Rays Digest: I guess a good place to start would be with the Rays first round pick, Richie Shaffer. I know you have done a scouting report on him for the site, but could you tell me a little bit more about what kind of player the Rays got with him?
Frankie Piliere: We'll have to see how the Rays view him, but I know most of the scouts out there - and I'd like to include myself in that - don't think he's a third baseman for the long haul. For me it doesn't take away from his value a whole lot. Obviously it would be great if he was, but the Rays are doing pretty well at third base for the forseeable future. What they probably view him as, is a guy that could maybe slide into a corner outfield spot and I think he has enough athleticism to do that. Or in the worst case he could play first base. I've seen him play and I think he would do pretty well there.
But mainly I think they think they got a bat that is very disciplined. Once you see this guy, you'll see what I'm talking about. He works counts and he really knows what he's doing up there. So he's going to be able to do that and I think he'll be able give you 25 to 30 home runs. That's the value in him. He's going to be a power guy, who can hit in the middle of your lineup and see a lot of pitches.
Rays Digest: I was kind of thinking that with Joyce in right and Jennings in left and Pena on a one-year deal, that he might be our first baseman of the future. Do you think that he'll be a quick mover through the system?
Frankie Piliere: I think he will, but he might hit some speed bumps early. When I saw him on the Cape - if I remember correctly - early in the year he struggled a little bit and them came on a little later. I don't think he's the kind of guy that's going to be an instant smash success, but he's a pretty smart hitter. He makes adjustments pretty well and adapts to the pitchers he's facing and I think that's what you'll kind of see from him. I think initially he won't put up huge numbers, but he'll adapt and become a fast-riser.
Rays Digest: You said you hadn't seen much of the second-round pick, Spencer Edwards, but I know that you did see the third-round pick, Andrew Toles, quite a bit in the Cape Cod League. He seems like a classic Rays draft pick; speedy, athletic, has a lot of tools. Is he going to be able to hit enough to utilize his great speed?
Frankie Piliere: Yeah that's kind of the question. I mean he hit for a pretty good average up in the Cape, which is a pretty good accomplishment up there. Most guys are hitting .220-.230. He did use his speed pretty well up there and I think his game adapts well to the wood-bat game. I think he's going to be smart enough to keep the ball on the ground and hit line drives. He's not going to be a huge power guy, but he's very athletic - and as you said - he's very fast. It is going to come down to how he adapts and how he uses that speed. I've heard scouts say this - and I agree - there are some things between his stance and his swing that you are probably going to see cleaned up as a professional. They are going to tinker with his swing most likely.
Rays Digest: Two other guys I wanted to ask you about - it looks like they got some good value in the fourth and sixth rounds with a couple of high school pitchers, Nolan Gannon and Damion Carroll. Can you tell me anything about those two guys?
Frankie Pilere: Gannon's a big upside-guy. I heard about him from a few area guys, so I think he'll be a pretty interesting arm to watch. I've actually heard a lot about Damion Carroll. A few area guys were telling me that when this guy's right, he's 92-95 with his fastball, has a pretty good breaking ball, but he's very inconsistent. That's kind of the book on him right now. I talked to a couple of area scouts and they expected him to take that next step and be a top guy. Right now, he's a big stuff guy and that's the perfect thing for the Rays system, because they are pretty good at developing these types of guys. That's what they've got him right now. That could end up being a big steal, because he's got as good of stuff as anybody I think.
Rays Digest: Obviously the later you get in the draft, the more of a crap-shoot it becomes, but if you could kind of assess the first part of the Rays draft what would you say?
Frankie Piliere: I think they did exactly what I'd want them to do if I was in their position. They got a guy who is not only really safe in Richie Shaffer, but adds an instant boost to the system and a guy that can help them relatively quickly. I mean that's a good place for them to go. They took so many high school guys last year, so I was really happy to see them go that way and give a little bit of a different flavor to the system. But after that they went upside and I think that's what they're best at. I think they're going to get some good guys out of it again this year.
Rays Digest: I noticed with the Rays - and I think it was pretty much the same with everybody - that at one point in the middle of the draft they took like 18 straight college guys and the majority of them were seniors. Is that going to be pretty common with the new CBA and the hundred thousand maximum bonus there?
Frankie Piliere: I think it's going to become very common. I was talking to a few people as the draft was happening and was saying "this has become a very different draft from the draft I used to cover." I think it gets a lot more difficult to cover too, because teams are picking out-of-the-blue type guys from smaller colleges and guys that aren't in the mainstream that everyone was talking about. I think the CBA has made a big impact on everybody. I think we saw teams draft very differently from the fourth round on.
John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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