By MIKE READLING
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 25, 2001
Before the 1997 season, the Devil Rays dove into the free-agent market, spending $13.2-million to sign the top two young pitchers that year. The thinking was that Matt White and Bobby Seay would shore up the farm system before moving into key roles on the Tampa Bay staff.
If this season is any indication, they may be waiting awhile.
White, projected as a possible No. 5 starter heading into spring training, struggled with his control and mechanics throughout the spring and continues to have problems at Triple-A Durham. He is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in four games.
Through 17 innings, the 22-year-old right-hander has allowed 18 hits, struck out 12 and walked nine. White has hit three batters and thrown five wild pitches, a sign his control still is shaky.
Seay's 9.00 ERA is the highest on the Double-A Orlando Rays staff. He is 0-2 and has given up 19 hits through 11 innings, with nine strikeouts and nine walks.
HOT, HOT, HOT: Perhaps the hottest hitter in the organization is Bakersfield's Dan Grummitt.
The 24-year-old 22nd-round draft choice in 1998 hit safely in the Blaze's first 14 games, and Monday's 1-for-2 performance raised his average to .390. Grummitt has turned from a power hitter -- he finished third in the organization last season with 19 home runs -- into more of a consistent hitter.
Going into Tuesday's games, Grummitt was tied for the team lead with four homers and had eight doubles.
MAKING THEIR PITCH: Orlando's top four pitchers continue to dominate the Southern League. Joe Kennedy, Delvin James, Jim Magrane and Ronni Severino had combined to pitch 841/3 innings through Monday, allowing 17 earned runs for an ERA of 1.81. They had a combined record of 7-1 and had struck out 67.
RUNNING MAN: Charleston second baseman Irwin Centeno woke up Tuesday leading professional baseball with 18 stolen bases.
Centeno, a 19-year-old who signed with the Rays as a free agent from Venezuela in 1997, stole three bases against Augusta on Friday night and led Jamaal Young of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Mariners) by one heading into Tuesday's games.
SITTING MAN: Durham pitcher Jason Standridge received a five-game suspension for his part in a bench-clearing brawl last week with Toledo. Standridge (1-1, 6.17 ERA) starts today when the Bulls host Columbus.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK, PART I: Durham's Mickey Callaway was named the International League pitcher of the week Monday after earning his 25th victory as a Bull and recording two wins with a 0.82 ERA for the week.
Callaway, who never had earned a weekly honor in Triple A, is 2-1 this season with a 1.23 ERA.
The International League's player of the week was Deion Sanders, who plays for the Louisville RiverBats.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK, PART II: Bakersfield pitcher and former Tarpon Springs standout Ed Kofler was named the California League's pitcher of the week last week. Kofler is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in four games. He has pitched 232/3 innings, allowing three runs on 17 hits, walking seven and striking out 21.
HURT AGAIN: Paul Wilder, the first draft pick in Rays history (29th overall in 1996), is on the disabled list again. The outfielder, who has yet to play a full season and has never advanced past Single A, was placed on the DL in Bakersfield with a sore knee, retroactive to April 17. He is hitting .276 with no home runs, two RBI and 12 strikeouts in 29 at-bats.