If only the baseball draft was like the NFL draft.  Fans get so excited by the sight of Mel Kiper Jr.’s hair that they can almost not contain themselves.  They see their teams picking a player they hope can help their team win this year.

Baseball fan’s dreams are a little more longer term.

No, unless your last name is Strasburg, teams don’t typically see a quick return on their investment.  Even contract negotiations can push the soon-to-be player’s minor league debut into the next season.  Add that to the stat that maybe one out of five make it to the majors, and you have fans that don’t know quite what to do with the draft.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t dream big.

The Tampa Bay Rays only need to look at the current NL Cy Young leader as how big they can dream.  In 1995 the Toronto Blue Jays selected high school pitcher Roy Halladay with the 17th overall pick.  It took nearly four years to see any return on their investment.

But what a return it was.

Now, let’s be realistic.  The odds of selecting a Roy Halladay with this year’s 17th overall pick are not that good.  But if the Rays want to continue to be a successful franchise, it’s important for this pick and many more to turn out well.

The draft is the lifeline of this franchise.

Even if they can’t find the next Roy Halladay, maybe they can find the next James Shields (16th round), John Jaso (12th round), Desmond Jennings (10th round), Carl Crawford (2nd round), Reid Brignac (2nd round), Wade Davis (3rd round), and, well, you get the drift.

Tonight, the Rays dream big.

And fans dream Roy Halladay big.

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