Monday kicked off the three-day MLB Draft. The Tampa Bay Rays had four draft picks on Monday at 22, 36, 40 and 61: Shortstop Greg Jones of UNC Wilmington, high school pitcher JJ Goss from Texas, Campbell University pitcher Seth Johnson, and Texas A&M left-hander John Doxakis.
Jones, 21, is a draft-eligible switch-hitting sophomore at UNC, who happens to be the fastest player in the draft — FanGraphs gave him an 80-grade on his speed, which is the highest a player can have on the scouting scale. The strong-armed shortstop has the potential to move to center field, making him a possible replacement for Kevin Kiermaier once he develops.
Jones was the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after he hit .343 this season. He has a good eye at the plate working more walks (51) than strikeouts (41). He also collected 26 extra-base hits and stole 42 bases for the Seahawks in 63 games.
Jones was originally selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round of the 2017 draft, but he chose to stay in North Carolina and attend UNC Wilmington. Back then he was ranked 75th in Baseball America’s top-500 draft-eligible players, although Keith Law (ESPN) now has him at 62.
Goss, initially a Texas A&M commit, went 11-2 with a 0.64 ERA at Cypress Ranch High School. He allowed just 31 hits and 28 walks across 87-1/3 innings while striking out 147 batters.
The tall right-hander boasts an 80 mph plus slider with late bite and two-plane movement, and a 90-92 mph fastball which has hit 96. Goss is expected to hit the mid-90s with regularity once he fills out more. MLB Pipeline also says he has a changeup with similar velocity and some fade.
Per Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), Goss expects to begin his professional career with the Rays organization and forgo college.
A recent convert from shortstop, Johnson was ranked No. 31 by MLB.com. His conversion to the mound led to his opportunity at Campbell, where he appeared in 66-1/3 innings this season and he struck out 81 batters.
Johnson has an effortless arm action and delivery, and according to MLB Pipeline, he looks very natural on the mound in spite of his relative inexperience.
The ball comes out of his hand so easily, with his fastball topping out at 98 mph and usually ranging from 91-95. His slider is his best secondary offering, a plus pitch in the mid-80s at its best but also still inconsistent.— MLB Pipeline.
The right-hander was ranked at No. 29 by Baseball America, No. 37 by Keith Law, and No. 44 by FanGraphs.
This season was the first year Doxakis was utilized primarily as a starter and he became one of the best starters in the SEC. The southpaw started 16 games and went 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA. He yielded 80 hits across 104-2/3 innings while walking 26 and fanning 115 (4.42 K/BB).
Doxakis boasts a fastball, changeup, and a slider which is his signature go-to pitch. His quick delivery is deceptive to opposing hitters and makes it difficult for them to figure out what pitch is coming.
Per MLB.com, Doxakis has effort in his delivery and uses an arm slot that varies from low- to mid-three-quarters, yet that doesn’t prevent him from pounding the strike zone with three pitches. He doesn’t dazzle radar guns with his 88–93 mph fastball, but it plays up because of its arm side-run and his ability to command it to both sides of the plate. He masterfully manipulates his low-80s slider, changing velocities and shape and demonstrating the ability to back-foot it against right-handers.
We will cap Tuesday’s draft action tomorrow.