Secaucus-NJ It's been the life blood of the Rays' organization, the ability to draft well. Last night Tampa Bay selected two first round picks in the 2013 Major League Draft hoping Nick Ciuffo and Ryne Stanek will be building blocks for their future success. The Rays selected Ciuffo first with the twenty-first overall selection. The high school catcher from Lexington, South Carolina was the state's Gatorade Player of the Year. Widely regarded as one of the top two prep backstops in the draft, Ciuffo posted a .426 batting average and slugged 5 home runs in his senior season.
With the 29th selection in the first round, the Rays' took the ace for the University of Arkansas last season. Stanek's first name is in honor of hall of fame Cubs' second baseman Ryne Sandberg. He was touted as one of the premier pitchers in the draft, but slid down to the Rays in the late first round. The right handed power pitcher throws a 97-mph fastball to go along with a solid change-up.
The first Tampa Bay area player drafted came as a bit of a surprise. Hernando's Christian Arroyo was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 25th pick overall. The sure handed shortstop hit .524 and 11 home runs last season. Arroyo was listed by Baseball America as their eighth best prospect at his position and had anticipated him as a third or fourth round selection. The University of Florida commit last September was named the MVP in the under 18 World Baseball Championship for gold medal winning team USA.
Next off the board was Durant's Tyler Danish 55th overall in the second round to the Chicago White Sox. Danish led the Cougars to the 7A state championship game, allowing no earned runs in his senior season. His 0.00 earned run average was only duplicated by one other high school pitcher in the country. Danish has a unique three quarter pitching motion with late breaking action on his pitches making him deceptive to hitters. Danish like Arroyo is committed to play for the Gators.
Just two picks later Giather's Oscar Mercado was chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 57th pick. Baseball America tabbed Mercado as one of the top three shortstops in the draft. His glove work and defensive acumen placed him in high regard among most publications, yet his offensive numbers in his senior season may have dropped his stock. At 6'2 and 175 lbs, the Florida State University commit has all the tools to be successful at the next level.
Following the second round in Competitive Round B the Milwaukee Brewers used the 72nd selection to take Wharton's Tucker Neuhaus. The left hander, who's committed to University of Louisville played shortstop in his senior season but could play any infield position. Neuhaus has one of the biggest bats of any prep player to come out this year which will likely push him to third base in the minor leagues.