We have been introducing you to each of the Devil Rays minor league affiliates and highlighting a few of the players that we will be tracking over the course of the season. Today: The Southwest Michigan Devil Rays

While we were a little stumped as to where Visalia was, we are fairly confident that Southwest Michigan is in Botswana. As we have done in the three previous posts on the minor league affiliates, we introduce you to the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays mascot, Doodle. Wait! He is a bald eagle? Do they know something about the upcoming name change of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that nobody else knows? Maybe they are on to something. The Devil Rays are named after a fish. The Southwest Michigan Devil Rays have a mascot that likes to eat fish. Of course…Our first thought was that the mascot may have predated the time when the team became an affiliate of the Devil Rays. While that may still be true, there is nothing in the history of the franchise to suggest the use of a Bald Eagle. Before the team was known as the Devil Rays, they were known as The Kazoos, The Battle Cats and the Yankees. We won’t even try to figure out why the mascot is named Doodle. The team is managed by former major leaguer Skeeter Barnes. Barnes, a utility player for four different clubs in nine seasons apparently is also in the barbecue business.

Key players we will be keeping tabs on throughout the season

Wade Davis (#33), 20 years old, SP. Davis a tall, prototypical right handed thrower (6’6″), was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 amateur draft. After a disappointing rookie campaign at the rookie league level in 2004, Davis rebounded with a solid performance last year for Hudson Valley, the short season-A affiliate of the D-Rays. In 15 starts, he went 7-4 with a 2.72 era and a league leading 97 strikeouts in 86 innings. He also showed decent control for a power pitcher with 23 walks. Davis is considered the 6th best prospect in the Rays farm system according to Baseball America. Davis is still very young. Look for the organization to be very patient with him. I would expect him to spend the entire season in Michigan, with a possible move to Visalia if he posts strong numbers.

Matt Spring (#34), 21, C. Spring was the 4th round pick of the 2004 draft out of Dixie State College of Utah. Spring has struggled at the plate in two seasons with Hudson Valley. He has a career batting average of just .204 in 100 games with 12 home runs. Spring is a very young catcher. It is well-known throughout baseball that catchers take the longest time to develop. Look for the Rays to be extremely patient with Spring. While there is a chance Spring will make it to the big leagues someday, it won’t be anytime in the near future.

Jacob McGee (#21), 19, SP. McGee, still only 19, enters his third year of pro ball, with an already impressive resume. At 6’3 190, McGee is a tall lanky lefthander. Last season at Hudson Valley McGee went 5-4 in 14 starts with a 3.64 era and 89 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. Like Davis and Spring, expect to see McGee in Southwest Michigan all season.



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