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The new Devil Rays

    A look at the 23 players new to the organization.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 1999


Pitchers

Roger Bailey No. 59
AGE: 28 B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-0. WT: 180.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent..
BACKGROUND: Former Florida State star came up with Rockies and posted 18-19 record and 4.90 ERA in 92 games (46 starts). . . . Was regular member of rotation in 1997, going 9-10, 4.29. . . . Missed nearly all of 1998 season after suffering neck and back injuries in spring training auto accident.
JOB PROSPECTS: Has thrown well early in camp and if healthy is definitely in the field of candidates to be the No. 4 or 5 starter.

Larry Casian No. 57
AGE: 33. B-R/T-L.
HT: 6-0. WT: 175.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Has spent 12 seasons of pro ball shuttling between majors and minors, mainly as a middle reliever. . . . Busiest season came in 1993 when he pitched in 54 games (56 2/3 innings) for Twins. . . . Has also pitched for Indians, Cubs, Royals and White Sox. . . . Has career 11-13 record and 4.56 ERA in 245 big-league games.
JOB PROSPECTS: Among the most experienced candidates for a left-handed relief job. Certainly has Triple-A experience as well.

Norm Charlton No. 35
AGE: 36. B-S/T-L.
HT: 6-3. WT: 205.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Teamed with Rob Dibble and Randy Myers to form Cincinnati’s Nasty Boys bullpen in early 1990s. . . . Was traded to Seattle in 1993 but tore elbow ligament on Aug. 12, requiring two surgeries. . . . Pitched subsequently for Phillies, Mariners (again), Orioles and Braves with mixed results. . . . Used more recently as setup man. . . . Has career 45-49 record, 3.62 ERA and 96 saves.
JOB PROSPECTS: If healthy is definitely a strong contender for bullpen job.

Steve Cooke No. 54
AGE: 29. B-R/T-L.
HT: 6-6. WT: 245.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Spent three years as regular member of Pirates rotation, posting 25-36 record. . . . Missed 1995 season with bursitis in left shoulder. . . . Signed with Reds but missed nearly all of 1998 with elbow problems.
JOB PROSPECTS: If he proves he’s healthy, he could have a shot at a starter’s job. If not, he is likely headed to Triple-A.

Tim Davis No. 63
AGE: 28 B-L/T-L.
HT: 5-11. WT: 165.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Former Florida State star rose steadily through Mariners organization as reliever but sustained leg, shoulder and elbow injuries. . . . Had Tommy John elbow surgery in June 1997, recovered to pitch 14 games at Double A last year.
JOB PROSPECTS: Another lefty who could be in the mix for bullpen job.

Mark Hutton No. 61
AGE: 29. B-R/B-T.
HT: 6-8. WT: 225.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: One of five Australians to play in the majors, Hutton came up with the Yankees and has also pitched for the Marlins, Rockies and Reds. . . . Mostly a starter in the minors; has been a middle-reliever in majors. . . . Has career 9-7 record, 4.75 ERA.
JOB PROSPECTS: Hard thrower most likely looking at Triple-A slot.

Cory Lidle No. 27
AGE: 26. B-R/T-R
HT: 5-11. WT: 175.
HOW ACQUIRED: Claimed off waivers from Arizona.
BACKGROUND: Went from Twins to Brewers to Mets organization and made it to majors in 1997, posting 7-2 record primarily in relief. . . . Selected by Arizona in expansion draft but missed nearly all of 1998 season because of elbow surgery.
JOB PROSPECTS: Could compete for starting job when healthy, which could be by midseason.

Ben McDonald No. 49
AGE: 31. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-7. WT: 214.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: First overall pick of 1989 draft won 40 games in three years for Orioles, but was slowed by shoulder problems and eventually surgery. . . . Missed all of 1998 season.
JOB PROSPECTS: Is working toward a May or June return to the rotation.

Bobby Munoz No. 62
AGE: 30. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-8 .WT: 260.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Came up with the Yankees and has pitched for the Phillies and Orioles, but never has spent a full season in the majors. . . . One-time starter was effective reliever at Triple-A Rochester in 1998, posting 3-1 record., 1.06 ERA and 19 saves.
JOB PROSPECTS: Is throwing well and could have outside shot at bullpen job if one is available.

Alan Newman No. 46
AGE: 29. B-L/T-L.
HT: 6-6. WT: 240.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Pitched for 11 seasons without making it to the majors. . . . Has been with Twins, Reds, White Sox, Padres. . . . Pitched in 63 games for Triple-A Las Vegas in 1998, posting 3-3 record, 3.30 ERA and seven saves. . . . Rays save enough to place him on 40-man roster.
JOB PROSPECT: Will compete for left-handed relief spot.

Steve Ontiveros No. 50
AGE: 37. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-0. WT: 205.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Spent most of nine-season big-league career with Oakland and was with Phils and Mariners. . . . Was a 1995 All-Star after 8-2 start but hasn’t pitched in majors since. . . . Missed most of 1996 and ’97 because of elbow surgery. . . . Split 1998 between Triple-A Memphis and Rochester. . . . Has career 33-30 record, 3.62 ERA.
JOB PROSPECT: Has shot at spots in rotation and could relieve.

Erik Plantenberg
No. 64
AGE: 30. B-R/T-L.
HT: 6-1. WT: 185.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Spent most of 10 pro seasons in the minors. . . . Has been with Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Francisco. . . . Spent 1998 with Triple-A Fresno. . . . Has save and no decisions in 61 big-league games.
Job prospects: Won a spot in ’97 Phillies bullpen with strong spring, could do same here.

Mark Sievert No. 77
AGE: 26. B-L/T-R.
HT: 6-3. WT: 205.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Rising prospect in Toronto organization until falling to an assortment of injuries. . . . Threw a no-hitter for Class-A St. Catherines in 1994. . . . Spent parts of three seasons with Triple-A Syracuse.
JOB PROSPECTS: Seems to be headed for Triple-A Durham’s rotation.

Bobby Witt No. 53
AGE: 34. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-2. WT: 215.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: One-time star with Texas and Oakland is trying to extend career after rough 1998 season — 7-9, 6.57 ERA with Texas and St. Louis. . . . Ranks 20th among active pitchers with 131 wins, more than any Rays pitcher. . . . Won 16 games as recently as 1996. . . . Pitched for Rays manager Larry Rothschild with Florida in 1995. . . . Has career 131-140 record and 4.73 ERA.
JOB PROSPECTS: Has strong shot at winning spot in rotation.

Catchers

Jesse Levis No. 26
AGE: 30. B-L/T-R.
HT: 5-9. WT: 200.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Came up with Indians, was traded to Milwaukee in April 1996. . . . Spent parts of seven seasons in majors, but never got more than 233 at-bats. . . . Has .261 career average.
Job prospects: Is recovering from right shoulder surgery, won’t be ready to play until July.

Joe Oliver No. 34
AGE: 33. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-3. WT: 220.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Came up in Cincinnati chain, started for 1990 World Series team and was there through 1994 season, when he sustained ankle injury. . . . Went to Brewers, then back to Reds, and split poor 1998 season between Detroit and Seattle. . . . Has career .248 batting average.
JOB PROSPECTS: Has worked hard to get back in shape and could push Mike DiFelice for reserve role.

Tom Wilson No. 82
AGE: 28. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-3. WT: 195.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Came up with Yankees and has also played for Cleveland and Arizona. . . . Spent parts of four seasons at Triple A. . . . Hit .303 with 12 homers for Arizona’s Tucson club.
JOB PROSPECTS: Competing for spot at Triple A.

Infielders

Julio Franco No. 18
AGE: 37. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-1. WT: 200.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Three-time All-Star played 15 seasons in majors, winning AL batting title with .341 average in 1991 for Texas. . . . Has played for Cleveland, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. . . . Spent 1995 and 1998 seasons in Japan with Chiba Lotte. . . . Played second base early in career, first base and DH recently.
JOB PROSPECTS: Appears ticketed for Mexico City affiliate unless he has eye-popping spring and wins backup infield spot.

Aaron Holbert No. 70
AGE: 26. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-0 WT: 160
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Former first-round pick (1990) moved through Cardinals organization but appeared in one major-league game in eight years. . . . Signed with Seattle and split 1998 between Double-A Orlando and Triple-A Tacoma. . . . Has career .262 average in minors.
JOB PROSPECTS: Is likely to battle for playing time at second base and shortstop with Durham.

David Lamb No. 15
AGE: 23. B-S/T-R.
HT: 6-2. WT: 165.
HOW ACQUIRED: In Rule 5 draft.
BACKGROUND: Second-round pick came up through Orioles system and made it to Triple A in 1998, hitting .298 in 48 games. . . . Was named Double-A All-Star before promotion.
JOB PROSPECTS: In running for utility infield role, but must be kept on Rays roster or offered back to Orioles.

Outfielders

Billy Ashley No. 66
AGE: 28. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-6. WT: 245.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Star prospect in the Dodgers system for years, culminated in 1994 when he hit .345 with 37 HRs and 105 RBI for Triple-A Albuquerque and was named minor-league player of the year. . . . Spent parts of six seasons with Dodgers, compiling .231 average. . . . Split 1998 with Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket.
JOB PROSPECTS: Could make outside run for backup job if he flashes his tremendous power. Otherwise, he’s likely headed to Triple-A Durham.

Jose Canseco No. 33
AGE: 34. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-4. WT: 240.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as free agent.
BACKGROUND: One of game’s most productive players when healthy, 397 home runs (30th all time) and 1,214 RBI. . . . Leads all active players with 1,630 strikeouts. . . . Five-time All-Star. . . . Won 1988 AL MVP Award in Oakland with .307 average, 42 homers, 40 stolen bases and 124 RBI. . . . Has also played for Texas, Boston and Toronto. . . . Hit career-high 46 homers in 1998 and has a .266 career average.
JOB PROSPECTS: Key off-season acquisition will bat third and split time between DH and outfield.

Quenton Lowery No. 72
AGE: 28. B-R/T-R.
HT: 6-3. WT: 195.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as minor-league free agent.
BACKGROUND: Star college basketball player has been with Rangers, Mets and Cubs organizations, reaching majors at end of 1997 season. . . . Hit career- high 17 homers and batted .301 for Triple-A Iowa in 1997. . . . Has .241 career major-league average.
JOB PROSPECTS: Has mix of speed and power, but overcrowded outfield has him likely headed to Triple A.

 

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