ST. PETERSBURG -- Ryan Boldt became the second left-handed hitter selected by the Rays when the team made its second pick (53rd overall) of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Boldt, 21, is a junior at the University of Nebraska and stands 6-foot-2, 212 pounds. His size and athletic ability have brought comparisons to former Cornhusker and current Cornhusker coach Darin Erstad, the No. 1 overall pick in 1995. The Rays project Boldt as a center fielder.
Boldt is "somebody we've scouted for significant time, since he's been in high school up in Minnesota," said Rob Metzler, Rays scouting director. "He's a physical, athletic outfielder. He can run, he can hit. He has power potential. We like his attributes."
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Originally, Boldt threw left-handed as a youngster, but he suffered an elbow injury at the age of 10 and was forced to learn how to throw right-handed in order to continue playing. And he did just that.
Boldt was considered one of the best high school position prospects in the 2013 Draft, but he saw his chances of going in the first round disappear when he tore the meniscus in his right knee at the beginning of his senior season. Even though the Red Sox selected him in the 22nd round, Boldt chose to attend Nebraska.
Boldt does a nice job of controlling the strike zone and using the opposite field. He has the bat speed and strength to provide average power and shows it during batting practice, though his current approach is geared more to line-drive contact.
Since he arrived on campus in 2014, OF Ryan Boldt played in all but 3 of @Husker_Baseball's 178 games under head coach Darin Erstad.
He has decent speed, but he's not as quick as he was in high school, when he set a U.S. national 18-and-under team record with five steals in one game.
Boldt might have lost a step, but he exhibits good jumps and routes on fly balls. He has a decent arm and makes accurate throws.
Boldt earned second-team All-Big Ten performer for the second straight season. He led the Huskers in runs (48) and stolen bases (20) while batting .288 in 2016.
Boldt is tied for 19th all-time in career hits (223) at Nebraska and this spring he became the first Nebraska player to earn back-to-back academic All-America honors in more than a decade.
Boldt is the highest Huskers player to be drafted since pitcher Joba Chamberlain was a first-round supplemental pick (No. 41 overall) in 2006.
With their first pick of the Draft (13th overall) the Rays selected left-handed-hitting third baseman Joshua Lowe from Pope High School in Marietta, Ga. With their third pick of the night (77th overall), the Rays selected LSU center fielder Jake Fraley.
Metzler said the three are in different stages of their development.
"They played at different levels of play. Ryan Boldt's been in the Big Ten, he's played in the Cape Cod League," Metzler said. "Jake Fraley's played in the SEC and played in the Cape Cod League. We've seen them play at a higher level of competition. All talented but in different stages of the development curve."
Metzler added how pleased the organization was with the results from the first day of the Draft.
"To be able to add Josh Lowe, Ryan Boldt and Jake Fraley," Metzler said. "These are three athletic players that we think can contribute to the organization offensively, defensively. Very, very good athletes.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.