It's the day of the 2016 MLB Draft, and for the first time in recent memory, there is zero consensus on what is going to happen in the first round. While the MLB Draft has always been more unpredictable than its NFL and NBA brethren, the 2016 class is especially difficult to peg. No one knows who the No. 1 overall pick will be -- maybe the Philadelphia Phillies aren't even sure yet -- and not many dominoes have fallen from there.
So when we profile a potential top five pick as someone the Detroit Tigers could take with the No. 9 pick, we're just covering our bases. Outfielder Corey Ray fits that mold. A potential five-tool talent with the ability to play center field, Ray has as much potential as any player in this year's draft. MLB Pipeline ranked him as their No. 3 overall prospect and top position player, citing his speed as the one standout tool, though all five (hit, power, arm, speed, and fielding) are projected as above average.
Cormican of The Good Phight has shown a lot of interest in Ray as a potential first overall pick, and the player comps are a big reason why.
I've read more scouting articles on Ray than anyone else I've written about so far...In a few places I've seen him called a left handed Andrew McCutchen and in a few others I saw comps to last year's Andrew Benintendi (who is currently destroying the somewhat Pitcher friendly Carolina League with a 1.000+ OPS). I'm not sure what the fascination is with comparing Corey Ray to various Baseball playing Andrews, but if he follows those tracks I'd be quite happy taking him #1.
MLB Pipeline dove a bit deeper into the specifics.
Ray has a quick left-handed bat and makes consistent hard contact, giving him the potential to hit for both power and average. He uses the entire field well and has done a better job of managing the strike zone and making consistent contact this spring. Ray has plus speed and knows how to use it well on the bases, and no player this year can match his combination of 39 steals (fourth in the nation) and 15 homers entering the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Minor League Ball's John Sickels said more of the same.
He's added two inches of height and some 20 pounds of muscle since high school, without losing any of his plus running speed or athletic flexibility. His defense still needs some polish but he runs well enough to handle center field with more reps; his arm is a tick above-average. If he loses speed and can't stay in center, he has enough pop in his bat to avoid being labeled as a tweener. His swing is simple and repeatable and he's eased any concerns about high strikeout rates this spring.
A player with Ray's diverse skill set will ultimately have a high floor -- it's hard to see him falling short of even being a fourth outfielder at the major league level -- so there aren't many red flags. The only real concern noted in many scouting reports is Ray's glove; some aren't convinced he will play center field at the major league level, which puts a bit of dent in his stock. MLB Pipeline dove further.
Though he has spent most of his career at Louisville in right field, Ray runs well enough to play center field and should get a chance to play there in pro ball, though some scouts question his instincts. He has the offensive production and arm to profile at all three outfield positions, and obviously he'd offer the most value if he can play in the middle.
There is always a chance his bat doesn't develop as expected either, but the lack of glaring holes in Ray's game is a huge reason why he's projected so highly in the draft. He doesn't have the standout tools of a Bryce Harper, but could turn into a stud player because of his well-rounded skill set.
As such, it's hard to see him falling to the Tigers at No. 9 overall, though not out of the question. MLB Daily Dish averaged player rankings from various mock drafts and Ray consistently landed at No. 5 with the Milwaukee Brewers, a few spots ahead of Detroit. Should he or one of the other big college bats (Kyle Lewis, Nick Senzel) fall, the Tigers would be wise to snatch one of them up.