ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays' scouts and baseball operations personnel have spent the past several days kicking around various scenarios for the upcoming draft as rumors have swirled regarding who Tampa Bay might take with the first overall pick.
On Friday alone, MLB.com reported the Rays were down to Florida State C Buster Posey and Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez. At the same time, ESPN.com stated the Rays had narrowed it to Posey and Griffin (Ga.) High SS Tim Beckham. And Baseball America, the draft bible, moved Beckham atop its prospect list for the first time and cited a growing "buzz" that he would go to the Rays.
All of which was somewhat amusing to Rays officials, who said they haven't even begun detailed talks about who they'll take with all of the relevant decision-makers in the room. Most of their time last week was devoted to delving into who might be available for their second-round pick at No. 47 overall and beyond.
"We've purposely kind of held off having the final conversation because we don't need to right now," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "We'll wait a few days to really start getting into that spirited dialogue about which one makes the most sense."
The feeling among those who ultimately will make the call is that everyone from Friedman to scouting director R.J. Harrison to scouts at various levels will provide input but no one will emerge as a clear favorite. To hammer that point home, there remains some sentiment among the Rays that University of San Diego LHP Brian Matusz, not the three position players mentioned above, would be the best choice.
"It's going to be a very active debate and there's going to be a lot of guys stumping for different players," Friedman predicted.
So while the path the Rays ultimately will take when they finally make their choice Thursday at Disney's Wide World of Sports remains murky, the bottom line is they know their destiny is entirely in their hands. And even though there isn't a consensus can't-miss player out there like David Price was last year, the Rays believe any of the players under serious discussion would be able to help them on the field.
They also feel strongly that all of their finalists fit the mold established by the selection of Price and Evan Longoria the past two years - talented players who also would represent the organization well.
"They're all top-notch kids, they really are," Harrison said. "You'd be proud to have any of them."
He continued: "When I meet with these guys, I kind of hold the standard. Evan and David are the standard-bearers for us now. It's great now that Evan's playing in the big leagues, we're doing well - these guys are all paying attention. I use that. I say, 'These are the kind of players and people that we're looking to put into our organization.'"
By Thursday, the Rays will know exactly who that person is.