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Draft Report Card


Jon Switzer
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Best Pro Debut: OF Jonny Gomes (16) was named MVP of the Rookie-level Appalachian League after hitting .291-16-44 with 15 steals. RHP Jake Carney (20) posted matching 0.64 ERAs at short-season Hudson Valley and full-season Class A Charleston.

Best Athlete: The Devil Rays received a lot of attention for signing Toe Nash out of the semipro Sugar Cane League last summer, and they went back there to find OF Joey Gathright (32) this year. He has more experience with football than with baseball, but Gathright’s physical gifts are undeniable, particularly his speed. Tampa Bay also likes his offensive potential, though he’ll need a lot of refinement and will have to find a position.

Best Hitter: 2B Fernando Cortez (9) batted .278-1-25 at Hudson Valley. Drafted out of Grossmont (Calif.) CC, which also produced Devil Rays lefty Joe Kennedy, Cortez moved from shortstop to third base during the summer, then to second during instructional league.

Best Raw Power: OF Aaron Clark (8) has big lefthanded power, though he may have to tone down his swing after hitting .201-6-35 with 66 strikeouts in as many games at Hudson Valley.

Fastest Runner: The Devil Rays have clocked Gathright at 6.18 second in the 60-yard dash.

Best Defensive Player: 2B/SS Jason St. Clair (10) is solid at both middle-infield positions. He teamed with Orioles first-rounder Bryan Bass to form the double-play combination on the U.S. national team that won a silver medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships.

Best Fastball: RHP Dewon Brazelton didn’t pitch in a game between the end of Middle Tennessee State’s season in May and instructional league in September. But he was as good as ever when he took the mound, easily throwing 93-94 mph and reaching 97. And his changeup may be even better than his fastball. Tampa Bay got several power arms, including three LHPs–Jon Switzer (2), Chris Seddon (5) and Tim King (7)–who have topped out at 93 mph. RHP Chris Flynn can hit 94 mph and also has a nasty knuckle-curve.

Most Intriguing Background: Brazelton and Switzer were roommates on Team USA in 2000. Unsigned C Daron Roberts (25) is the son of 1972 No. 1 overall draft pick Dave Roberts. Unsigned 2B Matt Lukevics’ (45) father Mitch works for the Devil Rays in player development.

Closest To The Majors: Giving Brazelton an immediate September callup was the inducement that got him to agree to a $4.2 million big league contract. He didn’t pitch in a game, but it wouldn’t be an upset if he reached pitching-starved Tampa Bay at some point in 2002.

Best Late-Round Pick: Gomes. Carney has a good arm, and RHP Joshua Parker (29) has a hard sinker that bears watching.

The One Who Got Away: RHP David Bush (4) would have fit right in with what the Devil Rays were trying to accomplish. He threw 96 mph during the Cape Cod League all-star game and was the top pitching prospect in the summer circuit.

Assessment: Even without Bush, Tampa Bay can’t help but be pleased with its pitching haul. The Devil Rays almost lost Brazelton when they alienated him with a lowball offer he called "chump change," but they got the deal done at the last minute. They stole Seddon in the fifth round after shoulder tendinitis kept his velocity down as a high school senior.

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