After a 2017 season that was filled with struggles, many scouts opined that the star potential of Corey Ray seemed to be dimming significantly.
Well, Corey had something of his own to say about that.
He came out firing on all cylinders in 2018, hitting .252/.347/.449 with 9 home runs in the first half. That home run count surpassed his total for the entirety of the 2017 season, as the power that was often noted in his pre-draft evaluations finally came to fruition.
The second half brought success as well, but in a slightly different form. Ray leaned much more on his power profile while increasing his strikeout-rate (many refer to this as “selling out for power”). It led to a second half slash line of .222/.292/.527 with 18 home runs.
His overall success this season led to Ray being named the 2018 Southern League MVP this past week, as Ray has also stolen 35 bases. Ray was an easy choice given his vital contributions to the first-place Biloxi Shuckers, who sit atop the league standings with an impressive 78-57 record.
Despite the honor and his productive 2018 season, Ray still has much to work on before becoming a viable outfield option for the Brewers’ big league club. He has posted a strikeout rate of 29.4% in 2018, and while high strikeout rates are common in today’s MLB, they are not optimal. In turn, Ray also will need to work on his contact abilities, as his .239 batting average for the entire season is not exactly inspiring.
The good thing for Ray – and the Brewers, for that matter – is that there is no rush to get him to the big leagues. The Brewers are currently set with their starting outfield for the next couple of years at least (Braun, Cain, Yelich), with players like Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton providing depth.
Ray still has work to do to fill the expectations that come with being a #5 overall pick, but this season definitely could be the stepping stone that paves his way to fulfilling them.