Kevin Witt needs to be in a Devil Rays uniform now
Much has been made of the USA Today article that appeared late last month in which B. J. Upton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes were quoted about their displeasure with the Devil Rays front office and the organization as a whole. While many in the local media and the Rays’ front office blasted the quotes, Kevin Witt has decided to take a different approach to responding to the article. At the time we were highly critical of the local media coverage and the reaction of the Devil Rays’ front office to the article. While we thought the team and the local media overreacted to the article and the quotes (B. J. Upton never once says anything negative towards the team) there were some things said that should not have been said.
Enter Kevin Witt…Witt is in his first season in the Devil Rays organization, his seventh organization in 13 professional seasons. His eighth organization if you include his stint in Japan last season. This year Witt is hitting .292-33-92 and leads the International League in home runs by a considerable margin. At 30 years old, Witt is much older than most of his Durham Bulls teammates and is considerably older than the three super-prospects that were quoted in the article. With his age and experience comes a level of maturity that appears to be lacking in one or more of his more highly-touted teammates.
In response to what was said by Upton, Young and Dukes, Witt decided to speak out and write a letter to the editor of USA Today to defend the rest of his teammates, the Durham Bulls and the Devil Rays organization. In particular, Witt seems to take issue with the comments of Dukes, who left an impression that the conditions in Durham were subpar and the management of the Bulls were unprofessional. Witt wanted to make it very clear that none of that was true.
Having played for 14 different teams since my professional career began in 1994, I can say without question that the Durham Bulls management is extremely professional and the ballpark we play in is second to none…The facility is kept in outstanding shape and the clubhouse staff works very hard to ensure that players continue to spread the good word about Durham.—Kevin Witt
Since the original article first appeared, two of the three prospects are no longer with the Bulls. Upton has been promoted to play third base for the Rays and Dukes has been suspended by the organization for 30 days as a result of his latest league suspension. No doubt, his quotes in the USA Today were a factor in the decision to suspend Dukes. Young remains with the Bulls and continues to display the talents that gave him the recognition in the Spring as the top prospect in baseball by Baseball America.
It would not be surprising to see Delmon wearing a D-Rays uniform in the very near future. Even if his age and arrogance gets the better of him from time to time, he appears to be ready for the Majors. And while many fans are pushing for Delmon Young to be promoted to the majors before the end of the season, we hope that Kevin Witt gets the call also. While a winning team needs players like Upton and Young to be competitive, good teams also need players like Kevin Witt. Teams need a player that can contribute at the major league level, but can also contribute in the clubhouse. A good player and a good guy…The team needs Kevin Witt, but more importantly…the fans need Kevin Witt.
We are rooting hard for Kevin Witt to be promoted. And if he does, we will root even harder for him to succeed. And while we are sure the loss of Kevin Witt will be bittersweet for Durham Bulls fans, it is about time that fans of the Devil Rays get to see something that the fans in Durham already know.
Here is a local Durham news broadcast covering the Letter that Witt wrote to USA Today.