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Scouts see potential at position spots
By BY MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published June 9, 2007
MIAMI - Although 34 of their 50 picks were pitchers, Devil Rays officials said they did well in replenishing their stock of talented position players in the annual draft that concluded Friday.
"I think we did a good job of that (in Rounds 6-50), especially early on, " scouting director R.J. Harrison said. "We got some guys we think are prospects and some guys we think are pretty good that are experienced at the highest levels of amateur baseball - the ACC, the SEC, the Big West (conferences)."
Among the most intriguing selections:
- Sixth-rounder Emeel Salem, centerfielder from Alabama who hit .351 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and a .436 on-base percentage. He has a 3.9 grade-point average, is a concert pianist, and speaks several languages. "A true centerfielder, a top of the lineup ballplayer, " Harrison said. "He's a real intelligent kid ... and a very good player."
- Seventh-rounder Reid Fronk, leftfielder at North Carolina who hit .327 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 63 games for the No. 3-ranked Tar Heels.
- 11th-rounder D.J. Jones, a centerfielder from Gulf Shores (Ala.) High who hit .458 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs and was named PlayStation national player of the year. He is committed to Auburn, however, and might be tough to sign by Aug. 15. "We're optimistic we might get something done right before the deadline, " Harrison said.
- 12th-rounder Stephen Vogt, a catcher from Azusa Pacific who was a two-time NAIA All-American who hit .476 this season and .448 for his career.
PRICE CHECK: The Rays opened contract talks Friday with top draft pick David Price's adviser, Bo McKinnis, but didn't necessarily get close to a deal.
"We had productive dialogue, and it's something we'll continue to put our heads together and try to hammer out, " executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "Collectively we decided not to share very much (publicly) until we have some good news to present. It's still early in the process. It's not something that's extremely imminent, but it's something both sides would like to get done and have him get out and start playing this summer."
MISCELLANY: The Rays went local in the 36th round, taking Countryside High lefty Travis Stortz. ... Price was named a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy presented by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to the top collegian. ... Triple-A Durham SS Ben Zobrist's brother-in-law, Jon Gilmore, was the 33rd overall pick, by the Braves.