6/8/2013 9:57 P.M. ET
Rays' 15th-round Draft pick is two-sport star
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays picked two-sport star Coty Blanchard out of Jacksonville State with their 15th-round selection (No. 458 overall) in the First-Year Player Draft.
Tampa Bay drafted Blanchard, who just finished his junior season, as a second baseman, but he played shortstop for the Gamecocks' baseball team and started at quarterback for their football team. He now faces an interesting choice: go pro in baseball, or stay in school for his senior football season and another chance to improve his Draft stock?
The Alabama native possesses obvious athleticism, as evidenced by his work on the gridiron -- he threw for two touchdowns and the winning two-point conversion in Jacksonville State's big upset over Mississippi in 2010 -- but also solid baseball tools as well. He posted a .305/.402/.482 batting line and stole 15 bases as a junior, and scouts believe he could potentially play all three outfield spots in the Majors.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Blanchard was invited to Tropicana Field for a workout at the end of May, according to The Anniston Star. He has played all four infield positions in college and worked in the corner-outfield spots in the Cape Cod League last summer.
Blanchard controls the bat well and hits the ball where it is pitched, spraying line drives all over the field. He does not have much home run power, but with his speed and ability to make contact, he should at least have gap power. He is a solid runner with a strong, if not always accurate, arm and has shown natural baseball instincts, particularly at shortstop.
He was drafted out of high school by the Orioles in the 41st round of the 2010 Draft but ultimately signed on to play football and baseball at Jacksonville State. The question facing the Rays is whether they will have any better luck luring him out of school and into their farm system.
"I think he wants to play baseball," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said.
Rays choose Lockwood to open Day 3 of Draft
ST. PETERSBURG -- Hunter Lockwood, the Rays' 11th-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, hit 11 home runs as a freshman at Oklahoma in 2012, good enough to rank second in the Big 12. But then he transferred to Weatherford College this year, reportedly for the chance to catch regularly and be closer to home.
Lockwood, who was first picked out of high school by the Angels in the 17th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, found plenty of success in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference as a sophomore, posting a .333/.423/.559 batting line with seven homers.
"He really wanted to go to junior college because he wanted to become eligible for the Draft," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said.
The power Lockwood flashed at Oklahoma is his best tool and has the ability to carry him, although his swing can get long at times and make him susceptible to strikeouts.
Defensively, he has an average arm and is an adequate receiver. He has also played some right field, first base, third base and designated hitter, and he could get another look at a different position as a professional.
Lockwood reportedly has heard from several larger schools about playing opportunities next season, if he chooses not to sign, but he has yet to commit anywhere else.
Rays take second shortstop in 12th round
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays used their 12th-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Saturday to select their second shortstop, Wake Forest's Pat Blair.
Drafted with the 368th overall pick, Blair stands at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. He recently completed his senior season at Wake Forest with a .283 average, a higher on-base percentage (.459) than slugging percentage (.424) and 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
Blair, who was drafted by the Astros in the 24th round of the 2012 Draft, has been described as the kind of hard-nosed gamer who plays the game the right way, but he also offers a solid package of tools that could eventually land him a job as at least a Major League utility man.
He will be a singles and doubles hitter, probably displaying gap power at best, but he flashes some speed on the basepaths and plays an serviceable shortstop.
Tampa Bay opted for a higher-upside shortstop with its second-round pick as well in Arizona high schooler Riley Unroe. There have been questions about Unroe's signability because he is committed to play for the University of Southern California, though the Rays are optimistic about their chances of landing him. Blair, meanwhile, is out of college eligibility and would seem to be an easier sign.
Left-hander chosen by Rays in 13th round
ST. PETERSBURG -- After selecting five right-handed pitchers over the first two days of the First-Year Player Draft, the Rays reeled in a southpaw with their 13th-round selection Saturday, picking lefty starter Benjamin Griset out of St. Mary's College.
Griset, the Draft's 398th overall pick, was the Gaels' Friday night starter as a junior and finished the spring with a 4-4 record, a 3.62 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 82 innings.
He tossed three complete games and two shutouts in his 13 starts this spring and pitched at least six innings in seven of his outings. His three complete games came in a four-start stretch.
The 21-year-old California native was drafted out of Gustine High School by the White Sox in the 36th round of the 2010 Draft. He was recruited by California, Santa Clara, UCLA, Arizona, Long Beach State and Fresno State but ultimately wound up at St. Mary's.
He pitched mostly in relief as a freshman, making 14 appearances but only five starts, before starting 12 games in 2012. He went 2-8 with a 4.39 ERA in his sophomore campaign before improving his numbers across the board this spring.
Rays take reliever with 14th-round pick
Jaime Schultz, the Rays' 14th-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft, has been used as a reliever at High Point University, with a fringe-plus fastball in short innings.
Scouts carried some concerns that he did not quite have the bulldog mentality to be a closer at the next level, with his confidence and aggressiveness seeming to wane at times. He has wide hips and broad shoulders despite his short, compact stature, and he is listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds. Scouts believe he has good raw stuff but must tap into the confidence to use it and become more of a pitcher than a thrower.
Schultz had Tommy John surgery on his right shoulder in 2010.
Rays draft bench coach Martinez's son
ST. PETERSBURG -- Dave Martinez acknowledges that there is part of him that hopes to someday manage or coach his son, Dalton. It does not look like that day is coming right now, however, even after Tampa Bay used its 31st-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft to select the Rays bench coach's 18-year-old son.
Dalton will most likely attend college, whether it's a four-year school like the University of South Florida or a junior college like Central Florida Community College. Regardless, the Rays drafted Dalton as a center fielder and Martinez admitted he was "very proud" of his son.
"He's a good kid," Martinez said. "He loves to play."
Dalton didn't play high school baseball this season, instead attending Dunedin Academy to focus on his school work. But he did play for Countryside High School's varsity team each of the past three seasons, batting .320 with a .370 on-base percentage and 12 stolen bases as a junior.
Martinez said his son attended a pre-Draft workout at Tropicana Field and performed well, apparently well enough to impress scouting director R.J. Harrison and executive vice president Andrew Friedman.
"I knew they were thinking about it," Martinez said. "I asked Andrew, I said, 'Are you going to draft him?' He kind of gave me that smirky look like he wouldn't say."
"We have legitimate interest. The kid has some ability. We'll watch him play during the summer," Harrison said. "We're all going to get together and do what's in the best interest of Dalton."
Martinez heard about the news from head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield during the Rays' 8-0 win over the Orioles. He plans to sit down with Harrison and Friedman some time soon to talk about his son's options, but he assumes that conversation won't end with Dalton starting the road to playing for his father -- not yet, at least.
"He wants to play," Martinez said. "He's been around this his whole life. He loves it."