Ten years looks to be the perfect duration from draft to studliness. The first round of the 2011 draft included Francisco Lindor, Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and George Springer, to name just five.
In a feat unlikely to ever repeat, the Rays had 10 picks in the first round. By failing to re-sign the likes of Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour and others, they got a bucketload of compensation picks.
The draft pool was deep, and what should have seen the Rays replenish their stocks for years to come, saw them swing and miss more times than Javier Baez (coincidentally the Cubs first-round pick in 2011).
Of the 60 players taken in the first round, 18 failed to reach The Show. Of that 18, one-third were drafted by the Rays.
Pick 1 (24th overall): Taylor Guerrieri
Tommy John surgery, marijuana suspension and 36 innings in MLB with 5.50 ERA. With the very next pick, the Padres drafted Joe Ross, who until last night, had been looking pretty good this season.
Pick 2 (31st): Mikie Mahtook
He has close to 1,000 plate appearances in the big leagues in which he has accumulated 0.3 WAR.
Pick 3 (32nd): Jake Hager
Hit .242 in the the hitter-friendly environs of the PCL in 2019.
Pick 4 (38th): Brandon Martin
Some draft misses are down to injury. Others are due to failing to develop the skills that were envisaged. In Martin’s case, it is summed up by the headline “Narrowly avoided the Death Penalty.”
Pick 5 (41st): Tyler Goeddel
The third baseman got a decent run of 92 games for the Rays in 2016, but finished the year with 47 OPS+ (100 is league average).
Pick 6 (42nd): Jeff Ames
He never made it to the majors, but posted decent numbers in Double-A and Triple-A, while striking batters out at an impressive rate of more than 10 SO/9. He was last seen pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters in Indy Ball.
Want to know what talent was available when the Rays selected Goeddel and Ames? Two picks later the Mets drafted Michael Fulmer, then the Rockies took Trevor Story immediately ahead of the Blue Jays taking Joe Musgrove with the 46th pick.
Pick 7 (52nd): Blake Snell
Six whiffs and then they hit the jackpot. He was a High Schooler that Baseball America described as “throws 88-92 with a curveball and changeup that are just average at best.”
The Cy Young Award winner has turned out to be easily the best left-hander pitcher in the 2011 draft class. Does this one success make up for the other failures?
Pick 8 (56th): Kes Carter
Topped out in Double-A in 2015.
Pick 9 (59th): Grayson Garvin
Pitcher with 1-8 record in Double-A who retired in 2018 and is now a wealth adviser. To be honest, I don’t know what a wealth adviser does, which probably means I don’t need his services.
Pick 10 (60th): James Harris
He racked up nearly 2,000 plate appearances in the minors within the Rays and A’s systems, but the outfielder only played four games above Double-A.
All you really want to know is who the Rays (and the other teams) missed in the 2011 draft, don’t you?
Josh Bell was signed for a massive $5 million signing bonus by the Pirates with the first pick of the second round. The Rays signed their last six picks of the first round for a total of around $5 million. Incidentally, despite 500+ games in the majors, Bell has only accumulated 2.7 WAR, significantly less than Nick Ahmed, James McCann or Brad Miller (who were all also drafted in the second round).
Also in the fifth round, the Rangers selected High School right-hander Brandon Woodruff, but he did not sign, instead opted to attend Mississippi State University. He dropped to the 11th round in 2014 when the Brewers finally selected him.
Other late-draft gems included Marcus Semien (201st, White Sox) and Kyle Hendricks (264th, Rangers), but the best pick of the 2011 draft, in fact, maybe the best pick of the whole decade was when the Red Sox took a 5-foot-9 shortstop out of Overton High School, Tennessee with the 21st pick of the fifth round. He was “a quality athlete who may turn into a baseball player.”
Featured image photo of Taylor Guerrieri by Brian Blanco
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