Rays mum on who will be No. 1 pick

Rays mum on who will be No. 1 pick

BOSTON -- The Rays remained tight-lipped Wednesday about who will be the first player selected in Thursday's 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

The Rays hold the top pick in the Draft, making them the first team to select first for two consecutive years. In years past, this was not possible because the top pick alternated between the team with the worst record in each league.

Five players remain in the Rays' plans: Florida State catcher Buster Posey, Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham, San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz and California high school catcher Kyle Skipworth.

Rays scouts and baseball personnel continued to meet Wednesday, hoping to reach a decision.

"We're excited about the caliber of player we're going to add to the organization," said executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "Talent-wise and makeup-wise, the guy we are picking has a chance to be an impact player in the Major Leagues."

Here's what Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison had to say about the aforementioned five players:

On Posey: "He's always been a good player. I go back to reports when he was a high school player. And the one thing that sticks out is he's a good baseball player."

On Alvarez: "Cover boy on Baseball America for good reason. He's a good player, plays the game the right way. He's got big power. ... Third baseman right now, but I think he's a good enough athlete and got enough versatility [to change positions if he is asked to do so]."

On Beckham: "Another really good player at a premium position. Middle-of-the-field player, very good athlete, an advanced bat, has a real good awareness on the field. He plays the game with a great deal of enthusiasm."

Matusz: "He's a winner. He's got three quality pitches. Last year, the question was he ran out of gas a little bit at the end. He's addressed that, he's gone out, he's stayed strong all year long."

Skipworth: "Skipworth's bat has a chance to be a middle of the lineup bat, and again, another guy who's playing at a premium position."

No matter which player the Rays select Thursday, they have made clear their stance on going with a player due to a positional need as opposed to talent.

"For us it is still talent, because I think if you look back two years ago and you look at the needs of the organization, they've changed dramatically in two years," Friedman said.

"For us, it is all about talent, because if by chance you have something, you never want to take someone with the idea that you would trade them, but if you take the best player available, either something opens up on your Major League team or you can go out there and make a move to add someone somewhere else. It really just gets back to taking the most talented player that you feel like fits you, fits your team."

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