Draft Report: Michael Russell, College Shortstop

After selecting four consecutive pitchers, the Rays went for a shortstop in the fifth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft when they selected shortstop Michael Russell out of the University of North Carolina.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Russell's tools aren't what grab most scout's attention, it's the total package. Simply stated: He's a baseball player.

A good indicator of his grit came in the Tar Heels' recent 5-2 win over the University of Florida that eliminated the Gators from the Gainesville Regional.

In the bottom of the second inning, Russell got hit in the head by a fastball from Bobby Poyner. He ended up leaving the game, but not without protesting the decision.

Because of his work ethic, the way he plays the game, his athleticism -- he played basketball and football in high school -- and his versatility, he could become a quality utility man. If that's the case, he's in the right organization since the Rays value having multiple players on their roster who can play different positions.

There are doubts that he can be an everyday shortstop at the next level due to lack of range and quickness. However, he's the kind of player who seems to enjoy defying the odds.

He does have an arm to play multiple positions. If he sticks to one position, he projects best at second base.

Rays take high school lefty Burke in third round

Draft 2014: Rays draft LHP Brock Burke No. 96

ST. PETERSBURG -- High school left-hander Brock Burke became the Rays' fourth selection of the 2014 First Year Player Draft when they selected him in the third round on Friday.

"He wasn't off the board," scouting director R.J. Harrison said. "He's a kid that we saw last summer, last fall. I saw him pitch at the Area Code Games, saw him pitch in Arizona at a Fall Classic there. He's a very, very projectable young guy -- good body, all the things in place that you're looking for on a starting pitching prospect.

2014 Draft Central

"He's still only 17 -- I don't know what the experts are looking for, but our guys really liked him, and he was making those positive steps forward this spring. And I know we weren't the only guys in the industry that thought he was that kind of guy, but we're really excited to have selected him."

Burk, who attended Evergreen (Colo.) High School, went 5-1 with a 1.05 ERA in eight games (seven starts) with 79 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched during his senior season.

"They've seen the velocity as high as 92 or 93," Harrison said. "When he goes out and starts pitching every five days and gets in the throwing program and everything, it's gonna go down before it comes back up. He's a guy where we're just gonna put him out there with our guys in the system and put him through the same program that the good ones up here have gone through, and let's see where we are in 3-5 years."

Burke, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 170 pounds, has committed to the University of Oregon.

Among his accomplishments this season was a one-hitter in late April that saw him strike out 19.

"I don't know the competition up there and stuff like that," Harrison said. "But he's got good stuff. Even not throwing real hard last summer and last fall, he gets guys out. He knows how to pitch. It's a really good projection guy -- who will show you occasionally the power, it's just not there all the time."

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Prep righty Bivens goes to Rays in Round 4

Draft Report: Blake Bivens

The Rays selected their second consecutive high school pitcher when they picked right-hander Blake Bivens of George Washington High School in Danville, Va., in the fourth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Bivens, who stands 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, improved his Draft status over the past year after showing steady improvement with his fastball, which now lives in the 90-92-mph neighborhood. The improved fastball has made his curveball even better.

Many consider his curveball a plus pitch and a difference-maker at the next level due to its tight rotation and late, downward movement.

Having a plus curve and a steady fastball makes the prospect of him adding a changeup realistic. If he can pull off a third pitch he projects to be a starter.

Bivens has a high acumen for knowing how to pitch, but he needs to augment that knowledge with better command.

He went 9-0 with a 0.36 ERA in 2014, striking out 99 batters in 53 innings.

He is committed to Liberty University, so signability could be a factor.

Bivens addressed the possibility of attending Liberty when he talked to ABC 13 WSET-TV in the Danville area: "There's no doubt in my mind if that did happen, I'd get a whole lot better at Liberty and have a chance to do [the draft process] again in three years."

However, he allowed if he were to be selected high enough, there would be a good chance he'd take the professional route.

"I'd like to put Danville on the map, baseball-wise," he told WSET.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Versatile catcher James to Rays in Round 6

The Rays selected University of Oklahoma catcher Mac James in the sixth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

James, who stands 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, hit .330 with five home runs and 41 RBIs for the Sooners in 2014. He struck out just 13 times in 218 at-bats.

Added value for the native of New Braunfels, Texas, is the fact he started at five different positions. But primarily he is a catcher or first baseman.

James had just nine at-bats in 2013, his first season with the Sooners after transferring from the junior-college ranks, but he quickly got back up to speed in 2014.

In round 7, Rays take college righty Franco

Mike Franco went 9-3 with a 1.09 ERA in 15 starts for FIU in '14.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Florida International University right-hander Mike Franco became the Rays' seventh-round pick of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Franco, 22, stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 200 pounds. He posted a 9-3 record with a 1.09 ERA in 15 starts for FIU in 2014. Included in those numbers were four complete games and two shutouts. He struck out 112 and walked 27 in 99 innings.

"He's not a prototype starting pitcher build, kind of built like Peralta, but three solid pitches and a good track record of performance this year," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said, referring to Rays pitcher Joel Peralta.

Franco was named to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List. An honor given out since 1978, the Golden Spikes Award is earned by the top amateur baseball player in the country.

Franco has a fastball that clocks in the low '90s, but he has touched 95 on occasion, and the pitch is said to have some run and good sink. He has a plus slider and his changeup has good movement.

He injured his right elbow in 2011, which eventually required him to undergo Tommy John surgery. Franco overcame the setback and even has a tattoo on his right biceps to serve as a reminder of the hard work he put in to come back after the surgery.

"The saying I came up with is, 'Some call it luck, but I call it hard work.' It's just something that I try to live up to all my life," said Franco in a fisum.com story. "Every time I would wake up and hear people say it's just luck, it's something that he was born with, that's not how I see it. You have to put forth the effort and time to be the best you can be."

Power-hitting infielder Miles taken in Round 8

The Rays selected their second infielder of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft when they picked power-hitting Tennessee Tech third baseman Daniel Miles in the eighth round.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1p ET.

Earlier in the day, the Rays selected North Carolina shortstop Michael Russell in the fifth round.

Miles, 22, hit .380 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 237 at-bats, earning first-team Louisville Slugger All-American honors and he was named to the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top player in college baseball.

Miles was an All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team selection the past two years. His 90 hits this season rank as the third-highest single-season total in Tech history. He also scored a league-best 67 runs, posting a .599 slugging percentage and a .481 on-base percentage. He drew 39 walks and struck out just 21 times.

He bats right-handed and has decent size at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. He also played at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Rays use Round 9 pick on college righty Pike

Chris Pike, a senior right-hander at Oklahoma City University became the Rays' ninth-round selection as the second day of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft was winding down.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

He is the sixth pitcher selected by the Rays in the first two days of the Draft and the fifth right-hander.

Pike, who stands 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, threw a perfect game on March 7 against St. Gregory's in an NAIA Sooner Athletic Conference game. He struck out 18 batters in the game.

A week after twirling the 24th perfect game in NAIA history, Pike followed with a no-hitter against Southwestern Christian.

He hails from Southampton, N.Y., where he threw five no-hitters in high school.

Rays close Day 2 with college righty Wallace

Bradley Wallace went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 15 starts this year.

Bradley Wallace, a right-hander from Arkansas State, was the Rays' 10-round selection -- and their final selection Friday -- as the second day of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft came to a close.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Wallace, who stands 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 15 starts for the Red Wolves. He struck out 76 while walking 30 in 77 1/3 innings.

Wallace is a fan of the book, "Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players To The Next Level," written by Dr. Tom Hanson.

He has credited "Play Big" for helping him deal with outside distractions and focus on pitching.