Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Training Probable Pitchers

Jason HammelSunday, March 1st vs. Toronto Blue Jays, Charlotte Sports Park (radio: 620-AM WDAE) – 1:05 p.m.
Blue Jays – RH Jesse Litsch, others scheduled to pitch include LH Reid Santos, and RH Brian Bullington
Rays – RH Jason Hammel, others scheduled to pitch include LH Randy Choate, RH Winston Abreu, RH Chad Orvella, and LH Carlos Hernandez

Monday, March 2nd at St. Louis Cardinals, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter (no TV/radio) – 1:05 p.m.
Rays – RH Wade Davis, others scheduled to pitch include RH Julio DePaula, LH James Houser, LH Jason Cromer, RH Calvin Medlock, and RH Dale Thayer
Cardinals – RH Adam Wainwright

Rays Spring Training Box Score

              1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9   R  H  E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Tampa Bay 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 5 11 2
Philadelphia 5 0 0 1 0 1 1 4 x 12 13 2

G Kapler rf 2 0 0 0 J Rollins ss 3 1 1 0
E Johnson cf 2 1 1 2 O Chavez ss 2 1 0 0
J Ruggiano cf 3 0 2 1 S Victorino cf 3 1 1 1
J Weber rf 2 0 1 1 E Bruntlett cf 1 2 1 1
W Aybar 2b 2 0 1 0 R Ibanez lf 3 0 0 0
A Kennedy 2b 2 0 0 0 G Jenkins lf 2 1 0 0
P Burrell dh 2 0 1 0 R Howard 1b 3 1 2 2
F Perez ph-dh 2 0 0 0 A Tracy 1b 2 0 1 1
C Richard 1b 2 0 0 0 J Mayberry rf 5 1 2 2
C Nowak 1b 1 0 0 0 G Dobbs dh 4 0 0 0
M Ensberg 3b 2 0 0 0 M Cairo 2b 3 2 2 1
R Brignac ss 2 0 0 0 P Ozuna 2b 1 1 1 0
R Sadler lf 4 1 1 1 J Donald 3b 4 0 1 1
S Riggans c 2 0 0 0 R Paulino c 2 1 1 1
M Hernandez c 2 1 1 0 L Marson c 1 0 0 0
R Olmedo ss-3b 4 2 3 0 K Kendrick p 0 0 0 0
M Talbot p 0 0 0 0 D Naylor p 0 0 0 0
L Cormier p 0 0 0 0 M Koplove p 0 0 0 0
J Howell p 0 0 0 0 S Eyre p 0 0 0 0
D Day p 0 0 0 0 C Condrey p 0 0 0 0
J Woods p 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 36 5 11 5 TOTALS 39 12 13 10

E--M Cairo, D Naylor, R Brignac, R Sadler.
2B--J Rollins, M Cairo, P Burrell, M Hernandez, J
Weber, W Aybar. 3B--J Ruggiano. HR--R Howard 1 (1)
(off M Talbot), J Mayberry 1 (1) (off M Talbot), R
Paulino 1 (1) (off J Howell), M Cairo 1 (1) (off M
Talbot), R Sadler 1 (1) (off K Kendrick), E
Johnson 1 (1) (off J Woods). SB--E Bruntlett 1
(1), R Olmedo 1 (1). CS--J Ruggiano.

M Talbot (L,0-1) 3 6 5 5 0 0 3
L Cormier 2 2 1 1 0 2 0
J Howell 1 1 1 1 0 0 1
D Day 2 4 5 1 1 2 0
K Kendrick (W,1-0) 2 2-3 4 1 1 0 0 1
D Naylor 2 1-3 3 1 1 1 3 0
M Koplove 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
S Eyre 1 2 1 1 0 1 0
C Condrey 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
J Woods 1 2 2 2 0 2 1

HBP--R Paulino by L Cormier.
Time: 2:43.
Attendance: 10,270.

Curt Schilling Interested In Pitching For Rays

Curt SchillingDavid Whitley has this from Curt Schilling on where he would like to pitch in 2009:
Schilling, who has a career mark of 216-146, said money would not be a major issue. He's looking for a team that has championship potential and has never won a title.

"The challenge would be in a place like Tampa Bay or Chicago," he said.
Schilling is not looking to be on an opening day roster. First he has to decide whether to try to come back, but he said his shoulder feels fine.

"I'm hemming and hawing right now," he said. "I'll make a decision in the next couple of weeks."

Rays Set All-Time Charlotte Attendance Record

Rays Spring TrainingThe Rays victory over the Red Sox on Friday was in front of a sellout crowd of 6,629, the largest crowd ever at Charlotte Sports Park. The previous stadium attendance record was 6,157 set on April 12, 1991 in a Florida State League home-opening doubleheader between the Charlotte Rangers and Baseball City Royals.

The largest crowd to see a Texas Rangers game there was 5,909 on March 23, 1989, Rangers vs. Blue Jays (Rangers trained in Charlotte County from 1987-2002). The Rays eclipsed that mark in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener vs. the Reds with 6,028.

The largest crowd to see the Rays play at Al Lang Field in their 11 years in St. Pete was 6,759 in the finale there on March 28th last spring vs. the Reds. The Rays All-Time Spring Training record now stands at 136-168-11.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Training Probable Pitchers

Mitch TalbotSaturday, February 28th at Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Field, Clearwater (radio: 620-AM WDAE) – 1:05 p.m.
Rays – RH Mitch Talbot, others scheduled to pitch include LH J.P. Howell, RH Dewon Day, RH Neal Frontz, and RH Lance Cormier
Phillies – RH Kyle Kendrick, others scheduled to pitch include RH Drew Naylor, RH Clay Condrey, LH Scott Eyre, and RH Brad Lidge

Sunday, March 1st vs. Toronto Blue Jays, Charlotte Sports Park (radio: 620-AM WDAE) – 1:05 p.m.
Blue Jays – RH Jesse Litsch, others scheduled to pitch include LH Reid Santos, and RH Brian Bullington
Rays – RH Jason Hammel, others scheduled to pitch include LH Randy Choate, RH Winston Abreu, RH Chad Orvella, and LH Carlos Hernandez

[Updated 7:43: The Phillies released Adam Eaton earlier today, so he won't be pitching]

Joe Maddon And Terry Francona On The Rays

Tampa Bay RaysIan Browne has these comments from Joe Maddon and Terry Francona on the Rays:
"You can't just live with the status quo," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "And it's not the same road. Things aren't going to break the same way. We are a target now, we're targeted. Maybe by the middle of last season or toward the end, we had that target, but at the beginning, we didn't. So now we're carrying this with us all the time. I'd like to think it's going to bring out the best in us."
"They did a very good job of holding us off," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We kept pushing and pushing, and they found ways to push back."
"I think that if we think that, 'Oh, they had a magical year and they're not going to be around,' we're all crazy," Francona said. "They're not old, they're not going to forget how to play. It certainly makes our life a lot more difficult in the American League East."
"That's why I love playing in this division, and that's why I felt like this was the right division for us to play in, because it committed us, or allowed us, to get better faster by our guys having to play in Fenway, to play in Yankee Stadium, etc., against very adverse conditions," Maddon said. "It allowed our guys to grow up a little more quickly, so I really like playing in this division."

A 2nd Durham Bull In The World Baseball Classic

World Baseball ClassicThe Durham Bulls will have two representatives in the World Baseball Classic:
As most of the baseball nations prepare to watch the World Baseball Classic over the next few weeks, Durham Bulls Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland will be preparing for another day at the office.

Strickland was chosen by The Brickman Group, an American landscaping company contracted by Major League Baseball to oversee field operations for the World Baseball Classic (WBC), to assist in pre-game and post-game care of the field during first round pool play at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"This is really a big honor," Strickland said, "I look at it as an opportunity to represent the Bulls and personally, being able to work an event of this magnitude is special. It's almost like a pre-season bonus."

Strickland is the second Durham Bull asked to work in the tournament. Bulls Manager Charlie Montoyo will serve as a coach for the Puerto Rican team.

Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training Results

Rays Spring Training2009 1-2
2008 18-8-2
2007 10-19-2
2006 13-16-1
2005 13-16
2004 11-8
2003 8-19-3
2002 10-16-1
2001 12-15-1
2000 14-17
1999 14-14-1
1998 12-18

Rays Beat Red Sox, Spring Training Box Score

Tampa Bay Rays 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
BOSTON 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 4 6 2
TAMPA BAY 1 4 5 0 0 0 2 0 x 12 13 2

J Ellsbury cf 3 0 1 1 F Perez cf 3 2 2 2
J Van Every cf 2 0 0 0 R Olmedo 3b 1 0 0 0
J Lowrie ss 2 0 0 1 J Bartlett ss 3 1 2 3
A Diaz ss 2 0 0 0 J Ruggiano lf-cf 2 0 0 0
K Youkilis 1b 3 0 0 0 E Longoria 3b 3 1 1 2
C Carter 1b 1 0 0 0 R Brignac 2b 2 0 0 0
R Baldelli dh 2 0 1 1 P Burrell dh 2 0 1 0
L Anderson pr-dh 1 0 0 0 M Ensberg ph-dh 2 0 0 0
J Bay lf 2 0 0 0 N Ashley ph-dh 1 0 0 0
Z Daeges lf 1 0 0 0 W Aybar 1b 3 1 2 0
B Wilkerson rf 3 1 0 0 J Jaso c 1 1 0 0
C Ambres rf 1 0 0 0 D Navarro c 3 1 0 0
D Brown c 2 1 1 0 C Richard 1b 1 1 1 2
M Wagner ph-c 1 0 1 0 B Zobrist lf 1 1 0 0
N Green 2b 3 1 2 1 T Beckham ss 1 0 1 0
I Ochoa 2b 1 0 0 0 G Gross rf 3 1 1 1
A Chavez 3b 2 1 1 0 J Weber rf 1 0 0 0
G Velazquez 3b 1 0 0 0 E Johnson 2b 3 2 2 2
M Bowden p 0 0 0 0 R Sadler lf 0 0 0 0
E Gonzalez p 0 0 0 0 J Niemann p 0 0 0 0
D Hansack p 0 0 0 0 B Shouse p 0 0 0 0
C Zink p 0 0 0 0 J Childers p 0 0 0 0
S Green p 0 0 0 0 D Rodriguez p 0 0 0 0
J Houser p 0 0 0 0
J Cromer p 0 0 0 0
N Frontz p 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 33 4 7 4 TOTALS 36 12 13 12

E--J Lowrie, M Bowden, E Johnson, T Beckham.
2B--M Wagner, D Brown, J Bartlett, E Johnson, F Perez.
HR--E Longoria 1 (1) (off E Gonzalez), C Richard 1 (1) (off C Zink).
SB--F Perez 1 (1). SF--J Lowrie.

M Bowden (L,0-1) 1 2-3 5 4 4 2 0 0
E Gonzalez 1 1-3 6 6 5 1 0 1
D Hansack 2 0 0 0 0 4 0
C Zink 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
S Green 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

J Niemann (W,1-0) 2 1 0 0 0 2 0
B Shouse 1 2 0 0 0 0 0
J Childers 1 0 0 0 1 1 0
D Rodriguez 2-3 3 4 1 0 0 0
J Houser 1 1-3 0 0 0 1 1 0
J Cromer 2 1 0 0 0 5 0
N Frontz 1 0 0 0 0 1 0

HBP--A Chavez by D Rodriguez, J Bay by D Rodriguez, R Sadler by C Zink.
Time: 3:01.
Attendance: 6,629.

Top 15 Pitchers: #7 Matt Moore

Matthew MooreMatt Moore
6'2" 205 lbs. DOB: 6/18/89
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
2008: Princeton
Acquired: 2007 Draft, 8th Round, 245th Overall

Few short-season prospects excited fans as much as Matt Moore did in 2008. After a promising pro debut after he was drafted out of a New Mexico high school, Moore exploded onto the scene this year with video game numbers: A 1.66 ERA, which would have been good for the ERA crown had he not been limited to 12 starts because of a bunch of rainouts in Princeton. In 54.1 innings, Moore allowed 30 hits, walked 19, didn't allow a home run, and struck out 77.

When he was assigned to Princeton in 2007, Moore showed the outstanding hit and strikeout rates, but struggled with his control, walking 16 batters in 20 innings. He improved that for 2008 and saw his BB/9 plummet from 7.1 to 3.1 while his K/9 remained exactly the same at 12.8. If that wasn't enough, he also generates ground balls at a very solid 61% rate.

As good as the stats on Moore are, the scouting report might be even better. Baseball America named him the #1 pitching prospect in the Appy League in 2008 and #6 overall for the Rays. Moore throws an easy 92-94 MPH from the left side, touching 95. He also features a tight curveball that's a true swing-and-miss pitch and has at least plus-potential, if not plus-plus. He also throws a change-up that fades away from right-handers, although it lags behind the fastball and curve in terms of development.

Now, the thing to remember: It's only rookie ball. There is absolutely a lot to get excited about, but the best pitchers in rookie ball don't automatically become the best pitchers in the majors 7 years later. Injuries, mechanical breakdowns, and just plain not being able to get more advanced hitters out can wreck a pitcher's career. And it's worth noting again that Moore was repeating the league, although a 19-year-old in the Appy League isn't anywhere near as bad as, say, a 22-year old in the SAL.

Moore has the makings of a potential ace with two plus pitches and a third that's above-average, but projecting him as one down the line is an iffy proposition. Right now the biggest question with Moore is where he'll begin the 2009 season. The Rays generally don't like to skip pitchers over levels, but Moore is two years removed from high school and he was simply toying with hitters in Princeton so much so that they might make an exception. If he does make the leap to full-season ball, he'll be part of a talented Bowling Green pitching staff under the tutelage of R.C. Lichtenstein, who was the pitching coach for Wade Davis and Jake McGee for several years as they advanced through the system together. If not, he'll be in Hudson Valley where it's easy to see him having another big year.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Joe Maddon Impressed With Wade Davis

Manager Joe MaddonBill Chastain has these comments from Joe Maddon on Wade Davis:
Davis started for the Rays in front of 10,693 fans at George M. Steinbrenner Field and mowed through the six hitters he faced in two innings, allowing no hits, no walks and striking out three -- including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
Davis said that having an outing like he did against the Yankees was a confidence booster, while Rays manager Joe Maddon gushed about the virtues of the 23-year-old. "I just liked the aggressiveness, the fastball command, pitching inside, the breaking ball for a strike when he wanted to," Maddon said. "He did a lot of good things today."
"We talk about [the organization's pitching depth] all the time," Maddon said, and it's great to see it for me, because I've heard about it. When I saw him last year, he didn't look near as aggressive as he did today."
Two games into the Grapefruit League season, pitchers aren't yet at their sharpest, and neither are the hitters. To that end, Davis threw mostly fastballs with only a couple of breaking pitches. At this juncture, he's working primarily on his fastball command.

Bowling Green Hot Rods Promotions Schedule

Bowling Green Hot RodsThe Bowling Green Hot Rods have announced their second installment of promotions and giveaways for the 2009 season. The new slate of promotions honors a World Series Champion, celebrates student achievers, recognizes first responders, and pampers pregnant women. "We're excited to continually add value for Hot Rods guests through promotions and giveaways that make a day at the ballpark fun and memorable," said Brad Taylor, Hot Rods General Manager and CEO. "With less than two months until Opening Night, these promotions will add to the anticipation and excitement of the Hot Rods' inaugural season."

Three limited edition giveaways have been added to the Hot Rods promotional schedule. At the team's home opener on Friday, April 17, the first 1,000 fans will receive a laser-engraved, miniature baseball bat courtesy of Citizens First to commemorate the first Hot Rods game at Bowling Green Ballpark. On Tuesday, July 28, the first 1,000 fans will receive a Joe Blanton Bobblehead courtesy of the Bank of Edmonson County. The bobblehead giveaway will celebrate the accomplishments of the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and Edmonson County native, who pulled off a rare feat in the 2008 World Series by hitting a home run and earning a victory in the same game. On Saturday, August 15, the Hot Rods will have a little fun exploring alternate realities on "What Could've Been" Night, highlighted by a "Bowling Green Cave Shrimp" T-shirt giveaway to the first 1,000 fans ages 13 & older. "Cave Shrimp" was a polarizing yet unsuccessful finalist in the franchise's fan-interactive "Name the Team" Contest.

The Hot Rods also have added new community impact programs aimed at rewarding the area's brightest and most talented students. Prior to the Hot Rods' game against the Savannah Sand Gnats (New York Mets) on Tuesday, May 12, the team will recognize talented musicians and artists on the field as part of Royal Music Student Music & Art Awards Night. Additional student recognition dates include Junior Achievement Night (Monday, May 18) and Honor Roll Night (Monday, June 1). On Honor Roll Night, students that made the Honor Roll during any marking period of the 2008-2009 school year will be eligible for two free tickets to the game with proof of the accomplishment.

Other notable new promotions include Post-Game Fireworks (April 24), Kentucky Lottery Night (May 1), and First Responders Day (August 16) in recognition of police, fire, and EMT personnel. In addition, the Hot Rods will use the "honor system" to grant free admission to pregnant women on Labor Day (September 7). Fans who aren't expecting may enjoy the Hot Rods' new season-long Thirsty Thursdays promotion, featuring specially-priced drinks during each 2009 Thursday night home game.

Spring Training Probable Pitchers

Wade DavisThursday, February 26th at New York Yankees, Steinbrenner Field, Tampa (Webcast – - 1:15 p.m.
Rays – RH Wade Davis, others scheduled to pitch include RH Winton Abreu, RH Calvin Medlock, RH Chad Orvella, RH Dale Thayer, and RH Julio DePaula
Yankees – RH Phil Hughes, others scheduled to pitch include LH Phil Coke, RH Brian Bruney, LH Damaso Marte, RH Jonathan Albaladejo, and RH Mark Melancon

Friday, February 27th vs. Boston Red Sox, Charlotte Sports Park (Webcast - – 1:05 p.m.
Red Sox – RH Michael Bowden
Rays – RH Jeff Niemann, others scheduled to pitch include RH Jason Childers, RH Jason Cromer, LH James Houser, RH Derek Rodriguez, and LH Brian Shouse

Saturday, February 28th at Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Field, Clearwater (radio: 620-AM WDAE) – 1:05 p.m.
Rays – RH Mitch Talbot, others scheduled to pitch include LH J.P. Howell, RH Dewon Day, RH Neal Frontz, and RH Lance Cormier
Phillies – RH Kyle Kendrick, others scheduled to pitch include RH Drew Taylor, RH Adam Eaton, RH Clay Condrey, LH Scott Eyre, and RH Brad Lidge

Durham Bulls National Anthem Auditions

Durham BullsNational Anthem Auditions for the 2009 Durham Bulls season will be held this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. If you are interested in trying out, report to the third base dugout at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. In case of rain, the auditions will happen underneath the seating bowl canopy. The Bulls are expecting around 75-100 performers at Saturday’s auditions.

Montgomery Biscuits Hire Senior Sales Executive

Montgomery BiscuitsThe Montgomery Biscuits today announced the hiring of Richard Coats, a veteran sales executive with almost thirty years of experience. Coats has worked closely with the team in a client role since the Biscuits 2004 inaugural season, and brings a new level of sales experience and professionalism to the Biscuits front office team.

"We are committed to meeting our clients’ needs, and exploring ways to better serve the local business community," said Biscuits’ Co-Owner Sherrie Myers. "I have seen Richard interact with members of his staff and this community, and have been impressed with his passion and ability. We are excited about adding an executive of his caliber to the Biscuits team to take us to the next level."

Coats, as the team’s Vice President of Sales, will manage all corporate, group ticket, venue and special event sales. Coats’ reaction was enthusiastic, “This is a dream opportunity for my family and me. The Biscuits are one of the best operated teams in the country, and I love the atmosphere at Riverwalk Stadium. The opportunity to manage the Biscuits sales team, and expand the reach of the Biscuits experience into our community, is something that I couldn’t be happier about.”

Prior to joining the Biscuits Coats spent over thirty years in sales and marketing management positions, including Division Director for AT&T, Regional Marketing & Sales Director of GTE, and most recently Sales & Marketing Manager at Knology. Coats lives in Montgomery with his wife Kay, and sons Stuart and Spencer.

Rays Spring Training Parking Update

Rays Spring TrainingWorking in concert with officials from Charlotte County and the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Tampa Bay Rays announced the following improvements with regards to traffic and parking for their remaining spring training home games at Charlotte Sports Park.

· Parking lots will open at 10:00 a.m. and stadium gates will open at 11:00 a.m. for all 1:05 p.m. games, 30 minutes earlier than originally planned.

· There will be an increase in the number of parking attendants stationed inside both the main Sports Park and Fairgrounds parking lots to increase efficiency in collecting parking fees and directing cars to parking locations.

· Clearer signage will be posted to help patrons with special needs and those with passes for reserved lots identify designated parking areas

Fans are also encouraged to arrive early, carpool, and come with exact change when possible.

The changes were announced following the Rays spring training opener against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday which drew 6,028 fans, the largest crowd to see a spring training game in the history of Charlotte Sports Park.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 25th Rays Spring Training Box Score

Tampa Bay Rays
Cincinnati Reds0000500027140
Tampa Bay Rays000000000042

Willy Taveras CF311000001.333
  Norris Hopper PH-CF201000000.500
Jerry Hairston Jr. SS311001400.333
  Paul Janish SS201000000.500
Joey Votto 1B301000001.333
  Daryle Ward 1B211000000.500
Brandon Phillips 2B201000000.500
  Adam Rosales PH-2B321001201.333
Jay Bruce RF201000000.500
  Darnell McDonald PH-RF302000100.667
Edwin Encarnacion 3B200000000.000
  Todd Frazier PH-3B300000000.000
Chris Dickerson LF200000001.000
  Jonny Gomes LF200000000.000
Ramon Hernandez C211000000.500
  Wilkin Castillo PH-C100000000.000
  Chris Denove PH-C1011000001.000
Jacque Jones DH211000001.500
  Laynce Nix PH-DH100000010.000
Jason Bartlett SS201000000.500
  Justin Ruggiano RF1011000101.000
Carl Crawford LF1010000001.000
  Jon Weber LF300000000.000
Evan Longoria 3B200000001.000
  Chris Nowak 3B200000000.000
Pat Burrell DH200000001.000
  Gabe Kapler DH200000001.000
Willy Aybar 1B200000001.000
  Chris Richard 1B201100001.500
Dioner Navarro C100000000.000
  Adam Kennedy 2B100000000.000
  Elliot Johnson 2B200000002.000
Ben Zobrist 2B100000000.000
  Shawn Riggans C100000001.000
  John Jaso C100000000.000
Gabe Gross RF000000010.000
  Reid Brignac SS100000000.000
  Ray Olmedo SS100000000.000
Fernando Perez CF200000001.000
  Ray Sadler CF100000000.000

Errors: C.Nowak, G.Gross. LOB: Cincinnati 8, Tampa Bay 6. 2B: C.Denove, J.Ruggiano, C.Richard. HR: J.Hairston Jr. (1) off R.Choate, A.Rosales (1) off M.Talbot.

Edinson Volquez3.0200130.00
Johnny Cueto (W 1-0)3.0000130.00
Homer Bailey1.0000020.00
Aaron Fultz1.0100000.00
Jared Burton1.0100010.00
Carlos Hernandez2.0000010.00
Jason Hammel2.0300020.00
Randy Choate (L 0-1)1.05540136.00
Lance Cormier1.0100100.00
J.P. Howell1.0100010.00
Neal Frontz1.0100000.00
Mitch Talbot1.03220018.00

WP: E.Volquez.
Time: 2:44.
Attendance: 6028.
Umpires: Home,Tim Timmons; First, Tim Tschida; Second, Marvin Hudson; Third, Bill Welke.

Game Pictures from 2/25: Rays vs Reds

Top 15 Pitchers: #8 Heath Rollins

Heath RollinsHeath Rollins
6'1" 190 lbs. DOB: 5/25/85
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2008: Vero Beach/Montgomery
Acquired: 2006 Draft, 11th Round, 319th Overall

Rollins was a two-way player at Winthrop, and probably could've been drafted at around the same spot as an athletic outfielder. The Rays decided to keep him on the mound, and it's hard to argue with the results since then.

Once he signed, he reported to Hudson Valley where pitched 46 non-descript innings(4.08 ERA). The Rays sent him to full-season Columbus for 2007. All he did there was win 17 games with a 2.54 ERA, anchoring the pitching staff on that championship team. 2008 wasn't quite as good, but between Vero Beach and Montgomery, he pitched 161 innings, struck out 138, and walked only 33. His ERA was 3.24 between the two stops.

Rollins relies a lot more on control and pitchability than pure stuff. He throws an average 90-92 MPH fastball along with a slider, curveball, and changeup. None of his pitches really profile as plus down the line, so it's important for him to keep the walks low. His athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery well, so the walks shouldn't be a big concern in the future. His GO/AO fell from 1.56 in 2007 to about 1.03 in 2009. I don't think it will fall any further, and he should be right around the average groundball rate.

One comparison that's easy to make is Andy Sonnanstine. Both were college guys taken after the 10th round, both rely on control. Sonnanstine showed an even better BB/9 in his early minor-league career, though. In his age-23 season in Montgomery, Sonnanstine threw 185 innings of 2.74 ERA ball with a BB/9 of 1.6.

Rollins will be back in Montgomery in 2009 in what would be considered his age-24 year. His age relative to league is worth noting - he's always been old for his league - but he hasn't had to repeat a level and has moved up fine. He'll probably never make it as a starter in the Rays organization, but there's definitely value in a reliever who can come in and throw strikes. If the Rays try to swing any sort of trade, they could include him if the other team sees him reaching his ceiling as a #4 pitcher in the future.

Montgomery Biscuits National Anthem Auditions

Montgomery BiscuitsThe Montgomery Biscuits will be hosting National Anthem tryouts on Saturday, February 28th beginning at 11 a.m. at Riverwalk Stadium. The tryouts will be held from 11:00 to 1:00 with the main gates opening right at 11:00 a.m. Tryouts will be first come first serve.

All singers, including soloists and groups, wanting to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” must tryout on this date to be considered for the 2009 season. All auditions must be sung a cappella. All performers will sing the anthem from the field as if it were a real game. Performances must consist of the traditional anthem beat and be under the time of one minute and thirty seconds. Instrumentals are also welcome.

For more information please contact April Catarella at (334) 323-0364 or

No Twitter

TwitterWe asked the question: Should RaysProspects add Twitter? Over 75% of you said 'No' or 'What is Twitter'. Based on the lack of interest we will not add a Twitter feed to the sidebar at this time. We may consider adding it in the future if Twitter, or something like Twitter, becomes more popular. Thanks for the feedback.

Bowling Green Hot Rods Offer Half-Season Tickets

Bowling Green Hot RodsThe Bowling Green Hot Rods are now offering two half-season ticket plans:
Option A includes a ticket to our 4th of July game and fireworks spectacular. You also get a seat for promotions like Inaugural Season baseballs (May 17), mascot banks (June 21), and stadium replicas (August 8). Plus, you'll be included in some of our Kids Day games on Sundays, which include the opportunity for kids to run around the bases after the game.

Option B gets you a seat in the ballpark for our historic Opening Night, April 17th, against Kannapolis. You get the chance to become a part of "Fans' Choice T-Shirt Night" (June 20) and our BBQ grill utensil giveaway September 5th against Lexington. Plus, you could be one of the first fans to get an initial set of Hot Rods baseball cards on Sunday, July 5th.
Under either Option, a box seat for 35 games only costs you $325.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24th Rays Spring Training Notes

Tampa Bay RaysThe Rays 12th Grapefruit League season begins tomorrow afternoon, the first of 33 games on the spring schedule, 15 at their new spring training home at Charlotte Sports Park. The Rays will also host an exhibition with the Puerto Rican National Team in a precursor to the World Baseball Classic on March 4. The Rays are 5-6 in GL opening games.

Wednesday’s Schedule:
8-9 a.m. – Clubhouse open to media.
9-11 a.m. – Clubhouse closed for MLBPA meeting. The Rays will not take batting practice on the field.
9:30 a.m. – Joe Maddon availability in Rays dugout (first base side) for media.
10:30 a.m. – Parking lots open. Parking will be held in the main lot as well as the fairgrounds across the street.
11:30 a.m. – Gates open.
12:30 p.m. – Media clear field.
1:05 p.m. - Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cincinnati Reds.

A limited number of berm and boardwalk tickets are available for tomorrow. In addition a small quantity of reserved seats will be released. Box offices open at 9 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Tropicana Field Box Office, Charlotte Sports Park Box Office, Tampa Pro Shop, all Ticketmaster locations, via Ticketmaster phonecharge and online at or Tickets may also be purchased by calling (727) 898-RAYS or (813) 282-RAYS.

Wednesday's Starting Lineup:
Jason Bartlett, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Pat Burrell, DH
Willy Aybar, 1B
Dioner Navarro, C
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Gabe Gross, RF
Fernando Perez, CF
Carlos Hernandez, P


The Durham Bulls And The Lil Sluggers

Durham BullsThe Durham Bulls are bringing baseball to the lil ones:
The Durham Bull Baseball Club and Dreamsports Center of Apex NC today announced a partnership to bring baseball to young kids aged 2 - 5 years of age. The Durham Bulls will be the official sponsor of the Lil Sluggers program at Dreamsports.
Headquarted in Huntington NY, Lil Sluggers is a nationally recognized child development program created to introduce children ages 2-5 to the game of baseball. Lil Sluggers classes develop important skills such as throwing, catching, hitting, and base running. Developmentally appropriate equipment and games are used to teach children the game of baseball in a fun, exciting, and positive environment.

The Bulls will be a big part of the program at Dreamsports, including having their mascot and players becoming a regular part of the program. Lil Sluggers will also have regular opportunities to become more involved in Bulls games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Lil Sluggers program will begin on March 15, 2009 at Dreamsports Center in Apex NC. You can find more information about Lil Sluggers and other youth and adult sports and recreational programs at

5 Rays On Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects

Tampa Bay RaysBaseball America's 20th annual Top 100 Prospects list is out and 5 Rays are named. How they compile the list:
This year we had six people who contributed to the voting that determines the list: editors in chief Will Lingo and John Manuel and executive editor Jim Callis, who have helped shape these lists for years; as well as Ben Badler, Kary Booher and Matt Eddy, who contribute significantly to our prospect coverage both in print and on the Web. Each person voted on a personal top 150 list, and after those results were tabulated, the six voters got together to go over the raw numbers and make adjustments before settling on a final list.
Voters put together their ballots after talking with general managers, scouting directors, farm directors, scouts, managers, coaches and other people in the game, as well as many discussions with each other. As always, our view is not to what a player may contribute this season, but what his ultimate major league ceiling might be, weighed against the probability that he will reach that ceiling.

2. David Price
28. Tim Beckham
32. Wade Davis
78. Reid Brignac
80. Desmond Jennings

Updated: Spring Training On TV

MLBN has released their schedule, so here are all the Rays ST games on television:

2/26 @ NYY: Will be shown on YES
2/28 @ Philadelphia: Will be shown MLBN and CSN Philly
3/8 @ Boston: Will be shown on NESN
3/15 vs. Pittsburgh: Will be shown on FSN Pittsburgh
3/16 @ Pittsburgh: Will be shown on MLBN
3/19 vs. St Louis: Will be shown on MLBN and FSN Florida
3/22 vs. NYY: Will be shown on MLBN and FSN Florida
3/30 @ Minnesota: Will be shown on MLB, FS-whatever Minnesota has, and FSN Florida
4/4 @ Philadelphia(at Citizen’s Bank Park): Will be shown on myPHL

I think all of these games will also be don't see why they wouldn't be), but it doesn't look like they've added that part to any schedules yet.

Beckham Impressing In Camp

Mark Topkin today has an article on Tim Beckham's experience in major-league camp:

But they are really impressed with the progress he has made, improving his defense and refining his hitting approach to use the full field and maximize his power, and the potential he has shown. Realistically, he's at least a few years away, likely headed to low Class A Bowling Green for his first full-season experience, but the Rays plan to take a look at him in some early exhibitions.

"This guy's going to be good," manager Joe Maddon said. "This guy's going to be really good. The difference between when I saw him last year in that (post-draft) workout and now, it's incredible just in regard to his strength level, and the bat quickness is superb. He's really exciting."

Marc Lancaster also has an article about Beckham.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Updated: Spring Training Probable Pitchers

Carlos HernandezWednesday, February 25th vs. Cincinnati Reds – Charlotte Sports Park (radio: WHNZ 1250-AM) - 1:05 p.m.
Reds – RH Edinson Volquez
Rays – LH Carlos Hernandez, others scheduled to pitch include RH Jason Hammel, LH Randy Choate, RH Lance Cormier, LH J.P. Howell, RH Neal Frontz, and RH Mitch Talbot

Thursday, February 26th at New York Yankees – Steinbrenner Field, Tampa (Webcast – - 1:15 p.m.
Rays – RH Wade Davis, others scheduled to pitch include RH Winton Abreu, RH Calvin Medlock, RH Chad Orvella, RH Dale Thayer, and RH Julio DePaula
Yankees – RH Phil Hughes, others scheduled to pitch include LH Phil Coke, RH Brian Bruney, LH Damaso Marte, RH Jonathan Albaladejo, and RH Mark Melancon

Friday, February 27th vs. Boston Red Sox, Charlotte Sports Park (Webcast - – 1:05 p.m.
Red Sox – RH Michael Bowden
Rays – RH Jeff Niemann, others scheduled to pitch include RH Jason Childers, RH Jason Cromer, LH James Houser, RH Derek Rodriguez, and LH Brian Shouse

Joe Maddon On The Spring Training Opener

Manager Joe MaddonRoger Mooney has this from Joe Maddon on the starting lineup for Wednesday's spring training opener:
With that in mind, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he will make sure the defending American League champions are well-represented, at least for the first three innings.

"They’re going to announce the starting lineups, so I’m going to talk to the guys and see if I can get an at-bat out of everybody," Maddon said. "I think it will be great. These people are going to show up to see our guys and acknowledge what we done last year and the opening of the new facility, I think it would be appropriate. As long as there is no nicks, bumps or bruises, I probably will do that. You’ll see an A lineup out there, and then it will move along from there."

February 23rd Rays Spring Training Notes

Rays Spring Training 2009Today was day 9 of spring training, 42 days to the season opener on April 6th at the Boston Red Sox, and 51 days until the home opener April 13th against the New York Yankees. Monday was the 6th day of full squad workouts, and the camp roster is at 63 (32 pitchers, 7 catchers, 14 infielders, 10 outfielders).

Monday's Open House drew approximately 3,000 fans for the Rays first workout on the main field at Charlotte Sports Park. The club also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new team store as Rays players signed autographs.

Tuesday's Schedule:
· 8 a.m. – Parking in main lot opens
· 9 a.m. – Gates open
· 9:30 a.m.-Noon - Workout

Note: The Rays have their MLBPA meeting at 9 a.m. in the clubhouse. The meeting is expected to last a couple of hours and the Rays will not take batting practice on the field.

Quotes from Manager Joe Maddon:
On today’s crowds inside Charlotte Sports Park: "They brought some energy to our workout this morning, they should do it more often, it’s great."

On his thoughts on Charlotte Sports Park: "I love it. I absolutely love it. From a theoretical perspective, I like the fact that it’s big. I like a deep and big spring training ballpark. The ball has a tendency to carry and I prefer it be more pitcher friendly than hitter friendly. The surface itself is magnificent, the dugouts are great and it appears as though the batters eye is appropriate. The bullpens are accessible and it’s all really well done."

Pitching Coach Jim Hickey On Jake McGee

Jim HickeyBill Chastain has this from Jim Hickey on Jake McGee's Monday workout:
Hickey seemed most excited about seeing Jake McGee throw Monday.

The left-handed pitching prospect made 15 starts for Double-A Montgomery in 2008 before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Dr. James Andrews performed season-ending Tommy John surgery on July 8. McGee is expected to miss a portion of the 2009 season as he recovers.

"McGee looked really good," Hickey said. "That was exciting, especially when a guy puts so much work and effort and time into it. The ball came out of his hand tremendously. He was exciting before, but this is a whole different thing now."

Rays Minor Moves

Ben HendricksonMatt Eddy reports the Rays have released RHP Nelson Liriano and RHP Julio Puentes and have reinstated RHP Chris Smith from inactive list. He also says that RHP Ben Hendrickson has signed with the Minnesota Twins.

Liriano, who turned 21 on December 6th, was the closer for the DSL Rays in 2008. He put up excellent numbers: 0.32 ERA in 28.1 IP over 27 appearances, struck out 34 and only walked 4, had 16 saves, a 10.8 SO/9, and a 8.5 SO/BB ratio. Can't pitch much better than that so there must be more to the story. I was hoping to see him close for the GCL Rays this year.

Puentes, who turned 23 on February 2nd, made one relief appearance for the Princeton Rays last year. On June 17th he went one inning, giving up a run on a hit and three walks while striking out one.

Hendrickson, who turned 28 on February 4th, started 27 games for the Durham Bulls in 2008. He was 10-9 with a 4.58 ERA. Over 149.1 innings he struck out 81 and walked 64. Hendrickson was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round of the 1999 draft. Probably a good move for him as he had no chance to reach the majors as a starter with the Rays.

Spring Training Probable Pitchers

Wednesday, February 25th vs. Cincinnati Reds – Charlotte Sports Park (radio: WHNZ 1250-AM) - 1:05 p.m.
Reds – RH Edinson Volquez
Rays – LH Carlos Hernandez, others scheduled to pitch include RH Jason Hammel, LH Randy Choate, RH Lance Cormier, LH J.P. Howell, RH Neal Frontz, RH Mitch Talbot

Thursday, February 26th at New York Yankees – Steinbrenner Field, Tampa (Webcast – - 1:15 p.m.
Rays – RH Wade Davis
Yankees – TBD

Friday, February 27th vs. Boston Red Sox, Charlotte Sports Park (Webcast - – 1:05 p.m.
Red Sox – RH Michael Bowden
Rays – RH Jeff Niemann

February 23rd Spring Training Schedule

Rays Spring TrainingToday the Rays will be hosting an open house at the new Charlotte Sports Park at 10 a.m. Admission and parking are free. Parking in the main lot will begin at 9:30 a.m. Fans will have the opportunity to tour the renovated ballpark, watch the team work out on field and view a special batting practice session. Concession stands and the unique ballpark boardwalk will be open for the first time and the club will hold a special ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new team store located on the ballpark’s main concourse behind home plate. Select Rays players will sign autographs during the ceremony.

The Schedule:
· 9:30 a.m. – Parking in main lot opens
· 10:00 a.m. – Gates open
· 10:15 a.m. – Workout on ballpark’s main field
· 11:15 a.m. – Batting practice
· 12:45 p.m. – Ribbon Cutting for team store followed by autograph session with select Rays players

Top 50 Pitchers Under 25

Scott KazmirAdam Foster at Project Prospect rates the Top 50 Pitchers Under 25, Rays include:

3. Scott Kazmir
11. David Price
24. Matt Garza
HM. Jeremy Hellickson

No Wade Davis.

#9 Jacob McGee Statistics

Statistics for Jacob McGee:

200518A-Hudson Valley155476.231264 4323123893.643.76
200620AGreat Lakes Loons2679134.056110320375444651712.963.63
200721A+Vero Beach2154116.24708617384538391452.933.47

200518A-Hudson Valley7.4%28.5%.334
200620AGreat Lakes Loons11.6%30.5%.31045%4%2.973.32
200721A+Vero Beach8.3%30.9%.28943%5%2.812.98

Split Statistics with Montgomery in 2008:

Top 15 Pitchers: #9 Jake McGee

Jacob McGeeJake McGee
6'3" 190 lbs. DOB: 8/6/86
Left-Handed Starting(?) Pitcher
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
2008: Montgomery
Acquired: 2004 Draft, 5th Round, 135th Overall

Coming into 2008, McGee was arguably the Rays most exciting prospect. Sure, everyone wanted to see what Evan Longoria would do in the majors, and yeah, there was the David Price guy. But McGee... here was this left-hander throwing in the upper-90's, touching 99 a few times. Between Vero Beach and Montgomery a year prior(2007), McGee struck out 175 batters in 140 innings. There was no doubt he could bring it.

Then in 2009, something just looked... off. He wasn't dominating like he had in previous years. Certainly some of that's attributable to being in AA to start a season for the first time, but he was definitely laboring more than he used to. He still put up a not-bad(but not good) ERA in his first 15 starts(3.94), but one stat was way out of whack: the strikeouts. His K/9 went from 10.4 in 2005 to 11.5 in 2006 to 11.2 in 2007... and then plummeted to just 7.5 in 2008. After feeling some soreness in his forearm after a start in late June, the bomb finally dropped on July 1: Torn elbow ligament, Tommy John surgery the following week.

Coincidentally, today(Monday) is the day McGee throws off of a mound for the first time since then, although it's a just a 20-pitch fastball session. Still, his rehab seems to be on track and he says his goal is to return sometime in July, which would be about in line with the 12-month recovery timetable.

Of course, to expect the old McGee right away is to expect disappointment. If his velocity does eventually return to where it was, it won't happen this year. Even before the surgery, McGee struggled at times with his control and his breaking pitches. It's going to take a while for those to come back, too. Judging by some past Tommy John victims, McGee may not truly be back to full effectiveness until late 2010 or 2011. And of course there is the possibility that his velocity doesn't come back.

He threw mid-upper 90's before the injury, but it's pointless to speculate on what it may be in his return. He also throws a curveball and a changeup, each which showed some signs of development and should become at least average pitches in the future.

Popular opinion now on McGee has him becoming a bullpen arm and a potential closer in the future. Given his overpowering fastball, average offspeed stuff, and now the surgery, that may not be a bad option. But when he returns, let's assume July, the Rays will probably use him as a starter in Montgomery to get him the innings he needs to regain his form.

This isn't the best case scenario for McGee(that would be remaining a starter and developing into an ace like how it looked pre-injury), but it's a pretty optimistic one: starting games in Montgomery in July and August this season, then moving up to Durham for 2010. He'll begin there in the rotation, but assuming he's effective and there are no holes in the Rays rotation, at around mid-season they could move him to the bullpen. Given 2-3 weeks to adjust to working from the bullpen, the Rays call him up in August and he works in middle relief for the final two months. Then in 2011, he enters camp prepared to win the closer's job.

That's assuming an awful lot. For now, take it as a good sign that McGee's back throwing from a mound and is on pace for a return this summer. If he returns to his 2007 form over the next two years, watch out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rays Spring Training Open House On Monday

Rays Spring Training 2009Bill Chastain reports:
The Rays will host an open house at the new Charlotte Sports Park on Monday at 10 a.m. ET. Admission and parking are free to all fans; parking in the main lot will be available beginning at 9:30 a.m.

During the open house, fans will have an opportunity to tour the renovated ballpark, watch the Rays work out on the stadium field and view a special batting practice session.

Tampa Bay Rays Advance Scouting Reports

Tampa Bay RaysMarc Topkin has this on changes the Rays are making to their advance scouting:
And among the ideas is to switch from having a traditional advance scout on the road watching their next opponent in person, as most teams still do, to instead, as a few other teams do, preparing their reports internally using computers, data and video.

The theory, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, is to provide manager Joe Maddon and staff with more extensive information — trends, stats, tendencies, etc. — that can be more easily applied.
"When an advance scout goes in there, he's seeing it for three, four days," [Maddon] said. "The data we're going to accumulate goes over a longer period of time, which would indicate it's more correct and not as much one man's subjective opinion. We feel as though this may be the next level of advance scouting."

More Spring Training Starters Announced

Jeff NiemannAfter Carlos Hernandez starts the spring training opener on Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds, Joey Johnston says Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann will start the next two games:
The Rays just announced Wade Davis will start Thursday afternoon’s exhibition game against the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field. Meanwhile, Jeff Niemann will start Friday’s home exhibition against the Red Sox, and he’ll be opposed by Michael Bowden.

The Ones That Got Away

Baseball America recently published their College Preview for 2009. Three left-handed pitchers that the Rays drafted, but did not sign, are mentioned:

Michael MinorMichael Minor:
-- LHP, Vanderbilt, profile
-- Junior, 6'4", 210 lbs. (Vanderbilt lists him at 195 lbs.)
-- Rays drafted in 2006: 13th round, 379th overall, out of Forrest High School (TN)
-- BA projects him to be the 12th pick in the 1st round of the 2009 draft
-- BA's #8 prospect in the College Class of 2009
-- Named to BA's Second Team 2009 Preseason All-America
-- BA's #8 prospect in the Junior Class of 2009
-- 2008 stats: 7-3 with a 4.28 ERA. In 103 innings, struck out 101 and walked 28.
-- BA quote from the College Top 100, Best Secondary Pitch: "LHP Mike Minor and RHP A.J. Griffin have the best changeups."
-- BA quote from the College Top 100, Best Command: "Minor has repeatable yet deceptive mechanics, which allow him to hit his spots and generate swings and misses despite the fact that his changeup is his lone consistent plus pitch."
-- Named to BA's preseason All-Conference Team for the Southeastern Conference
-- Named BA's preseason Pitcher Of The Year for the Southeastern Conference
-- BA's #1 2009 Draft Prospect from the Southeastern Conference

Alex McReeAlex McRee:
-- LHP, Georgia, profile
-- Junior, 6'6", 230 lbs. (Georgia lists him at 236 lbs.)
-- Rays drafted in 2006: 48th round, 1421st overall, out of Chestatee High School (GA)
-- BA's #25 prospect in the College Class of 2009
-- Named to BA's Third Team 2009 Preseason All-America
-- BA's #23 prospect in the Junior Class of 2009
-- 2008 stats: 7-1 with a 3.98 ERA. In 61 innings, struck out 65 and walked 31.
-- BA quote from the College Top 100, Best Fastball: "Among lefties, Alex McRee has the best combination of velocity (low 90s), life and downward plane."
-- BA quote from the Georgia writeup: "McRee, a bullpen force in 2008, has the arm strength (he showed a 92-95 mph fastball in relief) and quality secondary stuff to vault into the first round if he proves he can sustain his stuff as a starter."
-- BA's #6 2009 Draft Prospect from the Southeastern Conference

Ryan CarpenterRyan Carpenter:
-- LHP, Gonzaga, profile
-- Freshman, 6'5", 207 lbs. (Gonzaga lists him at 215 lbs.)
-- Rays drafted in 2008: 21st round, 623rd overall, out of Cactus High School (AZ)
-- BA's #45 prospect in the Freshmen Class of 2009
-- BA's #3 Top Newcomer in the West Coast Conference

Assuming BA is correct that Minor will be gone before we pick, keep an eye on McRee when we pick 30th overall.