Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Catching Up - Part 2

Two people with ties to the Rays organization have been named members of the International League Hall of Fame Class of 2012:
Former International League Most Valuable Pitcher Dave Eiland was arguably the most accomplished hurler in the League during the 1990's, leading the circuit in wins, strikeouts, and complete games. A member of three Governors' Cup champion clubs, Eiland posted a career mark of 82-42 with a 3.44 ERA with Columbus, Charlotte, and Durham. In 2007 Eiland was the pitching coach for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees before serving in the same capacity for the New York Yankees from 2008 to 2010. He is currently the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals.

During one of Eiland's seasons in Columbus and all three years he played in Durham, his manager was fellow inductee Bill Evers. Evers is the winningest manager in Durham Bulls history. His clubs made six playoff appearances between 1998 and 2004, sweeping their way to a pair of Governors' Cup championships along the way. A two-time member of the International League All-Star coaching staff, Evers left the Bulls in 2006 to join the Tampa Bay Rays field staff. He is currently the field coordinator for the organization.

Rocco Baldelli, the Rays Special Assistant, Baseball Operations, still gets asked about a comeback:
Baldelli said the ailment never has been diagnosed. "I've gotten to see a lot of doctors, especially when I was playing still, or trying to play," he said. "Never came to an exact diagnosis. But I feel pretty good right now and I'm going to continue to maybe try and do what I can to find out what it is that is actually going on in my body and hopefully some day find that answer."

If that answer should come fast, could that mean a comeback from the Woonsocket Rocket? "I don't think so," he said with a smile. "I'm pretty comfortable where I'm at."

Some details on the Princeton Rays annual trip to Pittsburgh:
The Princeton Rays are inviting fans to register now for the team's 8th Annual Major League Bus Trip to Pittsburgh. This year, the trip will be conducted on May 5, 2012 to Pittsburgh's PNC Park to see the Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds in a 7:05 p.m. game.

Cost of the trip is $95.00 per person and includes all transportation fees and game ticket while all participants on the trip will also receive a Pittsburgh Pirates replica "21" jersey of Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and view a fireworks show following the game.

An update on Tanner English, the Rays 13th rounder last June who turned down six figures to attend South Carolina:
"Tanner English is going to be in there quite a bit as a true freshmen," [USC Associate Head Coach Chad] Holbrook said. "He is a tremendous athlete. He has a great throwing arm and can run like no kid I've ever seen before."
English was rated the third-best high school prospect in the Palmetto State by Baseball America after hitting .412 in his senior season with seven HRs, 23 RBI and 28 stolen bases.

"He can really throw," Holbrook said. "I don't know if there is a difference between the arm strength of Jackie (Bradley Jr.) and Tanner. When Tanner throws the ball, people will ooh and aah. It's like watching Ichiro throw. He can really throw even though he's not a big kid and he can really run." His incredible speed (a major-league scouting report reported English ran the 60-yard dash in 6.37 seconds) was a major reason he was taken in the top 15 rounds by Tampa Bay.

Marc David interviewed Ian Tomkins, the Rays 50th round pick last June out of Abilene Christian who played in four games for the GCL Rays:
But a torn quadriceps muscle is not conducive to catching with all the kneeling and squatting involved. So Tomkins sat on the bench and observed while at the same time picking the brain of coaches when the opportunity presented itself.

"I wasn't happy with the injury," said Tomkins, who caught for two years at ACU after one stellar season at Wake Forest. "It was good to see what the team was doing, to learn things before I had to go out there and do it. I talked a lot to the pitching coach and the roving catching instructor."
The right-handed swinging Tomkins got nine at bats last season and collected four hits, a .444 batting average. The only hit he remembers, though, was the one off the right-field fence. As he rounded first base and headed for second, he tore his quad muscle. He tried to come back early and ended up missing significant time.

Former Rays RHP Brian Baker has been named a member of the 2012 induction class to the Columbus State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Baker signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a minor league free agent this offseason after seven years in the Rays organization. Details:
Baker, a Columbus native, was both a starting pitcher and closer for the CSU baseball team during his career. He was named an All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association during his junior and senior campaigns in 2004 and 2005. As a freshman, in 2002, the right-hander was named MVP of the NCAA Division II College World Series as he led the Cougars to a National Championship that season. He was a three-time All-Peach Belt Conference player (2002, 2004 & 2005) and also guided his team to another World Series appearance in 2004. Baker is the school’s all-time leader in appearances (98), strikeouts (308), and saves (22) while ranking fifth in wins (27) and complete games (12). He is also sixth in innings pitched (310.1) and ERA (2.58). All those marks rank in the top-10 all-time in the PBC record book except his win total which is tied for the 11th best tally.
The induction ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 12, 2012, at the Lumpkin Center.

Former Rays outfielder Jason Patton (47th round, 2009) was recently signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played for the Princeton Rays in 2009 and then for two seasons in the Frontier League before making it back to affiliated ball with the D-Backs.

Former Rays RHP Mickey Jannis (44th round, 2010) was recently traded in indy ball:
Jannis, who pitched two seasons in the Rays organization, was released by the team in October. The 6-foot right-hander was dealt by the Frontier League's Washington Wild Things to the Abilene (Tex.) Prairie Dogs of the North American League. He was 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 34 combined games with the Rays' rookie league team, and Class-A affilitates in Hudson Valley (N.Y.) and Charlotte the past two seasons.

It looks like former Rays RHP Greg Reinhard (6th round, 2005) may be retiring. He didn't pitch in 2011 and hasn't signed on with a team yet in 2012. You may remember back in February of 2007 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with OF Andrew Lopez (8th round, 2005) for RHP Jae Kuk Ryu. Here is the latest on Reinhard:
Reinhard, 28, is busy operating his baseball academy and recently opened a year-round training facility in Madison. He also runs camps and clinics and will team up with XL Athletic Performance of Bellin Health on Feb. 25 for a camp at Green Bay East High School.
He's not exactly retired, but he no longer holds tightly to the dream of making the big leagues. Reinhard could still pitch in an independent league, like he did with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in 2010. He also said he's been in the running for scouting jobs with major league teams.

Congratulations to Princeton Rays GM Jim Holland:
Several local residents and a local business were honored for their contributions to the Mercer County community Tuesday night at the 2012 Annual Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Dinner.
The 2012 Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Jim Holland, general manager of the Princeton Rays, for his contributions to the community through the baseball club.

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