. But this group this year, I think it’s pretty evenly balanced. I can make a case for every one of those five guys, honestly.”