Rays look to add pitching depth via the Draft

Organization philosophy: Select the best available player regardless of position

Rays look to add pitching depth via the Draft

ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday, June 8, through Wednesday, June 10, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Rays, whose first selection is 13th overall.

In about 50 words
The Rays need more pitching depth in the organization, but don't be surprised if they take a position player in the first round, and then shift to pitchers. After choosing first baseman Casey Gillaspie with their first-round pick in last year's Draft, the Rays selected 10 pitchers in their next 14 selections.

The scoop
According to Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison, "there's a lot of depth" in this year's Draft. There are a "few" quality college starters, but they are "not as plentiful as they've been in the past." Harrison sees some depth with college infielders. "Middle of the diamond guys, shortstops and second basemen," Harrison said. "[There are] a lot of guys who are shortstops now who may wind up going somewhere else. But they're good baseball players who have been good college performers." Harrison added: "[There are] some very interesting high school outfielders."

First-round buzz
MLB.com's experts project the Rays will select right-hander Kyle Funkhouser from Louisville. Trenton Clark, a high school outfielder from Texas, might be another possibility. Other options include high school outfielders Garrett Whitley from New York and Nick Plummer from Michigan.

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

The Rays have been assigned a pool of $6,591,300, which ranks 23rd in the Majors. The value assigned to the Rays' first-round pick is $2,962,700.

Shopping list
The Rays' Draft playbook never strays from a core principle that a team can't select players based on needs throughout the system; rather, they must select the best available player when the time comes to make a selection.

Once upon a time the Rays believed they would never run out of outfielders. After all, they had Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Josh Hamilton and Elijah Dukes at various levels of the organization. Nobody could have foreseen how that group would thin itself out in years to come.

"The next thing you know, we're having to go look for one," Harrison said.

While the Rays will clearly select an abundance of pitchers, because pitching is the lifeblood of any organization, they won't otherwise draft by position.

Trend watch
Bringing more pitching into the organization is the goal for almost every organization and the Rays are no exception. Pitchers will dot their selections throughout the course of the Draft.

Having a farm system stocked with quality arms is critical to winning at the Major League level.

Given the Rays' small-market status, they must pay closer attention to re-stocking their pitching depth because they cannot operate by buying their starting pitchers, which requires bidding against other teams.

RECENT DRAFT HISTORY

Rising fast
Left-hander Blake Snell, a first-round pick in the 2011 Draft, is excelling at Double-A Montgomery. He had a 49-inning scoreless streak to start the season.

Cinderella story
Kevin Kiermaier was selected in the 31st round of the 2010 Draft and now starts in center field for the Rays.

In the show
The Rays have sent six of their Top 10 picks from the 2006 to 2014 Drafts to the Major Leagues: Evan Longoria, Alex Cobb, and Desmond Jennings in 2006; Matt Moore and David Price in 2007; and Mikie Mahtook in 2011.

The Rays' recent top picks
2014: Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Class A Bowling Green
2013: Nick Ciuffo, C, Class A Bowling Green
2012: Richie Shaffer, 3B, Triple-A Durham
2011: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Class A Charlotte
2010: Josh Sale, OF, Released by the Rays in February

Bill Chastain is the Rays beat reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.