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Local product selected by Rays in 1st Round of MLB Draft

Photo by Kris Dunn

After watching the No. 1 LHP in the draft fall to them with the 16th overall pick, the Rays took another highly touted left-hander — from USF.

It’s hard to argue with the decisions made by the Tampa Bay Rays front office on Monday night. Matthew Liberatore was viewed by many as the best LHP in the 2018 MLB Draft and the Rays landed him with the 16th pick.

If that was the only selection they made, the Rays would probably have been looked at as “winners” during the first round on Monday night.

With additional Compensation Picks, 31st and 32nd overall, the front office made another splash — and local Bay Area residents should appreciate this one.

  • 31st Overall Pick (Compensation for Alex Cobb): LHP Shane McClanahan (University of South Florida)
  • 32nd Overall Pick (Compensation for not signing Drew Rasmussen in 2017): Nick Schnell (Roncalli HS Indianapolis, IN)

Despite Schnell leading his high school team to the 4-A State Championship in 2016, McClanahan is the big story here. In fact, the case could be made that he and Liberatore are the two best lefties in this draft class.

Scouting Report on McClanahan

After making the second and third selections of the evening, Rays’ Senior VP of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom expressed his disbelief about how the night played out.

McClanahan, the USA Baseball Golden Spikes nominee, received high praise throughout this year. However, he didn’t put up the numbers that many draft experts expected.

After recovering from Tommy John Surgery in 2016, he caught the nation by storm in 2017 with 104 strikeouts over 76 innings.While his stock may have fallen due to questions about project-ability, his 2018 campaign saw 120 strikeouts over 76.1 innings pitched for the University of South Florida.

If the Rays think he projects more as a bullpen-type arm, he could join the club sooner than expected. If he works his way into the rotation, the team will have an intriguing crop of left-handed starting pitchers.

Partnered with Liberatore, Brendan McKay, and Blake Snell, the Rays could implement another interesting dynamic in a few years — an all lefty rotation.


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