For the second consecutive year, the Tampa Bay Rays have the rights to the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball Player Entry Draft. In 2007 the Rays selected David Price out of Vanderbilt University. Price, a lanky left-hander who led the Commodores to their best season in program history, was an easy choice for Andrew Friedman and the rest of the Rays' baseball operations staff.
This season, however, Tampa Bay has a difficult decision on its hands, with no clear-cut favorite. According to reports, there are three prospects whom the Rays are considering selecting with the number one overall pick—Pedro Alvarez, a corner infielder out of Vanderbilt, Tim Beckham, a high school shortstop from Georgia, and Buster Posey, an infielder turned catcher at Florida State University.
Alvarez, who was Price's former college teammate, missed the first few weeks of his season due to a hand injury, but is still one of the premier bats in this year's draft class. What may turn off the Rays, however, is that he is represented by agent Scott Boras, who is reportedly asking for a signing bonus above $8-million for the left-handed slugger. Beckham is viewed by many as the most talented overall player in the draft, but many recent mock drafts have the Rays selecting Posey with the top pick. Posey, who continues to learn the intricacies of the catcher position, has been a force offensively for the Seminoles in 2008, hitting .471 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs in 56 games. The numbers, including a .572 on-base percentage and .880 slugging percentage, speak for themselves, but it is Posey's pure athletic ability that is so appealing to scouts.
On Tuesday morning Buster Olney wrote in his blog (subscription only) that the Rays have narrowed down their list to Alvarez and Posey, contrary to Baseball America reports that state otherwise. Regardless of what the Rays end up doing, one thing is certain: Thanks to improved play through the first seven weeks of the season, Tampa Bay will not have the luxury of selecting number one overall in 2009--hopefully.
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