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Rays ready to rake in top talent with 4th pick

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays didn't finish where they wanted in 2016. On the bright side, the team will have its highest pick in the June Draft since selecting Tim Beckham with the first pick of the 2008 Draft.

The 2017 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays didn't finish where they wanted in 2016. On the bright side, the team will have its highest pick in the June Draft since selecting Tim Beckham with the first pick of the 2008 Draft.

The 2017 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon.

Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLBPipeline.com analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Rays, whose first selection is the fourth overall pick.

In about 50 words 
The Rays rely upon the Draft as much as any club in baseball, so they need to be successful. If they don't have a good Draft class, it affects their ability to maintain a competitive club at the Major League level a year or two later.

"It's critical to any team's success, but with respect to ours and how we have to allocate our resources, just how we acquire talent, this is one of the more cost-efficient ways to do it," said Erik Neander, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager. "And because of that, it's an area where we have to have a lot of success."

The scoop
According to Rob Metzler, Rays amateur scouting director, the players at the top of the Draft are a "balanced group of candidates."

"I think there are different profiles, but I think from college to high school, from pitching to position players," Metzler said. "I think there's candidates from all those profiles, and I think it's a good group."

First-round buzz
According to MLB.com's latest mock draft, the Rays will take Louisville 1B/LHP Brendan McKay. The Twins, Reds, and Padres draft ahead of the Rays. Names that are expected to go before McKay include Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright; Hunter Greene, a high school shortstop/right-handed pitcher from Los Angeles; and MacKenzie Gore, a left-handed high school pitcher from North Carolina.

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 $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five 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.

To sign their first 10 picks, the Rays have been allocated a pool total of $12,528,100, and the value assigned to their first-round pick is $6,153,600. Last year, the Rays were assigned a pool of $7,643,100, and the value assigned to their first-round pick was $3,098,900.

Recent Draft history 

Shopping list
Adding pitching is always at the top of the list -- particularly left-handers. Any organization wants to bring in as many pitchers as possible, particularly those with power arms, and the Rays are no different. In addition, players with athleticism are always attractive.

Trend watch
The Rays have selected position players with their past five top picks of the Draft. Right-hander Taylor Guerrieri (2011) was the last pitcher they selected with their top pick. Will the streak continue?

Rising fast
Ian Gibaut is a hard-throwing reliever from the 11th round in 2015. The right-hander already is in Double-A Montgomery.

Cinderella story
Brett Sullivan was a 17th round pick in 2015. The Rays converted him from second base to catcher after the 2015 season. He is an All-Star this year with Class A Charlotte.

In The Show
A first-round pick in 2013 (the Rays' second pick in the first round), Ryne Stanek is with the club and looks as though he can become a fixture in the bullpen.

Along with Stanek, the Rays have a number of their own picks on their 25-man roster, including: Evan Longoria ('06, first round), Beckham ('08, first round), Ryan Garton ('12, 34th round), Kevin Kiermaier ('10, 31st round), Austin Pruitt ('13, ninth round), and Alex Cobb ('06, fourth round).

The Rays' recent top picks
2016: Josh Lowe, OF, Class A Bowling Green
2015: Garrett Whitley, OF, Class A Bowling Green
2014: Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Triple-A Durham
2013: Nick Ciuffo, C, Double-A Montgomery
2012: Richie Shaffer, 3B, Triple-A Columbus (Indians)

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays