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Corey Ray: Prospect Profile for Brewers' 1st-Round Pick

Player: Corey Ray

Position: OF

DOB: Sept. 22, 1994 (21 years old)

Height/Weight: 5'11", 185 lbs

Bats/Throws: L/L

School: Louisville

Previously Drafted: 2013 (33rd Round, SEA)



Corey Ray was one of the breakout college stars of 2015, and after a strong summer with Team USA he entered his junior season as one of the premier players in the 2016 draft class.

After playing sparingly as a freshman, the Chicago native hit .325/.389/.543 with 15 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 56 RBI and 34 stolen bases in 44 attempts as a sophomore.

That strong performance earned him a place on the collegiate national team, and he went on to lead the club in OPS (.971), extra-base hits (9) and steals (11).

That was enough to make him a consensus top-10 pick when the college season kicked off, and he's only further boosted his stock with a terrific showing as a junior.

"Right now, if I had the top pick, I think I'd go with Ray," Keith Law of ESPN wrote on May 17. "He can hit; he can run; he has some power. Although center field, where he plays part of the time for Louisville, is a pipe dream, he could develop into a capable left fielder. I think he goes among the top three picks."

Ray is currently hitting .319/.396/.562 with 16 doubles, 15 home runs and 60 RBI, and he's gone 44-for-52 on stolen base attempts.


Pick Analysis

The college crop of bats is fairly weak this season, but Ray was a clear standout with his combination of power, speed and an advanced hit tool.

He should move quickly through the minors, though his future defensively is still up in the air.

Baseball America had the following to say while ranking Ray as the No. 7 prospect in the 2016 crop:

Scouts have few concerns about his hit tool as they expect him to be at least an average hitter, especially after the refinement of his approach this spring. He has a short stroke and is balanced at the plate with a wide stance ... Ray shows plus raw power and projects to hit 15-18 home runs as a pro.

He's a plus runner with the eye for stealing bases–he's topped 30 steals for a second consecutive year and he's done it with an 85 percent success rate.

The questions with Ray revolve around his eventual defensive position. Scouts seems almost evenly divided over whether he's a solid average-to-tick-above-average center fielder or a future left fielder. Even as a left fielder, Ray does enough things well to be a big league regular, but his eventual impact will be determined by whether he can stay up the middle.

That scouting report may not scream "perennial All-Star," but the floor is very high with Ray, and he has a great chance of developing into an everyday player and steady contributor.


Pro Comparison: Ray Lankford

Tip of the cap to Keith Law for making this comparison; it's a very fitting one.

Ray Lankford was a third-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 1987 and turned into a staple for the team in center field, where he played for over a decade.

When all was said and done, he put together a .272/.364/.477 career line with 1,561 hits, 238 home runs, 874 RBI and 258 stolen bases for a 38.1 WAR.

That mix of power and speed came from a similarly undersized frame as Ray's, as Lankford was 5'11" and 180 pounds. That didn't stop him from generating some impressive power numbers.

Lankford topped 20 home runs six different times in his career, maxing out at 31 in back-to-back seasons in 1997 and 1998 while playing alongside Mark McGwire.

On top of the surprising pop, Lankford also possessed plus speed, swiping 20-plus bases six different times, and was a serious speed threat early in his career with a respective 44 and 42 steals in his first two full seasons in the majors.

That being said, he was successful just 68.8 percent of the time in his career, so it's reasonable to expect Ray to be a more efficient baserunner given his college track record.

Lankford was never a Gold Glove defender but was a capable everyday center fielder, and Ray will be given every chance to follow suit.

He may not have any 30-homer or 40-steal seasons in his future, but it's not out of the question to think that Ray could settle in as a perennial 20/20 threat who hits for a solid average and gets on base at a solid clip as well.

That's something every team would happily take with its first-round selection.


Projection: Everyday outfielder with 20/20 potential, capable defender in center field


Major League ETA: 2019


Chances of Signing: 99 percent

Ray had as much helium as any college player in the nation at the beginning of the spring, and he managed to back it up with a terrific junior season. Barring an unforeseen circumstance, he'll be starting his pro career in 2016.


All college stats courtesy of The Baseball Cube, unless otherwise noted, and current through Wednesday, June 8.

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