George Christian Pappas, ESPN Radio
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla –The Rays have an off-day before launching into a three-game series against the Red Sox, but the organization will need late-inning heroics from the front office as it nears the midnight deadline to sign its 2011 draftees.
Entering Monday, Tampa Bay still had not signed its first-round picks, right-hander Taylor Guerreri and outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Guerreri, a Columbia, S.C., native, met Rays officials for dinner Tuesday but was undecided about signing, according to the St. Petersburg Times. He faces a “very tough” decision, his father said. Guerreri grew up wanting to play for the Gamecocks.
Mahtook has been in this position before. He passed on an offer in 2008 when the Florida Marlins took him in the 39th round and enrolled at Louisiana State University. He was named Southeastern Conference Most Valuable Player as a freshman in 2009 and made the SEC All-Tournament Team twice as an underclassman. He led the Tigers in every offensive category, powering 14 homers and batting .383 with 56 RBI. He’ll have to decide whether to return to Baton Rouge to patrol center field for his senior season or pursue a major league career a year early.
The Rays were not alone: 23 of the top 33 picks remained unsigned – including eight of the top 10 selections. The No. 1 overall pick, Gerrit Cole, hadn’t reached a deal with the Pirates. The Red Sox’ two first-rounders were yet to have signed.
Should the deadline pass without inking first- and second-round prospects to contracts, teams will be granted compensation picks in the 2012 draft after the same draft slot. In the Rays’ case, if Guerreri, the 24th pick, opts to stall his major league plans to instead pitch for the South Carolina Gamecocks, Tampa Bay would be compensated with the 25th pick (or 24A) in 2012.
The Rays already spent $4 million to sign eight of their 12 draft picks and expected to work up until final hour to come to terms with their remaining selections.
George Christian Pappas covers the Tampa Bay Rays and Major League Baseball for ESPN Radio Gainesville/Ocala. He is finishing his degree in journalism and Spanish at the University of Florida. You can send him questions or comments at
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