Beyond Compare: Corey Ray v. Buddy Reed

By: Burke Granger

While this draft class is lacking a premier 1:1 frontrunner, there is significant depth at a number of positions; perhaps none greater than the class of college outfielders, which offers power, speed, and defense.  Of the deep class of college outfielders, none entered the season with higher expectations than Louisville’s Corey Ray and Florida’s Buddy Reed.

Preseason Prospect Rankings

Baseball America listed Ray as the 3rd best college prospect to start the 2016 campaign, with Reed listed right behind him at the 4 spot.  When Baseball America combined their college and high school lists and updated it based on early season performances, Ray held his place as the top college outfielder, ranking 7th overall, while Reed placed 12th overall, being surpassed by Mercer slugger Kyle Lewis who landed at #8 on that list.

D1Baseball flipped the script and listed Reed as the top outfielder, 3rd overall behind only pitchers Alec Hansen of Oklahoma and A.J. Puk, Reed’s Florida teammate.  They had Ray listed 6th overall, behind Lewis whom they placed in the 5 hole.

MLB.com‘s list, which combined high school and college players, listed Ray at 5 and Reed at 6. They were the two highest college position players on the list.

Background

Corey Ray saunters up to the plate to the tune of My Story by R. Kelly and 2 Chainz, a song that proclaims “this is my story, yeah, I’m from that Chi-town dirt; I went from being broke to sleeping in Versace shirts.”  While Ray indeed is from Chicago, I have no idea if he was broke and I highly doubt he sleeps in Versace shirts, but the beat fits the swagger nicely.

Ray’s father, Corey Ray Sr., works for Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.  After the younger Corey graduated from Simeon Career Academy in 2013 and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 33rd round, he wanted to sign on the dotted line and start his professional career, but his father encouraged his son to go to school.  Following through on his commitment to Louisville, it looks like the move will pay off.  Ray is currently looking like a top 10 pick, which will give him a signing bonus slot of over $3 million.

Reed is also from the North, though unlike Midwesterner Ray, Reed is from the East Coast.  Rhode Island to be precise.  Reed attended St. George’s Prep School, in Middleton so he further his career in his favorite sport, hockey.  Reed was a three sport star in high school.  He lead the soccer team in scoring, played on the first line for the hockey team, and of course, there was baseball.

That athleticism was paramount in catching the attention of Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.  Like Ray, Reed was drafted in 2013.  The Texas Rangers selected Reed in the 35th round, but also like Ray, Reed followed through on his college commitment.

Statistics

*Through 4.1.16

Corey Ray

YEAR
AVE
OBP
SLG
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
K
SB/ATT
2014
0.325
0.416
0.481
5
2
1
17
12
23
4/4
2015
0.325
0.389
0.543
15
5
11
56
24
60
34/44
2016
0.333
0.395
0.649
9
1
8
34
13
15
25/29

Buddy Reed

YEAR
AVE
OBP
SLG
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
K
SB/ATT
2014
0.244
0.316
0.286
7
0
0
6
18
38
5/10
2015
0.305
0.367
0.433
14
5
4
47
27
56
18/26
2016
0.301
0.400
0.466
5
3
2
13
16
24
13/15

Tools

Hitting: Ray swings through a bunch of pitches, but he has matured into making adjustments, putting the ball in play with 2 strikes and using his legs to give him a chance.  Ray has quick hands to turn on inside pitches, yet uses the whole field nicely, taking whatever he’s given and more.  Reed has a hitch in his swing (detailed here), which hinders him on premium velocity up in the zone.  Advantage Ray.

Power:  Though Reed has 4  inches and 20 pounds on Ray, the aforementioned hitch zaps much of Reed’s power.  The power that Reed does have is primarily to the pull side.  Ray’s swing is more compact, quicker to the ball, and he uses the whole field.  While I don’t see either having plus power as a professional, Ray has a slight edge given the bat speed.  Advantage Ray.

Speed: One might look at the stolen base stats and think this is an easy one for Ray but the numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.  While both have plus speed, Ray and Reed display that tool in different ways.  Ray applies consistent pressure on the base paths and gets incredible jumps when stealing bases.  Reed is a long strider, who reads the ball exceptionally well in the outfield.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Reed could take Ray in a 60 yard dash, but this category is too close to call.  Advantage Draw.

Arm:  Ray’s arm is his least impressive tool but it’s playable.  Reed’s arm is plus. It’s strong, accurate and a true asset.  Advantage Reed.

Glove: Ray played almost exclusively in right field for his first two seasons in Louisville, before shifting to left field this season.  He played some center in the fall and reportedly looked good there.  If he can stick in center, Ray’s overall value is a tick or two higher.  A superior defender, there is no question that Reed can stick in centerfield.  Reed reads the ball well and uses his legs to get to balls that other outfielders cannot.  Advantage Reed.

Future

So what have we learned?  You’ll notice that I took the easy way out by calling speed a draw above to turn the whole comparison into a draw.  The fact or the matter is that I do think the overall future value of these players is similar.  Gun to my head, I’d say Ray has the higher ceiling, while Reed has the higher floor.

Next month I’ll get a look at Kyle Lewis, who by all accounts doesn’t have the defensive acumen of either Ray or Lewis, but holds the clear advantage on power.

 

 

 

 

 

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