08/16/11 1:47 AM ET
Rays lock up four remaining Draft picks
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Hoping to sign the remaining four unsigned picks from their top 12 selected in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the Rays locked up all four prior to the Tuesday morning deadline.
"We're thrilled," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "We talk about it a lot -- the importance of our farm system -- for us to have continued success in this division, in our opinion, it's more important for us than any other team in baseball.
"We feel like we've added a lot of high impact players to our system. We're thrilled to get them signed and get them out going. We feel like we've really strengthened our system and given us a real balance."
Tampa Bay signed 14 of their top 14 picks from this year's Draft and 20 of its top 21. Overall, the Rays signed 41 of the 60 players they selected.
Teams had until 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday to come to terms with their Draft picks, meaning official notification had to be in the Commissioner's Office when the clock struck midnight.
"Things tend to gravitate towards [a deadline] in some negotiations -- it's not ideal, but it's the way the process works and we spend a lot of time getting to know these players and we felt confident that they wanted to get out and start playing professional baseball," Friedman said. "And we also felt like we were going to be aggressive enough with our offers that there would be an overlap."
Had Tampa Bay not signed its first or second-round picks, the club would have received a compensatory pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. That selection would not have come at the same slot, rather plus one, so if Tampa Bay did not sign the No. 24 overall pick, it would have received the No. 25 pick -- technically 24A -- for the following year. Tampa Bay would not have received a '12 pick if it did not come to terms with a selection made with a compensation pick this year.
Pitcher Taylor Guerrieri, who was the No. 24 pick and Tampa Bay's first selection in the Draft, headlined the group of players signed Monday night.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander had committed to play at the University of South Carolina and had ties that dated back to him growing up a Gamecocks fan in the Columbia, S.C., area. He signed for a $1.6-million bonus.
Also signed were LSU outfielder Mikie Mahtook ($1.15 million), whom the Rays drafted with the No. 31 pick; third baseman Tyler Goeddel ($1.5 million), who was selected with the 41st pick and had committed to play college baseball at UCLA; and left-handed pitcher Grayson Garvin ($370,000) out of Vanderbilt, whom the Rays selected with the No. 59 pick.
Garvin signed for an amount less than what the No. 59 selection was slotted for, which the Rays attributed to a slight risk over a past physical problem that occurred in 2009. Since then Garvin has pitched in good health.
"But something we felt like was a little bit of a risk, so we just worked through it together to come up with something we felt was equitable," Friedman said. "... It wasn't anything significant or we wouldn't have done it."
Guerrieri and Mahtook were the last two players to agree to deals.
"We did [expect to sign all of the players they signed], but you never really know," Friedman said. "But you don't really know. I don't think we really knew until 11:58 [p.m.]. We were optimistic we were in a good position with the evaluations that we had and all the work our guys did this spring. And we felt like the backing we had financially, we'd be able to get it done. But until you have agreed upon deals you don't really know."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.