Rocco is back and looks good…Jorge, Huff and Lugo also. And now we are happy to report that former first round pick Jeff Niemann is back and his first start was encouraging. On Monday night, Niemann made his 2006 debut for the AA Montgomery Biscuits. Niemann went 4.1 innings in the Biscuits 1-0 loss to Jacksonville. He allowed 4 hits, 1 walk and 1 run. He struck out 8. Working into the 5th inning (67 pitches) is encouraging for a pitcher that hasn’t pitched in nearly a year and only had 30.2 innings pitched as a professional going into this season. His 8 strikeouts in 4+ innings is also very encouraging, and indicates that he hasn’t lost very much off his fastball. He regularly hit 90 mph and topped out at 93. Before the injury, Niemann was considered to be on the fast track to the majors. Obviously the injury has changed that, but it was not a serious shoulder injury and his age and college experience should have him in a Devil Rays uniform sooner rather than later.
Speaking of D-Rays that could be on the fast track. This year’s first round pick Evan Longoria, followed up his 1-5 opening night performance with a very impressive 5-6 last night.