The Amateur Draft for Major League Baseball is coming up in less than a month - June 6th, to be precise - and the Tampa Bay Rays are set to make a killing. Not only is this draft class considered one of the best of the decade, but the Rays have an impressive amount of upcoming draft picks this year - 10 in the first round (first 60 picks), and 12 in the top 89 picks.
This is a unique situation, as teams rarely have that many first round picks, but the Rays benefited from the departure of so many free agents this off season. While most mainstream analysts were discussing the Rays' downfall with the departure of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Rafael Soriano, and Joaquin Benoit, the Rays were content to sit back and collect compensation draft picks for losing these players to other teams.
This was a situation the Rays had planned for somewhat, as they knew they could not keep that many players once they became expensive free agents, and general manager Andrew Friedman has hinted that the team has been preparing themselves for this draft for the past few seasons. Considering that the Collective Bargaining Agreement for baseball could be changed by the time next year's draft rolls around - it expires at the end of this season - this may have been the Rays last chance to stock up on draft picks to this extent, and they plan to take full advantage of the situation.
While many people are suggesting the Rays might be constrained by their draft budget this season, I tend to believe that the Rays aren't about to go halfway on this thing: this is a unique opportunity to restock their minor league system for years to come, so I don't see them skimping on the money. Considering how important young talent is to the Rays, this should be one year where signability is tossed out the window.
As the draft gets closer, we'll be covering the draft here on SB Nation Tampa Bay in this Stream. For all the latest mock drafts, news, and analysis, check back here or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.