We have actually been trying to avoid this story, becuase quite frankly (did we just quote Steven A. Smith? crap) the story about the “troubled” prospects bores us. However, the story has garnered much more reaction than we would have liked and the responses from the team seem to be a little too politically correct, and the coverage in the local media has been nothing short of inflammatory for the sole purposes of making this into a bigger story than it should have been.

On July 28, USA Today ran a cover story about the talented trio of Devil Rays prospects, B. J. Upton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes. The article covered the recent troubles experienced by all three and their frustration at still being in AAA and not in St. Pete.

When we first read the article, all we saw was three kids in the minors that are anxious to get to the big leagues. Since the article came out, much has been made of the story among Devil Rays fans and in the local media.

The Tampa Tribune ran an article entitled “Prospects blast organization”. The St. Pete Times ran an equally inflammatory article entitled “Maddon rips disgruntled Rays prospects”. Carter Gaddis of the Tribune and Damian Christadero of the Times both seized upon several apparently inflammatory remarks in the USA Today article, while ignoring or minimizing other quotes that left the story in a better light…

I still can’t believe I’m here. The three of us all thought we’d be all up in Tampa by now. -B. J. Upton.

I don’t know what they’re waiting for…They’re what, 30 games out of first place? They think we’re going to mess up their clubhouse chemistry. B.J. should be up there. What are they waiting for? They always have excuses. – Delmon Young

Delmon’s comments probably should not have been made, however he was simply sticking up for his teammate. Is it that terrible that Delmon believes Upton is ready for the major leagues? The Tribune article barely mentions, and the Times article completely ignores that Young immediately backtracked from the comments…stating that he “said too much” and wanted it to be known that he was “just venting” and to not “take him seriously”…

I just want to show up for work and go about my business…That’s all. – Delmon Young

We still aren’t sure what was wrong with Upton’s comment. There is no animosity in the quote. He simply thought they would all be in St. Pete by now. Show me a minor leaguer that doesn’t think he will be in the majors sooner rather than later. If an 18 year old prospect doesn’t believe he will be in the majors by 22 than he needs to find a new profession. Not all will make it and not all that do will by such an age, but that should be the goal and that should be their own expectation.

Of course Gaddis and Christodero don’t mention a couple of other telling quotes in the USA Today article…

The only thing holding me back is me. – Elijah Dukes

They want to see whether I can stay away from trouble…If I can just do that, if I can just keep my cool, I’ll be fine. Because when there is trouble…I’m the one who’s got to pay the consequences. – Elijah Dukes

We are not really sure how those quotes “blast the organization”. In fact Christodero begins his column with the inaccurate statement “Dukes, Upton and Young – who else? – trash organization in USA Today over their lack of promotions to parent club.” At no point does Upton “trash” the organization or make any comments at all directed at the organization. Dukes does make some comments about the conditions in Durham as compared to the major league level, but is it any mystery that minor league ballclubs don’t have the same budget as a major league club and hence the amenities are not the same? As for Young’s comments. Yes, they were inflammatory in nature, and should not have been made, but he quickly retracted them and indicated they were made out of frustration, a distinction barely mentioned in the Tribune article and not mentioned at all in the Times article.

Personally, we love the desire…We love the apparent fire in their bellys…We love the intensity that these guys clearly take out to the field and have in their everyday life. Not only do they want to be in the big leagues, they want to be great. They expect to be great. This is an element that is clearly lacking at the major league level. It is worth mentioning that Lou Piniella would have been more successful and likely still coaching the Rays if he had more players like Upton, Dukes and Young, and it has nothing to do with talent. It has everything to do with intensity. What drove Piniella nuts was that his team did not have the same intensity that he had. He would have had it in these three.

These kids, and they are just kids in baseball years, just want to be playing in the big leagues. They are frustrated and quite frankly we are glad that they frustrated. If they were content with where they were, we would worry. We agree that being quoted in such a way in a prominent national publication was not the best way to express those desires and frustrations, but how many minor leaguers are thrust into the spotlight at such an age.

D-Rays’ kids set for major promotions. [USA Today]
Prospects blast organization. [
Tampa Tribune]
Maddon rips disgruntled Rays prospects. [
St. Pete Times]



  1. Joel says:

    Though I agree that the coverage has been oddly negative, you do have to understand the attitude to a certain degree.

    After many a year of losing the D-Rays have the air of a team that could improve in the future. That future hinges on the young guys with the big club like CC, but also on Young, Dukes and Upton (and once upon a time Hamilton). The pressure on these guys is basically the pressure of countless losing seasons. You know things are going to get better, but at the same time the bad stuff has the whiff of a curse.

    This might be a little too much pressure for kids, but at the same time this is how they're going to have to learn. If they do get to the big leagues the pressure will get worse, and being a kid is no excuse.

  2. cw says:

    Thanks for your more careful reading of the USA Today article. Nevertheless, speaking as a Bulls fan, I'll be happy to see B.J. go. No doubt about his potential (e.g., last night). Nevertheless it'd be fun to go to a game and not cringe every time a ball is hit his way. I'd like to see more players here worried about a Bulls win and not individual stats. For that matter, would like to have a manager with better control of his own temper and better skill at managing these young guys.
    Please, please take B.J.

  3. The Professor says:

    I agree with you Joel...We didnt really want to downplay the comments as much as we wished the local media would treat it fairly and the front ofice not to overreact...but if you are a regular reader of this site, we have at times been hard on all three. We were extremely hard on Delmon Young after the bat-tosing incident and even harder on him when he came back and seemed to have a non-chalant attitude about the whole situation. We have been on Dukes case a lot because of the repeated suspensions although our attitude has been more along the lines, of "Dukes being Dukes". As for Upton, we were on his case about the latest incident with the public address announcer.

    However, in the grand scheme of things, these quotes were not really that bad. in fact I think Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddons comments were harsher this time than after the Bat-tossing incident.

    But yes, there is a problem and hopefully they will get better. As you said the future hinges on these guys. although ultimately, it will depend on the development of pitching.


Leave a Comment