Rays take hard-hitting catcher Betts at No. 52
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays waited patiently on Monday night while 38 selections were made following their first pick of the 2015 Draft. Plenty of names would drop off the board during that period prior to making their second selection. So they were more than pleased to find Chris Betts still available when their time came.
Accepting their good fortune, the Rays used the 52nd pick to select Betts, a catcher with a high upside from Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif.
Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison could not conceal his excitement about getting Betts where they did. Most expected Betts to be long gone by the time the Rays made their second selection.
"This is a great result," Harrison said. "I couldn't have drawn up this first day any better. And I think the room shares that sentiment. It was a good day."
Betts hits left-handed and throws right-handed. He hit .471 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 68 at-bats during his high school season. He is committed to attend the University of Tennessee in the fall. Betts has power and arm strength.
"We've scouted him for a couple of years now," Harrison said. "We like his bat and power. He's got a plus arm, and there's no reason why he can't catch. Like on any young catcher, there's a question of whether or not he's going to stay behind the plate and blah, blah, blah. ... He has a great work ethic and he's a ballplayer."
Betts was happy to be selected by the Rays.
"No. 1, I'm just excited to be picked by the Rays," Betts said. "From everything I've heard about them, it's a fun organization. You can go about your business at your own pace and it's just a fun place to be."
MLB.com had Betts ranked 25th overall, and he went into the Draft known for being one of the "more interesting" high school bats available. However, he did experience a right forearm strain that limited him to designated-hitter duties the final three weeks of his season. Betts said he was "indifferent" about being selected lower than expected. When asked why he thought he dropped, he said "it could be a lot of things."
"It could be concerns with the elbow," Betts said. "It could be they don't think I'm good enough. Everybody has opinions and everybody has strategies. The Draft is a very strategical thing in sports and everybody has a very strict game plan that they have going into it.
"So I really couldn't tell you why I slipped. I just know people have their reasons, and they're very good ones. I'm just extremely happy that I got picked when I did."
The Rays said they have done their due diligence in regards to Betts' forearm and are confident that he is not headed for more problems. As for signing him, Betts told reporters, "I still have the college commitment" to fall back on.
"There's a lot of things that happen," Betts said. "Negotiating and talking about contracts with the team. We'll know when the time comes."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.