ST. PETERSBURG -- The last time the Rays selected a Louisiana State outfielder on the first day of the MLB Draft, they came away with current Rays outfielder Mikie Mahtook, whom they selected with the 31st pick in 2011.Thursday night, the Rays wrapped up the first day of the 2016
ST. PETERSBURG -- The last time the Rays selected a Louisiana State outfielder on the first day of the MLB Draft, they came away with current Rays outfielder Mikie Mahtook, whom they selected with the 31st pick in 2011.
Thursday night, the Rays wrapped up the first day of the 2016 Draft by grabbing their third pick, another LSU outfielder, Jake Fraley, with the 77th -- and final -- pick of the first day.
Fraley, 21, is a 6-foot, 185-pound center fielder and regarded as the Tigers' offensive catalyst. After the Rays announced his selection via a tweet, Mahtook responded by tweeting his approval with a #geauxtigers #raysup.
• 13th overall: Joshua Lowe
• 53rd overall: Ryan Boldt
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Rays scouting director Rob Metzler called Fraley "another athletic left-handed-hitting center fielder."
"He has very good contact skills, good bat," Metzler said. "Good defensive player. Good outcome for us. And we're excited for all three [picks on Thursday]."
Fraley is well suited to bat atop a lineup, as he has a patient contact-oriented approach and the plus speed and know-how to steal bases. His flat left-handed swing doesn't yield much power, but his on-base skills rank among the best in college baseball. Fraley has performed well during two summers in the Cape Cod League.
Though he hadn't played much center field for LSU before this spring, Fraley's speed and instincts make him at least a solid defender there. His arm strength is below average, but it isn't considered a liability.
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. The Rays then selected left-handed-hitting outfielder Ryan Boldt out of the University of Nebraska with their second pick (53rd overall).
Metzler said the three position players the Rays selected are in different stages of their development.
"They played at different levels of play," Metzler said. "Ryan Boldt's been in the Big Ten, he's played in the Cape Cod League. 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.