Over the next few days, we will be 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 Montgomery Biscuits

Montgomery Biscuits
The Biscuits begin their third year in Montgomery since being moved from Orlando following the 2003 season. Let us start today’s post with an apology to Wool E. Bull. In yesterday’s post on the Durham Bulls, we were fairly harsh. Compared to the Biscuits mascot Big Mo, Wool E. Bull is Angelina Jolie. We aren’t even sure what Big Mo is. Is he a biscuit? Is he an orange elephant? Is he Snuffleupagus?

With managements new found patience with minor leaguers, we don’t expect to see more than one or two Biscuits make it to the show this season. The most likely candidates would be from the pitching staff as the Devil Rays look for arms to fill out the bullpen.

Key players we will be keeping tabs on throughout the season

Jason Pridie (#33), 22 years old, OF. Add Pridie to the organizations gluttony of promising young outfielders. Pridie was the Devil Rays second round pick in the 2002 amateur draft. This was the same year the team drafted B. J. Upton in the first round (#2 overall). His minor league career has been up and down so far. He was finally moved up to AA Montgomery last season where he battled injuries and only played 28 games. Still, the team does still have high hopes for this young player, giving him two games in spring training this season in which he went 4-7, with 3 runs scored. Look for Pridie to get a quick bump up to Durham if he stays healthy and gets off to a good start. ETA 2008

Wes Bankston (#16), 22, 1B. Bankston is another member of the 2002 draft class with major league potential (4th round). Minor league career has mirrored Pridie’s. Made the jump to AA Montgomery mid-season last year and produced a solid, workman-like statline (.292-12-47 in 82 games). Like Pridie, a quick start at Montgomery should earn Bankston a promotion to Durham this season. ETA 2008

Andy Sonnanstine (#12), 22, SP. Sonnanstine is a member of Tampa’s 2004 draft class (13th round) and appears to be on the fast track through the organization. Last season he split the season between low-A, Southwest Michigan, and high-A, Visalia, going 14-5 in 28 starts. He is not a power pitcher, but he did average a strikeout an inning (178 ks in 180.2 inn). The most impressive stat is his control. In 180.2 innings, he walked only 18 batters or less than one every 9 innings. If Sonnanstine was drafted out of high school we would expect him to spend the entire year in Montgomery. However, as a college draftee, look for him to move a little more quickly and don’t be surprised to see him in Durham later this year. ETA 2007

Chuck Tiffany (#34), 21, SP. Tiffany was the “other” guy in the trade that sent Danys Baez and Lance Carter to the Dodgers for Edwin Jackson. Tiffany, a second round pick in the 2003 draft, has two full seasons at the A-level, posting a record of 16-9. The lefthander is a strikeout artist, with a staggering 11.86 strikeouts per 9 innings. Could end up being the biggest piece in that trade. ETA September 2007

Elliot Johnson
(#8), 22, 2B. Johnson, yet another member of the 2002 class (he was an undrafted free agent). His offensive numbers to date have been modest for a low level minor league player. However, Johnson is a great defen
sive secondbaseman and has very good speed. He has 43 stolen bases each of the past two season. And while his career batting average is only .258, his OBP is consistently near .350. Could be the second baseman of the future if Jorge Cantu ever makes the move to thirdbase. ETA 2008

Jim Magrane (#21), 27, SP. Magrane might not be much of a major league prospect. We only mention him because he is the cousin of former major league pitcher and current Rays announcer Joe Magrane. Originally drafted in 1996 by the New York Mets, he has been in the Rays organization since 2000, spending parts of each of the past four seasons with the Durham Bulls.

Tomorrow: Visalia Oaks



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