tampabay.com

Rays have far shorter drive to see prospects

Vero Beach, the new advanced Class A team, starts tonight.

By Marc Topkin
Published April 5, 2007


The Devil Rays are coming to Clearwater. Dunedin and Tampa, too.

As part of the restructuring of their minor-league system, the Rays moved their advanced Class A team from California back to the Florida State League.

They'll be based in Vero Beach, playing at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown, and known as the Devil Rays.

The team, which starts its season tonight, features three of the Rays' top pitching prospects: Jake McGee (who struck out an organization-high 171 batters in 134 innings at SW Michigan last year), Wade Davis (who fanned 165 in 146 innings) and Matt Walker.

"We're very excited about the Big Three in Vero," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "Obviously, a lot can happen between high A and the major leagues, but we're going to do everything we can to put them in position to succeed and develop as quickly as possible. All three have a very real chance of pitching in the major leagues for a long time."

Up close

Manager: Joe Szekely

Coaches: R.C. Lichtenstein, Ben Oglivie

Key players: OF Erold Andrus, RHP Wade Davis, RHP Greg Dupas, INF Rhyne Hughes, LHP Jake McGee, RHP Matt Walker, LHP Mike Wlodarczyk

Info: (772) 569-4929 or vbdrays.com

Area appearances: At Clearwater (May 9-12), at Sarasota (June 2-5), at Tampa (June 27-30), at Dunedin (July 11-14), at Lakeland (Aug. 9-12).