Friday, October 31, 2008

Prospect Poll: #4 Pitcher

Jeremy HellicksonJeremy Hellickson wins the Rays #3 Pitching Prospect with 65% of the vote. Jeff Niemann and Matt Moore tied for second with 9%. Replacing Hellickson in the poll for #4 is RHRP Ryan Reid, our 2006 7th round pick out of James Madison. For pitcher statistics (you'll have to search by name) see Baseball-Reference, First Inning, StatCorner, or Minor League Baseball. Here are links to the StatCorner pages for each candidate for you tRA fans: Barnese (they don't do A-), Cobb, Houser, Lobstein (DNP), McGee, Moore (they don't do Rookie), Niemann, Reid, Rollins, Talbot.

1. David Price (78% of the vote)
2. Wade Davis (58%)
3. Jeremy Hellickson (65%)

Organizational Batting Leaders: Batting Average

Justin Ruggiano
Guillen, Cesar19DSL.343
Otero, Elias20R.332
Torres, Alejandro19VSL.316
Ruggiano, Justin (pictured)26AAA.315
Jefferies, Jacob20A-.315
Johnson, Dan28AAA.307
Corder, Jason22A-.306
Salem, Emeel23A.301
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA.297
Sexton, Gregory23A.294
Richard, Chris34AAA.293
Cuello, Juan19DSL.293
Vogt, Stephen23A.291
Eldridge, Rashad26AA.290
Reynolds, Burt19R.289

Note: Minimum 100 AB's to qualify.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

AFL Blogging

Mike WlodarczykMike Wlodarczyk has updated his Arizona Fall League blog:

On the flip side, during my next appearance I put up 2 scoreless frames. It's always easier said than done, but pitching to contact rather than trying to paint the corner makes for a lot less work for yourself in the long run. Besides keeping your pitch count down, it also forces hitters to swing at your pitch because they know you have been throwing strikes and they might not get another good pitch that they think they can handle during the context of the at-bat.

The highlight of my most recent appearance was facing Sean Doolittle. Not only is he a good hitter, but he is also a fellow Shawnee High School graduate in New Jersey, where we attended high school. After falling behind in the count 3-0, I battled back to bring the count full. After fouling off a pitch or two, Sean hit a soft fly ball to shallow left field which I thought was going to drop in for a hit; but Desmond Jennings came out of nowhere to make a nice sliding catch for the second out of the inning.

Thursday AFL Action

Peoria JavelinasThe Peoria Javelinas (10-10) lost their third straight game today by a score of 7-1 to the Phoenix Desert Dogs (12-8). The loss drops the Javelinas 2 games back of the first place Dogs in the AFL National Division. The only Rays player in action was J.T. Hall who went 0-4 with four strikeouts. The Javelinas play the Mesa Solar Sox tomorrow at 2:35 pm EST.

Prospect Poll: #3 Pitcher

Wade DavisWade Davis wins the Rays #2 Pitching Prospect with 58% of the vote. Jeremy Hellickson was 2nd with 16% and Matt Moore 3rd with 11%. Replacing Davis in the poll for #3 is LHP James Houser, our 2003 2nd round pick. For pitcher statistics (you'll have to search by name) see Baseball-Reference, First Inning, StatCorner, or Minor League Baseball.

1. David Price (78% of the vote)
2. Wade Davis (58%)

Winter League Stats

Rays players Winter League statistics through Wednesday's games:

Andrus, EroldVWL1424110103.286.286.500
Gimenez, HectorVWL2746100467.222.364.259
Hall, J.T.AFL465111105412.239.300.304
Hughes, RhyneAFL66122843216417.424.451.667
Jennings, DesmondAFL1945101426.263.364.474
Loyola, MaikoDWL410000021.000.333.000
Spring, MattAFL2936101627.207.250.345
Suarez, CesarVWL802000102.250.250.250

Hendrickson, BenVWL216.24.055.305.
Mason, ChrisAFL707.18.594.564.591.24.912.30.0
Phillips, HeathMPL3319.01.423.944.
Reid, RyanAFL607.14.911.972.2511.
Townsend, WadeAFL3310.28.445.545.386.
Wlodarczyk, MikeAFL707.23.524.374.319.44.711.71.2

AFL = Arizona Fall League, MPL = Mexican Pacific League, DWL = Dominican Winter League, VWL = Venezuelan Winter League, PRL = Puerto Rican League.

BA Draft Report Card

This is a little bit old, but for people who may not have seen it, BaseballAmerica did their 2008 draft report card on the Rays. It's insider-only, so I'll just post some of the interesting stuff here:

BEST PURE HITTER: SS Tim Beckham (1), the No. 1 overall pick, slumped early but batted .275 in the final month and the Rays believe he'll be a five-tool player. They're also enthused about the lefty bats of C Jake Jefferies (3), 1B Mike Sheridan (5) and OF Anthony Scelfo (8).

BEST SECONDARY PITCH: RHP Shane Dyer's (6) knuckle-curve. (Kyle) Lobstein and RHP Jason McEachern (13) also have good curveballs, and LHP Josh Satow (25) owns a deceptive changeup.

CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Beckham and Lobstein should move fast for high schoolers. Gorgen may not need much time to get ready for big league bullpen duty.

BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: McEachern or Gorgen. McEachern was throwing just 82-84 mph in the summer before his high school senior year, but he's now up to 88-92 mph and there's more projection remaining with his body and delivery.
I was a huge fan of McEachern of at the time of the pick, and he had a solid enough pro debut. He's almost a full year younger than a lot of other HS draftees(he didn't turn 18 until October), so he'll be back at Princeton in 2009, likely as part of the rotation.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Stolen Bases

Maiko Loyola
Loyola, Maiko (pictured)22A45
Perez, Fernando25AAA43
Ross, Michael21A-30
O'Malley, Shawn20A28
Salem, Emeel23A25
Tweedy, Jason21A-24
Eldridge, Rashad26AA24
Powell, Pedro24A+23
Ruggiano, Justin26AAA20
Luna, Omar21A19
Suarez, Cesar24A+18
Fronk, Reid21A18
Dorville, Edward19DSL16

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prospect Poll: #2 Pitcher

David PriceAs expected, David Price was the runaway winner for the Rays #1 Pitching Prospect with 78% of the vote. Jeremy Hellickson was a distant 2nd with 7%. Replacing Price in the poll for #2 is LHP Kyle Lobstein, our 2008 2nd round pick out of Coconino HS in Flagstaff, AZ. For pitcher statistics (you'll have to search by name) see Baseball-Reference, First Inning, StatCorner, or Minor League Baseball.

AFL: Javelinas lose 3-2

Peoria JavelinasLast night in the Arizona Fall League the Peoria Javelinas fell to the Scottsdale Scorpions 3-2. J.T. Hall drove in both runs with a triple in the 8th. He was 1-3 with a walk. Rhyne Hughes was 1-4 (double) with a strikeout. Matt Spring was 0-4 with a strikeout. Ryan Reid went 2 scoreless innings giving up 2 hits and striking out 4. Twenty-two of his thirty pitches were strikes. Chris Mason also came on in relief and pitched a third of an inning with a walk and a strikeout.

Today the Javelinas (10-8) play the Phoenix Desert Dogs (10-8) at 2:35 pm EST in a battle of the National Division leaders. Phil Hughes (NYY) will start for the Javelinas as they try to snap the Desert Dogs four game winning streak.

UPDATE 2:35 pm: Stephen Kahn of the Mariners organization is now scheduled to start for the Javelinas. Rays in the starting lineup include Desmond Jennings in LF batting 9th and J.T. Hall in RF batting 5th.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prospect Poll: #1 Pitcher

While we're working on our Rays Top Prospects lists, separate ones for batters and pitchers, I thought it would be interesting to see what our readers' lists would look like. We'll start with pitchers, with candidates listed alphabetically. As the poll winner becomes obvious, I'll take it down and put up a new one with another player added in the winner's place. The previous winners list will appear in each new post. Not sure how much interest there is in this, can we make it to a Top 20? Feel free to add Comments supporting your pick (that's why I didn't put this on the sidebar).

AFL: Hughes leads Javelinas to victory

Rhyne HughesRays 1B Rhyne Hughes went 3-4 (single, double, triple) with an RBI and 2 runs scored in the Peoria Javelinas 6-3 victory Monday over the Scottsdale Scorpions. J.T. Hall DH'd and was 1-3 with a walk and a strikeout.

Hughes leads the AFL in hits with 27, total bases with 42, and is 3rd in batting at .435. He is also tied for the lead in RBI with 16. He has hit safely in 13 of 15 games with 9 multi-hit games. His only down notes are strikeouts (16, T-4th) and fielding: committed 2 errors Monday, both fielding, giving him 3 in 15 games.

The Javelinas (10-7, 1st in the National Division) play the Scorpions (5-12, 5 straight losses) again tonight at 9:05 pm EST.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Strikeouts

Matthew Fields
Perez, Fernando25AAA156
Fields, Matthew (pictured)22A+134
Richard, Chris34AAA127
Stewart, Quinn24A, A+115
Hughes, Rhyne24AA112
Royster, Ryan21A+110
Martinez, Gabriel25AA107
Johnson, Elliot24AAA104
Hall, J.T.24A+, AA103
Guzman, Joel23AAA103
Fronk, Reid21A103
Weber, Jon30AAA99
Groce, Garrett25A+97
Loyola, Maiko22A96
McCormick, Michael21A93

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bowling Green (A) Announces Team Name

Bowling Green Hot RodsBowling Green Pro Baseball officially unveiled the new identity of the Rays' new Class-A affiliate Monday night at Circus Square Park in downtown Bowling Green. They will be known as the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

"This is an historic day for Bowling Green professional baseball, as we come together to celebrate the beginning of the Bowling Green Hot Rods," said Hot Rods General Manager/CEO Brad Taylor. "We are very excited to develop the Hot Rods brand, which connects the spirit and heritage of this region's automotive industry with a creative name and logo associated with the fun of minor league baseball.

Tailpipe Silver, Racing Yellow, Fire Red and Tire Black make up the club's official colors. A Hot Rod burning rubber is the centerpiece of the identity, surrounded by a chevron in the club's Primary Mark. Silver tailpipes are bent into the letters "BG" to make up the cap designation.

Bowling Green will be in the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League in 2009 before moving to the Midwest League in 2010. Lexington will move to the Southern Division and Kannapolis will move to the Northern Division to open up a spot for Lexington. Here is the new team web site.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Big League Payroll Analysis: Rays Win

Biz of BaseballIf you are interested in the business side of the game, The Biz of Baseball has released their annual report detailing how efficiently and effectively each of the 30 clubs spent their player payroll.

The report, using the Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins, shows that spending the most does not always mean a return on investment in the standings. "If there was anything to be learned this year it was that teams comprised of low player payroll could go toe-to-toe with teams that were stocked with high-dollar free agents," said Maury Brown, president of the Business of Sports Network, which runs The Biz of Baseball.

Key findings include:
-The most teams that got the most bang for the buck were the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers.
-The teams that got the worst return on investment were the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers.
-The team that spent the most per marginal win was the Tigers at $5,030,126.

Make sure to check out the PDF document showing payroll information for all 30 clubs, including the "bang for the buck" metric used to determine who spent wisely, who spent poorly, and all points in-between.

By the way, this site should be regular reading for anyone with an interest the business of major and minor league ball. For information on the Rays individual contracts go to Cot's.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Walks

John Jaso
Johnson, Dan28AAA84
Fronk, Reid21A74
Jaso, John (pictured)24AA, AAA72
Merrill, Ronnie29AA, AAA67
Eldridge, Rashad26AA64
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA62
Perez, Fernando25AAA58
Asanovich, Josh25AA58
Loyola, Maiko22A56
Richard, Chris34AAA55
Andrus, Erold23AA53
Ashley, Nevin23A+49
Martinez, Gabriel25AA49
Fontaine, Chase22A, A+48
Vogt, Stephen23A47

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Winter Leagues

Mexican Pacific League
Caneros de los MochisLefthander Heath Phillips had another good start in the Caneros de los Mochis 3-2 victory last night. He went 7.0 innings giving up 5 hits and 1 earned run with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. In 19.0 innings over three starts in the MPL he's only allowed 3 earned runs.

Arizona Fall League
Peoria JavelinasDesmond Jennings is starting in CF for the Peoria Javelinas in this afternoon's game against the Peoria Saguaros. Three Rays in today's lineup:

Henry RF
Russo 3B
Miranda 1B
Hughes, R DH
Valaika SS
Turner 2B
Spring C
Cain LF
Jennings CF
SP is Marquez

Friday, October 24, 2008

Catcher: Jacob L. Jefferies

Jacob L. JefferiesFrom the Hardball Times, with video:

Jefferies can get very pushy with his swing where it looks as if he pushes his hands out to the ball. Making matters worse, Jefferies looks to be working on this during his batting practice. Jefferies has a quick bat and keeps the bat head in the hitting zone for a very long time leading to a high contact rate, but it comes at the expense of a higher power output.

Tampa needs to work with him on letting the hands and hips turn together instead of pushing the hands out in front of the hip rotation. His swing is short enough to add a little length if needed. Jefferies could also increase his power output by continuing to fill out his frame.

Luckily for Jefferies, as a catcher, his bat will have much less pressure on it to succeed. He's more athletic than your typical catcher, but his arm is considered pretty fringy.

Winter League Stats

Rays players Winter League statistics through Thursday's games:

Andrus, EroldVWL501000002.200.200.200
Gimenez, HectorVWL1903000134.158.273.158
Hall, J.T.AFL3558100328.229.270.257
Hughes, RhyneAFL5692322112416.411.450.571
Jennings, DesmondAFL1244101424.333.467.667
Loyola, MaikoDWL410000021.000.333.000
Spring, MattAFL2336101626.261.308.435
Suarez, CesarVWL802000102.250.250.250

Hendrickson, BenVWL216.24.055.305.
Mason, ChrisAFL505.012.604.404.370.03.616.20.0
Phillips, HeathMPL2212.01.504.124.423.
Reid, RyanAFL505.
Townsend, WadeAFL3310.28.825.655.447.14.412.41.8
Wlodarczyk, MikeAFL505.13.534.774.737.11.810.61.8

No VWL stats for SS Jorge Velandia because he was released by Durham.

AFL = Arizona Fall League, MPL = Mexican Pacific League, DWL = Dominican Winter League, VWL = Venezuelan Winter League, PRL = Puerto Rican League.

AFL Update

Mike WlodarczykMike Wlodarczyk has updated his blog:

As the Arizona Fall League finishes up it's third week of play, the Javelinas are in midseason form. Thursday's loss broke a four game winning streak to bring us in at 9 - 6 as we head into an off day for the All Star Game on Friday.

The biggest adjustment for me with the Fall League was getting used to the change in scheduling. As most of you know, the majority of the games here are in the afternoon rather than in the evening like during the regular season, so it is much more like a 9 to 5 job rather than the awkward hours that we usually have to work with.

The 'All Star Game' Mike is referring to is tonight's third annual AFL Rising Stars Showcase. RHRP Ryan Reid is the only Rays player and will play for the National Division team. The Rising Stars Showcase is on Gameday. Here are the starting lineups:

Tommy HansonAmerican Rising Stars
Burriss SS
Ford 2B
Murphy DH
Flowers C
Morrison 1B
Huffman, C LF
Wallace 3B
Wells RF
Reddick CF
SP is Tommy Hanson (ATL, pictured)

Phil HughesNational Rising Stars
Jackson, A CF
Triunfel 2B
Wieters C
Doolittle 1B
Hodges DH
Halman RF
Stubbs LF
Ryal 3B
De Jesus SS
SP is Phil Hughes (NYY, pictured)

Organizational Batting Leaders: Runs Batted In

Reid Fronk
Martinez, Gabriel25AA93
Richard, Chris34AAA88
Sexton, Gregory23A87
Fronk, Reid (pictured)21A83
Johnson, Dan28AAA83
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA81
Guzman, Joel23AAA72
Jaso, John24AA, AAA67
Stewart, Quinn24A, A+62
Wrigley, Henry21A60
Andrus, Erold23AA59
Royster, Ryan21A+58
Fields, Matthew22A+57
Eldridge, Rashad26AA55
Vogt, Stephen23A54

Thursday, October 23, 2008

World Series: 1 = 1

David Price

Hughes, Jennings help lead Peoria

Rhyne Hughes and Desmond Jennings each collected 3 of the Javelinas' 21 hits, helping lead the way in the victory.

Jennings, who got the start in LF, collected his 3 hits in 5 at-bats, including a double, a home run, and 3 RBIs. Hughes singled three times in 6 at-bats, driving in two.

It wasn't as pretty on the mound, where Wade Townsend continued to struggle. He allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits in just 3.2 innings, striking out 2 and walking 2. His ERA is now 8.44 in AFL action. Ryan Reid pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday news

Bowling Green (A)
Bowling Green Pro Baseball will unveil its official team name and logo on Monday, October 27th at 5:30 p.m. at Circus Square Park in downtown Bowling Green. The event is open to the public and official team merchandise will be available for purchase during the event. The formal announcement is scheduled for 6:05pm.

Arizona Fall League
Ryan ReidRHRP Ryan Reid has been selected to play in the third annual AFL Rising Stars Showcase on Friday night. Reid was the only Rays player selected and will be on the roster of the National Division team. The Showcase features current AFL participants selected by scouting and Minor League directors from every organization, along with input from AFL Executive Director Steve Cobb. Fifty players were chosen to represent the newly realigned and renamed National and American Divisions. Reid pitched for Vero Beach (A+) and Montgomery (AA) in 2008, and was named a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Home Runs

Dan Johnson
Richard, Chris34AAA26
Johnson, Dan (pictured)28AAA25
Guzman, Joel23AAA20
Martinez, Gabriel25AA20
Fields, Matthew22A+18
Fronk, Reid21A17
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA15
Hughes, Rhyne24AA14
McCormick, Michael21A13
Weber, Jon30AAA13
Jaso, John24AA, AAA12
Stewart, Quinn24A, A+12
Ruggiano, Justin26AAA11
Hall, J.T.24A+, AA10

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A+ News: Charlotte Stone Crabs

Ripken Baseball announced this afternoon that the Rays new A+ affiliate located in Port Charlotte will be named the Charlotte Stone Crabs. The team said that with the stone crab being indigenous to Gulf Coast waters and having ties to the Charlotte County community, Ripken Baseball felt it was a fun and unique baseball moniker that represented the local area. The team also announced that they will share the same color scheme as the Rays with blue, light blue and gold serving as their team colors. The team has yet to announce a logo and jersey design but plans to do so in the coming weeks.

Durham Bulls

Durham BullsFans interested in getting together to watch the Rays play the Phillies in the World Series can head to Tyler's Taproom on the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. During each game anyone wearing Durham Bulls or Rays gear will receive half-priced appetizers.

2009 Bulls Mini Plans will go on-sale Monday, October 27th. These are 9-game plans with Terrace Reserved seats and include free gifts featuring Rays such as Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, David Price, James Shields, Carl Crawford, and Scott Kazmir. To order: (919) 956-BULL.

Ballpark Corner has 20% off Tampa Bay Rays jerseys during the World Series. Home and road replicas, and authentic batting practice are available. For the discount, use Coupon Code: GORAYS.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In case you missed it

Our own Kevin Gengler wrote a nice piece on the Rays system at The Hardball Times last week:

The Rays wound up winning 97 games and captured the division title. They dispatched the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and are battling the Boston Red Sox for AL pennant. And how's this for a scary thought: This could be the least talented team they field for the next five or six years.

The Rays' talent-laden system might begin with top picks Tim Beckham (drafted on June 5) and David Price (made his ML debut on Sept. 14), but that's hardly where it ends. If you threw a dart at the team's organizational depth chart, there's a good chance you'd hit a name that has impact potential.

Two make Winter League debuts

Navegantes del MagallanesOutfielder Erold Andrus (.255/.331/.388 at AA Montgomery in 2008) is playing for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. So far he is 1-4 with 2 strikeouts, .250/.250/.250.

Infielder Jorge Velandia, who was acquired from the Indians Tiburones de La Guairafor future considerations and added to AAA Durham's roster on 9/4/08 (didn't play in the regular season, only in IL playoffs), is playing for the Tiburones de La Guaira in the VWL. He's 2-12 (both doubles) with a run scored, a walk, and four strikeouts, .167/.231/.333.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Triples

Henry Wrigley
Perez, Fernando25AAA11
Wrigley, Henry (pictured)21A10
Scelfo, Anthony21A-8
Kang, Kyeong20A-7
Otero, Elias20R7
Andrus, Erold23AA7
Merrill, Ronnie29AA, AAA7
Eldridge, Rashad26AA6
Cuello, Juan19DSL5
Johnson, Elliot24AAA5
Contreras, Ruben20DSL5
Raburn, John29AA5

We interrupt this blog to remind you....

Tampa Bay Rays

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Winter League Stats

Rays Winter League statistics through Saturday's games:

Gimenez, HectorVWL1001000121.100.250.100
Hall, J.T.AFL2225000124.227.292.227
Hughes, RhyneAFL416162106410.390.444.488
Jennings, DesmondAFL711000122.143.333.143
Loyola, MaikoDWL200000001.000.000.000
Spring, MattAFL1904100415.211.250.263
Suarez, CesarVWL602000102.333.333.333

Hendrickson, BenVWL104.02.250.951.2913.
Mason, ChrisAFL303.
Phillips, HeathMPL2212.01.504.124.423.
Reid, RyanAFL404.18.312.282.5610.
Townsend, WadeAFL227.06.436.496.447.
Wlodarczyk, MikeAFL404.12.084.354.398.

AFL = Arizona Fall League, MPL = Mexican Pacific League, DWL = Dominican Winter League, VWL = Venezuelan Winter League, PRL = Puerto Rican League.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

System News

Charlotte County
Ripken BaseballRipken Baseball plans to officially announce the team name and colors for the Rays’ new A+ affiliate in Port Charlotte on Tuesday, October 21st. The team says it took careful consideration in choosing a name that reflected both the local community of Charlotte County and the fun and entertaining aspects of minor league baseball. Day-to-day operations of the team began immediately after the announcement by Ripken Baseball and the Rays that the team was moving to Port Charlotte on August 25th, but the team has operated since then without an official team name or color scheme. The Charlotte County team is the third team owned by Ripken Baseball, along with the Aberdeen Ironbirds and the Augusta Greenjackets. The Ironbirds have soldout every home game since their inception seven years ago, and the Greenjackets have seen attendance go up more than 40% in the three years since it became a Ripken franchise.

Maiko LoyolaDominican Winter League
Outfielder Maiko Loyola has begun playing for the Estrellas de Oriente in the DWL. Through two games he's gone 0-2 with a strikeout. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pirates on May 23, 2002, Loyola was acquired by the Rays via the Rule V draft (AAA phase) from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Venezuelan Winter League
Infielder Cesar Suarez is playing for the Tiburones de La Guaira in the VWL. Through two games he's 2-6 with an RBI and a strikeout. Suarez was signed by the Rays as a Minor League free agent on June 3, 2005.

Arizona Fall League
Catcher Matt Spring checks in from the AFL with a blog post:

Matt SpringTo be honest with you i may be enjoying my time here too much. That being because it is home for me. I grew up in Peoria, and have been watching the AFL since I was a little kid. It has been really nice for my family to be able to come and watch all of my games. A nice change from the season mainly because all of our affiliates are east of the Mississippi. I am sure that the ticket office looks at the pass list everyday and is amazed at all the tickets I am leaving for friends and family. They have been great about it too, they haven't said anything to me yet!

It has been a whirlwind last couple of months for me in my career. It started when my manager called me into his office to inform me that I would be representing the Rays in the AFL, which was a huge honor. Then my teammates and I in Montgomery Alabama (the Biscuits) were in a playoff race for all of August until being nudged out at the end by the Braves affiliate in Mississippi. Right before the last game of the season my manager (Billy Gardner) called me into his office one more time. This time to tell me that I would be joining the Durham Bulls in the International League Playoffs. The whole experience would have been great had I just sat on the bench, but I got an opportunity to play and helped contribute in both the first and championship rounds of the playoffs. We lost to some of my Fall League teammates who played for the Scranton Wilkes Barre Yankees in four games but it was a lot of fun. And yes they remind me often! But I would have done the same thing to them.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Doubles

Chris Richard
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA37
Richard, Chris (pictured)34AAA32
Sexton, Gregory23A32
Martinez, Gabriel25AA29
Fronk, Reid21A29
Andrus, Erold23AA27
Hughes, Rhyne24AA27
Brignac, Reid22AAA26
Hall, J.T.24A+, AA26
Johnson, Elliot24AAA26
Fields, Matthew22A+25
Weber, Jon30AAA24
Guzman, Joel23AAA23
Johnson, Dan28AAA23
Vogt, Stephen23A22

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rhyne Hughes: 5 multi-hit games in Arizona

Rhyne Hughes was the only Ray to see action yesterday, but for the 5th time in 8 games for the Javelinas, Hughes collected at least 2 hits. He's now hitting .406 for Peoria, and has also drawn 4 walks. Hughes hit .268/.356/.448 in 107 games for Montgomery in 2008.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

OT: Popeye

Don ZimmerNice story about our senior advisor:

"Wherever we go, he's the most popular man in uniform," said Rays first baseman Carlos Pena. "He has more fans than everyone on the team combined."
As a scrappy infielder who overcame a near-death beaning in the Minors, Zimmer, who has a steel plate in his head as the result of a later beaning, played for five teams during his 12-year career in the Majors and made the National League All-Star team in 1961.

Leading off and playing center field...

Desmond JenningsIt's Desmond D. Jennings! He made his debut yesterday in the AFL for the Javelinas going 0-3 with two walks and a strikeout. Surprisingly he attempted to steal second after one of the walks but the batter fouled off the pitch. Guess the shoulder is healed. Jennings is on the taxi squad so he will only play in two games per week.

Elsewhere in the winter leagues Hector Gimenez and Ben Hendrickson have begun playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. Gimenez has gone 0-7 with a walk and a strikeout for the Tigres de Aragua. Hendrickson pitched four innings in relief for the Leones del Caracas, allowing no ER's on three hits with six strikeouts and a walk.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Hits

Gregory Sexton
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA153
Perez, Fernando25AAA147
Sexton, Gregory (pictured)23A144
Martinez, Gabriel25AA141
Richard, Chris34AAA137
Loyola, Maiko22A132
Eldridge, Rashad26AA126
Suarez, Cesar24A+124
Fronk, Reid21A123
Johnson, Dan28AAA121
Andrus, Erold23AA119
Vogt, Stephen23A114
Royster, Ryan21A+113
Merrill, Ronnie29AA, AAA113
Fields, Matthew22A+110

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Free Agent: Scott Dohmann

The Rays have granted free agency to RHRP Scott Dohmann, who they signed as a free agent on January 22, 2007. His 2008 stats:

Tampa Bay12014.26.144.774.707.44.311.01.2
Durham (AAA)33041.23.462.412.5210.

Rays International Signings

During the summer international signing period, the Rays gave four players bonuses in excess of $100,000 according to BA:

SS Julian Morillo, Dominican Republic, age 16, $210,000. "At around 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, Morillo is a good defensive shortstop with good hands, good first-step quickness and a good arm."

SS Hector Guevara, Venezuela, 16. "Guevara improved his stock leading up to July 2, improving his speed from 7.25 seconds in the 60-yard dash to 6.9 upon signing."

C Omar Narvaez, Venezuela, 16. "Narvaez, a switch-hitting catcher, is around 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and projects to hit for some power. He has good hands and agility behind the plate."

RHP Wilmer Sabala, Venezuela, 16. "Sabala is a 6-foot-2 righthander who could gain another inch or two. Some scouts saw him working at 85-86 mph, but his fastball has been up to 88-89 mph at his best with some movement."

Wednesday Winter Leagues

In the AFL today the Javelinas (3-4) play the Mesa Solar Sox (4-3). The Rays Wade Townsend will start for the Javelinas, who have lost their last four games.

Rays Winter League statistics through Tuesday's games:

Hall, J.T.AFL1825000124.278.350.278
Hughes, RhyneAFL2429100337.375.444.417
Spring, MattAFL1102000114.182.250.182

Mason, ChrisAFL202.
Phillips, HeathMPL115.00.005.406.
Reid, RyanAFL303.12.701.701.9910.
Townsend, WadeAFL113.09.007.877.5912.
Wlodarczyk, MikeAFL303.12.705.305.

AFL = Arizona Fall League, MPL = Mexican Pacific League, DWL = Dominican Winter League, VWL = Venezuelan Winter League, PRL = Puerto Rican League.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

13-4 = 3-1

Tampa Bay Rays

Tuesday Winter Leagues

Mexican Pacific League
Heath PhillipsRays LHP Heath Phillips (AAA Durham) and three relievers combined on a no-hitter as the Caneros de los Mochis blanked the Algodoneros de Guasave 2-0 Monday. Phillips pitched five innings, struck out two and walked five.

Phillips was released by the Yankees (AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre) on July 19, 2008. On July 29, 2008, Phillips signed a minor league contract with the Rays. He was originally the White Sox's 10th-round pick in 2000 and was named the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher in 2006. Phillips in 2008:

Durham (AAA)9322.02.864.
Scranton W-B (AAA)35455.25.504.

Arizona Fall League
The Peoria Javelinas (3-3) play the Phoenix Desert Dogs (3-3) in a rematch of last nights 3-2 Desert Dogs win. Updates in the Comments.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Runs Scored

Fernando Perez
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA87
Perez, Fernando (pictured)25AAA86
Johnson, Dan28AAA85
Richard, Chris34AAA82
Fronk, Reid21A76
Loyola, Maiko22A76
Merrill, Ronnie29AA, AAA76
Eldridge, Rashad26AA70
Martinez, Gabriel25AA69
Jaso, John24AA, AAA65
Sexton, Gregory23A64
Fields, Matthew22A+62
Andrus, Erold23AA61
Stewart, Quinn24A, A+59
Weber, Jon30AAA58

Monday, October 13, 2008

ALCS Update

Tampa Bay Rays

Monday AFL action

Peoria JavelinasThe Peoria Javelinas (3-2) take on the Phoenix Desert Dogs (2-3). Great pitching matchup with Phil Hughes (NYY) starting for the Javelinas and Max Scherzer (ARI) for the Dogs. Two Rays in the lineup: Rhyne Hughes at 1B batting 6th, and Matt Spring at C batting 7th. You can follow the action on Gameday. Updates will be in the Comments.

Organizational Batting Leaders: At Bats

Gabriel Martinez
Nowak, Chris25AA, AAA515
Martinez, Gabriel (pictured)25AA511
Perez, Fernando25AAA511
Sexton, Gregory23A490
Fields, Matthew22A+482
Suarez, Cesar24A+480
Loyola, Maiko22A471
Richard, Chris34AAA467
Andrus, Erold23AA466
Merrill, Ronnie29AA, AAA450
Guzman, Joel23AAA436
Eldridge, Rashad26AA435
Fronk, Reid21A429
Royster, Ryan21A+426
Hall, J.T.24A+, AA409

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Desmond Jennings in Arizona?

I'm not sure what to make of this, but Desmond Jennings is now listed on the Peoria Javelinas roster. I hadn't heard anything about him going to Arizona, and it doesn't look like he's played in a game yet, but we'll keep an eye out. If his shoulder is healthy, this is a good way to get him some playing time that he sorely needs after missing parts of the past two seasons with various injuries.

In actual AFL action, Rhyne Hughes was the only Rays prospect to play in Saturday's game, going 2-4. The Javelinas return to action on Monday.

AFL Update

Peoria JavelinasThe Peoria Javelinas (3-2) lost for the 2nd night in a row to the undefeated Peoria Saguaros (5-0) by a score of 5-2. Rhyne Hughes went 2-4 (both singles) with a strikeout. J.T. Hall was 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout. There is no game scheduled for Sunday.

Rays Winter League statistics including Saturday's games:

Hall, J.T.AFL1514000114.267.313.267
Hughes, RhyneAFL1726000126.353.421.353
Spring, MattAFL702000112.286.375.286

Mason, ChrisAFL101.
Reid, RyanAFL202.13.861.491.747.
Townsend, WadeAFL113.09.007.877.5912.
Wlodarczyk, MikeAFL202.10.001.491.317.

AFL = Arizona Fall League, MPL = Mexican Pacific League, DWL = Dominican Winter League, VWL = Venezuelan Winter League, PRL = Puerto Rican League.

Organizational Batting Leaders: Games Played

Chris Nowak
Nowak, Chris (pictured)25AA, AAA136
Martinez, Gabriel25AA133
Fields, Matthew22A+132
Richard, Chris34AAA131
Perez, Fernando25AAA129
Andrus, Erold23AA128
Merrill, Ronnie29AA, AAA125
Fronk, Reid21A124
Sexton, Gregory23A124
Suarez, Cesar24A+123
Loyola, Maiko22A122
Hall, J.T.24A+, AA120
Royster, Ryan21A+118
Eldridge, Rashad26AA118
Jaso, John24AA, AAA116

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday System Notes

Mike WlodarczykOne of the Rays is blogging about his experiences in the AFL:

"Greetings baseball fans. Thanks for joining me this week as we
open the 2008 Arizona Fall League season. For those of you who don't
know me, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.
My name is Mike Wlodarczyk, and I am coming to you from Peoria,
Arizona as I represent the Tampa Bay Rays organization while playing
for the Peoria Javelinas.
Now that we're caught up, I'd like to give you an inside look at
what's been going on in the weeks leading up to now.
Following the end of the regular season in early September, I had
about three weeks to relax at home before reporting to St. Petersburg
on the 25th. There we worked out with our instructional league team
for a handful of days in preparation for the first fall league workout
on October 2nd after flying in on the 1st."

In the AFL today, four Rays are in the starting lineup for the Peoria Javelinas (3-0) as they face the Peoria Saguaros (3-0) in a battle between the only two unbeaten teams in the AFL. Lineup:

Russo LF
Turner 2B
Miranda DH
Hughes, R 1B
Valaika SS
Halman CF
Hall RF
Spring C
Green 3B
SP is Townsend

In the Venezuelan Winter League, Caracas native RHRP Jose Angel Mejias (Columbus in 2008) has been added to the roster of the Leones del Caracas, joining Ben Hendrickson and John Jaso.

If you're like me and plan to make a trip to see the Princeton Rays next year, their schedule should be available the 3rd week of December.

Charlotte CountyOur new A+ affiliate, Charlotte County (replacing Vero Beach), is putting more than $27 million worth of renovations into Charlotte Sports Park. When renovations are finished, there will be more than 5,100 fixed seats with ultra-comfortable, theater-style seats in the upper and lower levels. Other features include a Baseball Boardwalk (pic) which is a walkway around the entire stadium, a Tiki Hut bar behind the fence in left-center, new press boxes, 5 luxury suites, four main concession stands, a brand new clubhouse that spans more than 45,000 square feet, state-of-the-art weight rooms, training rooms, hydrotherapy pools, player lounges, and new administrative offices for front office staff. You can click here to take a virtual tour of the ballpark renovations.

And finally, today's game against the Phillies was the Rays' final Florida Instructional League game.

Reminder: Princeton Rays Jerseys

Princeton RaysWant game worn jerseys from the Princeton Rays? Well, tomorrow is the auction and these aren't just from the 2008 players, these jerseys have been used for 7 years:

"The road jersey tops have been in use since 2002 and over the past seven seasons have been worn by major leaguers Jason Hammel, Wes Bankston, Elliot Johnson, Jason Pridie, and Reid Brignac as well as up and coming minor league stars like Wade Davis, Jacob McGee, Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matthew Moore. A list of which players wore what jersey top numbers through the years will be provided to the auction attendees."
If you won't be in Princeton, West Virginia, on October 11th at 10:00 a.m., you're not out of luck:

"Minimum opening bid for each P-Rays' road jersey top will be $35.00. Persons from outside the local Princeton area who are unable to attend the auction in person can place an absentee bid by telephone until 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Friday, October 10. The phone-in bids will also require the bidder to supply their credit card number and can be phoned directly to Mr. Michael Eades at (304) 320-7470. Mr. Eades is the owner of Four Seasons Antiques and Appraisals of Princeton, who is handling the auction for the P-Rays."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thursday night AFL

Peoria JavelinasIn the AFL tonight the Peoria Javelinas (2-0) host the Phoenix Desert Dogs (1-1). Only J.T. Hall at DH is in the starting lineup, batting sixth:

Stubbs LF
Triunfel SS
Jackson, A CF
Miranda 1B
Halman RF
Hall DH
Turner 2B
Johnson, R C
Green 3B
SP is Jeffress

Wade Townsend is scheduled to start tomorrow's game for Peoria.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Winter Leagues

Peoria JavelinasIn the AFL today the Peoria Javelinas (1-0) are at the Surprise Rafters (0-1). The starting lineup has only one Ray, Rhyne Hughes at 1B batting cleanup:

Henry RF
Triunfel 3B
Jackson, A CF
Hughes, R 1B
Salome C
Valaika SS
Halman LF
Johnson, R DH
Turner 2B
SP is Viola

In the Venezuelan Winter League, two players from the Rays organization have been added to the roster of the Leones del Caracas: RHSP Ben Hendrickson and C John Jaso. Some others on the team: Tony Armas, Jorge Julio, Franklin Morales, Franklin Gutierrez, and Matt LaPorta. Updates as more players are assigned.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

AFL Game One

Peoria JavelinasThe Peoria Javelinas are taking on the Surprise Rafters in the first game of the AFL. All three Rays position players on the Javelinas roster are in the starting lineup: Rhyne Hughes batting cleanup at 1B, J.T. Hall batting 6th at DH, and Matt Spring hitting 8th and catching. Phil Hughes (NYY) is our starting pitcher. Full lineups:

Surprise Rafters
Borbon CF
De Jesus SS
Hodges 3B
Reimold, N LF
Wieters C
Arizona Fall LeagueDickerson RF
Tracy 1B
McFall DH
Rodriguez 2B
SP is Eyre

Peoria Javelinas
Stubbs LF
Triunfel 2B
Jackson, A CF
Hughes, R 1B
Valaika SS
Hall DH
Halman RF
Spring C
Russo 3B
SP is Hughes

Updates will be in the Comments.