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Above all else, Rays grab value in Draft

The View Full Game Coverage Rays already had a solid foundation in their Minor League system, but the club hopes it added significant depth in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

The Rays selected 19 pitchers and 21 position players over the course of the three-day event, concluding with the 40th round on Wednesday.

"We're pleased with the players we have," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said. "We were really excited after [Tuesday], and we added some more guys today. Overall, I was really happy with the process, how the process worked. ... Everything really came together well and worked."

The Draft began on Monday night, when the Rays selected third baseman Richie Shaffer 25th overall. Shaffer has played both corner-infield positions but is best known for his hitting ability, including his power.

On Day 2, the Rays ended up with plenty of speed, beginning with shortstop Spencer Edwards of Rockwall High School in Texas. Between the second and 15th rounds, five center fielders were taken by the Rays.

Tampa Bay picked just one outfielder on Day 3, Willie Argo of the University of Illinois. Five middle infielders were selected, along with two corner infielders. What the team went after most on the final day, however, was pitching, with 12 hurlers selected in the final 25 rounds.

The Rays also picked six catchers in the Draft, including four on the final day. Assistant director of amateur scouting Rob Metzler, who was in charge of the picks on Wednesday, said the club didn't target any position in particular -- just value.

"It was a combination of ability and opportunity on our part," Metzler said. "When those two things come together, we thought there were some good fits there, and we pulled the trigger."

One possible steal came in the 19th round, when Tampa Bay selected first baseman Miguel Beltran out of Oklahoma City University. Beltran was named the NAIA Player of the Year thanks to his 27 home runs, .388 batting average and .826 slugging percentage.

"He's got power, there's no question," Harrison said. "We're going to get him out there. We're excited to see what happens when he gets into pro ball."

Many teams drafted more collegiate players due to new rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulating that players picked after the 10th round can receive a maximum signing bonus of $100,000. Fearing that high school players would be harder to sign, teams were cautious about selecting younger talent, and Tampa Bay was no exception.

"We can't pay a guy second- or third-round money in that part of the Draft," Harrison said. "It had to be a guy that was worth the Draft and was worth spending the time, that the kid was showing interest in wanting to go play and we might be able to do something that makes sense for both of us."

One change that seemed to be welcomed by all parties was a shift in the deadline to sign new draftees. The deadline was previously in mid-August but was moved up a month to July 13. In the past, players who didn't sign immediately would wait until the deadline, and the new rules appear to save time.

"It's going to make everybody's life a lot easier, and we're going to get the guy out playing," Harrison said. "Whoever waits until the deadline, if we end up signing them, they're going to get out playing for a month. That's a win-win right there."

Tampa Bay Rays