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By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published November 20, 2004
The Devil Rays did some housekeeping Friday, when teams were required to submit rosters to Major League Baseball.
Tampa Bay released infielder Geoff Blum, pitcher Jeremi Gonzalez and utility player Damian Rolls, and added to the roster minor-league pitchers Brian Stokes, Jason Hammel and Chris Seddon.
The tinkering left 37 players on the 40-man roster, meaning there is room to add first-round draft pick Jeff Niemann, whom general manager Chuck LaMar is confident will be signed before spring training, sign free agents or select players in next month's Rule 5 draft. Stokes, Hammel and Seddon are now protected from that draft.
The release of Blum, Gonzalez and Rolls was not a surprise.
Cam Bonifay, director of player development and scouting, called Stokes, Hammel and Seddon "three outstanding young pitching prospects."
Stokes, 25, is the most intriguing. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1998, the righty was 27-27 with a 3.38 ERA in 149 games, including 58 starts, before missing part of 2003 and all of last season after Tommy John surgery.
Bonifay said Stokes likely will begin next season with Double-A Montgomery "and has a chance to progress to be very close to the major leagues by the end of the summer."
Bonifay said the same of Seddon, 21. The lefty, a fifth-round pick in 2001, was 14-10 with a 3.42 ERA for Montgomery and Class-A Bakersfield. His 143 strikeouts were second most in the Rays' minor-league system.
Hammel, 22, led the system with 156 strikeouts. The 6-foot-5 righty was 10-9 with a 2.64 ERA with Bakersfield and Class-A Charleston, and was Bakersfield's pitcher of the year with a 6-2 mark and 1.81 ERA in 11 starts. Baseball America said the 10th-round pick in 2002 had the organization's best curveball.
YANKEES SPRING TRAINING: Season tickets for the home schedule, which begins March 3, are on sale now at the Legends Field Ticket Office, Individual-game tickets go on sale in January. For ticket information, call 813-879-2244. Schedule, 11C .
[Last modified November 20, 2004, 01:05:22]