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2003 Wrapups: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

With the 2003 season coming to a close, we will be providing a brief wrapup of the season for all 30 minor league teams. In each report, we will take a look at how the team's Top 10 Prospects performed, identify some emerging prospects and organizational leaders, and report on the performance of their top draft pick.
Complete index of Team Wrapups               2003 League Wrapups

By Kevin Goldstein
December 22, 2003

Season Results

Level Team League W L PCT
AAA Durham* International 73 67 .521
AA Orlando Southern 65 72 .474
A+ Bakersfield California 70 70 .500
A Charleston (S.C.) South Atlantic 77 62 .554
SS Hudson Valley New York-Penn 37 37 .500
R Princeton Appalachian 23 41 .359
TOTAL 345 349 .497
   * won league championship


Performance of Top 10 Prospects

Here's how our top 10 prospects entering this season performed in 2003.

1. Rocco Baldelli, of      Age: 22
Baldelli flashed all of the skills that made him Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year in 2002, playing center field every day at the big league level and finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Late season slide (.257 in Aug/Sept) brought his final numbers down, but the best is clearly yet to come.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Tampa Bay (MLB) 156 637 89 184 32 8 11 78 30 128 27 .289 .326 .416

2. Josh Hamilton, of      Age: 22
Hamilton took a leave of absence to address some personal issues in spring training, and missed the entire season despite an initial report that he would return to the field in early May. The first overall pick in 1999 possesses enormous talent, but turns 23 in May and has played just 83 games in the past three seasons.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Did Not Play

3. B.J. Upton, ss      Age: 19
Second overall pick in 2002 got off to a slow start in his pro debut, but found himself in Double-A at the age of 18 after hitting .411 in July. A five-tool player right now with an excellent batting eye, Upton is one of the top prospects in the game and it's not out of question that he could make his major league debut before his 20th birthday. Led all minor leaguers with 56 errors, but that was mostly a result of showing off his plus arm as opposed to sloppy play. He projects as a plus defender.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Charleston (Low Class A) 101 384 70 116 22 6 7 46 57 80 38 .302 .394 .445
Orlando (Double-A) 29 105 14 29 8 0 1 16 16 25 2 .276 .376 .381

4. Dewon Brazelton, rhp      Age: 23
Was miserable in 10 major league starts and found himself all the way down to the Class A California League to fix his mechanics, where he only began to make progress as the season came to a close. Returned to his old delivery while adding a plus slider to his repertoire in the Arizona Fall League, where he went 5-0 and led the circuit in strikeouts. By all accounts, he's back on track.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Tampa Bay (MLB) 1-6 0 6.89 10 48.1 57 49 37 23 34
Durham (Triple-A) 2-2 0 4.21 5 25.2 23 14 12 11 18
Orlando (Double-A) 2-0 0 2.53 2 10.2 8 6 3 8 5
Bakersfield (High Class A) 1-5 0 5.26 9 49.2 62 33 29 19 42

5. Seth McClung, rhp      Age: 22
McClung made the major league roster out of spring training, and moved into the rotation after six weeks in the bullpen. Felt elbow pain before a May 22 start, but failed to inform manager Lou Piniella or the training stuff before surrendering seven runs in 3.1 innings without recording a strikeout. After a month of inconclusive MRIs and ineffective throwing programs, he underwent Tommy John surgery in June and will miss the first half of 2004 at the very least.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Tampa Bay (MLB) 4-1 0 5.35 12 38.2 33 23 23 25 25

6. Wes Bankston, of      Age: 20
Bankston missed much of the first two months with a variety of ailments, but seemed to be back on track after hitting .411 (37-for-90) in June. Fell into miserable slump in the second half (hit just .149 in final 30 games), and failed to duplicate the power from his 2002 debut when he led the Appalachian League in home runs and RBIs.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Charleston (Low Class A) 103 375 46 96 18 1 12 60 53 94 2 .256 .346 .405

7. Jon Switzer, lhp      Age: 24
Switzer came on strong late in the season for Orlando, putting up a 2.33 ERA in his final 12 starts. One of many prospects receiving a big league audition, Switzer struggled coming out of the bullpen for the Devil Rays, but pitched very well for Durham in the International League playoffs.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Orlando (Double-A) 8-8 0 3.43 22 126.0 117 63 48 32 100
Tampa Bay (MLB) 0-0 0 7.45 5 9.2 13 8 8 3 7
Durham (Triple-A) 1-0 0 1.80 0 5.0 6 1 1 0 3

8. Antonio Perez, ss/2b      Age: 23
Acquired from the Mariners in the compensation deal for Lou Piniella, Perez showed solid power and on-base skills for a middle infielder, and held his own at the major league level while playing second base, third base and shortstop. His versatility and pop should ensure him of at the very least a bench role in 2004.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Orlando (Double-A) 24 81 16 22 5 1 2 10 18 18 3 .272 .323 .432
Durham (Triple-A) 34 134 27 38 12 2 6 20 10 38 1 .284 .345 .537
Tampa Bay (MLB) 48 125 19 31 6 1 2 12 18 34 4 .248 .345 .360

9. Jason Pridie, of      Age: 20
A second-round pick in 2002, Pridie was seen as a Johnny Damon clone after hitting .366 in his pro debut, but he simply never got on track at Charleston. Hit just .215 against lefties, and was caught stealing 17 times.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Charleston (Lo Class A) 128 530 75 138 28 10 7 48 30 113 26 .260 .302 .391

10. Doug Waechter, rhp      Age: 22
Waechter was solid but unspectacular at both Orlando and Durham, but provided one of the better stories in an otherwise unremarkable season for the Devil Rays when he fired a two-hit shutout against the Mariners in his first major league start. Should be in the rotation for all of 2004.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Orlando (Double-A) 5-3 0 4.13 13 76.1 74 39 35 19 45
Durham (Triple-A) 3-3 0 3.33 10 51.1 51 25 19 12 35
Tampa Bay (MLB) 3-2 0 3.31 6 35.1 29 13 13 15 29


Top Draft Pick:

Delmon Young, of    Camarillo (Calif.) HS   Bonus: $3.7M
The first overall pick in 2004, Young was unable to make his pro debut after signing late, but he made a strong statement by reporting to the advanced Arizona Fall League and hitting .417 in 15 games just weeks after his 18th birthday. Both physically and in his swing mechanics, he's an Albert Belle doppelganger, and he should be productivity-wise as well.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Did Not Play


Emerging Prospects:

Chad Gaudin, rhp: Diminutive righty took an express trip the major leagues after allowing just four runs in his final five starts for Bakersfield and appearing nearly untouchable (19 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 23 K) in three starts for Double-A Orlando. Held his own in the major leagues (.240 opponent's average), though he may be best suited in a bullpen role.
Joey Gathright, of: One of the fastest players in the game, Gathright began to translate raw tools into production, hitting .334 with 69 stolen bases in 111 games before his season was cut short by a separated shoulder. Almost no power, but knows how to get on base (.407 OBP), and understands his strengths and limitations.


Statistical Leaders

Batting Average Matt Diaz .354
Home Runs Vince Harrison 19
Runs Batted In Matt Diaz 86
Stolen Bases Joey Gathright 69
Earned Run Average Chad Gaudin 1.81
Wins Scott Autrey 14
Strikeouts Jose Veras 121
Saves Lee Gardner 30

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