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Rays nab prep arm with 1st of 10 picks on Day 1

Rays nab prep arm with 1st of picks on Day 1

Rays nab prep arm with 1st of 10 picks on Day 1
ANAHEIM -- Tampa Bay made 10 selections on the first day of the First-Year Player Draft on Monday and came away with a good feeling about what transpired.

"Well, it's like I told our guys," scouting director R.J. Harrison said. "We had a couple of mock drafts [Sunday], which ended up being a really good idea just to kind of prepare ourselves. I don't think we did as well in either one of those mock drafts as we did [Monday], to be honest with you. We're really happy with the group of players we selected."

Added Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations: "We were just so prepared that we were able to really stay nimble. Things really worked out for us."

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At the end of the day, Tampa Bay had selected two left-handed pitchers, two right-handers, two shortstops, three outfielders and a third baseman.

Of those selections, high school pitcher Taylor Guerrieri became their first shortly after 9:15 p.m. The Rays took him with the 24th pick, which was attained as compensation for losing free agent Carl Crawford to the Red Sox.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player.

You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Guerrieri, 18, is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander who hails from Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., and has committed to play at South Carolina.

The scouting report says Guerrieri is a power pitcher with a fastball that is regularly clocked between 93 and 96 mph, and contrasting the big fastball is an 81-83 mph curve that is said to have a sharp break. Guerrieri also has a cutter and a changeup, which is unusual for a high school power pitcher. In short, he has a tremendous upside with the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.

"What attracted us is, he's a good body, power arm and power stuff," Harrison said. "We were prepared for anything, really. We didn't know who was going to be available at No. 24, and we felt very fortunate to get a guy with that kind of future."

Some makeup questions arose after Guerrieri changed high schools prior to his senior season, but Harrison discounted that.

"A lot of that's just misinformation, or a lot of things that might have been played up or overstated," Harrison said. "He's an 18-year-old kid. He's going to be just fine."

With their second first-round pick, 31st overall, the Rays took Mikie Mahtook, an outfielder from LSU. And on the very next selection, Tampa Bay went with Jake Hager, a shortstop from Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas.

Baseball America ranked Mahtook as the No. 21 overall prospect, the No. 8 position player, the No. 3 center fielder and the No. 3 best athlete among college players.

"He's a good athlete, a fine competitor," Harrison said. "He has a good makeup. He's the kind of guy we like having in our organization."

Mahtook earned a starting spot with the Tigers midway through the 2009 season and helped LSU win the College World Series. He played right field as a sophomore and moved back to center field as a junior. He was previously drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 39th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

"When they picked me, I was excited," Mahtook said. "They've been known as somebody to develop their talent, and I'm just looking forward to developing and becoming the player that they want me to be."

Hager committed to Arizona State after batting .547 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs his senior year; he also scored 75 runs and stole 28 bases as a shortstop. Among his many honors, he was named the 2010-11 Gatorade Nevada Baseball Player of the Year and was named Southern Nevada Player of the Year by coaches from Nevada's Class 4A baseball programs.

Hager said he had a hunch the Rays would draft him as they had shown a lot of interest. He sounded ready to sign.

"I'm ready to play pro ball," said Hager during a conference call. "I've been ready to play pro ball. I'm very excited to pursue my dream. College is great. Arizona State is great, I love them. But I'm ready to move on and pursue my dream, and that's play pro baseball."

All told, the Rays exercised 10 of the first 60 picks on the first day, including three first-round picks and seven compensation picks. Overall, the Rays will make 60 selections during the three days of the Draft, which is the most by a Major League teams since the Draft was restricted to 50 rounds in 1998.

While the Rays felt good about what they accomplished Monday, there is still plenty of work to do.

"There's still a lot of players on that board that we cross checked pretty good," Harrison said. "We're excited for [Tuesday]."

1st Round Pick (No. 24 overall) Taylor Guerrieri, 18, 6-3, 195, RHP pitcher, Spring Valley High School (Columbia, S.C.)
Tampa Bay received the 24th pick it used to select Guerrieri as compensation for losing Carl Crawford to the Red Sox as a free agent. The scouting report says Guerrieri is a power pitcher with a fastball that is regularly clocked between 93 and 96 mph. He offsets the big fastball with an 81-83 mph curve that is said to have a sharp break. Guerrieri also has a cutter and a changeup, which is unusual for a high school power pitcher. In short, he has a tremendous upside with the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He was named to the 2010 Augusta Chronicle All-Area Team and he played on the Diamond Devils AAU team that won the 2010 WWBA 17-and-under national championship.

1st Round Pick (No. 31 overall) Mikie Mahtook, 21, 6-1, 200, OF, Louisiana State University
Rated by Baseball America as the No. 21 overall prospect, the No. 8 position player, the No. 3 center fielder and the No. 3 best athlete among college players. Mahtook earned a starting spot for the Tigers midway through the 2009 season and helped LSU win the College World Series. He played right field as a sophomore and moved back to center field as a junior. He was named to the 2010 SEC all-tournament team and was the 2009 SEC tournament Most Valuable Player. He was previously drafted by the Marlins in the 39th round of the 2008 Draft.

1st Round Pick (No. 32 overall) Jake Hager, 18, 6-1, 180, SS, Sierra Vista (Las Vegas) High School
Hager committed to Arizona State after batting .547 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs as a high school senior. He also scored 75 runs and stole 28 bases. Among his many honors, he was named the 2010-11 Gatorade Nevada Baseball Player of the Year and was named Southern Nevada Player of the Year by coaches from Nevada's Class 4A baseball programs.

Compensation Round (38) Brandon Martin, 17, 5-11, 175, SS, Santiago (Corona, Calif.) High School
Martin hit .354 with two homers and 21 RBIs to go along with seven stolen bases and 33 runs his senior season. He was named the most outstanding player of the California Baseball Coaches' Association North-South Series in 2010. Baseball America ranked him as the third-best defensive high school shortstop and fifth-best shortstop overall. He is committed to play at Oregon State after previously being committed to Cal State Fullerton.

Compensation (41) Tyler Goeddel, 18, 6-4, 180, 3B, St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) High School
He hit .361 his senior year, scoring 27 runs while stroking seven doubles, two triples, and two homers to go along with 19 RBIs and nine stolen bases. He missed a month of the season with mononucleosis. Baseball America ranked Goeddel as the 89th best player in the Draft and as the seventh-best third baseman in the Draft. He has committed to UCLA. His brother, Erik, is a pitcher in the Mets' organization and was drafted in the 24th round last year out of UCLA.

Compensation (42) Jeff Ames, 20, 6-4, 225, RHP, Lower Columbia College (JC-Washington)
Baseball America ranked Ames as the No. 119 overall prospect and the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Washington. The Phillies drafted him in the 46th round of the 2009 Draft out of high school in Vancouver, Wash., and the Rockies drafted him in the 30th round of the 2010 Draft out of Lower Columbia College (JC-Washington). He went 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 2011 with 101 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched at Lower Columbia. He has committed to University of Oregon.

Compensation (52) Blake Snell, 18, 6-4, 180, LHP, Shorewood (Wash.) High School
Went 7-0 with one save and a 1.14 ERA in 11 games during his senior season. He struck out 103 batters in 49 innings while giving up 22 hits and 24 walks. His father, Dave, was drafted by the by the Giants in the ninth round of the 1982 Draft and played in the Kansas City and Seattle farm systems. He has committed to the University of Washington.

Compensation (56) Kes Carter, 21, 6-2, 205, OF, Western Kentucky University
Baseball America ranked Carter as the No. 51 prospect overall. He was named First Team All-Sun Belt Conference as the center fielder in 2010. Getting selected with the 56th overall pick makes him the highest Draft pick in Western Kentucky history, surpassing Wade Gaynor, who was drafted in the third round by the Tigers in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The Marlins drafted him in the 43rd round of the 2008 Draft.

Compensation (59) Grayson Garvin, 21, 6-6, 225, LHP, Vanderbilt University
Rated by Baseball America as the No. 56 prospect overall and the No. 16 left-handed pitching prospect. In 2011 he earned SEC Pitcher of the Year honors and was named to First Team All-SEC. Through 16 games with Vanderbilt this season he has posted a 13-1 record with a 2.37 ERA in 102 1/3 innings. His 13 wins in 2011 set a single-season Vanderbilt record for victories.

Compensation (60) James Harris Jr., 17, 6-1, 175, Oakland Tech (Calif.) High School
Batted .439 his senior season with two home runs and 13 RBIs; he also had a .707 slugging percentage with a a .610 on-base percentage. He says he models his game after Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, an Oakland Tech alumnus. He also played basketball at Oakland Tech.

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

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