Rays fill up on college talent on Day 2 of Draft

Florida State shortstop Walls is Tampa Bay's 1st pick Tuesday as club selects 8 collegiate players

June 13th, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- At the end of Day 2 of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Rays' list of selections had a distinct college flavor.

Tampa Bay selected eight players, and all came from the college ranks. Two were shortstops and six were pitchers. Of the 11 players the Rays have selected in two days, 10 have come from college.

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"I think it came randomly that way," Rays director of amateur scouting Rob Metzler said. "Out of the 11 we've taken, [there were] eight pitchers, two position players and Brendan [McKay], who has the opportunity to play both [pitcher and first base].

"And that's just really how our board fell. We took the player that we thought had the best chance to contribute and make an impact on the organization, and it's truly by chance it came out the way it did."

According to Metzler, the trend toward college pitchers wasn't planned, either.

"I think, certainly, that was not a strategy coming into the Draft," Metzler said. "It was a function of our how our Draft played out."

The Rays began Day 2 by selecting Florida State shortstop Taylor Walls.

Walls likely fell to the third round based on his lack of hitting during his junior season for the Seminoles. He had a much better sophomore season, which he capped off with a solid performance for Team USA last summer.

Walls a pleasant surprise for Rays at No. 79

Walls has above-average plate discipline. He knows how to work an at-bat, and he has more walks than strikeouts. He turns 21 on July 10 and stands 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.

Walls could remain at shortstop, but he profiles as a super-utility guy, which is a position the Rays are more than accustomed to grooming and using.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.

Round 4: RHP Drew Strotman, St. Mary's

Strotman, a 6-foot-3, 195 right-hander out of St. Mary's College of California, went 6-1 with a 4.57 ERA in 18 games this season, including 75 strikeouts in 67 innings with just 24 walks.

Strotman profiles as a reliever, but he'll probably begin as a starter.

Strotman has an above-average slider. That pitch alone could make him a tough reliever to deal with in late innings. Strotman's fastball sits in the low 90s.

Round 5: LHP Josh Fleming, Webster University

Fleming is the first drafted player out of Division III Webster in suburban St. Louis. Standing 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Fleming's fastball ranges from 88-92 mph, occasionally touching 94. The changeup is his best secondary pitch, but his breaking ball needs improvement.

Fleming missed the first half of the 2016 season after having elbow surgery, but he did not miss a start this season. Fleming profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter, perhaps as high as a No. 4.

Round 6: SS Zach Rutherford, Old Dominion University

Rutherford is as an above-average defender, and he was recognized accordingly as Conference USA's Defensive Player of the Year.

Rutherford is a contact hitter with little power, but he is known for doing everything the right way. He has average speed, but he is an aggressive baserunner.

Rutherford's makeup is off the charts, and he possesses great baseball instincts.

Round 7: LHP Hunter Schryver, Villanova University

Schryver stands 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, and he was the ace of Villanova's staff as a senior this season, striking out 91 in 73 2/3 innings.

In his 12 starts this season, Schryver limited opponents to a .213 batting average. He gave up just 56 hits, and he did not allow a home run to the 314 batters that he faced. He pitched at least six innings in nine of his 12 appearances, and he had just three starts in which he allowed more than two earned runs.

Schryver threw 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings against Georgetown and Butler. He mixes pitches well and stays in and around the zone.

Round 8: RHP Riley O'Brien, College of Idaho

O'Brien went 3-4 in his senior season, with a 2.15 ERA and four saves in 20 appearances. He had 81 strikeouts in 67 innings while walking 23; opponents hit .205 against him.

O'Brien made 16 appearances as a junior, including 15 starts, posting a 6-3 record with a 3.23 ERA in 69 2/3 innings, walking 40 and striking out 60.

The Rays have selected a player out of the state of Washington in all but one of the team's 22 Drafts. The only year they did not was 2012.

O'Brien, who stands 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, hails from Shoreline, Wash., and he spent two seasons at Everett Community College prior to switching to the College of Idaho.

Round 9: LHP Andrew Gist, University of Georgia

Gist went 3-4 with a 3.80 ERA and a save in 17 appearances (11 starts) during his senior season, serving as the Bulldogs' SEC Game 1 starter.

Though he stands just 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, Gist is a competitor, and he knows how to pitch. He came up big by helping the Bulldogs clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament with a 6-3 road win over South Carolina. During that game, he pitched a career-high eight innings and allowed just one run on three hits with five strikeouts.

In his last four starts of the season, Gist faced No. 8 Florida, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 6 Mississippi State and No. 30 South Carolina, and he came away with a 1-1 mark with a 3.46 ERA.

Gist is known as a "pitchability lefty" who competes and can throw strikes. He's held his own against some of the more advanced hitters in the SEC.

Round 10: RHP Phoenix Sanders, University of South Florida

Sanders went 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 16 starts for the Bulls in 2017, including 109 strikeouts in 97 innings with 25 walks.

In four years of college, including two with Daytona Beach Community College, Sanders went 21-18 with a 3.20 ERA and 324 strikeouts in 340 innings.

Sanders is known as a command guy who sets up hitters well. He features a four-pitch mix with a fastball that ranges between 90-91 mph.