Sunday, June 14, 2009

Extended Spring Training Wrap-Up By Nick Hanson

Tampa Bay Rays Extended Spring Training[This article was written by Nick Hanson, one of our Charlotte Stone Crabs, GCL Rays, and Extended Spring Training correspondents.]

As Elvin Perez made the final out, the Rays wrapped up their extended spring training regimen in Port Charlotte and headed off to their short-season clubs. The Rays who had to attend extended spring were forced to endure two and a half months in hell-like conditions. Playing exhibition games in the afternoon after practicing all morning, the game temperatures were often in the low-to-mid 90s. With usually no fans attending their games or workouts, the players had to work hard to keep their spirits high. Many of the Rays in extended spring training were in their first year of professional baseball, and some were in their first months of living in the United States.

The extended spring training period is not designed to be fun for the players or to entertain fans. All home games were played on the backfields of the Charlotte Sports Park. The games are not at all competitive, and are mostly designed to be instructional to the players. Often, games were extended to get extra at-bats or time on the mound for pitchers. Players could be subbed in and out as coaches see fit. Pitchers who were getting lit up sometimes get their inning ended early before the damage could get severe.

Some players were in their second or third year of experiencing the extended spring training program. Catchers Mark Thomas and Tyler Hauschild, who spent last season playing for Hudson Valley after extended spring training, were again back in extended and will likely both play their second year for Hudson Valley. Others were in their first year of extended spring training. Several players from the Rays farm teams in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela were brought in to stock up the Princeton and Gulf Coast League rosters. Many of the players spend almost all of their day at either the ball field or in their hotel room, not able to drive. The players also receive English lessons and other information about professional baseball in the United States. Some of the names on the Princeton/Gulf Coast rosters might be unfamiliar to even the most dedicated Rays prospect fans.

The players now head off to either Hudson Valley, New York; Princeton, West Virginia; or will stay in Port Charlotte to play for the Gulf Coast League Rays or continue to rehabilitate injuries in Charlotte.


  1. Since the players are on their way to where they have been assigned, when will be able to see where everyone is assigned?

  2. Mark Thomas is going back to Hudson Valley? He was their starting catcher in 2008. If he's there and last year's starting catcher at Princeton -Mayobanex Acosta is there, which one is projected to be the starting catcher?

  3. You could see something similar to Bowling Green, where Jake Jefferies and Mike McCormick take turns catching and playing DH.

  4. As to the first question, the Rays haven't officially released them yet, and don't go by Of some of the players I know, I think the GCL roster (only a partial) on milb is right, but Princeton and HV are not. I'm not going to post the ones I know until the teams make the official releases, don't want anyone to get in trouble since it would be pretty obvious who told me, at least on most of them. You never know what might get a player in the doghouse, so my policy is to post nothing I receive directly from players/their relatives. I will say that so far there's only been one that's surprised me, but it may lead to a jump to a full season club soon, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. As soon as I get the official word, all 3 rosters will be posted, plus who is staying in Port Charlotte but not to play for the GCL Rays.

  5. Doug, you made a valid point about not publishing things before getting the OFFICIAL word. You know you've now peaked my curiosity about the one that surprised you. I keep thinking it may be Kyle Lobstein-last year's TB #2 pick. Or, perhaps, Elias Otero from Princeton. I know---you have to keep it secret!. But, it is fun to guess!

  6. Oh boy, I never should have done that. Sorry to act like I know something and won't tell. I was just trying to explain my point of view on the the "breaking it first" attitude.

    As to your guesses, not a major prospect, like the guys that you mentioned, well I like Otero, but don't know about him, assume HV (why not BG?).

    But I wish I never brought it up. Not your fault, mine. Just the only one so far I've been suprised about is all.

    Won't make this mistake again, and again Anon, not your fault, I just would prefer to err on the side of the kids and not report anything the teams haven't said is OK, even if they could care less. Not my call.

  7. I would expect the rosters to come out in the next few days. The players are arriving/heading to their new clubs, and once things get finalized (jersey numbers and such) they will be released.

    I'm pretty sure I know the one that Doug was "surprised" by, and it really isn't anything to panic/be excited about. ;)