This is a follow-up article to my feature story on Corey Ray that I wrote earlier in the year. You can read that article here.
After selecting Corey Ray with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft on June 9, the Milwaukee Brewers officially signed the Louisville centerfielder on Saturday.
Ray, 21, received a $4,125,000 signing bonus, which is just under the $4,382,000 slot value assigned to the No. 5 pick.
“There was some excitement, relief,” Ray said of being drafted by the Brewers. “It has been a long year and a long process, but I felt that it all worked out for the best. What a great organization, and I’m getting an opportunity to do what I love.”
A Chicago native, Ray is a true success story. Coming out of high school, the Seattle Mariners selected Ray in the 33rd round of the 2013 draft. Ray wanted to sign a professional contract then, but his father urged him to attend Louisville to mature more as a person and a player.
Ray listened to his father and after three years at Louisville, he’s happy with his decision to not turn pro in 2013 and attend college instead.
Although Ray admits attending college and not turning pro ended up being the right decision, he and his father don’t discuss the 2013 draft.
“I don’t think anyone wants to address the elephant in the room,” Ray said. “Everyone talks about how I didn’t sign out of high school and went to college, and he looks at me and gives a smirk.”
Ray’s decision to attend Louisville paid off. Not only did he guarantee himself millions more in signing bonus dollars, but he also became the highest Chicago player selected in the draft since Philadelphia picked Jeff Jackson fourth overall in 1989.
“It means a lot,” Ray said. “Just because I see it as an outlet and springboard to give back to help the next Corey Ray or the next Jeff Jackson. I can use it as an outlet in anyway I can and to shed light on the South Side of Chicago in a positive way.”
A power and speed threat, Ray is a finalist for the 2016 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, an award given annually to the top amateur baseball player. Ray batted .310 with 15 home runs, 60 RBI and 44 stolen bases for Louisville in 2016.
After he attends the award ceremony in Los Angeles on Thursday, Ray will report to the Brewers Class A-Advanced affiliate Brevard County. This a notable jump for a player just selected in the draft, but Brewers management is confident in Ray’s ability to produce instantly in the Florida State League.
A 5-foot-11, 185-pound outfielder, Ray hits from the left side of the plate and possesses respectable power for a top of the order bat. He also has plus speed and uses it well on the bases and is capable of playing all three outfield positions.
Ray is anxious to start his pro career and compares himself to All-Star outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson.
“The power and speed combination (like both players),” Ray said. “I think Ellsbury in his prime was one of the best centerfielders in the game. Someone who can steal a base, hit the ball in the gap and he defends well. Curtis as well. I wouldn’t mind being like those guys.”
Find more draft coverage here.