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Rice SS, Tulane OF lead Rays' Day 2 picks

June 5, 2018

The Rays were one of the busiest teams on Day 1 of the 2018 MLB Draft, selecting five players Monday night. On Tuesday, Tampa Bay got back to work with rounds 3-10, as the Rays worked to reload their system.• Draft Tracker: Follow every Rays Draft pickAfter spending three of

The Rays were one of the busiest teams on Day 1 of the 2018 MLB Draft, selecting five players Monday night. On Tuesday, Tampa Bay got back to work with rounds 3-10, as the Rays worked to reload their system.
Draft Tracker: Follow every Rays Draft pick
After spending three of their first five selections on pitchers Monday, the Rays continued to add more arms on Day 2, selecting five pitchers with their eight Tuesday picks.
"It was another positive day for us," said Rays amateur scouting director Rob Metzler. "I thought we were very well prepared from all facets of the operation, and the board played well for us."
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at noon ET.
Here's a breakdown of the players selected by the Rays on Day 2.
Round 3: Ford Proctor, SS, 21, Rice University
Proctor, a 6-foot-1,195-pound shortstop, was drafted by the Royals in the 40th round of the 2015 Draft before deciding to attend Rice University. Proctor assumed the starting shortstop job in the second game of his freshman year and never gave it up after hitting safely in each of his first 18 starts.
"He's a good baseball player," Metzler said. "He has a good bat, he's a good defensive player; highly skilled. He's somebody we've seen for some time at Rice and in two summers on the Cape."
Although many scouts believe Proctor is destined to become a second baseman, one of his college coaches forecasts a different future for the 21-year-old.
Paul Janish, an assistant coach at Rice who had a nine-year Major League career playing three different infield positions, believes Proctor has the tools to be an everyday shortstop in the Majors, but he could wind up being a jack of all trades in the mold of another Rice product: Boston's Brock Holt.
"I'm really excited that he got drafted by the Rays, who are an organization that is willing to think outside the box in terms of positioning," Janish said. "Ford is going to get better playing every day, but the Rays might be as good a fit as anybody with regard to their willingness to move guys all over the field. That could benefit him, creating some versatility. His bat should get him to the big leagues wherever he plays."
Janish called Proctor "as polished a college bat as you're going to find," evidenced by his .331 average over 185 games in three seasons at Rice. Proctor hit a career-high eight homers in 2018, also recording personal bests in RBIs (45), on-base percentage (.431) and slugging percentage (.515).
"He's such an advanced hitter; I've been around guys at the big league level that don't do what he can do," said Janish, who played for the Reds, Orioles and Braves between 2008-17. "His ability to repeat his swing is going to be what gets him to the big leagues."
Round 4: Grant Witherspoon, CF, 21, Tulane University
Undrafted out of high school, Witherspoon did not distinguish himself as a prospect during his first two years at Tulane or during his summer in the Cape Cod League. But the 21-year-old broke out as a junior, slashing .330/.436/.587 with a career-high 12 home runs in 2018 to put himself on the Draft map.

"It's been fun to watch his body and mind mature every year," Tulane head coach Travis Jewett said. "He got bigger, got stronger, got faster, his arm got better; he made a lot of good improvements."
A Colorado native, Witherspoon (MLB Pipeline's No. 107 Draft prospect) didn't play as much high school ball as players in states such as Florida and Texas, which Jewett believes may have contributed to his slower development. But the left-handed hitter has stepped up his game both at the plate and in the outfield, where he played center field all season for the Green Wave.
Witherspoon has impressive size (6-3, 200) and strength, and while Jewett thinks he can be a 20-homer player in the Majors, it's his improved plate discipline -- he drew 43 walks against only 36 strikeouts -- that will help him develop into a complete hitter.
Witherspoon projects as a corner outfielder, though he's capable of playing all three outfield spots and saw extensive time at first base during his freshman year, giving the Rays another versatile player in their system.
"His knack for owning the strike zone is only going to help him," Jewett said. "He's a big league outfielder, for sure."
Round 5: Taj Bradley, RHP, 17, Redan (Ga.) High School
Bradley made history as the first player born in 2001 ever to be drafted. The 17-year-old entered his senior season as an all-state outfielder with limited pitching experience, having thrown only about 25 innings as a junior.

But the 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander -- who was ranked as MLB Pipeline's No. 172 Draft prospect -- impressed on the mound in 2018 as a senior, showing a 90-93 mph fastball that reached as high as 95. He also displayed a promising 12-to-6 curveball and is working on a changeup, which his coach believes will be a strong pitch for him at some point.
"Taj has a great frame, especially for a young kid," said Redan High School coach Alexander Wyche. "The upside is there. He was still new to the mound; this was the first year he honed in on pitching. The potential has always been there with the arm and the body. Over time, he'll be upper-90s with two good offspeed pitches. He has a good feel for them."
"He has good size now," Metzler said. "There's absolutely growth potential in his ability to use his stuff. In terms of arm action, delivery, athleticism, ability to spin the ball, he has all the ingredients we're looking for in a young starting pitching prospect. The age, being 17 years old, that's appealing too, just because there's more room for growth and more room for development."
Bradley is committed to play at the University of South Carolina, though Wyche thinks the teen is ready to embark on his pro career despite the fact that he won't turn 18 until next March.
"He's pro-ready, though you never know until you get there," Wyche said. "He's a mature 17-year-old. I think he would do well in pro ball if he decides to go that route. I don't think the experience would be too overwhelming for him."
The Stone Mountain, Ga., high school has produced six big leaguers including All-Stars Domonic Brown, Wally Joyner and Brandon Phillips.
Round 6: Miller Hogan, RHP, 21, Saint Louis University
Drafted as a sophomore in the 32nd round in 2017 by the Brewers, Hogan stayed in school and boosted his Draft stock with a big summer in the Cape Cod League followed by a strong junior season.
A two-year ace for the Billikens, Hogan went 10-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 16 starts as a junior. Hogan struck out 133 batters and walked only 14 in 105 2/3 innings, ranking fourth among all NCAA Division I pitchers in strikeout-to-walk ratio. He held opposing hitters to a .210 average, though he allowed 12 home runs.
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"He's kind of an old throwback type guy," Saint Louis head coach Darin Hendrickson said. "He's not big and strong and overpowering, but he works really hard and gets everything out of his tank."
Hendrickson likened Hogan's style to that of Trevor Bauer, noting that he's "not going to be outworked or outcompeted." Hogan works in the 90-93 mph range, touching 94-95 at times. His two-seamer remains a work in progress, but scouts have pointed to that pitch as a potential weapon for the right-hander.
Round 7: Joe Ryan, RHP, 22, Cal State Stanislaus
Ryan was selected by the Giants in the 39th round of the 2014 Draft before opting to attend Cal State Northridge. Following an injury-riddled junior season, he transferred to Cal State Stanislaus for his senior year.
The 6-foot-2 right-hander was named to just about every Division II All-American team in 2018 after going 8-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 14 starts, the sixth-best ERA in all of Div. II.
"His work ethic is the first thing that you notice; he works extremely hard," Cal State Stanislaus head coach Kenny Leonesio said. "He has a live arm; he works 92-94 mph, but we had him as high as 97. It sounds funny, but I think there's even more in there. He's always working every single day to get better. He's never satisfied."
Leonesio said Ryan -- who was taken by the Rays on his 22nd birthday -- possesses a plus changeup in addition to a slider and curveball, though those pitches remain a work in progress. In 98 1/3 innings this season, Ryan had 127 strikeouts and a 9.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio, walking only 13 batters all season.
"He definitely pounds the zone," Leonesio said. "That's his strength. He's still improving on his command with his offspeed pitches, but his fastball command is really good. His fastball is actually sneaky because it's so effortless."
Round 8: Michael Berglund, C, 20, Cisco College
Berglund started 49 games behind the plate as a freshman at Texas Tech in 2017, hitting .307 with two home runs and 27 RBIs. Despite being named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team, the native of Corpus Christi, Texas, transferred to Cisco (TX) College, where he played this season. Berglund has committed to transfer again, this time to Arizona State.
Round 9: Nick Lee, RHP, 21, Louisiana-Lafayette
Lee began 2018 in Louisiana-Lafayette's starting rotation before being moved to the bullpen, finishing the season 3-7 with three saves and a 5.07 ERA in 20 appearances (11 starts). The right-hander features a good fastball that sits 92-96 mph, though his curveball needs to be refined.
Lee comes from an athletic family; his father, Billy, played football at Northwestern State while his mother, Lisa, played basketball at Nicholls State.
Round 10: Alan Strong, RHP, UNLV
Strong transferred to UNLV after pitching two seasons at Grossmont (CA) College. After posting a 6.47 ERA over 72.1 innings in 2017, the 6-foot-3 right-hander pitched to a 3.90 ERA this season, striking out 86 batters against 22 walks. That 3.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio was nearly twice as good as it had been a year earlier, when he fanned 70 and walked 35 (2.0 ratio).

Mark Feinsand is a contributor to