No, we’re not talking about the losing streak. There are some pretty crazy things that have happened or are going to happen related to the Rays over the next few days. Let’s try to figure out what’s going on.
Tomorrow, Saturday June 30th, is Turn Back the Clock Night as the Rays and Tigers both wear throwback uniforms and Earth, Wind, and Fire will perform after the game. One problem: the Rays don’t have a throwback uniform! Well, no minor league uniforms this time, instead they’ll wear their 1979 throwback that doesn’t really exist. Well, the Rays did not exist in 1979, but the “throwbacks” do now. If you haven’t seen a picture yet, here’s Joe Maddon wearing the uniform.
In a related note, here’s Rays mascot DJ Kitty rocking out to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s famous hit “Groove.”
In other bizarre news, an out-of-town police chief attending the Rays game on June 16th at the Trop somehow got hit by a bullet while sitting in the Trop. No one has any idea exactly how that happen, but luckily everyone was fine. Next time you’re at the Trop, you never know what you’ll see.
In a more cool than crazy note, the Rays have signed left-handed pitcher Brett Blaise out of NAIA Bellhaven University, and he’s an interesting prospect, especially for a NDFA. There was an interesting article about Blaise in The Dispatch yesterday.
Then a month ago, Blaise sat for three days and watched the 2012 Major League Baseball draft without seeing his name come up on his computer.
At that moment, he seriously contemplated what he’d be doing with his life with his baseball career on life support.
“I’m not going to lie because there was a thought of what kind of job can I start to look for in the real world,” Blaise said. “I figured I’d get a shot in pro ball but you’re never completely sure.”
Two weeks ago all the hard work and perseverance proved to be worth it when he the Tampa Bay Rays organization called saying they had a roster spot available on their Rookie League team.
“They told me over the phone that they were impressed with what they saw live in my starts at Belhaven and were surprised I didn’t get drafted,” Blaise said. “My parents were so excited. My dad has been here already when he travels for work and my mom loves baseball more than I do so she gets to say her son is a pro ballplayer.”
His coaches at Belhaven promised Blaise they would get him looked at by scouts and player personnel executives and are just as excited as the player himself that their phone calls to professional teams didn’t go without benefit.
“We are very happy that Brett has signed a pro contract with the Rays,” said Belhaven Assistant Head Coach and Pitching Coach Clay Smith. “He has worked extremely hard to become a quality pitcher and hopefully the organization will give him a chance to continue to improve. He has the ability to be really good if given the opportunity.”
Less than a week after that phone call which revived the dream, Blaise was on the mound in Port Charlotte, Fla., last Tuesday making his professional debut for the Rookie League team for the Tampa Bay Rays in the Gulf Coast League. After dealing with the appropriate set of nerves, Blaise pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout in the process of getting a hold in a 3-2 victory.
It’s nice for Blaise that he gets to give his baseball career a try, but although he works in relief, he may have some promise. Blaise, 22, is an extremely projectable 6’5″, 195, and Blaise already throws in the 90-92 MPH range with his fastball with a halfway-decent curveball, although he struggles to control his pitches, walking 59 combined to 48 strikeouts at Bellhaven in 2012. Blaise has gotten off to a nice start to his professional career, allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 2 appearances, striking out 4 while walking none.