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Three prospects, one goal: continue improving

Jared Sandberg, Josh Pressley and Jim Magrane have big-league hopes.

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 2001


The Raymond Naimoli Complex locker room was filled with anticipation on a rainy morning last week. It was two days before players broke camp and headed to their minor-league assignments.

Some have the routine down pat. Others are looking forward to where they might wind up.

One thing they all have in common is a need to impress. Life in the minor leagues can be cruel. One bad season, even one bad month, can mean a pink slip.

For three Rays prospects, all in different stages of their careers, the 2001 season is a chance to take a big step forward -- or backward.

Third baseman Jared Sandberg, first baseman Josh Pressley and pitcher Jim Magrane each took different paths to the Rays. Each knows this season could make or break his major-league dreams.

"You want to put up the numbers every year," Sandberg said. "All you can do is hope for the best."

Sandberg has been in the Rays system since 1996, when he was drafted in the 16th round out of Capital High School in Olympia, Wash.

In 1997 he was named the Appalachian League's most valuable player, hitting .302 at Princeton. He split the 1998 season between Hudson Valley and Charleston, then played 136 games at Class A St. Petersburg in 1999.

At St. Petersburg, Sandberg switched from second base to third. He earned a promotion to Double-A Orlando last season. But a back injury kept him out seven weeks in the first half of the season. He hit .258 in 67 games and had 15 doubles.

He will start this season in Orlando. Where he goes from there depends on him. "This year is a big year for me," Sandberg said. "They told me this year I need to put up some good numbers. I'm healthy. I'm working hard. I try not to think what other people are saying. I can only play my game."

Pressley is steadily climbing the ladder. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1998 draft but was the Rays' first pick.

He spent his first season in the Gulf Coast League, then the past two at Class A Charleston. He will play this season at Double-A Orlando.

Pressley hit .303 at Charleston last season and led all of Class A with 44 doubles.

"Every year is a pivotal year," Pressley said. "You've got to perform every time you take the field. I think offensively I've done okay. Defensively, I've been trying to improve. I think I've gotten better every year."

No pitcher in the Rays system had a better season than Magrane. The nephew of broadcaster Joe Magrane was the organization's pitcher of the year in 2000 after going 12-5 with a 2.76 ERA at Class A Charleston.

The right-hander wasn't drafted after playing at the University of Iowa. But his solid 2000 season earned a promotion to Double-A Orlando.

"Last year, nobody knew who I was and I was able to relax and just pitch," Magrane said. "This year is going to be a little different. I'm not going to get outs like I used to. The hitters at this level are much better. I can't use the fastball to get outs. And more people know who I am this year."

Durham Bulls

LEAGUE: International (Triple A).

STADIUM/TICKET INFORMATION: Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, N.C., (919) 687-6500.

WEB SITE: http://www.durhambulls.com.

MANAGER: Bill Evers.

COACHES: Joe Coleman, Mako Oliveras.

ROSTER: LHP Cedrick Bowers (6-2, 223); RHP Mickey Callaway (6-2, 209), LHP Trevor Enders (6-0, 214), RHP Tony Fiore (6-4, 224), RHP Lee Gardner (6-0, 219), RHP Rusty Meacham (6-2, 175), RHP Travis Phelps (6-2, 195), RHP Denis Pujals (6-3, 228), RHP Jason Standridge (6-4, 217), LHP Jeff Wallace (6-2, 240), RHP Dan Wheeler (6-3, 222), RHP Matt White (6-5, 230), RHP Victor Zambrano (6-0, 190), C Pat Borders (6-2, 200), C Toby Hall (6-3, 205), C Paul Hoover (6-1, 210), 2B Brent Abernathy (6-2, 200), 1B Mike Caruso (6-1, 172), 3B Aubrey Huff (6-4, 221), SS Andy Sheets (6-2, 180), 1B Ron Wright (6-1, 230), OF Chris Hatcher (6-3, 235), OF Norm Hutchins (6-1, 200), OF Jason Tyner (6-1, 170). Disabled list -- INF Dustin Carr (6-0, 189), RHP Jesus Colome (6-4, 170).

Orlando Rays

LEAGUE: Southern (Double A).

STADIUM/TICKET INFORMATION: Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, Lake Buena Vista, (407) 939-4263.

WEB SITE: http://www.orlandorays.com.

MANAGER: Mike Ramsay.

COACHES: Bryan Kelly, Steve Livesey.

ROSTER: LHP Stevenson Agosto (5-11, 207), RHP Cecilio Garibaldi (6-2, 214), RHP Talley Haines (6-5, 203), RHP Delvin James (6-4, 222), LHP Jason Jimenez (6-2, 208), LHP Joe Kennedy (6-4, 225), RHP Jim Magrane (6-2, 208), LHP Jason Pruett (6-3, 186), RHP Eddy Reyes (6-4, 204), RHP Juan Rosario (6-4, 217), LHP Bobby Seay (6-2, 221), LHP Ronni Severino (6-1, 205), C Jason Brown (6-2, 208), C Yohanny Valera (6-1, 205), 2B Brooks Badeaux (5-10, 175), 1B Brian Becker (6-6, 232), 2B/SS Jorge Cantu (6-1, 178), SS Eddy De Los Santos (6-2, 170), 1B Josh Pressley (6-6, 231), 3B Jared Sandberg (6-3, 221), OF Carl Crawford (6-2, 203), OF Josh Hamilton (6-4, 209), OF Scott Neuberger (6-3, 213), OF Anthony Pigott (6-1, 194). Disabled list -- LHP Anthony Shelby (6-3, 230), C Pierre-Luc LaForest (6-2, 209).

Bakersfield Blaze

LEAGUE: California (Class A).

STADIUM/TICKET INFORMATION: Sam Lynn Ballpark, Bakersfield, (661) 322-1363.

WEB SITE: http://www.bakersfieldblaze.com.

MANAGER: Charlie Montoyo.

COACHES: Marty DeMerritt, Jorge Robles.

ROSTER: LHP Jesse Cornejo (6-3, 196), RHP Neal Frendling (6-3, 194), RHP Ed Kofler (6-2, 175), RHP Travis Minix (6-1, 195), RHP Jose Ortiz (6-5, 204), LHP Jeremy Robinson (6-2, 209), RHP Nathan Ruhl (6-4, 236), LHP Hans Smith (6-9, 265), RHP Brian Stokes (6-1, 203), RHP Enger Veras (6-5, 230), RHP Julio Villalon (6-2, 189), RHP Chris Wright (6-2, 195), C Chairon Isenia (5-11, 216), C Daniel Massiatte (5-11, 181), 3B Andrew Beinbrink (6-3, 212), 1B Alberto Castillo (6-3, 215), SS Kelly Eddlemon (6-2, 181), 1B Daniel Grummitt (6-5, 233), 2B/SS Nestor Perez (5-10, 172), INF Chris Schrock (6-0, 178), OF Matt Diaz (6-1, 206), OF Frank Moore (6-2, 206), OF Jeremy Murch (6-1, 185), OF Kelvin Ryan (6-1, 202), OF Paul Wilder (6-4, 250). Disabled list -- OF Brandon Backe (6-0, 186), RHP Alex Santos (6-1, 201), INF Ramon Soler (6-0, 174).

Charleston Riverdogs

LEAGUE: South Atlantic (Class A).

STADIUM/TICKET INFORMATION: Joseph P. Riley Park, Charleston, S.C., (843) 723-7241.

WEB SITE: http://www.riverdogs.com.

MANAGER: Buddy Biancalana.

COACHES: John Duffy, Jamie Nelson.

ROSTER: LHP Derek Anderson (6-3, 182), RHP John Benedetti (6-0, 188), RHP Jarrett Campbell (6-2, 195), RHP Tim Coward (6-3, 176), RHP Rich Dorman (6-2, 202), LHP Benny Gomez (6-3, 197), LHP Dennis Malaska (6-3, 191), RHP Michael McClung (6-6, 235), RHP Juan Renetria (5-10, 168), LHP Jeff Ridgway (6-3, 186), RHP Evan Rust (6-1, 208), RHP Doug Waechter (6-4, 209), C Iker Franco (6-1, 212), C Jason Marsh (6-2, 189), INF Jace Brewer (6-0, 170), INF Irwin Centeno (6-2, 176), INF Nathan Kaup (6-3, 215), INF Felix Nunez (6-4, 230), INF Juan Salas (6-2, 194), INF Justin Schuda (6-3, 208), INF Angel Volquez (6-3, 186), OF Rocco Baldelli (6-4, 183), OF Adam Bonner (6-5, 206), OF John Jacobs (6-1, 179), OF Brian Martin (6-2, 217). Disabled list -- LHP Cody Getz (6-8, 210), RHP Radhames Peguero (6-0, 184).

Hudson Valley Renegades

LEAGUE: New York-Penn (Class A).

STADIUM/TICKET INFORMATION: Dutchess Stadium, Wappingers Falls, N.Y., (845) 838-0094.

WEB SITE: http://www.hvrenegades.com.

MANAGER: Dave Howard.

COACHES: Dick Bosman, Ramon Ortiz.

NOTE: Season begins after June draft.

Princeton Rays

LEAGUE: Appalachian (Rookie).

STADIUM/TICKET INFORMATION: Hunnicutt Field, Princeton, W.Va., (304) 487-2000.

WEB SITE: http://www.princetondevilrays.com.

MANAGER: Edwin Rodriguez.

COACHES: Rafael Montalvo, WenDell Bolar.

NOTE: Season begins after June draft.

SCHEDULES: Durham, Orlando, Bakersfield and Charleston schedules are posted on the Times Web site, http://www.sptimes.com/DevilRays/2001/minors/.

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